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A 19th-century traveler once described Calatafimi as a “sinkhole” and it must be admitted that, even today, it is not among the most gracious of Sicilian towns. Neither is it particularly prosperous. This may be the reason that there isn’t much of a Mafia presence there and is certainly the reason that emigration has continued to drain its population for more than 120 years. Its greatest claim to fame is that Garibaldi and his “thousand” fought the first battle for Italian reunification nearby in 1860; this explains the presence of a Via Calatafimi in almost every major Italian city. Its greatest tourist draw is, in theory, the presence of the temple of Segesta nearby but, in reality, very few of the visitors to that remarkably well-preserved and beautifully situated Doric edifice ever go a little farther up the road into Calatafimi. The current mayor hopes to rectify this state of affairs by attracting tourist buses to a new archeological museum located in the town, but the ultimate benefit remains questionable, given that there are few restaurants and only one, very modest, hotel.

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