Sant’Elia a small fishing village full of tradition

Sant’Elia, a small village in the municipality of Santa Flavia, is a small fishing village just a few steps from Porticello (the two villages are practically attached). The village is one of the most characteristic and picturesque in the area. Kissed by nature for its happy geographical position, Sant’Elia overlooks a blue and clean sea, and on a coast with an enchanting view.

Panorama di Sant'Elia - Archivio Comune di Santa Flavia

View of Sant’Elia – Archive Municipality of Santa Flavia

From the hill, where there is a small shrine dedicated to the Madonna, known to all as the “Madonnina” you can admire an exclusive and evocative panorama, from Capo Zafferano to Solanto.
One of the main characteristics of this country is represented by the picturesque houses overlooking the sea, some also immortalized by famous photographers.
The characteristic place and the little beach that is given on an inlet from the transparent bottom, offers to the tourist a valid moment of tranquility.


The village owes its origin to the presence of the tuna fishery and to the fishing activity associated with it. Originally the territory of Sant’Elia, it was part of the Baronia of Solanto.
On 25 August 1693 Charles II raised this territory to a fief and obliged Marcantonio Joppolo Colnago, baron of Solanto, to populate it within a decade, granting the title of Prince of Sant’Elia, to the latter and his successors.

Sant'Elia - Archivio Comune di Santa Flavia

Sant’Elia – Archive Municipality of Santa Flavia

Later the title passed to Baldassare Joppolo and, through his daughter Antonina, came to her husband of Cristoforo Riccardo Filangeri and lanolin, prince of Santa Flavia.
It was then sold to the Strazzeri family and finally by female descent the title passed to the Trigona.

The church

The first chapel, of which we have documented information, dates back to 1365. It was a small church that was rebuilt several times, giving its name to the small village and the relative tonnara.
The first popular religious initiatives took place at the end of the seventeenth century, due to constant complaints about the lack of religious assistance due to the distance from the church of St. Anna. The inhabitants of S. Elia, worried to die without sacraments, built the new sacramental church dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary of Carmel, in the lower part of the village.

Facciata Chiesa di Maria SS Addolorata - Archivio Diocesi Maria SS Addolorata

Façade Church of Our Lady of Sorrows – Archives of the Diocese of Our Lady of Sorrows

The choice of the place fell near the sea at the confluence of via Bellante and via Torre, with a primary front in the camparie, now the seat of the oratory. Today’s prospect, with the sacramental door facing south, dates back to the end of the 18th century. Popular sources tell that a certain Gaetano Balistreri, having guaranteed to Ferdinando di Borbone the guard, with armed boat, of the waters of the coastal strip from Solanto to Capo Zafferano, for gratitude has granted him an area in the ridge above the little church of the tonnara near the torrazza, in order to expand it and embellish it. In December 1763 the congregation of the Madonna delle Grazie was founded, attached to the order of the Servites of Maria S.S. Sorrowful, whose purpose was to represent to the Prince the socio-economic interests of the community, solidarity towards the most needy, independence and religious and social self-management.

Interno Chiesa di Maria SS Addolorata - Archivio Diocesi Maria SS Addolorata

Interior Church of Our Lady of Sorrows – Archdiocese of Our Lady of Sorrows

On November 1, 1772, following a written request to obtain that the church of S. Elia, recently consecrated to Our Lady of Sorrows, became a sacramental church taken care of, it reached an agreement among the inhabitants, the Prince R.C. Filangeri and the parish priest of the Nicolà Randazzo basilica, with whom the family heads of S.Elia; Billanti, Dentici, Tarantino, Busalacchi, Balistreri, Scardina, Corona, Alioto, Principato, Camarda, Machì and Mercury were committed to contribute to the expenses of maintaining a chaplain with the proceeds of the catch. They also forced themselves to participate every year with their torch and with the insignia of the congregation at the procession of S. Anna. Under these conditions the prince accepted that a well-mannered chaplain lived in S. Elia, subordinated to the parish priest of the parish of St. Anne. In 1773 the construction of the church was completed, and is said to have been called, the church of Tano Balistreri.

Our Lady of Sorrows

It was certainly the Order of Servites between the end of the seventeenth and the early eighteenth century to introduce in the then “chapel” of St. Elias, there was in fact still a real church, the statue of Our Lady of Sorrows that only in Easter in 1800 it was enthroned in the main altar of the new church.

Statua Maria SS Addolorata - Archivio Diocesi Maria SS Addolorata

Statue of Our Lady of Sorrows – Archdiocese of Maria SS Addolorata

Of unknown author, but typically Spanish and of exquisite workmanship, admired by Cardinal Ernesto Ruffini, he has never undergone any restoration work, however from the past to the present day, small changes have changed the appearance. In the nineteenth century there were three swords that pierced the chest and then, in the early twentieth century, become seven. Even the clothes that lined it were slightly different, embroidered in silver and with a different design from the current one.

Thanks to Maria SS Addolorata and the Sant’Elia Committee