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The district of “Terra Vecchia” above “La bocca dell’inferno”

Once you reach Piazzetta Molinello, raise your eyes to the ancient clock tower, you will find yourself in front of one of the most evocative places in within the Madonie. In the past, the largest entrance door to the Madonite stronghold dedicated to Lorenzo Ventimiglia was located right near this neighborhood – between via Albanese and vicolo Manzoni.

This led directly into the Saracen neighborhood that reached the clock tower where, through the Ruga (street) of Santo Michieli, (today Salita Orologio), you can reach the plateau of the Vecchia Matrice dedicated to the Archangel Michael.

Looking out from that belvedere you can observe a gorge, called by the ancient inhabitants the Bocca dell’Inferno (Mouth of hell) where, popular tales told about an imaginative passage to the Underworld defended by the Macigna devil.

On the area below, called Conigliera, until the beginning of the nineteenth century, there was another neighborhood – la Terra Vecchia (already attested in the Revelis of 1500) – consisting of precipitous houses resting on thick and mighty walls that reached up to the old mill.

The latter, starting from 1811, were completely dismantled together with the ancient castle to be used for the construction of the Nuova Matrice. On your left, instead, a road – the Ruga di Nostra Donna (del Rosario) – led to the church of Santa Maria in castro, built during the Norman period within the walls of the old castle.

We know about this that it was demolished in 1818 and that until some time ago, the floor and some ruins of the perimeter wall were still visible (Scelsi I., op. Cit.). From this church comes the sixteenth-century marble statue of the Madonna col bambino, from the Gagini workshop, which was placed in the main altar of the Matrice Vecchia after the transfer of the reliquary Custody of the Sacre Spine in 1873.

Finally, next to the Chiesa del Rosario, until 1835 , there was also the church of San Giuseppe, where the beautiful simulacrum in gilded wood comes from, now placed in the side altar of the Matrice Vecchia, in place of the Eucharistic Custody of 1494, today in the mother church.