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Far from the packed beaches of Sicily's busy coastlines, there's a quieter and wilder world in its high mountains. In more dangerous times, this was where much of Sicily's population settled, building castles, towns, monasteries and churches on steep slopes and the tops of mountains as protection against invaders and pirates.This history of treasured isolation is stunningly revealed in the Madonie Mountains, a set of dramatic peaks dominating Sicily's north-central coast where the inhabitants live in towns that nesting eagles would be fond to call home.When night falls, these mountaintop towns, lit up by the glow of lights, hang in the sky, complementing the constellations and shooting stars that can be seen here, a rare spot in Italy where light pollution isn't a problem.One of these hanging towns is Geraci Siculo, built with vistas of the Tyrrhenian Sea and, far off over mountains, Mount Etna, Sicily's smoldering volcano.The Madonie also cast a spell on those who have left: every summer, they return for religious processions, family meals, evenings spent among friends at bars and piazzas, soaking up food and customs.
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