Like other towns in the Madonie slopes, Polizzi Generosa also enjoys a beautifully panoramic position, overlooking the southern and northern sides of the Imera valley. A particularly attractive view of the town can be enjoyed on crisp mornings when low cloud (the so-called maretta) collects around the foot of the mountains, shrouding the base in shadow, while the tops caught in the sunshine appear to float on the mist.
The town has elusive origins. It seems to have played a major role in ejecting the Arab invaders. Roger II had a castle built on the area and took up defences in preparation against an attack from the infidel. Frederick II, so impressed by the town’s warm welcoming him on a visit, bestowed upon it the title of Generosa. The main piazza is marked by ruins of the castle on its highest point (910m). There also stands Palazzo Notarbartolo (16th century) housing the Museo Ambientalistico Madonita, that reconstructs the range of Madonie’s natural habitats (with preserved animals died of natural causes or being retrieved by poachers), acquatic flora and fauna (with river flora and fauna as it was some 30-40 years ago), forests, and mountainous fauna including the vultures (notably the griffon vulture which disappeared in the 1920s) and the Golden Eagle.
Down Via Roma are Palazzo Gagliardo, dating from between the 16th and 17th century, and, opposite, the Chiesa Madre, its present look dating from the 19th century, but retaining earlier features from the 1300s-1400s such as the portico and the pointed arch. Inside are numerous works of art including a Flemish Trypthich (presbitery) and a lovely Madonna del Rosario by Giuseppe Salerno – one of the two Zoppi di Gangi (see GANGI)
Further along Via Roma is Piazza Umberto I. From here, begins Via Garibaldi, leading to the Chiesa di San Girolamo, with a fine Baroque doorway. At the end of the street is Piazza XXVII Maggio, providing a splendid view over the highest peaks of the Madonie, the northern valley of the Himera river (where now runs the highway), the Rocca di Caltavuturo, the Calogero Mount and the Cammarata Mount to the left; the Quaccella, Mufara and Pizzo Carbonara to the far right; opposite stands the Massiccio dei Cervi with a lower section known as the Padella where, according to hearsay, a secret entrance leads into a cave full of treasure, the whereabouts of which may only be revealed during Easter Mass. Below lies the Noccioleti Valley.