Sistema Bagheria

A participatory project for the valorisation, development and communication of the territorial identity of Bagheria and Santa Flavia, two municipalities at the gates of Palermo.
Sistema Bagheria, association, Palermo, Sicily, project management
Photo Maurizio Durante.

Year: 2013-2017

Type: Project Management, Communication, Brand Design

Location:Palermo, Italy

Status: Completed

Associations involved: A’Picara Bianca, Arctea, Associazione Bagnera, Cultural Lab, Frida, Guernica, Le matte del villaggio, L’albero delle parole danzanti, L’aquilone, L’impronta, Natura e Cultura, Next, Noi Cittadini, Pro Loco Aspra, Sicilia antiqua.

Sistema Bagheria is a participatory project that I followed as coordinator, jointly with Mirabilia and over sixteen volunteer organisations acting in the areas of Bagheria and Santa Flavia. The project is about a locality full of history, cultural and natural heritage, but which is and has been experiencing problems such as mafia, illegal constructions, social and economic difficulty. Hence the essential objectives of Sistema Bagheria: valorization, development and communication of the territorial identity of Bagheria and Santa Flavia. Our participatory initiative has organised almost 20 events in three years, comprising lectures, guided tours, workshops, exhibitions and competitions. We also developed several documents and videos while self-funding through sponsors.

The sociocratic method to face volatility, uncertainty and complexity

Our path, developed entirely by volunteers, began with the joint definition of objectives, structure of the association committee, partnerships, methods of managing internal processes, and stakeholders. Thanks to an expert in participation such as Manuela Macaluso in our group, we choose the sociocratic method as a tool for decision-making (Endenburg, 1998). A method we used in creating three bodies: The Plenary, composed of all project participants; The coordination group, composed of 5 members elected by the Plenary; Improvement Groups, composed of members appointed by the Plenary and responsible for carrying out specific tasks, such as field surveys, organising and coordinating events, liaising with stakeholders, etc. As the issues and complexities addressed by the improvement groups vary, external subject matter experts are invited to carry out direct advisory activities.

The territories of Bagheria and Santa Flavia
Veduta di Monte Catalfano, Francesco Lo Jacono, Quadro Bagheria e Santa Flavia
Veduta di Monte Catalfano, Francesco Lo Jacono.

The project area: Bagheria and Santa Flavia

Bagheria is the most populous municipality in the province after Palermo. It lies on the north coast of Sicily, 15 km east of Palermo. Santa Flavia, northeast of Bagheria, includes a central nucleus and several fishing villages. Human beings inhabit the territory since prehistoric ages in the seaside zones to the north. Here the Phoenicians founded Solunto, a city which, together with Palermo and Mozia, marked the Phoenician presence on the island.

The first turning point for the territory took place in the Middle Ages when the Arabs cultivated crops in the Eleuterio Valley. They initiated a process that would transform the forest into one of Palermo’s most important agricultural areas. It is here that the nobles cultivate their agricultural lands, producing citrus fruits, olives, almonds and prickly pears around the many watchtowers that line the plain.

In the 17th century, the Branciforte Principi di Butera family integrated his former tower into a magnificent villa. It is the beginning of a season that will transform the land into the main holiday area of the Palermo nobility. In a few decades Noble families made of Bagheria and Santa Flavia a green garden on the Tyrrhenian sea, with over 20 noble villas and mansions of incredible elegance, among which Villa Palagonia, Villa Valguarnera and Palazzo Butera stand out. With the construction of the Villas, the early urban agglomeration grows, encouraged and organised by the Branciforte. It is the third turning point that will bring Bagheria and Santa Flavia to become two municipalities with a total population of about 70,000 inhabitants.

Villa Valguarnera, old Card, Bagheria
Villa Valguarnera and the plain of Santa Flavia in the early 1900s, Bagnera association collection.
Corso Butera, Sistema Bagheria, Social innovation project in Sicily
Ferdinando Scianna, Photographer Bagheria
Bagheria, 1960, Photo Scafidi
From above, Corso Butera at the beginning of the 20th century, anonymous; Piazza Madrice, photo Ferdinando Scianna; Horse race, 1960, photo Scafidi.

Activities carried out during the project

After the constitution of the committee, we began a reconnaissance of the area, carried out in 2014 with the qualified participation of experts. The result of the survey was the identification of over 150 places of interest: not only archaeological sites, villas, churches and monuments but also museums, parks, beaches and nature reserves. To these must we must add another 50 traditions, gastronomies, events and celebrities that make up the identity of Bagheria and Santa Flavia. 200 Excellences which have drawn a path, we followed intending to first know, then documenting and communicating an ever new item on our list. We did it by organising guided tours, traditional cooking workshops, tastings, experiences and photo exhibitions. On each of these different occasions, we could further document the excellences of our list by creating sheets with useful information for planning the visit and using the goods, which we posted on our website. For similar purposes, we have made several videos: small monographic documentaries about one excellence on the list, easy-to-use content that has proved very effective in promoting the identity of Bagheria and Santa Flavia.

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Coordination group members over three years

Marilena Antoci, Piero Avanzato, Maria Antonietta Durante, Nicola D’Amato, Giuseppe Gallo, Manuela Macaluso, Mariateresa Mineo, Fabio Vanella.

People who participated in the Sistema Bagheria project

Silvana Aiello, Marilena Antoci, Pierfrancesco Arnone, Piero Avanzato, Maia Cataldo, Giuseppe Caputo, Angelo Chiello, Fabio Cirello, Carmelo Di Salvo, Michele Ducato, Maria Antonietta Durante, Maurizio Durante, Giovanni Emmolo, Paolo Fontana, Valentina Galioto, Giuseppe Gallo, Marilena Gennuso, Santi Gnoffo, Claudia Granata, Giuseppina Greco, Francesco Grigoli, Maria Imburgia, Rosa La Camera, Caterina Lo Coco, Manuela Macaluso, Giuseppe Marchesini, Mariateresa Mineo, Michele Mineo, Francesco Mineo, Lanza Orsola, Pietro Pagano, Emanuele Puleo, Letizia Puleo, Angelo Restivo, Pietro Roccapalumba, Alessandro Scordato, Fabio Vanella.


  • Caruso, A. 2008. Aspra Coast, Enna, Italy, IlionBooks.
  • Endenburg, G. 1998. Sociocracy as Social Design. Delft, Netherlands: Eburon.
  • Tripoli, C. Dalla foresta al prg del 1976, Bagheria, Italia, Eugenio Maria Falcone Editore.
Hellobagheria Solunto Guided visits, event project coordination
Bagheria, Aspra, Palermo, Sicily, photo Maurizio Durante
Guided visit, Museo dell'Acciuga
Videos and images of some of our events, guided tours and participation initiatives, photos and videos by Maurizio Durante.

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