From Castelbuono the walk continues in a westward direction to Gratteri, within the province of Palermo, approximately 60 kilometres from Palermo. Gratteri, which borders Cefalu’, Collesano, Isnell and Lascari, is a very small village with a population of around 1,000 people.
The general form of the region similar to a crater between two mountains may also be the reason behind the name Gratteri (from Greek meaning cup).
However, some prefer to believe that the name is more noble than that since Gratteri, and the Abbey of St. George, are tied in history or, more likely, legend with the story of Holy Grail.
The Abbey of St George in Gratteri is believed to be the first Cistercian abbey founded in the Kingdom of Sicily during Norman times. It is also believed that the Holy Grail is buried somewhere beneath this abbey.
There is also a connection between Gratteri and Malta in that since in 1300AD the church and its fief, then belonging to French monks, was bestowed to the Hospitaller Knights of Jerusalem (later, the knights of Malta).
The “Hospitallers” also known as the“Giovanniti” in Italian, were a chivalrous, religious military order , initially dedicated to the defense of shrines and places of worship in the holy lands while also ministering to the pilgrims, the poor and the ill. Other confreres within the order would reside in commende – akin to fiefdoms – such as Gratteri, generating income to sustain the mission of the Order to St John.
Save for some short, and also bloody intervals (including the killing of monks who were accused of being alchemists), the Abbey of St. George was held by the Order of St John as a Commenda until the end of the 18th century, the time when the Knights lost Malta to the French. The aftermath of losing gave rise to schisms between various factions of the the Order resulting in the abdication of Grand Master Ferdinand von Hompesch (the last Grandmaster to reign in Malta) and the creation of a separate Order of the Knights of St. John, for example, in Russia under the patronage of the Imperialist Tsar or in Spain under the patronage of the King of Spain. With the spread of the French empire in Europe and the resultant growing secularization , many reilgious orders, including the Knights of St John, saw significant loss of land.
From Gratteri the walk continues to Collesano following the .gpx route.