Gibellina was destroyed by the earthquake which struck the Valle del Belice in 1968. The ruins are still visible (follow the signs for Ruderi di Gibellina, 18km west of Gibellina Nuova), although many have been petrified into a work of art called Cretto (Crack) by Burri. Indeed much of what used to be the streets of the old town have been “veiled” in a gentle concrete blanket furrowed by cracks.
Gibellina Nuova, today totalling some 5,000 inhabitants, has been rebuilt as an embodiment of a highly peculiar concept: to design the town as a kind of permanent museum with sculptures scattered through the streets and among the buildings, which in turn could be seen as individual works of art. Contemporary artists such as Arnoldo Pomodoro, Consagra, Cascella, and Isgrò (to name but a few) were commissioned to realise this unusual dream: this led to the installation of some 50 works of art, including the imposing Star at the entrance to the town by Pietro Consagra, Quaroni’s Piazza del Municipio with its musical tower, and his great white spherical Chiesa Madre that dominates the landscape from miles around.
Partanna – 12km south. This small town was also badly affected by the same earthquake of 1968. Its distinguishing feature, a battlemented castle, was rebuilt in the 17C by the princes of Graffeo (or Grifeo) on the foundations of an earlier Norman construction. The flat area behind the castle provides a splendid view of the valley. Unfortunately, the churches have been reduced to ghostly shells by the earthquake; all that remains of San Francesco along Via Vittorio Emanuele is a lonely bell-tower (16C-17C), while higher up, the church of the Madonna delle Grazie preserves its original tower.