According to various sources the origin of the name Bagheria is Phoenician term Bayharia meaning “an area that descends toward the sea”. The first buildings were watchtowers constructed along the coast sometime around the 15th century. Around these the first meagre farmhouses the farm labourers working the lands of the nobility were built. The main crops were vines, olives, almonds and prickly pears.
After a bitter disappointment at not being appointed viceroy of Palerno, Giuseppe Branciforti, Count of Raccuja, decided to withdraw to Bagheria in 1658 where he built Villa Butera which was to become his permanent home. This is how the city of Bagheria came into existence and drew not only such an important person to the countryside but also a small court which was sustained by the wealth of the Branciforti. In 1769 Salvatore Branciforti, the Prince of Butera and grandson of the Count of Raccuja, produced the first urban plan of Bagheria. First he built a large building up against the medieval castle to join the Butera Palace with the new via Palermo-Messina, then he laid out the large main street named “corso Butera” and at right angles he laid out another large street as far as the “pilasters” that marked the boundary of his estate. Finally he arranged the centre of the town by building the Chiesa Madrice (cathedral church) which provides the backdrop to the Stradonello (present day corso Umberto I). After construction of the Branciforti castle the urban and suburban expansion of Bagheria progressed in leaps and bounds with the building of almost all the sumptuous villas, castles and palaces of the nobles of Sicily. Bagheria thus became the preferred resort of the aristocracy of Palermo. The town became a municipality (with annexation of the Aspra Marinara district) on 21 September 1826 thanks to a royal decree signed by Francesco I.
A tour of this location is a journey into the past to discover the roots of Sicily, but it is also a journey in the present and perhaps the future. Business, agriculture and the public sector represent the main sources of occupation together with light industry connected with the transformation and conservation of local agricultural products, primarily tomatoes and lemons.
Shopping is done mostly in the centre. Besides the clothes shops there are sports, furniture and food shops.