In the heart of Sicily, Castronovo di Sicilia is tucked between the Platani River, Mount Kassar, and the Mount Carcaci Nature Preserve. Although in Palermo Province, it feels very much part of the Sicanian region that is to its south, probably because of the activity along the ancient thoroughfare — the Platani River — that was important for transporting salt, sulfur, and agricultural goods for millennia. The town’s origins date back to the ancient city of Castro, which in 456 B.C.E. was the theater of a battle between the Carthegians and Greeks. Due to many natural caves and fresh water sources in the area, the fertile landscape has been populated since at least the 6th century B.C.E.
There is evidence that Sicanian, Cartheginian, Roman, Byzantine, Arab, and Norman peoples all lived in the strategically located community. Strategic because Castronovo di Sicilia was on the route between Himera, an important city and port used to reach the Italian peninsula to the north, and Agrigento, one of the most important cities in Magna Grecia, Greater (ancient) Greece. Like much of western Sicily, Saint Joseph is venerated here. San Vitale (Saint Vitalis) is the town’s patron saint.
Today, Castronovo di Sicilia’s population is about 3000 people. Its primary industry is agriculture. The region’s farms cultivate wheat, almonds, olives, grapes, onions, zucchini, watermelon, and more. The most important products, however, are sausages and sheep cheeses such as ricotta and the Slow Food designated tuma persa.