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Menfi is an important agricultural center along Sicily's southwestern coast, in the province of Agrigento, about three kilometers inland from the sea. It is located between Sciacca and Selinunte, surrounded by olive groves and vineyards stretching as far as the eye can see. It was founded during the Arab rule, then took over by the Normans, who built the Castello Svevo. The village began to populate and prosper in the 17th century, following the Spaniards' arrival, and by will of Diego Tagliavia d'Aragona Pignatelli, Menfi joined the Principality of Castelvetrano until the abolition of feudalism.
More About Menfi
For centuries the 17th century Palazzo Pignatelli has been the baronial residence. It dominates the main square with its simple façade that conceals a large courtyard and the master apartments. The town's another attraction is the elegant Neoclassical Palazzo Ravidà that boasts rooms with fine frescoes and a porch with four Doric sandstone columns.
The Torre Federiciana is what remains of the 12th century Castello Svevo, Menfi's oldest building. Severely damaged by the 1968 earthquake of Belice, it has been restored by tracing the original form.
Also the 17th century mother church of St. Anthony of Padua was rebuilt after the quake, incorporating the remains of the pre-existing building and with a new, contemporary façade. The eighteenth century church of San Giuseppe is one of the few religious buildings that have survived the earthquake. It preserves various art works, including a fine altarpiece depicting the Sposalizio di San Giuseppe (Marriage of St. Joseph) and it is the centerpiece of Saint Joseph's feast, taking place in August with a traditional procession and fireworks.
Sandy beaches and dunes characterize the coast, where a massive watchtower was erected in the 16th century to defend the town.
Since Roman times, farming and wine making are the main activities. Among the typical agricultural products are the Vastedda della Valle del Belice DOP, a stretched curd cheese from sheep's milk and Menfi Doc wine. It is also the birthplace of the orange of Ribera DOP and of the spiny artichoke of Menfi.