Santa Cristina Gela
|Santa Cristina Gela
|Comune di Santa Cristina Gela|
View of Santa Cristina Gela from a nearby hill
|• Mayor||Massimo Diano|
|• Total||38 km2 (15 sq mi)|
|Elevation||670 m (2,200 ft)|
|Population (31 December 2010)|
|• Density||24/km2 (63/sq mi)|
|Demonym||Santacristinesi (Albanian Sëndahstinarë)|
|Time zone||CET (UTC+1)|
|• Summer (DST)||CEST (UTC+2)|
|Patron saint||Saint Cristina|
|Saint day||24 July|
The country, along with Contessa Entellina and Piana degli Albanesi, is one of three ethnic Albanian community in Sicily, where the old Albanian language (arbërisht) is still spoken. Its inhabitants are Arbëreshë, that is, Italo-Albanian.
Santa Cristina Gela was founded in the 1691 by 82 descendants of the earlier Albanian settlers from Piana degli Albanesi. The settlers acquired the area under a contract with the Archbishop of Palermo and had to pay to him feudal rights for some public services, although they were granted tax exemptions and privated buildings rights.
Santa Cristina Gela was originally called Santa Cristina. The name Gela was affixed in honour of the Naselli family, princes of Sant'Elia (part of Santa Flavia) and dukes of Gela, who owned vast territories in the area of the village.
The inhabitants of Santa Cristina brought with them the habits and customs of their ancestors the Albanians, as well as the Byzantine rite Greek community features Arbëreshë.
The modern territory of Santa Cristina Gela was created from the unification of three earlier feudal principalities: the fiefs of Santa Cristina, Turdiepi and Pianetto. The territory of the latter is rich in vineyards and olive groves and in more recent times has become a residential area and a holiday destination.
The village is a traditional agricultural and culinary producing village, its production of wood cooked bread is much appreciated, it is also exported in the adjacent municipalities. Other local products which are successful, are the production cheeses (ricotta / gjizë, pecorino / udhos and caciocavallo / kaskaval), sweets (cannoli, fried cream puffs with ricotta) and meat from local farms (particularly appreciated is the sausage with fennel seeds / likëngë).
Santa Cristina Gela is bilingual, its inhabitants proficient in Arbërisht and Italian but they also well understand Sicilian. However, the local dialect of Arbërisht is undergoing attrition with children learning Arbërisht as their first language and being more confident using Arbërisht, then by school leaving age are more comfortable with Italian and are able to express a wider range of concepts in Italian. This is furthered by the lack of media or schooling in Arberisht.
- All demographics and other statistics from the Italian statistical institute (Istat)