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Lamore per questa terra il filo conduttore che accomuna coloro che hanno reso possibile la realizzazione di questopera.

. Lintroduzione ed i testi della provincia di Palermo, Siracusa, Enna e Caltanissetta sono di Stefania Ruggeri. Agrigento, Catania, Trapani e Taormina di Romilda Nicotra e Maria Rosaria Falcone. Piazza Armerina di Vincenzo Iannuzzi. Ragusa di Giuseppe Iacono. Le feste di Pasqua di Enna di Giuseppe Riggio. La Riserva di Vendicari di Carmelo Iapichino ed infine la Processione di Misteri di Giovanni Cammareri. Grazie a Concetta Perrone che ci ha aiutato a rileggere e correggere questa pubblicazione.



Archivio Affinit Elettive: pagine 74, 75, 76, 81. Archivio fotografico del Museo archeologico regionale di Agrigento: pagine 48, 49. Franco Barbagallo: pagine 30, 67, 104, 109, 110, 135. Bastin e Evrard: pagina 63. Maurizio Bronzetti: pagine 15, 61, 68, 133. Giovanni Calleo: pagine 145. Salvatore Centorrino: pagine 98, 101, 129. Vincenzo Cuttitta: pagine 14, 17, 18, 20, 21, 25, 29, 34, 36, 37, 75, 112, 146, 157. Giangabriele Fiorentino: pagine 99, 100, 101, 105, 106, 107, 108, 110, 111. Renato Gallo: pagine 40, 115, 116, 133, 134, 144, 152, 154. Gaetano Gambino: pagine 5, 123 . Alfio Garozzo: pagine 4, 7, 9, 11, 12, 13, 16, 18, 24, 32, 35, 36, 43, 45, 47, 57, 60, 76, 77, 82, 83, 84, 85, 87, 88. 90, 91, 92, 94, 96, 97, 99, 100, 106, 113, 115, , 116, 117, 118, 119, 120, 122, 124, 128, 141, 146, 149, 150, 151, 155, 159. Giuseppe Garrafa: pagine 147 . Fausto Giaccone: pagine 16, . Giuseppe Iacono: pagine 19, 51, 136, 148, 150, 152, 153, 155. Walter Leonardi: pagine 39, 51, 54, 55, 57, 70, 80, 90, 91, 92, 95, 127, 135, 138. Giuseppe Leone: pagine 50, 153. Riccardo Lombardo: pagine 26, 66, 114, 119, 125 . Enzo Loverso: pagine 27, . Raimondo Marino: pagine 94, . Melo Minnella: pagine 10, 12, 15, 17, 24, 32, 38, 58, 59, 64, 89, 112, 143, 156 Luigi Nifos: pagine 1, 19, 26, 65, 73, 80, 102, 103, 131, 134, 135, 138, 139, 141, 143, 156, 157, 158, 159. Angelo Pitrone: pagine 44, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56. Publifoto: pagine 59. Federico Raiser: pagine 113. Roberto Rinaldi: pagina 84. Lamberto Rubino: pagine 132, 139. Salvatore Russo: pagine 98. Piero Sabatino: pagine 151. Alessandro Saffo: pagine 31, 52, 94, 104, 108. Veronique Sarano: pagine 3, 28, 41, 43, 46, 56, 60, 61, 64, 72. Foto Tomarchio: pagine129. Antonio Vanadia: pagine 42. Antonio Zimbone: pagine 104, 107, 127, 140, 142. Foto di copertina: 1a Walter Leonardi, Vincenzo Cuttitta; 4a Luigi Nifos, Vincenzo Cuttitta, Alfio Garozzo, Ivan De Pasquale.


TRADUZIONI Francese: Luigi Michaud - Inglese: Nicholas Whithorn Spagnolo: Maria Teresa Monterisi - Tedesco: Doreen Lamek
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Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean, one of the most beautiful places in the world, a place of sea and sun like its precious golden Saints, always desired and coveted, raped and possessed but never truly conquered, in the end always seduced and abandoned, Sicily is sour, occasionally acid and wild, disobedient and deceitful, indifferent and thoughtless, pampered, spiteful, arrogant, anarchic But despite itself, it has a soft heart and a sharp brain and when you get up close and smile it opens wide its arms and hugs you. Sicily is thousands of years old, well trodden like its ancient roadways, wrinkled like its ancient rocks, but in its heart it is still a child that has not had the time and the chance to grow up. The course of its history has frequently been interrupted by other peoples, who have landed on its beautiful shores, besieged it and sacked it, or made it a half-forgotten appendix to their far off empire, often wiping out all signs of its civilisation so as to impose their own, or sometimes overlaying cultures in a gradual process that is then always interrupted by the sight of new sails threatening on the horizon... Ironically, or perhaps as a necessary psychological preparation for their destiny, nature has given Sicilians a sense of great insecurity and a short-sighted sense of resignation: earthquakes, cataclysms and eruptions have often reduced it to ruins over the centuries, burying all that man has made and created, swallowing up the past and claiming it back for the land that created it all. A metaphor of the similarity between historical and natural events in Sicily is the destiny of its monuments and important buildings, which have been restored, demolished, rebuilt over the centuries, according to the whim of men and of nature, an expression of the longstanding lack of sense of identity and continuity. With the annexation of Sicily, Italy undoubtedly acquired the valuable but difficult inheritance of an island suffering from chronic ills, marginal and far off. Indeed, Italy has largely abandoned Sicily to its destiny, letting it become a slave to that form of violent underground government, that occult and pervasive power, which still today is proving to be the enemy of Sicilys culture and development, blocking any sign of growth.

Nonetheless, in recent decades there have been enthusiastic moves made by numerous local administrators to start up a process of promoting and protecting the huge historical, artistic and environmental heritage of the island. Indeed, the tourism potential of Sicily is still a long way from being fully exploited, even though this land has been visited for centuries by famous travellers, who have written famous books and essays on the island, something that has been used recently to create an interesting museum in Palazzolo Acreide (Syracuse). Indeed, Sicily gets under your skin with the silence of its temples, the imposing Giant that dominates it, Mount Etna, or with the colourful noise of its lively markets; with the rugged motionless landscapes of the interior, or with the luxuriant vegetation of the coastline and the mountains; with the deep and vivid blue of its waters and currents, or with the black of its lava stone, which is the base on which the colourful towns around Etna are built; with the metropolitan atmospheres of Palermo and Catania, or with the quiet timeless breathing of the handful of islands dotted around like ornamental pearls off the coast of Messina, Trapani, Agrigento and Palermo Welcome, then, and please come back again: the Sicilians have inherited from the Greeks the sacred sense of hospitality. So, if you stop them in the street to ask for directions or anything else, they will forget that, like everybody nowadays, they were in a hurry. HISTORY, MYTHS AND LEGENDS, HOPES AND DISAPPOINTMENTS Man has been present Sicily since prehistoric times, or to be exact since the Upper Palaeolithic and Mesolithic periods (9th-8th millennium B.C.), as is testified by the stone instruments and cave drawings found inside certain caves. The first stable settlements were rupestrian villages with huts, belonging to the Stentinello civilisation, which grew up mainly in the Syracuse area, but also on Mount Etna and on the Aeolian Islands. They were born out of the radical changes in the lifestyle of the populations inhabiting Sicily, caused by the start up of agriculture (5th millennium B.C.). Sicily was inhabited in ancient times by Sikels, Sicans and Elymians, but early on (around the 10th century B.C.) it was opened up to settlement by Phoenician colonisers and, later on, from 734 B.C. onwards, the Greeks began to arrive, attracted by the ports and fertile soil. The Greeks called the island Trinacria, from tris cra, or with three promontories, or three apexes. The Greek colonisation was the distinguishing event in Sicilys ancient history and, indeed, it was this colonisation that brought the island into the historic age. The waves of migration from Greece were an

organised phenomenon and this explains why the colonial settlements founded by the Greeks in the eastern part of Sicily quickly grew into towns and cities, heavily populated and prosperous. This can be seen from the monuments of the time and the intense trade activity between Sicily and other areas of southern Italy, with Carthage and, from the 6th century B.C., also with Rome. In contrast, the Phoenicians, for example, especially the Carthaginians, who had settled in the western part of the island, initially set up towns (Panormo, Solunto and Mozia) which were simply trading posts to begin with: this allowed them to be allied with the native Elymians, whose main settlements were at Segesta, Erice and Entella. The most important Greek cities were Naxos (735 B.C.), Leontinoi (729 B.C.) and Catana (729 B.C.), founded by pioneers from Chalcis, Syracuse, founded by Corinthians (734 B.C. circa), Megara Hyblea, founded by settlers from Megara (728 B.C. according to Thucydides, 750 B.C. according to Diodorus) and Gela, founded by Rhodians and Cretans (689 B.C.). Megara Hyblea and Gela, in turn, created Selinunte (628 B.C. according to Thucydides and 650 B.C. according to Diodorus) and Agrigento (583 B.C.) respectively. In each of these cities the Sicelioti (the Sicilian Greeks) built great monuments to show off their power and prestige, many of which survive in some form to the present day. They had a good eye for beauty and were experts at choosing the most strategic sites for their majestic buildings, so that they would dominate the city and also be highly visible to ships arriving from over the sea: their temples, for example, were deliberately decorated with stuccoes containing white marble powder, so that they would shine brightly in the rays of the sun, so brightly they almost blinded you, their majesty and magnificence acting as a kind of warning of the dangers of attacking them. However, the Greek colonies never achieved any kind of political unity and were, indeed, often at war with one another, thus encouraging the expansionist ambitions of their enemies. The most important of these enemies was Carthage forever struggling against the Greeks for control over the island which was able to exploit the situation for a long time, finally succeeding in setting up its own colonies between 408 and 405 B.C., colonies that became prosperous cities such as Selinunte, Himera, Agrigento and Gela, later partly destroyed. The rise of Dionysius, tyrant of Syracuse (405 B.C.), meant that the Greeks were able to save
In alto: laquila, simbolo della citt di Caltagirone. Nella pagina precedente: lIsola dei Conigli a Lampedusa.

Colonie Greche Colonie Elime Colonie Fenicio-Puniche


Sicily from the Carthaginians, who gradually reduced their territory in the west of the island, following a struggle that lasted almost two hundred years. With the end of the Second Punic War and the conquest by Marcellus (212 B.C.), Sicily became a Province of the Roman Empire, taking over the dominant role played by Syracuse and playing a fundamental part in the destruction of Carthage. Many of the monuments built by the Greeks, especially theatres and amphitheatres, were incorporated into Roman style structures, so as to adapt them to the tastes and requirements of the new rulers. Examples of this are the Odeon and Theatre in Taormina and the Odeon in Catania, the first Sicilian buildings to experience the eternal movement of stones from one construction to another, right up to the 19th century, built up and then pulled down, as if they were Lego bricks, either at the hands of man or because of the whims of nature The new province of Sicily was destined to become a place simply for exploitation and for use as the source of the grain supply for Rome. The old methods of agricultural organisation were dismantled and the land was taken over by wealthy landowners. This phenomenon can be seen from the discovery of grandiose imperial villas during extensive archaeological excavations in the 20th century, the most famous one being the Villa Romana del Casale in Piazza Armerina, dating back to the 3rd century A.D. With the end of the Roman Empire of the West, in 476 A.D., Sicily suffered a series of invasions at the hands of the Barbarians, firstly the Vandals, in 468, and then the Ostrogoths, in 491, until, in 535, Belisarius conquered the island, leading to a long period of Byzantine domination. This was characterised by the consolidation of the Christian traditions of the island, leading to the conversion of many of the existing holy sites and the construction of new cathedrals and monasteries in which the classical Greek language and tradition were studied and passed on. The long period of peace that started with the Byzantine domination was brusquely interrupted in 827 by the arrival of the Arabs in Mazara del Vallo. The Arab conquest of Sicily was long and bloody, but it saw the beginning of a period of religious and cultural tolerance, thanks to which Sicily experienced the establishment a modern cosmopolitan tradition, which was then accepted and revitalised by the Normans, who took control of the island two centuries later. This was particularly true of Frederick II of Swabia, son of the last Norman heir, Constance de Hauteville, a woman of great intelligence and culture. As well as their culture, the Arabs also brought their advanced scientific and technical knowledge to Sicily. This was particularly beneficial for agriculture, which was revived and gained new crops, including citrus fruits, rice, aubergines, pistachio nuts, jasmine... Trade also experienced a boom and the port of Palermo, capital of the Arab Emirate of Sicily, became a strategic point in the complex trade network of the Arab Empire. Under the Normans and Suevians, as we have briefly mentioned, there was a period of great splendour, in which the Kingdom of Sicily was at the forefront of cultural development and Palermo was filled with beautiful and sumptuous monumental buildings, unlike anywhere else in the world. The court of Frederick II, known as Stupor Mundi (Wonder of the World) because of his imposing image of scholar and lover of the arts, saw the birth of the first Sicilian Poetry School, which provided
A fianco: Federico II. Nella pagina successiva: la Cattedrale di Palermo.

the first examples of literature written in Italian, rather than in Latin and whose members included, apart from Frederick himself, scholars and poets such as Iacopo da Lentini and Pier delle Vigne. It must neither be forgotten that, in the period of Greek colonisation, Sicily had been the birthplace of the art of rhetoric (in the courts) and of the tradition of mime (in the theatres) and that, moreover, in the late 19th and in the 20th century this island produced writers of the stature of Pirandello, Verga, De Roberto, Capuana, Vittorini, Tomasi di Lampedusa, Brancati, Sciascia, Bufalino Not to mention those, like Martoglio, who sacrificed the spread of their fame and fortune, preferring to write their works in Sicilian dialect, a magnificent language that they passionately loved and cultivated. With the death of Frederick, Sicily entered a darker period: the Angevins, who succeeded the Suevians, were so quick to spread the bad reputation of the French in governing the island that Dante, in the Divine Comedy (Paradise, canto VIII), defines it as ill sovereignty. Charles of Anjou moved the capital of the Kingdom to Naples, imposed very heavy taxation and showed a total disregard towards local feelings, provoking the famous revolt of the Sicilian Vespers, a cruel but fascinating page of Palermos history, which led to the French being expelled from the island. The Kingdom then passed into the hands of the Crown of Aragon and then, in 1415, came under the control of a Spanish viceroy. However, within the rapidly expanding Spanish Empire, Sicily was destined to play a very minor role and was once again badly governed, while growing popular discontent induced the Spanish to introduce the Holy Inquisition, which operated in Sicily using the same methods and with the same consequences for which it is sadly remembered elsewhere. In the space of just thirty years, during the 18th century, Sicily came under the control firstly of the House of Savoy (1713), then the Austrians (1722) and finally the Bourbons (1734), whose style of government once again led to popular discontent and to the Revolution of 1848, which was bloodily suppressed. Finally, Sicily was annexed to the Kingdom of Italy, with Italian Unification in 1860, and in 1946, it was granted a special statute, making it an autonomous region. The light that was lit by Frederick II in Sicily, however, is nothing but a distant memory.

Palermo and the Conca dOro

Palermo can certainly be called capital of Sicily, thanks to its prestigious past, signs of which can be seen in its sumptuously magnificent architecture, and thanks to its natural and cultural beauty. It stretches out across the plateau of the Conca dOro, hemmed in by the rugged mountains that surround it and washed by the waters of the beautiful gulf that is home to the main port of Sicily. The old Greek name for the city Panormos means all port and was widely used, even though Palermo was never a Greek colony. The atmosphere created by the streets and architectural styles to be seen in the centre of this historic city show the traces of the various historical periods it has passed through and the various peoples that have dominated it. They have left behind an immensely varied and incomparably fascinating heritage, the emblem of which is the fusion of architectural styles to be seen in the Cathedral Palermo has been home to Sicans, Cretans and Elymians, Phoenicians, Carthaginians and Romans. Its ancient names were Sis (flower), Ziz, for the Phoenicians, then, as we have said, Panormos, which became Panormus for the Romans and then Balarm for the Arabs. Under the Arab domination, which began in 831, Palermo became one of the most important centres for trade in the Mediterranean and in 948, as Sicily was made an emirate, Palermo became its capital. This brought about a change in the political, economic and cultural order of the city, which took on a new stamp. Indeed, there were about three hundred mosques, numerous luxurious palaces, luxuriant gardens and crowded markets packed with precious merchandise, all of which put Palermo on a par with Cordova and Cairo regarding splendour and importance. The Arab occupation lasted until 1072, when the Normans, led by the brothers Roger (Grand Count of Sicily) and Robert the Guiscard de Hauteville, captured the city following a long siege and made way for a new era, widening their control to the whole of the island. Under Roger II de Hauteville, King of Sicily (1130), Palermo became a centre for European and Asian trade, achieving an incomparable level of splendour: in the 12th century the city was the beautiful capital of the kingdom of Sicily, the first unitary state in Italy following the collapse of the Roman Empire of the West. This period saw the building of the Palatine Chapel and Monreale Cathedral, as well as the conversion of numerous mosques into churches, starting with Palermo Cathedral, then S. Giovanni degli Eremiti, S. Cataldo, S. Maria degli Ammalati, the Martorana, to mention but a few. In 1185, the Kingdom of Sicily passed from Norman control into the hands of the Swabian dynasty of the Hohenstaufen, following the marriage between Constance de Hauteville, daughter of Roger II, and Henry VI of Swabia, third child of Frederick Barbarossa, who was proclaimed king of Sicily. He was succeeded by Frederick II, a cultured, refined and illuminated king, who attracted to his court the greatest artists and reformers of the time. Palermo became the centre of the Empire, which also included Puglia and other parts of southern Italy and benefited, along with the rest of Sicily, from the majesty of Frederick II, known by the title of Stupor Mundi (wonder of the world). His reign saw the foundation of the Sicilian Poetic School and the development of science, medicine and natural history. After Frederick, the Swabians followed a rigid policy of central authoritarian control and the creation of a system of alliances with the church, which led to the slow and inexorable decline of Palermo from 1266 onwards, also because of the forced departure of workers belonging to the Muslim community, who

were of strategic importance for the economic stability of the city. Following the victory obtained by Charles of Anjou over Fredericks son, Manfredi, in the Battle of Benevento, Palermo fell into French hands and lost most of its autonomy. Misgovernment by the Angevins took on the shape of an outright military occupation and gave rise to the Sicilian Vespers revolt of 1282 and the expulsion of the French from Sicily. Under the Aragonese, after a brief spell of prosperity, Palermo was no longer capital of the kingdom, now centred on Naples, until Sicily was annexed by Spain in 1415, following a period of great instability. Under the Spanish domination (1415-1713) Palermo became capital again, enjoying a limited degree of autonomy and experiencing urban renewal and the building of new monuments, thanks to the power of the aristocracy, changing its layout and appearance. Moreover, the various religious orders operating in the city became more and more powerful and established a large number of churches and convents. In contrast with the wealth and opulence of the clergy and the nobility, the ordinary people suffered poverty and pestilence, giving rise to widespread rebellions that were often bloodily suppressed. In the early 18th century Sicily came under the control firstly of the House of Savoy and then the Austrians, a short break until Palermo and the rest of Sicily came back under Spanish domination, becoming an autonomous state of the Bourbon Kingdom of Naples. The revolutions of 1820 and 1848 against the Bourbon tyranny were strongly supported by the people of Palermo, but they were only temporary successes and final liberation came in 1860, when Garibaldi entered the city, following his victory in the Battle of Calatafimi, and took power in the name of Victor Emanuel II. Palermo is the largest city in Sicily for population and fifth largest in Italy. Since 1947 it has been the seat of the autonomous regional


government created after the Second World War and is thus the city in which much of the administrative, institutional and cultural activity is concentrated.
In alto: mosaico che raffigura Ruggero II incoronato da Cristo (XII sec. chiesa della Martorana). In basso: antica stampa del Bova.

Cathedral As we briefly mentioned above, the fascinating image of Palermo Cathedral, symbol of the city since Norman times, shows the historical and cultural changes that the city has passed through, becoming a synthesis of centuries of overlapping architectural styles. In each era, something was removed, added or changed, as if there was a need to leave its mark and guarantee a place in the citys history. The Cathedral, therefore, is like a living organism, its majestic body showing the signs of continuity and fractures, allowing visitors to take a brief but extraordinary journey through a thousand years of history. It was built during the mandate (1169-1190) of the English Archbishop Gualtiero Offamilio (Walter of the Mill) and consecrated for worship in 1185. The site on which it stands, next to the ancient course of the River Papireto, previously hosted a Byzantine basilica that was destroyed by the Vandals. It was rebuilt between the 7th and 9th centuries and transformed by the Arabs into the principal mosque of Palermo. When the Normans arrived, under Roger II, the mosque was restored to Christian worship and the Chapels of S. Maria Maddalena and e dellIncoronata were added. It is possible to get an idea of the original layout only from old prints and descriptions of the interior of the church. It had the layout of a basilica with three very long naves covered by wooden ceilings; at the eastern end there was a sanctu-

ary, characterised by the meeting point of the transept with the apses, which gave it a T shape, peculiar to Norman buildings. This basilica, like other Norman churches, was built on only one level and without a crypt beneath the choir. Additions and modifications took place in the 1300s, 1400s, 1500s and between 1781 and1801: a design by the architect Ferdinando Fuga changed the layout from a basilica to a Latin cross, added the lateral naves and the wings of the transept, as well as the cupola. Inside, the wooden ceilings were replace by vaults, while pillars replaced the columns, giving the whole a neoclassical look. The main faade of the Cathedral looks onto Via Matteo Bonello and still maintains the appearance it took on in the 14th and 15th centuries: it is mounted between two high towers with two lancet windows and small columns, animated by blind arches decorated with Islamic style sculpted motifs. A horizontal coping supports the superb portal from the same period and in Gothic style. Two ogival arches link the faade to the bell-tower that stands opposite it, mediaeval in the lower part and made harmonious in its style only by the addition of the upper part in the 1800s. The northern portico dates from the mid-1500s. The front wall of the apses, between the two
In basso e nella pagina a fianco: la Cattedrale di Palermo.


bell-towers, is the most beautiful part of the Cathedral and has undergone few alterations, appearing almost as it did originally in Norman times. Its spectacular appearance can be fully appreciated from Piazzetta Sette Angeli. The portal in the southern faade, through which you enter the Cathedral, was created by the sculptor Antonio Gambara in 1426. It is in Gothic-Catalan style and is of great architectural importance (note the engraving of a passage from the Koran on the first column on the left). On the left hand side of the Cathedral is the

lateral ones, along which the chapels are to be found. On the pillars of the central nave there are 18 statues, one for each pillar, clearly from the Gagini school. The Chapel of the Royal Tombs is at the end of the right hand nave of the Cathedral.

gallery, called the Loggia dellIncoronata, from where newly crowned Kings showed themselves to the people. The interior of the Cathedral is the result of the great conversion works carried out between 1781 and 1801. The Gothic-Norman architectural layout was replaced by a neoclassical style, designed by Fuga and put into practice by the architects Marvuglia and Attinelli. There is a central nave and two
In alto: mosaico raffigurante la Madonna Platitera. Al centro: sarcofago dellImperatrice Costanza, moglie di Enrico VI e madre di Federico II. A fianco: trono regio.


It houses four sarcophagi, the most important being that of Frederick II (d. 1250), Holy Roman Emperor, which is the most richly decorated. However, they are all great works of art, made out of red Egyptian porphyry and protected by canopies. The tomb situated near the entrance is that of Henry VI (d. 1197), Holy Roman Emperor and father of Frederick II. Behind the tomb of Henry VI is that of his wife Constance de Hauteville (d. 1198), mother of Frederick II. To the right there is a white marble sarcophagus with reliefs showing hunting scenes. This contains the remains of Constance II of Aragon (d. 1222), Fredericks first wife. Behind this tomb is that of Roger II, founder of the Kingdom of Sicily. An urn contains the remains of Peter II of Aragon (d. 1342); against the left hand wall is the sarcophagus of William Duke of Athens (d. 1338). The Chapel of Santa Rosalia, patron of the city, is closed off by brass gates overhung by seven silver lamps. Silver was also used to make the altar, behind which there is a copper gate (1655) protecting the precious silver urn in which the remains of the Saint are kept. This urn is considered to be a masterpiece of Sicilian baroque silverware. Passing through a lovely 16th century marble portal by Vincenzo Gagini, you come into the Treasury Room, which houses precious objects in gold, vestments, ostensories, chalices and the beautiful golden tiara that once belonged to Queen Constance de Hauteville, decorated with gems and pearls. In the new sacristy there is a sculpture of the Virgin attributed to Antonello Gagini. The crypt probably dates back to the 6th century and nowadays has two naves with cross vaults supported by perimeter walls

and 14 columns, almost all in Egyptian granite, surmounted by Corinthian capitals. In the end nave you will notice seven apsidioles containing 23 sarcophagi and burial monuments, including that of Archbishop G. Offamilio (d. 1190), founder of the Cathedral. In 1801, in the area of the high altar and across the whole of the central nave, a camera obscura meridian was installed, constituted by a long brass rod inserted into the floor. The sun dial has the twelve signs of the zodiac, made of multicoloured marble, which are illuminated according to the season. Another curiosity to be seen in the Cathedral is a brass rod reproducing the length of one hand, a unit of measurement introduced in Sicily in the 1800s.
In alto: la Meridiana. In basso: veduta dinsieme della cripta.



Palazzo dei Normanni and Palatine Chapel Palazzo dei Normanni, or Palazzo Reale, is one of the most important monuments in Palermo from a historical and artistic point of view. It is derived from the restructuring of the Qasr Castle, which the Arabs had built in the 9th century on the site of a previous Punic-Roman stronghold. Roger II, the first Norman king of Sicily, ordered in 1130 that the building should be transformed from an Arab fortress into a sumptuous palace, while maintaining some of its defensive qualities. In 1132 construction of the Palatine Chapel began. Rogers successors continued the transformation of the Palace, increasing its size, adding four towers, connected to one another by walkways, and adding numerous rooms to host a very cosmopolitan court, as well as the Mint for the minting of coins and the Tiraz, the workshop for the production of high quality material. Up to the death of Frederick II of Swabia, Emperor of Germany and King of Sicily, the Palace was central to the political and economic life of the Kingdom and the was a centre of culture and civilisation on a European level. It seems that members of the royal family lived in the Pisana and Ioaria (or Gioiaria) Towers, where they whiled away the hours in the company of scientists, poets and illustrious men. It should be remembered that Frederick himself founded the Sicilian Poetry School in the Palace. The Astronomical Observatory founded by Ferdinand IV of Bourbon in 1790 is still situated in the Pisana Tower today. With the decline

of the Swabian dynasty, the Palace lost some of its importance and until the late 1500s was largely abandoned and left in decline. In the second half of the century, under the Spanish Viceroys, it was used as a royal residence again and underwent numerous alterations. The two Norman towers called Chirimbi and Greca were demolished and two large interior courtyards were created, the Maqueda and the Fontana Courtyards, around which were positioned the apartments with 16th-17th century furniture and decorations. Moreover, the present day faade, in 16th century style was created. Restoration work has brought to light the so called political prisons, while in the Pisana Tower the Treasure Room was discovered, protected by a double door surrounded by parapet walks. Inside enormous jars were found, cemented into the floor, each capable of holding extraordinary quantities of gold coins. Nowadays the Palazzo dei Normanni is the seat of the Sicilian Regional Assembly, the Parliament of the island created by the Sicilian Region special statute and which holds its meetings in the Salone dErcole or Sala del Parlamento, decorated in 1799 with frescoes by Velasquez, and belonging to the royal apartments. Guy de Maupassant, the famous French writer and tireless traveller, defined the Palatine Chapel as an incomparable monument, the most surprising religious jewel ever dreamt of by man. You enter it from the Maqueda Courtyard of Palazzo dei Normanni, climbing a monumen-


tal staircase. It brings together very different cultures (Byzantine, Arab, Norman, Sicilian) in an exhilarating artistic-architectural synthesis. As we have said, it was built for Roger II de Hauteville in 1130, the year of his coronation. It was consecrated in 1143 and dedicated to Saint Peter. The chapel has a basilica layout with three naves divided by granite columns with gold Corinthian capitals supporting the ogival arches. The ceilings are the work of Muslim workmen and cover the three naves of the chapel: the lateral ones jutting out, the central one with stalactites. Mosaics completely occupy the higher part of the walls, the cupola and the apses, depicting, with plenty of gold, biblical events, the lives of Saints and episodes from the life of Jesus. Among the most significant expressions of the mosaic decoration, created by Byzantine artists in the 12th century, in the cupola we find Christ Pantocrator, blessing in the Greek manner, surrounded by four archangels and four angels; in the apses and on the walls of the sanctuary we find Episodes from the life of Christ. On the left side of the apses there is a depiction of the Madonna Hodigitria, while on the walls of the central nave there are scenes from the Bible. Church of San Giovanni degli Eremiti This is one of the most important Norman monuments in Palermo, built by Roger II in 1136 on the site of a previous Gregorian monastery. It has a square layout with an austere bell-tower

with single lancet windows, while the summit has domed cubical elements, that can be attributed to Islamic craftsmen. The garden houses the remains of an Arab cistern and a small cloisIn alto: interno della Cappella Palatina. In basso: San Giovanni degli Eremiti. Nella pagina precedente: Palazzo dei Normanni.


ter belonging to the original Benedictine monastery from the late Norman era. Porta Nuova This gateway was built in 1583 by the Viceroy Colonna to celebrate the victory of Charles V, the Hapsburg emperor and king of Sicily, against the Turks (Tunis, 1535). It was constructed on the site of a previous 15th century gateway adjacent to Palazzo dei Normanni. It has a widely arched double faade in manneristic style, equipped with gallery topped by a majolica cusp reproducing an eagle with spread wings, symbol of the Senate of Palermo. Capuchin Catacombs The monastery housing the Capuchin Catacombs was annexed to the

small church of Santa Maria della Pace, the original home of the first members of the Order to settle in Palermo in 1533. It is famous all over the world for its catacombs, popular with todays tourists and yesterdays travellers. In the Catacombs there are about 8,000 bodies on display, some mummified and others embalmed, mainly members of the clergy and nobility of the city, but also from the rich middle classes, including women and children. Visitors may find it all a little macabre or a good reason to reflect on the fragility of life, or who knows feel pity and disgust for the silence and darkness of the tomb that has been denied to these numerous dead bodies. La Cuba This mysterious Norman building was built for King William II de Hauteville in 1180. Like the Zisa Castle, it is a compact rectangular building. There is very little evidence to indicate what its original purpose was. We do know, however, that in later ages it was used as a lazaretto and then as a barracks for the Spanish army. Moreover, certain old documents recount that it was once surrounded by a luxuriant garden and a large artificial lake, called Pescheria. La Zisa Castle This is one of the most attractive Arab style buildings in Europe. Its name derives from the Arabic al-aziz meaning the splendid one. This lovely compact rectangular shaped castle was completed in 1167, built on the orders of the Norman King William I de Hauteville, but planned and constructed by Muslim architects and workmen, showing how much the Normans admired the Arab world, copying its lifestyle, ceremonies and customs. The castle is surrounded by a large park with an artificial lake and was the summer residence of the Norman royalty, later becoming a fortress and then a home to families belonging to the nobility.


Inside, on the ground floor, there is a 16th century arch with an attractive fresco depicting mythological characters, known as the Zisa devils. Outside, on the northern side, there is a spa dating from the same period and the original chapel. This is now home to the Islamic Museum. Nearby, you will find the Cantieri Culturali della Zisa housing contemporary art exhibitions, shows, conventions and seminars. Islamic Museum This is situated inside the Zisa Castle, which is the emblem of Islamic architecture in Palermo and thus is the ideal


the people of Palermo as the Quattro Canti or also, with a colourful expression, teatro del sole (theatre of the sun): indeed, the sun is always visible from the piazza, from dawn to sunset. The piazza is situated at the junction of the citys two main streets: Via Vittorio Emanuele and Via Maqueda, which divide Palermo into four parts, called mandamenti. The four corners of the piazza are occupied by sumptuous 17th century baroque buildings. They have four floors and are decorated on the ground floor by fountains representing the four rivers of the ancients city (Oreto, Kemonia, Pannaria, Papireto); there is then a floor on whch

place to house the collection of artefacts testifying to the Arab culture in Sicily, dating back to the period of Arab domination (9th-11th centuries) and to the Norman period that followed (11th-12th centuries), when the influence of Islamic culture in Sicily was still very strong. The structure also house works from various countries of the Mediterranean. A Christian stone inscription in four languages (Hebrew, Latin, Byzantine Greek and Arabic), dating from 1149, bears witness to the multiethnic streak in mediaeval Palermo. I Quattro Canti, Teatro del Sole Piazza Vigliena is the heart of the historical centre of Palermo and for centuries it has been known to
In alto: La Cuba, La Zisa, uno dei Quattro Canti di Piazza Vigliena. Nella pagina precedente, in alto: particolare del mosaico della fontana del Castello della Zisa; in basso: Porta Nuova.


the statues of Aeolus, Venus, Cerere and Bacchus symbolise the four seasons; the next floor up has the statues of Charles V, Philip II, Philip III and Philip IV; finally the top floor has the effi-

gies of the four women saints from Palermo (Agata, Ninfa, Oliva and Cristina), who, before the arrival of Saint Rosalia, were the patrons of the city. Piazza Pretoria This piazza is dominated by the cupolas of the two churches of S. Caterina and S. Giuseppe dei Teatini and it has a trapezoid shape. It is of great visual effect, thanks to the buildings that overlook it and the grandiose central fountain, a monumental work by the Florentine sculptor Francesco Camilliani, assisted by Michelangelo Naccherino, dated 1554. However, the fountain only arrived in Palermo in 1581, when the original owners sold it to the Palermo Senate. The fountain is decorated by various groups of statues of great decorative value, depicting pagan divinities, allegoric symbols, herms and animal heads. The piazza is overlooked by attractive buildings, including the Palazzo Senatorio, also known as Palazzo delle Aquile, built in 1463 but altered many times up to 1823. It is now the City Hall. Above the classical style portal there is a marble eagle and to the left a bell that used to announce the meetings of the Senate; the Church of S. Caterina is annexed to a huge Dominican monastery, built between 1580 and 1596 in late renaissance style with a rich portal from the Gagini school, a




large cloister from the same period and a magnificent cupola; the Church of S. Giuseppe dei Teatini, which overlooks the piazza from the side, was built in 1612-1645, with the lovely canopy of the cupola decorated in multicoloured majolica, the work of Giuseppe Mariani, and an attractive interior with a Latin cross layout, adorned with frescoes, stuccoes and statues. Church of S. Maria dellAmmiraglio or Martorana Built for Admiral Giorgio of Antioch in 1143 and incorporated three centuries later into the adjacent Benedictine convent founded by Eloisa Martorana, it is in Norman style, though similar to Byzantine churches because of its quadrangular structure. It now has a singular look: having undergone numerous alterations over the centuries, you are struck by the mixture of Norman architectural elements and baroque style structures, such as the faade, dating from the late 16th century. It has a sumptuous belltower with two lancet windows, small columns and inlaid sides. Its interior walls are decorated in gold and marble slates, as well as amazingly beautiful and well preserved mosaics, which along with those in the Palatine Chapel are the oldest and most prestigious example of the Sicilian mosaic cycle.
In alto e a fianco: S. Cataldo e la Martorana. Nella pagina precedente: la Fontana della Vergogna in Piazza Pretoria.

Church of S. Cataldo It is situated opposite the Martorana. This church also dates from the Norman period and it maintains its original shape, interior, mosaic floor and the etchings on the altar. It is the seat of the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre.


Botanical Gardens These lovely gardens were laid out in the late 18th century and are one of the largest and most important botanical gardens in Europe. They cover an area of about 11 hectares and are home to over 12,000 plants (water-plants, textile plants, medicinal plants, carnivorous plants) from all over the world, many of which are rare and valuable. Some of the most interesting are the giant specimens of Ficus Magnolioides, which have always attracted the attention of botanists and researchers. Church of Ges Also known as Casa Professa, this is one of the most important baroque

churches in Palermo and in the whole of Sicily; it was the first church built by the Jesuits, who arrived in the city in 1549 and started work on the church in the late 1500s. the interior walls are covered with multi-coloured inlays, marble decorations and stuccoes in relief with sculptures and paintings. The mixed marble decoration with floral or figurative motifs is particularly interesting. The most spectacular part of the building is the gallery of the apse, decorated with the Adoration of the Shepherds and the Adoration of the Magi, marble bas-reliefs created according to models by Giacomo Serpotta. Of particular interest is the concert organ, with four keyboards and more than 4,000 pipes. The church is the scene of one part of the famous novel The Leopard, by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa. Palazzo Steri or Chiaramonte - Palazzo Chiaramonte belonged to one of the most powerful families in Palermo in the 1300s (it is also called Palazzo Steri from hosterium, or fortified building). Building started under Manfredi Chiaramonte in 1307 and was completed in 1380. In front of the Palazzo, in 1396, the last of the Chiaramonte dynasty, Andrea, was decapitated for rebelling against the Aragonese King. From the 1400s onwards Palazzo Steri became the seat of the Spanish Viceroys and from the 1600s it housed the Court of the Inquisition. It is still possible today to visit the prisons of the Palazzo, where you can see drawings, pictures, etchings and writings by victims of the Inquisition. In a hall of the Palazzo you can view a famous painting, La Vucciria (1974), by the well known local artist Renato Guttuso. Porta Felice This gateway was constructed in 1582 on the orders of the Spanish Viceroy Marcantonio Colonna and is named after his wife, Lady Felice Orsini. It is in a symmetrically opposite position to Porta Nuova and is constituted by two monumental pillars standing on the side of the Marina. Church of S. Maria della Catena So called because of a chain with which the ancient gate to the city was closed. Built in the early 16th century, it is a magnificent example of the GothicCatalan style with the insertion of Renaissance type elements. It is worth noting the bas-reliefs below the portico by Vincenzo Gagini, who was also responsible for the lovely portal.
In alto: La Vucciria di Renato Guttuso. A fianco: Villa Giulia, il Genio di Palermo.


Sicilian Regional Gallery The Gallery was set up after the Second World War and houses the mediaeval and modern section of the Archaeological Museum. It is located in Palazzo Abatellis, built by Matteo Carnelivari in the years 1490-1495, which is one of the best examples of Gothic-Catalan and

Renaissance architecture in Sicily. The layout of the Gallery was designed by the Venetian architect Carlo Scarpa and the displays include paintings and sculptures covering the period from the 11th to the 18th century, most of which were collected together in the 1800s. The masterpieces include the Bust of Eleonora dAragona, by Francesco Laurana (1430-1502), a 50 cm marble sculpture, representing a perfect expression of feminine beauty; the very famous Annunziata (1476), by Antonello da Messina, who introduced Flemish style oil painting to Italy; the Triumph of Death, dating from the 15th century, in which death is depicted according to the mediaeval conception, an event that frightens the young, shoots mortal arrows against priests and bishops, but spares the poor and the sick. Also worthy of note are the Arab wooden etchings, the Hispanic-Moorish ceramics from the 13th-16th century, the wood and marble fragments, the sculptures by Gagini and the frescoes. Antonino Salinas Regional Archaeological Museum This museum is located in the centre of Palermo, in the exmonastery of the Philippine Friars of the Olivella and houses a large quantity of objects from all over Sicily, including outlying islands, archaeological artefacts of Etruscan, Phoenician, Greek and Roman origin, which document Sicilian art from prehistoric times up to the late Roman era. On the ground floor there is a large hall dedicated to the archaeological site of Selinunte, with a
Dallalto: lAnnunziata di Antonello da Messina; Ritratto di Giovinetto del Gagini; il Tritone del Museo Archeologico Antonino Salinas.


marvellous collection of monumental metope from the large temples and the famous Ephebus, a bronze statue from the 5th century B.C. On the first floor, on the other hand, you can see the Ram of Syracuse from the 3rd century B.C. and Hercules killing a deer from Pompeii. [The museum has been temporarily closed since 13 July last year!!!] International Marionette Museum This museum was founded in 1975 by the Association for the preservation of popular traditions and is an integral part of Sicilian culture. It houses the most important and comprehensive collection of marionettes in the world, together with the scenery and equipment needed to put on traditional performances. The collection includes about 3,500 puppets, marionettes and glove puppets, all hand made according to the ancient techniques used by craftsmen. Church of Santa Maria dello Spasimo Situated in the Kalsa district, this church has a history in which the religious and the secular mix together: created thanks to aprivate donation, the building was left unfinished for a long time until, thanks to a papal concession, in 1582 it became a theatre. It later became a lazaretto, food warehouse, dormitory for the poor and hospital. It fell into decay over the years and ended up in very precarious conditions. In 1995, however, it was restored and the Spasimo, as this monumental complex is commonly called, now hosts cultural events, theatre and musical performances. At the Prado Museum in Madrid there is a canvas by Raffaello Sanzio Lo spasimo di Sicilia, which depicts the dismay of Mary as Christ collapses under the weight of the cross, commissioned by the original donor of the land on which the church was built and then

given to King Philip V as a gift from a Spanish Viceroy. Church of the Magione Also known as the Church of the Santissima Trinit, it was founded in 1191 by Matteo dAjello, chancellor of the Norman Kingdom, and in 1197 it was passed on to the order of the Teutonic Knights, becoming the seat of their mansio, or preceptor (hence the name). On the outside the church has a variety of decorative motifs. The entrance is preceded by a baroque portal and by an avenue running between two gardens. The interior has a basilica layout with three naves. Next to the church there is a cloister, which was damaged by the bombing in the Second World War, where you can see the remains of an Arab tower. Through a doorway to the left of the faade you enter the chapel of Santa Cecilia, with a large fresco of the Crucifixion, a fragment of a 13th century fresco and the sinopia in red ochre of the Crucifixion. La Vucciria Market A visit to the Vucciria Market gives you a glimpse of the pulsating everyday life of Palermo. It is situated between Via Roma and Corso Vittorio Emanuele. The Vucciria is such a characteristic and picturesque place, with its mixture of typical Sicilian smells, colours and tastes, that it inspired Renato Guttuso to paint a famous picture, now housed in Palazzo Steri. Church of San Francesco dAssisi The church is part of a convent complex built in a district of wealthy merchants and artisans. It was constructed between 1255 and 1277 and altered many times later on. It was seriously damaged by bombing in the last war but was restored and now looks as splendid as it did in the 13th century. The faade is in late Romanic style and has an attractive Gothic portal surmounted by a lovely rose window. The interior has three naves, with wide Gothic arches and a trussed ceiling. In the central nave there are ten allegorical statues by Giacomo Serpotta (1723), representing the Franciscan virtues. In the right hand nave, you can admire a magnificent Renaissance arch and some side chapels. In the apses you will see the sumptuous Chapel of the Immacolata, inlaid with multicoloured marble, the pleasant wooden choir and the Chapel of San Francesco. The portal
A fianco: il Teatro Politeama Garibaldi. Nella pagina a fianco: il Teatro Massimo Vittorio Emanuele.


of the Mastrantonio Chapel, by Francesco Laurana, is a real jewel. Also of great interest is the Treasure, full of 16th century canvases and wooden statues. The church also houses an interesting fresco by Novelli, transported onto canvas, Saint Francis and two Saints, as well as works by Gagini. Church of S. Giovanni dei Lebbrosi This is one of the oldest churches from the Norman period and was the first in Palermo to have that typical rounded cupola shape. Founded in 1071, Arab workmen were used for its construction, something that became normal practice under the Normans and the Swabians. The name of the church derives from the fact that, in 1150, it housed a leprorsarium. It is surrounded by a lovely garden with palm trees, to the right of which there are some ruins of a previous Arab construction, the Castle of Yahia. Legend has it that the Norman conquerors built the church on this site immediately after they had captured the Castle. Vittorio Emanuele Massimo Theatre It is in clear neoclassical style and is the largest theatre in Palermo and, covering an area of almost 8.000 sq. m, it is also the largest in Italy and the third largest in Europe, with seating for up to 3,200 spectators and equipped with perfect acoustics. It came into being in 1875, with a design by Giovanni Basile, who followed the building work until his death, after which it was completed by his son Ernesto until completion in

1897. The design includes elements from ancient theatres and from Roman public buildings, such as temples, basilicas and spas. The result is one of architectural harmony and composure. It is decorated with the masterpieces of the numerous artists who created paintings and sculptures to be housed here. The interior has a splendid auditorium of 450 sq. m, in a horseshoe shape and a gallery with five levels of boxes. After several years of closure and neglect, it is now open to the public again. Garibaldi Politeama Theatre Designed by Giuseppe Damiani Almeyda between 1867 and 1874. It has a circular structure in neoclassical style, with a double order of Doric and Ionic style columns. The faade has an advanced front that forms a triumphal arch, crowned by a bronze haut-relief by Mario Rutelli. Church of San Domenico This is one of the most beautiful examples of Palermo Baroque. It was built in 1640 on the site of a pre-existing 14th century building and decorated with the present day faade, with overlapping columns and statues, when the piazza of the same name was created in 1724-26. The interior houses the tombs of numerous famous Sicilians (but also the remains of Francesco Crispi) and numerous interesting paintings and sculptures. To the left of the faade there is access to the 14th century cloister, where, in the 15th century, the first University of Palermo was housed and which currently houses, also in the adjacent premises, the


Society of National History, a library and the Museum of the Risorgimento. Church and Oratorio of Santa Cita Built in 1369, it was reconstructed in 1586-1603. the interior contains paintings and sculptures by A. Gagini, F. Paladino and G. Vitaliano. Below the church is the Crypt of the Lanza family, where you can admire a beautiful marble sculpture depicting the Piet, attributed to Giorgio da Milano, and lovely marble works. Next to the church stands the Oratorio, famous for the stuccoes by Giacomo Serpotta. La Favorita Royal Estate and Palazzina Cinese when the French army occupied Naples in 1798, Ferdinand, King of the Two Sicilies, fled to Palermo, where he used the Favorita park as his hunting reserve, in the same way as he used the one at his Palace in Portici, near Naples. He soon had a residence built in the park, the Palazzina Cinese, constructed on the foundations of a pre-existing building, and created a neoclassical style garden around it. It can still be admired for its uniqueness, an unusual mixture of neoclassical, Chinese and Gothic architectural styles. The various rooms contain frescoes by Giuseppe Patania, Vincenzo Riolo and Giuseppe Velasquez, as well as attractive collections of English and Chinese prints, silks and antique furniture. On the altar of the royal

chapel there is a large late 18th century painting depicting the Madonna della Lettera. Since 1909 the premises adjacent to the Palazzina Cinese have been home to the Sicilian Ethnographic Museum, one of the most interesting of its kind in Europe. It is named after Giuseppe Pitr, the local ethnologist who founded it. The museum houses a rich and varied collection of objects reflecting the lifestyle, habits and customs of the Sicilian people. Nowadays in the Favorita Park you can find sports facilities, as well as parkland, and it forms part of the Monte Pellegrino Nature Reserve. Monte Pellegrino and Sanctuary of Santa Rosalia The Gulf of Palermo is bordered to the north by Monte Pellegrino, a natural wing forming a spectacular backdrop, which was not missed by Goethe, who called it the most beautiful promontory in the world). The mountain is dotted with caves that are of great archaeological, geological and speleological interest. Moreover, the Patron Saint of Palermo, Rosalia (ca. 1130-1166), spent most of her life as a hermit on Monte Pellegrino. She was born into the nobility but her family fell into disgrace and lost all their worldly goods. Saint Rosalia is attributed with the miracle of ending the plague that was afflicting the city in 1625: after an apparition of the Saint, her remains were found in a cave on Monte Pellegrino and were brought into the city, bringing an immediate end to the plague. This event is celebrated on the 4th September with a charming procession and numerous people make the pilgrimage to the cave and the adjacent Sanctuary, built in the 17th century.
In alto: stucchi allinterno dellOratorio di Santa Cita. A fianco: la statua di Santa Rosalia.

La spiaggia di Mondello
Mondello is a lively residential and tourist area, as well as a seaside location popular with the people of Palermo. It has an attractive bay bordered by Monte Pellegrino and Monte Gallo. The old fishing village used to stand on the northern side of the bay, around the tuna plant, of which two 15th century cylindrical watchtowers remain. One is enveloped by the town, the other is situated on the extreme rocky western tip of the bay. Up to the 1800s it was surrounded by marshland, but these areas were drained in the early 1900s and the Belgian company that had been granted rights over them created a garden city. Thus, wealthy Palermo families soon used this land to build attractive liberty style villas, such as Villa Dagnino and Villa Pojero, and, in 1912, the Stabilimento Balneare (Kursaal al mare) was opened. In the sides of Monte Pellegrino, between 150 and 75 metres above sea level, there are caves called the Grotte dellAddaura, inside of which archaeological material and drawings of human figures in naturalistic style from the Upper Palaeolithic have been found. Some of the caves are of great interest for cavers. A trip around Capo Gallo by boat allows you to see the intense activity of the geological phenomenon called the solco del battente: the crashing waves have created a hollow in the rock, which has then emerged from the water because of the effect of coastal rising. Also along the coastline, you can visit, among others, the Grotta del Malpasso, which has plenty of stalactites.

Mondello e la sua spiaggia.


Just 8 kilometres from Palermo, stretched out on the hills of the Conca dOro, stands the town of Monreale, popular with tourists for the beauty of its views but, above all, for its lavish and famous Cathedral, a masterpiece of Norman architecture containing elements of Arab, Byzantine and Romanic culture, all coming together to create an incredible feeling of amazement and wonder that visitors experience when they find themselves in the presence of such astounding beauty. It was built for William II in 1174, who incorporated it into a huge complex that included the Benedictine abbey, the archbishops palace and the royal palace, in order to emulate the two largest Norman constructions built for his grandfather, Roger II: the Palatine Chapel and Cefal Cathedral. He was motivated not just by his strong desire to enter the history books, but also by his fervid Catholic faith, which he wanted to show off with this majestic building. According to legend, the Sovereign fell asleep beneath a carob tree and in a dream the Madonna appeared to him, suggesting that he dug beneath the tree to extract treasure that was buried there and that he used it to build a church dedicated to her. Uprooting the tree, he found the treasure and thus set himself the task of fulfilling the wishes of the Madonna The faade of the Cathedral is encompassed between two high square towers; the one to the left is unfinished, while the one to the right has

several concave floors. The higher part of the faade is decorated with the classic Arab ornamental motif, consisting of entwined arches made out of limestone and lava stone, with a large pointed arch window in the centre; in the lower part there is an 18th century portico with three archways supported by Doric columns and topped by a marble balustrade. Inside the portico, there is a beautiful portal decorated with carvings and mosaics. The bronze doors are the work of Bonanno Pisano and are divided into 42 panels depicting biblical scenes. Along the left hand side of the building there is an elegant portico on columns by Gian Domenico and Fazio Gagini, from which a doorway leads into the Cathedral. The bronze door is by Barisano da Trani and has 28 panels in bas-relief depicting figures of saints. The interior of the Cathedral has a basilica layout
In basso: veduta aerea di Monreale. Nella pagina a fianco: interno della Cattedrale.

with three naves into which the Byzantine style cross is inserted, with a square layout, without cupola and with three apses (m 102 x 40). The three naves are divided by 18 ancient columns, which support ogive arches in Arab style. The original floor mosaic has geometrical patterns, in granite and porphyry, and was completed in the 16th century. The walls of the naves, of the sanctuary, of the apses and of the transept are all covered by mosaics with a gold background, dating from the 12th to the mid-13th century, the work of local craftsmen of the Byzantine school and Venetian craftsmen. The mosaics cover an area of more than 6,000 square metres and depict episodes from the Old and New Testaments. On the right hand side of the sanctuary lie the remains of William I, kept in a porphyry sarcophagus, and those of William II, in a marble sarcophagus. The Benedictine Chapel (1569) is a lovely example of Sicilian baroque and is completely covered by attractive inlays and marble reliefs, the work of Giovanni Marino. On the altar is the Glory of Saint Benedict by Ignazio Marabitti. The high altar is a refined 18th century piece of work by the Rome silversmith Luigi Valadier. It is made from porphyry with decorations in bronze and silver. Close by are the marble tombs of Margaret of Navarra, Roger and Henry, the wife and sons of William I.

Further on, a beautiful marble portal with inlays and bronze fretworked doors gives you access to the Chapel of the SS. Crocifisso, a real baroque jewel, richly decorated with multicoloured inlays of Sicilian hardstones, built to house the 15th century wooden Crucifix of the Sicilian-Catalan school, which stands on the altar. The lateral niches of the transept hold marble statues of Faith and Hope. From the Chapel of the SS. Crocifisso you can enter the Treasury of the Cathedral, which houses, among other things, vestments and church plate of French origin, a 13th century enamelled copper drawer and various reliquaries, one of which was donated by Philip III of Spain. Next to the high altar is a large organ, with five keyboards, a 20th century work by the Ruffatti Brothers of Padua. At the start of the right hand nave there is access to the Terraces of the Cathedral, from where you can enjoy a marvellous view over the Cloister, Monreale and the Conca dOro. The very famous Cloister of Monreale is situated to the right of the Cathedral, in the Benedictine abbey dating from the same period, which underwent numerous alterations up to the end of the 14th century. It is an authentic colourful architectural masterpiece, measuring 47 m x 47 m. Around the perimeter there are 228 twin columns, all richly decorated, many with mosaic inlays, others in arabesque, the work of Byzantine and


il chiostro

Islamic craftsmen. The plinths above are adorned with acanthus. The capitals are decorated with figures and depictions of biblical scenes and support Arab style ogival arches. In the southern corner there is a square enclosure surrounded on each side by three arches, called the Chiostrino, in the centre of which stands a small Arab style fountain with a trunk similar to that of a stylized palm tree, on top of which there is a bud depicting twelve figures dancing or playing instruments. Above these, a circle of twelve lions heads pours water into the basin below.
In questa pagina: il Chiostro di Monreale. Nella pagina precedente: piazza della Cattedrale.


The coastline of the province of Palermo is characterised by the lovely effect of mountains and rocky promontories sloping right down to the sea and sometimes looming over the beaches, unsure whether they are protecting or threatening them This is also the case in Cefal, a well known destination in the province, which was made beautiful by nature and further enhanced by the work of man. It is dominated by its Rock, which is the element for which it is most famous, a sort of backdrop that has become inseparable from the image of this town. It is probably for this reason that the ancient name of the town was Kephalodion, from Kephalis, or head, in reference to the shape of the Rock. Historical sources make no mention of the date in which the town was founded or the identity of the first humans to live on the site of the present day town. However, the first settlement probably grew up at the foot of the Rock, where the mediaeval town centre later developed. It was probably a Phoenician trading post, a hypothesis supported by numerous experts, although some now believe that Cefal was originally a native settlement that prospered under the control of Greeks

and Phoenicians, who alternated in their supremacy along this coastline from the 5th century B.C. onwards. As regards historical sources, the town is mentioned for the first time by Diodorus Siculus, who recounts that in 396 B.C. the Carthaginian General Imilcone allied himself with the inhabitants of Kephalodion. In 307 B.C. it wa captured using subterfuge by Dyonisius of Syracuse. In 254 B.C. it became part of the Roman domain with the name of Cephaloedium. Under the Byzantine domination, the slow decline of the town began, caused by the moving of the centre onto the Rock, for security reasons. Indeed, recently remains in clear upper mediaeval style (embattled walls, water tanks, small churches) have been found in this area. Under the Arabs, the town took on the name of Gafludi. During the period of Norman rule under Roger II, the first King of Sicily, Cefal experienced the height of its splendour. The Sovereign founded a bishopric here, granting it huge areas of property, including the town and the castle. In 1131 Roger had the Cathedral built in Cefal: superb and gentle, imposing and slender, it stands out against the blue sky with its two towers, almost as if trying to catch the clouds, while everything beneath it, at the bottom of the long stairway, seems to have surrendered to its dom-



ination. This is one of the very first masterpieces of Norman architecture in Sicily and its splendour is down to the fusion of various different elements: the genius and originality of the architects and the Islamic craftsmen, the refined Byzantine taste in painting and mosaics, the influence of Norman culture and architecture. The paintings on the ceiling are particularly interesting as they depict the Islamic heaven (1148). The Cathedral was also conceived as the mausoleum for Roger, but the decline and decay of the building following his death convinced Frederick II to move the Norman Kings porphyry sarcophagus to Palermo in 1215. A few years later, in 1240, restoration work was started and this included numerous modifications to the original structure, also in terms of style, the most evident ones being the lowering of the wooden ceiling of the main nave, which is now trussed, and the partial rotation of the transept. The parvis of the Cathedral is an old public cemetery and was laid down using holy earth, brought here from Jerusalem. The faade is the work of the architect Panittera (1240) and the attractive portal is by Ambrogio da Como (1473). Inside, you will be impressed by the Byzantine style mosaic that dominates the bowl of the apse, depicting Christ Pantocrator, on a golden background, blessing with just three fingers of his right hand, according to the Greek rites. The magnificence of the decorations and the

brightness of the mosaics which also cover the walls of the presbytery and the vault is in stark contrast with the austere grey stone floor. In the apse, it is worth admiring the large double-fronted Wooden cross, painted in the 15th century by Guglielmo da Pesaro.
In alto: la Cattedrale normanna domina il centro storico di Cefal. In basso: la Cattedrale. Nella pagina precedente: veduta aerea dellabitato e della rocca.


Also of interest are the Romanic Baptismal Font in the right hand nave, the Baroque stuccoes (1650) in the central nave by Scipione Livolsi with paintings by Ignazio Bongiovanni and a Madonna with Child, attributed to Antonello Gagini, near the entrance in the left hand nave. The two lateral naves house interesting Monumental tombs of members of the nobility and the clergy. Along the left hand side of the transept you can visit the Chapel of the Sacrament, completely decorated in silver, with an altar (1764-1779) created by the Palermo silversmiths Gregorio Balsamo, Giovanni Rossi and Giuseppe Russo. The interior of this marvellous Cathedral and the works of art housed here are further enhanced by the light, which filters in through the splendid stained glass windows created by Michele Canzoneri in 1990, creating an unforgettable and touching atmosphere.

From the northern nave of the Cathedral you can gain access to the Cloister, decorated by twin columns surmounted by carved capitals. Unfortunately, little remains today of the original structure, above all because of a fire that destroyed the eastern wing. You can, however, still see some of the original capitals: the tenth (with episodes from the Bible) and the fourteenth (which depicts Noahs Ark) in the southern wing and the fourth (with depictions of animals) in the western wing. Mandralisca The Museum includes a varied library and collections regarding malacology, ornithology and numismatics; besides, there are archaeological artefacts from the surrounding area and from Lipari and an interesting art gallery with works dating back to the 15th18th centuries, including the famous Portrait of an unknown person by Antonello da Messina. Along the road leading to the Rock of Cefal


you will see numerous ruins of old buildings, testifying to the important strategic role that this place has had over the centuries: guardhouses, fortifications, embattled walls, warehouses, remains of houses, water tanks and ovens can all be seen as you pass by, until you reach an area of level ground overlooking Cefal and the so called Temple of Diana. This elegant megalithic sanctuary was built in the 9th century B.C., but during the Greek period another construction was placed on top of it, later transformed into a Byzanine church. Jean Houl, the famous 18th century traveller and engraver, painted some famous watercolours of this building when he visited it. It is a polygonal structure, surrounded by imposing walls made of large stone blocks; it has two rooms and a corridor and the only entrance has a finely moulded lintel. There is a large water tank next to the sanctuary, covered by eight large slabs of stone and fed by a water source; material from the Bronze Age has been found here. Some believe that this building is connected to the worship of water, very wide-

spread in Sicily three thousand years ago. Cefal Castle stood overlooking the Tyrrhenian coast and dominated the landscape, providing on of the most important reference points for those sailing between Palermo and Messina. The castle is located on the southern side of the upper defensive walls. The lower parts of the perimeter walls and of the interior dividing walls are still standing. The layout of the castle was an irregular pentagonal shape with a massive quadrangular tower sticking out on the eastern side, opposite the entrance. Another tower can be identified on the northern side. Inside, about ten rooms have been identified laid out to the north and south respectively of a sort of narrow courtyard or passageway, running in an east-west direction. On the eastern side of the Rock the oldest traces of prehistoric life in this area have been found in the caves known as the Grotte delle Colombe and delle Giumente, as well as other material from the Graeco-Roman age, which testifies to human presence here in later eras as well. the old parish church. In recent times this town in the Madonie mountains has also become a place where wealthy people from Palermo come for weekend retreats. This can be seen from the tourist facilities that have been around for several decades now. It is worth visiting the Nature Museum, named after the local scholar Min Palumbo (open every day, except Mondays, only in the morning). Castelbuono is an ideal base for excursions up to the massif of the Carbonara, thanks to the road that climbs up from 420 metres above sea level in the town to 1,300 metres above sea level at the Crispi mountain hut on Piano Sempria, passing through the shady wood of S. Guglielmo.

In the streets of this town you still breathe the air of its past as capital of the earldom and then the marchioness of Geraci. The Ventimiglia Castle, with the lavish chapel of S. Anna, the gateways, the old parish church and the houses of the noblemen who wanted to live near the Counts court, all give Castelbuono a rather austere look. The centre of the town is adorned with several fountains, including the central piazza, where a 16th century fountain stands in front of the elegant portico of


Bagheria is the birthplace of Renato Guttuso and is surrounded by orchards and groves of citrus fruit, medlars and olives. Thanks to its favourable climatic conditions, from the 17th century onwards it became a place for wealthy Palermo families to spend the summer. These families built lovely baroque residences, including Villa Butera, the oldest, and Villa Gravina di Valguarnera, built in 1721, in a more sober style with hints of Renaissance and with a faade adorned with sculptures by Ignazio Marabitti. However, the most famous building in Bagheria, dating back to 1715, is Villa Gravina di Palagonia, designed by Tommaso Maria Napoli for Ferdinando Francesco Gravina, Prince of Palagonia and magistrate of Palermo. His peculiar ornamental figures, grotesque and monstrous, partly fascinating and partly unsettling, have made this villa famous and continue to inspire the fantasy of other artists It was praised by the famous poet Giovanni Meli. Villa Bonanni di Cattolica, built in 1736, is home to the Renato Guttuso Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art, with works donated to

the artist, who is also buried here. Villa Naselli dAragona Cut, built in the early 1700s, it houses the F. Scaduto Municipal Library, with over 10,000 books, relics from the era of Garibaldi, 18th century arms and liveries, and the Pietro Piraino Museum of Toys and Waxworks, with around 600 toys (18th-20th centuries) and about sixty waxworks.
In alto: figura ornamentale di Villa Gravina di Palagonia. In basso: Villa Bonanni di Cattolica.


Modern day Slunto stands on the slopes of Monte Catalfano. It was once known as Soloeis or Solus and according to Thucydides, who was the first to mention it, it was one of the Phoenician cities, along with Palermo and Mozia, already in existence in Sicily when the Greek colonists arrived here. It was founded in the 4th century B.C., but it is believed that an older city of the same name probably existed somewhere nearby, although its exact position has not been discovered and is the subject of controversial debate. The discovery of two Punic sarcophagi (now housed in the Regional Museum in Palermo), in the nearby locality of Pizzo Cannito, had led to the hypothesis that this was the site of the original Solunto, but now there is too much conflicting evidence and no further light has been shed on the matter. We know that the Phoenician city was captured by subterfuge by Dionysius the Elder, tyrant of Syracuse, in 396 B.C. and conquered by the Romans in 250 B.C. At the end of the 2nd century A.D., it was voluntarily abandoned by its population and was then completely destroyed by the Saracens. The digs undertaken to bring this ancient civilisation to light began in 1826 being interrupted

and started up again several times and they are still in progress. Of the remains so far uncovered, most belong to the Hellenistic and Roman periods. The city seems to have a regular layout, made up of a series of orthogonal intersections, which forms blocks of houses with narrow passages between them to allow for drainage of rainwater. The remains of the houses have plastered or even painted walls, fragments of which are housed in the Regional Museum in Palermo. The main street is paved in terracotta, while the other streets are cobbled. The absence of a water source in the city must be the reason for the presence of so many water tanks, along with a complex system for the collection of water. In the Antiquarium you can see artefacts found during the digs, as well as maps showing the various aspects of the old city. The Gymnasium is, in reality, a house from the Roman Hellenistic period with an atrium and peristyle with Doric columns. The House of Leda, a residence dating from the same period, derives its name from the presence of a depiction of the myth Leda with the swan on the wall of one of the rooms. The Roman Hellenistic Theatre survives only in the form of the terraces, while the small building next to it, probably an Odeon or bouleuterion is in a good state of repair.
In alto: il Ginnasio.


This is geologically the oldest among the islands dotted around the coast of Sicily. Ustica is situated in the Tyrrhenian Sea, 36 miles from Palermo, and is known as the Black pearl of the Mediterranean. Indeed, it is of volcanic origin, having emerged from the sea about a million years ago, bursting forth like a fiery flower from a deep fracture that opened up in the seabed. It is, therefore, the summit of a vey large marine volcano and it bears the signs of this volcanic activity, along with those left by the wind and the waves, which have shaped its coastline creating spectacular ravines and caves. The island is famous around the world for its popularity with sailors and divers, who are fascinated by the extraordinary biodiversity of the marine species living in these waters, by the infinite combinations of underwater colours that dazzle you and take your breath like mirages. Ustica is also a terrestrial paradise, a place in which you can find yourself, breathing in and listening to nature, something that is sadly difficult to do nowadays, as human progress is indifferent to nature, hiding and silencing it, following our yearning for new technologies. The history of the island is varied and fascinating, though characterised by strong elements of contrast and by the whims of destiny, sometimes favourable and at other times less benevolent, with the island being the scene of dark human dramas. As is the case with most lands inhabited by ancient civilisations, the origins of Ustica are unclear and our knowledge of them is a fragmentary mixture of history and legends. A good example is the interpretation of the meaning of the islands name, which some say derives from

the Latin ustum, or burnt, in reference to the remains of the extinct craters on the island, while others attribute the name to the Greek Osteodes, or ossuary, based on the story told by Diodorus Siculus, who refers to six thousand Carthaginian mercenaries who were deported to the island and left to die of hunger and thirst, making the coastline of Ustica resplendent in the reflection of their bones in the sun. We know, however, from the artefacts found in some of the caves, that the history of Ustica began in the Neolithic age and that in the Bronze Age it was home to a civilisation that was very similar to the one inhabiting the Aeolian Islands. Later on, historical sources and archaeological studies have fond numerous traces of the passage of Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Greeks and Romans on the island. We also know that in the 6th century of the Christian era, a group of Benedictine monks came to the island and founded a monastery, being forced to abandon it, however, during the wars with the Arabs. In Norman times Ustica was repopulated and the old monastery was enlarged and restarted. Other mediaeval sources mention Ustica: for example Idrisi, even Boccaccio, who mentions it in the Decameron, and numerous other documents that confirm it was inhabited right


up to the 14th century. At that point it seems that the island was abandoned, probably because of continual raids by Saracen pirates. In the second half of the 18th century, Charles III of Bourbon took a great interest in Ustica, encouraging its colonisation and fortifying the island. The Bourbons also used Ustica as a penal colony, a sad role that the island was to keep right up to 1961; one of the many who were confined here was Antonio Gramsci, who fell in love with the beauty of the place and with its very courteous population. On the northern tip of the island, at Tramontana, you will find the Villaggio dei Faraglioni, the most important Bronze Age (1450-1250 B.C.). settlement on the island, in terms of position and state of preservation. The high cliffs were a natural defence for the village on the north-eastern side, while imposing fortifications guaranteed security on the inland side. Jumping forward to the 3rd century B.C., a new settlement was built on the rock of the Falconiera, characterised by habitations dug out of the rock and numerous water tanks. In the Bourbon Tower of Santa Maria you will find the Antiquarium of Ustica, which houses a small but significant display of archaeological artefacts uncov-

ered on the island. The building also houses the Underwater Archaeological Museum. Ustica holds a prestigious record, having been the first Protected Marine Area created in the whole of Europe. The island is also home to the International Academy of Underwater Science and Technology and there is an annual international event on this theme, with conventions, competitions, underwater photography and film exhibitions, as well as underwater archaeology. There are numerous beaches and inlets suitable for bathing: Caletta del Faro, Punta Cavazzi, Cala Sidoti, Punta and Caletta Spalmatore. If you make a circumnavigation of Ustica, you are in for some particular surprises: the tuff walls of Capo della Falconiera, the lighthouse at Punta Omo Morto, the Grotta dellOro, the Stacks, the high cliffs of Cala Passo della Madonna, the cliff at Scoglio del Medico, the series of caves called the Grotte delle Barche, della Pastizza, dellAccademia and, finally, the Grotta Azzura. Diving Capital, the island offers enthusiasts a large number of sites for amazing underwater immersions, as well as an intriguing and so far unique form of museum, an underwater Antiquarium, with the artefacts on display linked to one another by three colours of cord, which denote the depth at which the objects are displayed and the degree of difficulty for divers wishing to see them. No less interesting are the itineraries on land, across the whole of this amazing island, which is officially a Nature Reserve, created in order to protect and preserve the rare bird species and the Mediterranean brush terrain that covers it.
In alto: Cala Santa Maria. In basso: Punta Spalmatore. Pagina a fianco: il faro di Punta Cavazzi.


The presence of Prehistoric man in the province of Agrigento is demonstrated by the numerous archaeological sites, among which the most important are at Sciacca, Licata, Palma di Montechiaro and Sant Angelo Muxaro, where you can see one of the most spectacular necropolises of the island. Moreover, the characteristics of the Serraferlicchio site and its artistic production are so peculiar as to represent a culture and a style in its own right, taking its name from this settlement. In the Bronze age the populations that inhabited Sicily (Sicans, Sikels, Elymians and Phoenicians) maintained regular commercial and cultural relations with the Greek world more than they did with the Italian peninsula. The process of Hellenisation of the island and the birth of the first Greek colonies (8th century BC) must be seen in this light. The foundation of Akragas, modern day Agrigento, happened much later on, in 580 BC, under the auspices of settlers from Rhodes, Crete and Gela, who gave it the name of the nearby river. Very soon this shining example of harmony among colonies was clouded by contrasts among various ethnic groups and class conflict within the city, creating a fertile terrain for tyrannies. Just a decade after its foundation Akragas suffered rule by its first tyrant Phalaris (570/555 BC). He applied a policy of expansion in the direction of the Akragas and Platani valleys, started up the process of Hellenisation of the surrounding area and, as is suitable for any tyrant worthy of the title, ended up being killed by a conspiracy of nobles. The city was rich and flowering and had started to be decorated with monumental buildings. Between the end of the 6th century BC and the end of the 5th century BC a total of ten temples were built, a phenomenon unique in the Greek world, with the exception of Athens. Between 488 and 472 BC Akragas was under the control of Theron. He conquered Himera (483 BC) and made an alliance with Gelon, tyrant of Gela and Siracusa, complicated by a series of marriages. The result of this alliance was the defeat of the Carthaginians at Himera in 480 BC. When he died he was succeeded by his son Thrasydaeus, previously tyrant of Himera, who distinguished himself by making a series of unsuccessful attacks against Hieron, tyrant of Siracusa and brother of Gelon. He was forced to flee and take refuge in Greece, at Megara Nisea, where he died. Akragas then experienced a period of democratic oligarchic government (471/406 BC), during which the cultural life of the city was animated by great philosophers, poets, architects, artists and musicians from all over Magna Graecia, first and foremost the eclectic Empedocles. This cultural ferment did nothing to dull the military tenden-



cies of Akragas, which, in 467 BC, joined with Selinunte, Gela and Himera to repeatedly attack the tyrant of Siracusa Thrasybulus, brother of Hieron, who is forced to leave the city. A few years later, indeed, Carthage conquered Akragas (406 BC) after seven months of fighting. The inhabitants moved to Leontini and the city was sacked and plundered of many works of art. In 264 BC the first Punic war started. The Romans had been called in by the Mamertines to help them and intervened in Sicily against Carthage, firstly moving against Siracusa, its ally. Soon afterwards it was the turn of Akragas, which was conquered in 261 BC after a six month siege. From then on its name was changed to Agrigentum. During the imperial period the wealth of Sicilian cities depended on shrewd exploitation of the land and on the consequent commercial and industrial activities. Agrigentum became the most important centre for sulphur mining. In 535 AD the forces of Justinian, under the command of Belisario, conquered Sicily, which became a Byzantine province.

The BerbersreachedAgrigentum for the first time in 829 and definitively occupied it in 840. The name of the city was changed to Kerkent, which was incorrectly pronounced Gergent and led to the name Girgenti. The legacy of the Arabs in the province of Agrigento, as in the whole of Sicily, is particularly evident in the layout of the streets in many older towns, in place names and in gastronomy. However, the list of dominators does not end here. In 1087 the city was captured by Roger the Norman. The Normans were followed by the Suevians, the Angevins and, after the peace of Caltabellotta (1302), the Aragonese. And by Italian Unification in 1860, in which Agrigento participated with strong patriotic fervour. In 1927 the city took on its Latin name and was called Agrigento.
Dallalto: Tempio della Concordia ed effigie di Empedocle. Pagina a fianco: dipinto raffigurante il Tempio della Concordia.


Una splendida immagine delle colossali rovine del Tempio di Zeus Olimpio o di Giove.

Tempio dei Dioscuri

Resti del Tempio di Zeus

Piazzale Tempio di Heracles


Contrada Caos Tomba di Terone

Casa natale di Luigi Pirandello

Tomba di Pirandello


Il Tempio dei Dioscuri (pi verosimilmente dedicato a Demetra), costruito verso la met del V secolo a.C.

Zona archeologica

Tempio della Concordia

Tempio di Giunone Lacinia


Tempio di Esculapio


The Valley of Temples

The ancient city included the hill called the Athenian Rock and, probably, the Hill of Girgenti, where the city stood in mediaeval times from the Arab domination onwards. The Athenian Rock was an ideal defensive position and probably constituted the acropolis of the city, as is testified by Poilibius. The city was protected by massive walls and was bordered to the east and west by two rivers, the Akragas and the Hypsas (today the San Biagio and SantAnna), and to the south by the hilly area known as the Valley of Temples since the time of the foundation of these places of worship. Further south, in the area now called San Leone, there was the emporium. In Roman times the structure of the city must have remained virtually unchanged. From the 4th century AD onwards, with the spread of Christianity, the temples of the valley were gradually abandoned while the population tended to move inland, onto Girgenti Hill, because of the continuous threat of raids from the sea. Nine gates have been identified in the city walls, corresponding to points where access to the city was easier because of the nature of the landscape. The remains of Gate 1 are of particular interest because of their good state of repair and can be reached along a road that goes down from the cemetery. Nearby you can see what remains of an admirable defensive structure, known as a pincer bulwark, constituted by two sections of walls, which converge to form an acute angle, pointing inwards, strengthened by a tower, of which very little remains. All over the area of ancient Akragas numerous necropolises are scattered, dating from the archaic period to the Byzantine age. The Greek necropolis of contrada Pezzino, to the west of the city, is notable for the funeral objects found there, despite sackings, and for the cemetery paths that divide it into sections. Your visit to these precious remains of a glorious past can begin from the eastern slope of the Athenian Rock, where you can take a road starting at the cemetery, which leads you to the ruins of a Temple dedicated to Demeter; in Norman times the Church of Saint Biagio was built on top of this site. All you can see of the Temple from the early 5th century BC is the grid structure of the wasps nest (a hollow space which acted as insulation of the foundation from the humidity of the ground) and pieces of the prnaos (the part in front of the divinitys



cella). The fact that the Temple was dedicated to Demeter has been established on the basis of the uncovering of busts of the Goddess of harvests and of her daughter Persephone in a bothros (a hole for offerings in the centre of the altar). Near the Church you can see a rocky Sanctuary dedicated to the chthonic divinities (of the earth), accessible only on foot. It is an extra moenia structure, which, in part, dates back to an age before the foundation of the city and was a place in which the local practised a form of worship very similar to that used by the Greeks here. The oldest part of the Sanctuary is made up of three long tunnels dug into the rock. At the end of one of them there is a source of water that is channelled into a terracotta conduit and comes out into connecting basins, positioned outside the tunnels. The large number of oil lamps and votive statuettes of Demeter and Kore bear witness to the nature of the worship and the dedication of the SancIn alto: panorama della Valle dei Templi. A destra: necropoli Cristiano-bizantina. Pagina a fianco: Rupe Atenea.


tuary. The rectangular shaped construction before the entrance to the tunnels dates back to the archaic Greek age. From the cemetery you take the via dei Templi, which, on the right, leads to the SS 118 road. Following this road in a short time you come, on the left, to the Hellenistic-Roman Quarter (open to the public every day from 9am to one hour before sunset), which has a regular street layout called ippodameo (that is, characterised by orthoganally crossing streets), and dates back to the late 6th century BC. There are various types of house, some with mosaic floors depicting animals, plants and geometrical patterns. The most interesting are the house of the abstract artist (so called because of a mosaic with hexagonal decorations imitating the veining of marble), the peristyle house (because of a colonnade with a basin in the centre) and the swastika house (with a floor decorated with swastikas). Nearby, if you leave the main road and cross the bridge over the Giacatello river, you will find a large hypogean cave with underground passages, which probably had the function of a storage tank for the water seeping into it and was probab-ly part of the famous Phaeaces water system mentioned by Diodorus. Returning to the main road you can make

another detour to reach the Church of Saint Nicholas, on the hill of the same name, restored and altered in the 13th century. The austere facade is made of hewn tuff and has a beautiful portal with ogival arches. In the single nave and four chapels you will see precious works of art, in particular a wooden crucifix called the Lord of the ship and the beautiful Fedra Sarchophagus sculpted in the 2nd century AD. The Church is situated in an area that was one of the most important for the public life of the city. Here you will find the Ekklesiastrion (an amphitheatre where the ekklesia, or citizens assembly, met) and, opposite this, the Bouleutrion (a rectangular or square building with a tier of seats for the meetings of the boul, the citizens council). Near the Ekklesiastrion are the remains of a sanctuary and of the so called Phalaris Oratory, a small temple of the Roman age built on a high foundation and transformed into a Christian chapel in Mediaeval times. Tradition has it that it was built on the site where the tyrant Phalaris had his palace, hence the inappropriate name. Also in this area you will find the modern building housing the Regional Archaeological Museum, built in 1967 and incorporating some parts of the Monastery of Saint Nicholas. The rooms of the Museum con-


tain an enormous number of artefacts, a heritage of incalculable value and of world importance. Returning to the SS 118 road you travel south for a kilometre as far as the zone where the agor was presumably situated, now mostly occupied by a large car park (coach park, snack bar, ice-cream parlour). On the right, through a gate, you enter a large area (open from 9am to one hour before sunset) which includes many religious buildings and which extends westwards from the ruins of the Temple of Olympian Zeus or of Jupiter. Here you immediately find yourself in front of the large foundation of the altar, beyond which you glimpse the remains of the Temple scattered over a wide area. At the altar the hecatombs were performed, that is the simultaneous sacrifice of a hundred oxen. The building dates back to the happy period immediately after the victory of Himera over the Carthaginians but it was never completed. The peristasis (the exterior

colonnade of the temple) was replaced by a wall with a surface articulated by half columns. All that remains are the foundations of the cella, which go down about 6 metres into the ground, fragments of the trabeation (the structure above the columns, which included architrave, frieze and cornice), portions of capitals and of columns. Inside, the cella was subdivided into three sections and was almost certainly uncovered. The grandiose bulk of the temple was characterised by the presence of colossal telamons, which supported the structure as well as being decorative. One of these was restored in the 1800s and is now in the Archaeological Museum but you can see a cast of it in the Temple area. Nearby a group of houses, probably
In basso: ricostruzione di uno dei grandi Telamoni del Tempio di Giove. Nella pagina a fianco: Quartiere Ellenistico Romano.



used by priests, have been uncovered, as well as small archaic religious buildings. A little further on there is a wide esplanade, bordered by the fortified walls and the remains of Gate V, and here a Sanctuary has been found, dating back to the 6th century BC. The most important ruins in this holy area are the remains of the Sanctuary of Demeter and Kore, built in several phases between the 6th and 5th centuries BC. The Sanctuary includes two temenoi (sacred enclosures) with altars, votive chapels (small chapels with an altar) and three small temples. Around the mid-5th century BC two other Temples were built, in close relation to the one just described. One is the Temple of Castor and Pollux (the Dioscuri, but more probably dedicated to Demeter), of which you can see four columns, put back into place in the 1800s, and part of the relative trabeation, still showing traces of the plaster that covered them. The other is the so called Temple L, of which the outline of the foundations, numerous column drums and the altar remain. Along a pathway that leaves the SS 115 road and runs alongside the SantAnna river you can reach the ruins of the Temple of Vulcan (late 5th century BC), consisting of the foundations and two columns. At this point you go back along the SS 115 road

and, after passing the junction of the SS 118, you come to the Roman necropolis, called Giambertoni, on the left. There are various types of tomb; among the most important is the famous Tomb of Theron, in reality dated to the Roman period, built along the lines of similar African burial chambers; above a high cubic foundation stands the temple, which was probably originally topped by a pinnacle. Continuing along the SS 115 for a short stretch, a road to the right allows you to get to the Temple of Aesculapius, God of medicine, a small building dating from the 5th-4th century BC. The Temple was frequented by pilgrims hoping to be cured of their ailments by the priests of the God. Near the Temple there was once a spring and structures used to house the sick at the Sanctuary have been found. Retracing your steps, you follow the SS 118 to the right. Just beyond the ruins of Gate IV, called Aurea, the via dei Templi begins on the right. The first ruins that you meet are those of the Temple of Hercules, situated on a hill, of which you can see eight columns put back into place in 1924, some with their capitals. The Temple was peripteral (completely surrounded by columns), with six columns on the short
In alto: il Tempio dei Dioscuri.


sides and an open air cella with prnaos and opistdomos (the area behind the cella). Considering its structural and stylistic characteristics, it is regarded as the oldest peripteral temple in the Valley and is dated to the end of the 6th century BC. Continuing towards the Temple of Concord, you cross the area of the early Christian necropolis, now partly incorporated in the garden of Villa Aurea. The most interesting and noteworthy section of the necropolis is that known as the Fragapane Cave or Catacomb, a complex of hypogean tombs connected by passages. At the extreme eastern end of this esplanade stands the imposing and famous Temple of Concord; the name was coined by Tommaso Fazello, who derived it from an inscription found nearby, but it probably had nothing to do with the Temple. It was probably dedicated to the Dioscuri and is one of the most important in the Greek world, both because of its good state of repair and because of its pure Doric style. it was built in the second half of the 5th century BC and is a peripteral temple with six columns on the short sides and thirteen on the long sides, resting on a base of steps. The

cella is divided into three parts with prnaos and opistdomos in antis (having two columns between the doors). Originally it must have been covered with stuccoes in lively colours. In the 6th century AD the Temple was transformed into a Christian basilica with three naves by Bishop Gregory and the arches in the walls of the cella date from this period. The via dei Templi continues to run parallel to the city walls and in this stretch you will notice the ruins of Gate III and, in the part that turns inwards, a large number of Christian-Byzantine arcosoli (tombs with an arched entrance). A little further ahead, if you climb to the summit of the Hill of Temples, you will get a marvellous view over the Valley and the sea and you will come to the Temple of Hera or Juno Lacnia, built around 450 BC. The dedication of the Temple to Hera is far from certain. It has a structure very similar to that of the Temple of Concord, being a peripteral hexastyle (with six columns on the short side) in Doric style, of which twenty-five columns, part of the trabeation and of the cella remain.
In alto: il Tempio di Eracle o Ercole.




Il museo archeologico sorge in un area identificata come il sito dellantica citt greca ed ellenistica romana, con particolare richiamo a funzioni di carattere religioso e pubSALA XII alla SALA XVII i materiali esposti completano e illustrano la forza politica di questa citt su un pi vasto territorio. Nella SALA III sono esposte collezioni di vasi provenienti, in gran parte, dalle ricche necropoli agrigentine dal VI al IV-III Sec A.C.. La VI SALA riservata al tempio di Zeus Olimpico; sulla parete di fondo stata collocata la gigantesca figura del Telamone nellatto di sorreggere il possente architrave del tempio. Uno dei pezzi pi significativi del museo costituito dal celebre efebo di Agrigento, statua in marmo raffigurante un atleta, datato al 480 A.C. ca. ed esposto nella SALA X.

blico. Si sviluppa nellarea dellex abbazia cistercense di San Nicola di stile romanico gotico. Il chiostro costituisce lingresso, il refettorio stato adibito a biblioteca, la sala congressi ed il coro della chiesa ad auditorium. La parte restante del museo ospitata allinterno di una pregevole e moderna struttura museale. Dalla SALA I alla SALA XI presentata la storia della citt antica e del suo territorio pi immediato. dalla


Nella SALA XV esposto un grande cratere attico a figure rosse proveniente da Gela. E attribuito al pittore dei Niobidi (470 A.C. ca).
In alto: figura di Telamone dal tempio di Zeus (sala VI). A fianco: statua marmorea di Efebo 480 a.C. circa (sala V bis). Nella pagina precedente, in alto: Cratere attico a figure rosse con deposizione o trasporto del corpo di Patroclo - pittore di Kleophrades 500 - 490 a.C. (sala III); in basso: Testa fittile di divinit femminile (Persefone ?) 500 - 490 a.C. (sala V).


Enjoy Agrigento
Your visit can begin from the eastern edge of the oldest part of the city, occupied by three adjacent squares - Vittorio Emanuele, Moro and Marconi. In one corner of Piazzale Moro (where a stone tomb dating back to the 2nd millennium BC has been placed on a lawn) stands the Sanctuary of Saint Calogero, the greatly loved black Saint venerated all over the province of Agrigento. A short distance from Piazzale Moro via Atenea begins. Via Atenea is the most elegant street in the city and here you can see the ex-Civic Hospital of the 1500s and beautiful noble residences, including Palazzo Borsellino of the 19th century, the 18th century Palazzo Carbonaro in classical style, Palazzo Cenauro of the 1700s, whose illustrious guests have included Goethe, and the baroque Palazzo Contarini. From via Atenea, you can reach the Church of the Holy Spirit. It was built, along with the adjacent Monastery also called Ba-dia Grande, at the end of the 13th century. The beautiful cloister of the Monastery is worthy of note with its arches and two-mullioned windows in pure Chiaramonte style. Continuing along via Foder you arrive in Piazza Purgatorio, where two churches stand; the Church of Saint Rosalia and the Church of Saint Lawrence or of Purgatory, both

17th century. The Church of Saint Lawrence has a beautiful baroque facade with an imposing portal bordered by small spiral columns and surmounted by a richly decorated split tympanum. At the end of via Atenea you come to Piazza Pirandello, where the 17th century Church of Saint Dominic stands with the adjacent ex-Dominican Convent, now used as the Town Hall. In the small portico atrium of the Convent you find the entrance to the Pirandello Theatre, one of the most beautiful the-atres in Sicily with an interior decorated by G.B. Basile. On the other side of the square is the Civic Museum, home of the municipal art gallery. From Piazza Pirandello you can go down, on the left, into via Garibaldi, where you will see the 18th century Church of Saint Francis of Paola and the 17th century Sanctuary of Our Lady of Sorrows with a delicate baroque facade. Astairway near the Sanctuary leads to the Church of the Holy Cross, dating from the 16th century. At this point we are on the edge of the Arab Quarter of Rabbato, characterised by narrow streets, dead ends, archways and small stairways. In Piazza Don Minzoni, where you see the Episcopal Seminary, built between
In alto: Chiesa di Santo Spirito. A fianco: Convento di Santo Spirito.


the 16th and 17th centuries. Inside there is a large courtyard with porticoes and two levels of loggias. Some lovely one and two-mullioned windows remain from the 14th century Palazzo Ste-ri, which was built on the orders of the Chiaramonte family and is partially incorporated into the Seminary. A wide stairway leads up from the square to the Cathedral, a national monument, founded at the end of the 11th century by Bishop Gerlando and greatly altered over the following centuries. In via Duomo, adjacent to the Cathedral, stands the Bishops Palace, also built at the end of the 11th century by Bishop Gerlando and enlarged in the 18th century. Then you come to the splendid Lucchesiana Library, which houses more than 50,000 volumes. EVERYBODY TO THE BEACH If you cant wait to bask in the sun and take a dip in the water there is just one important piece of information: the whole coastline of San Leone is sandy. Once San Leone was a fishing village, now it is the beach of Agrigento, from where you can make lovely boat trips along the coast.


A fianco: il Duomo. In basso: a sinistra, affreschi e stucchi del presbiterio della Cattedrale; a destra chiostro del Seminario.


The almond blossom Festival: united colors of Agrigento

We have no fear of exaggerating when we say that, during the Festival, Agrigento becomes the capital of the world. For fun try asking a passer-by for information in the street. You might get an answer in Greek, English, Albanian, Russian, Spanish, Finnish, Romanian etc. etc. With a little luck, you may even run into someone from Agrigento, blonde or dark, completely hidden amongst the crowds of foreigners. Fun, light-heartedness and friendship are the main ingredients of this beautiful spring festival and it is no coincidence that its principal venue is the Temple of Concord. Every year for the Festival at least twenty folkloristic and musical groups arrive in Agrigento from all over the world, about 900 guests, including singers, dancers, musicians and choreographers.

The delicately perfumed almond blossoms are the setting for the sumptuously coloured costumes of the dancers and singers and the unusual instruments of the musicians (Bulgarian gadulkas, Cypriot duvals, Peruvian quenas, Korean koans). An international jury has the difficult task of awarding the Golden Temple prize for the best dance, the best traditional costume and the best typical orchestra. Other juries have the equally hard task of awarding the first prizes in four competitions. Undoubtedly the most popular competition (for the jurors) is Miss Spring, in which girls from the folkloristic groups take part. The Sicilian Dialectal Poetry competition gives prizes for the best poems inspired by the spring blossom in the Valley of the Temples. The Window competition is for the shop with the brightest and most choreographic window displays inspired by the Almond Blossom Festival. The jurors in the Balcony competition have the task of walking around the town to choose the best balconies decorated with plants and flowers. As we began we will also finish, with a claim that we believe cannot be refuted:if spring is the sweetest season of the year, the early spring in the Valley of the Temples and Blossom is certainly the most joyful and colourful of all.

Agrigento festeggia la Sagra del mandorlo in fiore.

Luigi Pirandello
Just a few kilometres from Agrigento and Porto Empedocle, in contrada Caos, you will find the Luigi Pirandello museum-house, a national monument. It is difficult to visit Pirandellos birthplace without having the feeling of being an intruder, profane and ridiculous at the same time. Certainly the writer would have laughed or would have been irritated by the veneration with which people observe his objects, furniture, photographs, posters, the first editions of some of his works, signed letters and the neckchain of his Nobel Prize of 1934. Maybe he would have written a short story about it. At the end of the day it is extremely paradoxical that he, who gave strict instructions that nobody was to attend his funeral, neither relatives, nor friends, nor anybody else, should find his house invaded by hosts of visitors. Overall, however, his last wishes were respected. He wanted his death to pass unnoticed, to be burnt and his ashes scattered so that no-thing remained of him, or, alternatively, that they be placed in an urn and walled up in a rough stone in the Girgenti countryside. All of this was done but his death did not go unnoticed and still today, after more than sixty years, thousands of people stop to pay their respects in front of his tombstone. It may or may not be necessary for him to benevolently absolve us with the words he wrote in a painful dialogue with his mother shadow only since yesterday: Now that you are dead, I do not say that you are no longer alive for me; you are alive, as alive as yesterday, with the same reality that I attributed to you from afar, thinking of you, without seeing your body, and you will continue to live as long as I live. They are still there, the ashes of this great man, still alive, in the shadow of his pine tree, damaged by the wind, entombed in the rough stone chosen by the artist Mazzacurati. On this stone he placed a double faced bronze mask, an evident symbol, a clear reference to Pirandellos philosophy and works of genius. Masks, masksA breath and they pass, giving way to others.[] Each person im-proves the mask as best he can - the exterior mask. Because inside there is the other one, which often is not consistent with the outer one. And nothing is real! The sea is real, yes, the mountain is real; a stone is real; a blade of grass is real; but man? He is always masked, without wanting to be, without knowing it, appearing to be what he believes to be in good faith [] And this really makes you laugh, if you think about it.
Una delle sale del museo della casa natale di Luigi Pirandello.


Scala dei Turchi

It is easily reached from the town. You just have to follow the road leading to Punta Rossello and turn left towards Punta Grande, a popular destination for bathers looking for a quiet spot. The justly famous Scala dei Turchi is a pure white marl cliff in which the wind and rain have carved out a sort of natural stairway. Going up to the top on foot you have the feeling of climbing a snow-covered mountain magically situated by the crystal clear sea. From the top the view is spectacular. The blue of the sea, the white of the marl, almost blinding in the strong rays of the sun, and the pleasant hot air make it very difficult to leave this wonderful place, even though you can exchange it for a lovely swim in the water below. Yet, once upon a time this white cliff represented a cause for constant concern among the inhabitants of the surrounding area. The greatly feared sea pirates, in simple words the Turks, could moor their ships here, protected by the Scala. Once they had climbed over the cliff, these marauders, who must have looked like horrible demons with eyes of fire to the defenceless population, fell upon the villages plundering men and goods. Many centuries have passed since then but the name of the cliff remains to bear witness to that dark, but nonetheless fascinating, age. Since sunbathing at Scala dei Turchi gets you a tan in the twinkling of an eye - the effect of the

sun can only be compared to that of snow fields -, we recommend the use of sun cream not only for those with fair skin but also for those that do not normally need to use it. A short distance from Scala dei Turchi, in contrada Durrueli, you can admire the remains of a Roman villa from the 1st century AD, in a splendid position with a beautiful view over the sea. Some mosaic floors are still visible in some of the rooms. Continuing along the lovely coast road towards Punta Rossello, you can reach Lido Rossello, with bathing establishments, the ideal destination for those on holiday with their children. The water is shallow so the younger members of the family have little chance of getting into trouble and their parents can watch them quietly lying in the sun.

In alto: il bianco della marna della Scala dei Turchi. A fianco: Scala dei Turchi.


Eraclea Minoa
Situated on the promontory of Capo Bianco in a natural environment of Eraclea great beauty. In particular there is Minoa the long beach and the pine-wood at the foot of the cliff (it is an ideal place for bathing in culture and in the sea). Today you can see the remains of Heraclea Minoa, brought to light relatively recently (between 1951 and 1964), a city historically identified as a colony of Selinunte. Capo Bianco After the arrival of a Doric colony in the 6th century BC the name Heraclea was added to that of Minoa, in Mar Mediterraneo honour of Heracles, the Greek name for Hercules. Situated in a two towers in the north-eastern sector. These borderline position between Selinunte and walls were built of marl with rough bricks on top Akragas, it soon became involved in the disand extended for over 6 km. In the northern putes between the two cities and, therefore, in part of the archaeological area you can see the the rivalry between Greeks and Carthaginians, remains of a Hellenistic Sanctuary. On the who alternated in their control of the city. In northern edge of the town stands the most important and most famous relic of Heraclea: the Theatre, dating back to the 4th century BC. EVERYBODY TO THE BEACH A track allows you to go down the hill of Hearaclea Minoa to the splendid beach where it is almost impossible to resist the temptation to take a dip and to lie down and sunbathe on the soft sand. The River Platani Estuary Nature Reserve was set up in 1984 and covers an area of 207 hectares, including the stretch of coastline from Capo Bianco to Borgo Bonsignore.

spite of this it managed to reach a high degree of splendour, particularly between the 6th and 4th centuries BC. In the 3rd century BC it came under Roman control and became a civitas decumana. Under the Romans Heraclea Minoa went into decline, being sacked during the slave revolts, and was finally abandoned around the end of the 1st century BC. At the entrance to the archaeological park there is a small Museum displaying artefacts found in the area and interesting photographic documentation relating to the ancient city. Only a few stretches of the city walls remain, including
In alto: il teatro greco. A fianco: Capo Bianco.


Sciacca has all the elements necessary to satisfy the most demanding tourists and to guarantee an enjoyable, healthy and stimulating holiday: a beautiful beach, a world famous spa station, monuments and works of art, folklore and traditions. The spa waters have always been a strong point of the town. We do not know whether these curative waters were known to Bronze age man, who settled here in a place many consider to be the Sican Figuli, but they were certainly familiar to the inhabitants of Selinunte, who, around the 6th century BC, used the place as a military detachment and called it Thermae Selinuntinae. The Romans also widely used the spas and, moreover, encouraged agricultural and commercial activities and constructed an important postal building, identified in documents by the name of Aquae Labodes. The Arabs were the first to take the security of the city seriously. As was their custom they built a castle, solid defensive walls and a tangle of narrow streets. They also changed the name of the city to Asshaqqah, in other words crack, from which the present name is derived. The Normans expanded the town, lengthened the walls and threw out the merchants and Jews, thus putting an end to the peaceful cohabitation of the various ethnic groups. At the end of the 1800s it was water that again came to the rescue of Sciacca; indeed, just off the coast a coral reef was discovered breathing new life into the local economy. The setting up of the establishment for systematically exploiting the spa waters is part of the history of this century and, considering the wealth and

The Carnival
The typical costume of the Sciacca carnival is that of a Sicilian farmer, poor but of fine intellect. His farcical name is Peppe Nappa and he represents the popular roots of the Sciacca carnival, which, according to the mediaeval tradition, tries to make fun of those in power during the few days of festival. Through the gorges of food and the fun, it is connected to the Saturnian festivals of the Roman period. The festival lasts six days and on the Saturday, with the procession of the floats and costumed groups, the town is literally invaded by more than a hundred thousand people, who mingle with the locals and let themselves go.

prosperity that they have brought, it certainly cannot be said that the people of Sciacca have been beating the air.

Lampedusa has an area of 20.2 square kilometres and is the largest island in the Pelagie archipelago. It rises up gently from the south, reaching a height of about 100 metres, and suddenly drops down into the sea to the north. It has the shape of a triangular table, heavily eroded, inclined from the north-west towards the south-east. Even though most people who land on Lampedusa do so with the idea of basking in the sun and swimming in the lovely sea, which in our opinion is unrivalled in Europe, there are interesting pla-ces to visit apart from the beaches. There are really so many beaches on which to sunbathe and each one more beautiful than another. Sandy beaches are those at Cala Croce, Rabbit Island and Guitgia; the latter, with its white sand, is one of the most popular beaches on Lampedusa. Rocky beaches can be found at Punta Sottile, Cala Calandra, also called Mare Morto, and Cala Creta, so called because it is near a fresh water spring, which, before reaching the sea creates a sort of white mire. Finally, pebble beaches are to be found at

Cala Spugne, Cala Pisana, where the sea bottom is sandy, and the lovely Cala Pulcino.
In alto: lisola dei Conigli.

In ancient times Linosa was called Aethusa. It has an area of 5.4 and clearly shows its volcanic origin, very evident in the black lava colour of the earth and from the craters of Monte Vulcano, Monte Nero, or di Ponente, and Monte Rosso. The island is very green and fertile, unlike Lampedusa, thanks to the particular nature of the earth. There is a Nature Reserve of over 80 hectares, including the whole coastline and the extinct craters, which was created, above all, to protect the Caretta caretta turtle, which lays its eggs on the only two sandy beaches of the island, and Corys Shearwater, which lives here in a colony of about 10,000 pairs, one of the biggest in the Mediterranean. Thanks to the extraordinary clearness of the sea around the island, snorkelling allows you to see the unparalleled depths of Linosa, among the most beautiful in the Mediterranean and teeming with a huge variety of fish.


Trapani is the city of windmills and salt-works that whiten the coast as far as Marsala and which reflect the sun with magical lighting effects, creating intense shades of colour; it is the city that has the shape of a scythe and sticks out into the sea almost separating the Tyrrhenian from the Mediterranean. This is the scythe that, according to legend, was lost by an exhausted Ceres, goddess of the harvests, while she was looking for her daughter Prosperina kidnapped by Pluto near Etna. The scythe is, however, also symbol of Saturn, another agricultural God, who, according to the legend, deliberately came down from Olympus to found Trapani, or rather Drepano (from the Greek drepno, in other words in the shape of a scythe). You can begin your visit to the city from the Annunziata Sanctuary, called Our Lady of Trapani, which is in Via Conte A. Pepoli. The exterior has a pointed baroque bell-tower while the portal and part of the rose window date back to the 1300s. On the altar, between baroque columns, is situated the precious statue of Our Lady with Child, dating back to the 14th century, better known as Our Lady of Trapani. Through the garden of the Annunziata Sanctuary you can enter the Pepoli Museum, situated in the ex-Carmelite convent and featuring a coloured princely staircase of the 17th century. The largest attraction is certainly the collection of Trapani corals from the 17th and 18th centuries. in Piazza Vittorio Veneto, stand the Palazzo del Governo or della Provincia (1878), the Palazzo delle Poste (1924), the Palazzo d'Al or del Municipio (1904) and the remains of the Castle

of Terra. From Piazza Vittorio Veneto you can turn onto via Garibaldi, one of the main streets of the city, where you immediately notice the faade of the Palazzo Fardella Fontana, with a beautiful portal-balcony and late baroque decorations. In Via Badia Nuova you can visit the Church of Santa Maria del Soccorso, called Badia Nuova, of the mid-17th century, but whose origins are linked to Belisario, who had it built in 536 AD as a church following the Greek rite. From Via Badia Nuova, it is easy to reach Via Torrearsa, where you will see Palazzo Senatorio or Cavarretta with a baroque faade on three levels enlivened by columns, windows and nooks. Next to this building, built in 1672 on the site of the old Pisani loggia and now occupied by council offices, stands the 12th century clocktower, one of the five featured in the city's coat of arms. From here you can easily go on to Piazzetta Saturno, dedicated to the mythical founder of the city and whose statue stands above a pretty baroque shell fountain. In this square you will find the Church of Saint Augustine. In Largo San Giacomo, is the Fardelliana Library , one of the most famous in Sicily, and pride and joy of Trapani. , In Via Giudecca, there is a two-floored building called La Giudecca or Palazzo Ciambara (early 16th century), recognisable from the lateral tower. At this point you should not miss vis-


iting the Casalicchio Quarter: winding streets, Arab style courtyards, old houses in pure Mediterranean 'style' and the remains of old buildings. You have the sensation of being sent back in time and taken to the fascinating Muslim Drepano. Nearby stands the Church of San Domenico, in the square of the same name. It is in Gothic-Cistercian style and was built in the 13th century. You can get into the early 15th century bell-tower through a low-arched entrance and reach the top on a singular staircase. Returning to Via Garibaldi and following it as far as the junction with via Torrearsa, you get to Piazza Mercato del Pesce, an exedra with a portico that occupies the site of the former Bocceria Gate. From Via Libert you soon get to Corso Vittorio Emanuele, the main street of the Palazzo district, along which, in the 17th and 18th centuries, noble families built splendid houses in late baroque style: Palazzo Berardo Ferro, Palazzo Alessandro Ferro, Palazzo Manzo. The Church of Our Lady of Sorrows, built in 1691, is characterised by a small refined 16th century portal. The Cathedral or Church of San Lorenzo dates back to the 14th century but was enlarged and restored between the 15th and 17th centuries. It is a wide basilica with three naves separated by columns and arches. The Church of Purgatory, built in 1688, the present faade was designed by G.B. Amico in 1714, including decorative elements and statues in stuccoed stone. The interior has a basilican design with three naves divided by columns and arches and contains the twenty groups of sculptures carried in the procession of the Mysteries on Good Friday. These valuable works of art, which accurately represent episodes from the Passion of Christ, were made between the 17th and 18th centuries in wood, canvas and paste by worthy Trapani artisans. There are still traces of the old city walls: the Botteghelle Gate, in the street of the same name, also called the Gate of Ossuna, dating back to Aragonese times at the end of the 13th century, and the Imperial Bastion, in Via Delle Sirene, one of the bastions that Ligny had built
A fianco: pendente in oro, diamanti e smeraldi, orafo siciliano fine 600. In alto: fontana di Saturno. Nella pagina precedente, in alto: statua della Madonna di Trapani; in basso: Palazzo Cavarretta.

in the 17th century. The Castle of Colombaia survives from the mediaeval city. It was restored by the Aragonese and is an example of military architecture, protecting the city from sea-borne attacks. Finally don't miss the Museum of Prehistoric Times, which is situated in the 17th century Ligny Tower, at the extreme western point of the city.

Holy Week in Trapani

Every year, on the night of Good Friday, Trapani relives the calvary of Christ. In the afternoon the procession of the mysteries leaves the Church of Purgatory. It is a long procession of twenty spectacular groups of sculptures, representing scenes from the Passion, which crosses most of the old city all night long. that time and willing to put their economic and social power to the service of God. This is why each group of statues is entrusted to a particular group (the Foot Washing to the fishermen, the Crown of Thorns to the bakers, the Sentence to the butchers and so on), which pays all the costs for its upkeep. There is a great spirit of competition and each group puts in months of work so that, on the day of the procession, theirs will be the best decorated and illuminated and their bearers and band will be the best too!

The performance originated in the early 1600s, in a theatrical form, thanks to the Company of the Precious Blood of Jesus. On 26th February 1643 this company merged with the Confraternity of San Michele and took on its name. This marked the introduction of the traditional costume: red tunic, hood and white cape. In the 17th century, from 1612 onwards, to improve the procession, the Confraternity asked for the workmen's guilds, flourishing at


Windmills and Salt-Works

Arriving in Trapani on the motorway and heading towards the port, your attention will be drawn to a strange but fascinating landscape: the salt-works, a peculiar environment where history, culture and nature combine to create something unique. They are made up of series of regular basins, interrupted now and again by piles of salt covered with tiles and isolated windmills, bearing witness to an ancient activity that still exploits the same natural forces as in
A fianco: montagnole di sale ricoperte di tegole.

the past: the sun and the wind.


Erice is situated 15km from Trapani (along the direct Trapani-Erice road) on top of the luxuriant Monte Erice (751 metres high), from where you can enjoy a spectacular view that takes in Trapani, the Egadi Islands and Monte Cofano. It is particularly moving at sunset when the salt-works reflect a rainbow of colours. When the air is especially clear it is also possible to see Ustica, Pantelleria and Cape Bon (Africa). Although traces of Neolithic settlements have been found on the slopes of the mountain, Erice is considered the city of the Elimi, who made it their most important religious centre and built a sanctuary here. The Carthaginians, allies of the Elimi, dedicated the sanctuary to Astarte (the Romans' Venus) and introduced sacred prostitution, practised by the 'lerodule', the beautiful priestesses of the Goddess. It is not difficult to believe that Erice quickly became a destination for religious pilgrimages from all over the Mediterranean. The Goddess protected the channel between Erice and Carthage (near present day Tunic) and sailors used to look at the mountain-top to see if the Goddess would bring them good fortune when the peak was clearly visible - or bad when it was covered in cloud; at night they were guided by the red light of a large fire, lit in the tmenos. Erice was not only a temple of love but also a strategic city that the Carthaginians and Elimi fortified to such a degree that, in the 7th century BC, it was one of the fortresses of the island, along with Enna and Syracuse. If you had to describe a mediaeval city you would probably talk about cobbled streets, castles, shops and ancient smells. In short, you would talk about Erice, without knowing it. This is a mediaeval city that has wisely taken on modern developments without making revolutionary changes. Erice is neat, silent and tidy. The people are polite and kind. Peeping behind the entrance doors of the houses, built of stone from Monte Erice, you get a glimpse of the courtyards typical of Mediterranean countries.

That is where family life goes on, with the scent of the flowers and the shade of the pergolas. The people of Erice are justly proud of their courtyards, in August there is even a flowering courtyard show when you can easily ask to visit them. The courtyards are not the only surprise Erice has to offer. Walking through the streets, connected to one another by narrow alleys called 'venule', which also help to give shelter from the wind, you are sometimes engulfed with the hot heady smell of the famous Erice cakes called di badia. Once these were prepared only by the nuns of the San Carlo monastery, who, in the silence of the seclusion, created real masterpieces of cakes. There are a lot of small shops selling craft products but you have to look carefully, especially around Piazza Vittorio Emanuele, to recognise the remains of mediaeval shops consisting of 'balatari', heavy blocks of stone, from which the seller looked out onto the street. To the left of Trapani Gate you reach the Cathedral, dedicated to Our Lady of the Assumption. The building stands in an unusual position, far from the town centre and was built by Frederick of Aragon in the 14th century. Nearby in Via Chiaramonte, stands Palazzo Chiaramonte, ex-monastery of SS Salvatore, built in the 13th and 14th centuries. From here it is easy to get to Piazzetta San Martino, where the church of the same name stands. It was built in the early 17th century on the site of a small Norman church. Very near here is the Church of San Carlo, an early 17th century building, restored in the following century. The adjacent convent was once famous because it housed the cloistered nuns that sold cakes made according to ancient recipes. Along Via Roma, you move towards the most panoramic part of the town: the Balio Gardens, designed in 1878 by Count Pepoli, who also restored the adjacent towers and the Turret below the Balio. The Castle is also worth visiting. It dates back to the Normans who built it on the ruins of the Sanctuary of Venus. In the internal square of the fortress you can see, some remains of the Roman rebuilding of the temple.


Marsala is an interesting place to visit, both for those fascinated by history and its vestiges and those attracted by the beauties of nature. There is the splendid low sandy shoreline, which stretches out to the south-east and the superb green landscape of the 'Stagnone' lagoon, with the white salt-works and windmills. For those with a good sense of taste Marsala, home of the famous wine, is an excellent place to go. Who knows if the Sybil, in the darkness of her cave, ever foresaw the troubled future of Marsala. Legend has it that she founded the city. History, on the other hand, demonstrates that it was the geographical position of Lilibeo (opposite Libya) that determined its ups and downs. Situated on the promontory of Capo Boeo, it was a strategic port much sought after by the civilisations of the past. The 'discovery' of Marsala wine in the late 18th century restored the good fortune of the ancient Lilibeo, now called Marsala, from the Arabic 'Marsa Allah' (Port of God) or 'Marsa Al (Port of Al). In reality, this wine had been known about since Roman times, but vine growing had never received the attention that it merited. English merchants, including John Woodhouse, were the first to attach value to the quality of the wine, around

1770. The flourishing trade brought about the planting of new vines, the building of new wine production plants and the construction of a new jetty and port. The wine trade continued to grow over the next century, thanks to several entrepreneurs, such as: Ingham, Florio and Martinez. On 11th May 1860 Garibaldi and the Thousand landed in the port of Marsala. A SPASSO PER LA CITTA In Piazza Castello, you will find the huge square mass of the fortress built by the Normans in the 12th century, on the site of a pre-existing Arab fortification. Passing along via Dagotti and then via Amendola, you reach Piazza Matteotti, the old opening of Mazara Gate. From here you take via XI Maggio, called 'Cassaro', which leads to Piazza della Vittoria. Along the way you pass the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, of the late 17th century, and Piazza della Repubblica, or della Loggia, the centre of civil and religious life during the baroque period and the heart of the modern city. Palazzo VII Aprile, or Palazzo Senatorio, built in 1576, stands here. The elegant and well-proportioned facade of the building has two series of round arches, supported by white columns, which frame the colonnade and open gallery above, topped by the clock-tower. On the opposite side of the square is the side of the baroque Church of San Giuseppe. Piazza della Repubblica is dominated by the imposing 18th century facade of the Cathedral, dedicated to Saint Thomas of Canterbury, the building of which began in 1628 on already existing Norman foundations and ended in the early 1700s. Along via Garibaldi you reach the imposing 'Sea Gate', now
In alto: busto di Garibaldi. A fianco: Chiesa del Purgatorio.


called 'Garibaldi Gate', topped by the Royal eagle on the outward side. A short distance away, on the left, the massive building of the Spanish Military Quarter stretches out, with its crowning merlons. It was built towards the end of the 16th century and is now the Town Hall. On the right, meanwhile, you can see the 18th century Church of the Addolorata, in the square of the same name. The interior of this church is of a centric design, in neo-classical style, and houses a statue of Our Lady, which is venerated by the people of Marsala. Nearby, Piazza Purgatorio is dominated by the baroque facade of the church of the same name, which was built at the end of the 17th century and is now the site of the auditorium of Santa Cecilia. Between viale Vittorio Veneto and viale Piave are the most important remains from the Imperial age, consisting of the ruins of a villa, the so called 'Insula Romana', which can be dated to the late 2nd or early 3rd century AD. The Archaeological Museum is situated in the exBaglio Anselmi, suitably restored. A great variety of archaeological artefacts found at Marsala, Mozia and in the surrounding district are on display in the bright white rooms of the Museum. In the room on the left you can find archaeological artefacts from the prehistoric period right up to mediaeval times. The room on the right houses


the remains of a Punic ship from the 3rd century BC, discovered in the late 1960s in the waters of the lagoon.
In alto: veduta aerea dellabitato di Marsala. In basso: veduta aerea delle saline, di Mozia e delle isole dello Stagnone.


Just north of Marsala the sea forms a sort of lagoon called 'Stagnone' (big pool), closed to the east by the Sicilian coast and to the west by Isola Grande. In the centre of this lagoon there are three small islands: Santa Maria, La Scuola and San Pantaleo. The latter is the site of one of the most important and richest Phoenician cities in the West, Mozia. Current knowledge indicates that the monuments that have yielded most of the ancient materials from the historic period (late 8th century BC - early 7th century BC) are the 'Tofet' and the necropolis. The 'Tofet' is situated on the outskirts of the town (on the northern coast) as is the case of other Phoenician sanctuaries of this type in the West. Blocked from view by high walls, its final size, after various renovations, is about 800 sq. metres. Most of this area was intended for the placing of vases containing ashes from sacrifices, while a smaller area was set aside for worship. The archaic necropolis, situated on the north coast, a little to the east of the 'Tofet', was characterised mainly by tombs with cremated remains between the end of the 8th century BC and the mid-6th century BC (when the fortifications that cross it were built). A road across the sea was built, consisting of an embankment made of stone, about 1,700 metres long, connecting Mozia to the Sicilian coast. This considerable engineering feat was probably built in the second half of the 6th century BC, when most of the important public works were carried out on Mozia. and still resists erosion from the sea today. The fortifications around the island constitute the most important monument of Mozia. The walls are still visible in part today and consisted of a stone plinth, topped by a structure of rough bricks, of which only a small part remain near the North Gate. The 'cothon' (6th- 5th century BC) is a small inland port used for the loading and unloading of goods and is one of the most fascinating monuments of Mozia. The basin is of rectangular shape and was connected to the sea by a canal which could

take boats up to 19 metres long and 4.5 metres wide.

In alto: stele del Tofet esposte allesterno del Museo. In basso: statua marmorea del cosiddetto Giovane di Mozia, esposto presso il museo di Mozia il cui nucleo originario costituito dalla collezione archeologica che il Whitaker costitu con i reperti provenienti dagli scavi di Mozia e da altre localit del Circondario (Lilibeo, Birgi) nonch da oggetti da lui acquistati nel mercato antiquario.


Selinunte can be reached along the SS115 road. The ancient city, like the river Selinon (now Modione), which washed it to the west, takes its name from a variety of wild parsley that grew extensively in the area. This plant was so much the symbol of the city that it was engraved on the coins. The settlers from Megara Iblea, sent by the motherland Megara Nisea, founded Selinunte around the mid-7th century BC due to the pressure for new lands, a fundamental means of production in the ancient world. The foundation of the city was to the detriment of the native population of Sicani and Elimi, with whom relations were always conflictual, indeed the historical ups and downs of Selinunte depended largely on clashes with the capital of the Elimi, Segesta. The city was built on a calcareous plateau, which ends in a short stretch of high coastline, easily defendable from attacks from the sea, which was under the control of Phoenician ships. The plateau, finishing with the acropolis, extends towards the interior with the Manuzza hill, which was also part of the city. On two sides the city was washed by the rivers Cottone and

Selinus, whose mouths formed two inlets housing two separate ports. On the hills to the east and west of the city were two holy complexes. The necropolis was obviously outside the town. The city was prosperous and heavily
In basso: veduta aerea dellAcropoli di Selinunte.


populated from the beginning, as is demonstrated by its size and inscriptions and, above all, by the enormous dimensions of the necropolis. The beautiful setting of Selinunte, whose white ruins stand out against the blue of the sea and sky, make your visit there all the more memo-

rable. The archaeological park, set up to protect the various finds, is divided into four areas: 1) The eastern hill with three temples called E, F and G. 2) The acropolis hill to the west of the previous walls and with temples O, A, C, B and D and the 'mgaron'. 3) The Manuzza hill, now practically deserted, to the north of the acropolis, the main centre of the Greek city. 4) The holy area beyond the river Modione, in which is situated the sanctuary dedicated to the Goddess Malphros. The eastern hill has the gigantic ruins of three temples very near one another and is effectively an out of town area, when considering the site from an commercial point of view. Temple E, built between 460 and 450BC is the most southerly of the three temples. The walls of the cella were decorated with a frieze, which went all the way round, with metope (rectangular portion of Doric friezes with motifs in bas-relief) sculpted in the calcareous tuff, but with the naked parts of the bas-relief figures in marble. Four of these metope, which show mythical figures (Athena, Artemis, Apollo and Zeus), were found almost intact and are now kept in the Archaeological Museum in Palermo. The temple F is the smallest of the three and is in line with temple E and the adjacent temple G, perhaps along the route of a processional road, and it was built around 550/540BC. It had six columns at the front and fourteen on each


side and a long cella with a prnaos and an dyton, but without an opisthdomos. Finally, the imposing ruins of the majestic temple G, the largest of the Selinunte temples and one of the most grandiose of the whole Greek world (it was more than 100 metres long and 30 metres high). The shaft of a column, restored in 1832, emerging from the mass of ruins gives you an idea of the size of the building. The original design of temple G is known, although its remains are all but a heap of ruins. . It is difficult to understand what form of worship went on in temple G, as is the case for the other temples too. It probably must have been an Apollonian or Olympian temple (dedicated to Zeus). By crossing the village of Marinella or the dry bed of the river Cottone, you can climb up to the acropolis. On the northern slopes of the hill you will immediately see the most important part of the city's fortifications: a colossal tiered construction that supported the terrace of the temples. It is believed that the defensive system included city-walls, of which little is known and which were destroyed in 409BC. The acropolis appears to be largely surrounded by a line of fortifications with towers and gates, which is the result of a reconstruction carried out in the first half of the 4th century BC using the remains of older walls. The north gate complex has three semicircular towers and underground catapults and communication trenches and is one of the most majestic military structures of ancient Sicily. There was a very deep


trench dug between the acropolis and the residential area of Manuzza, with a bridge that gave access to the city. The southern zone of the acropolis appears to be largely occupied by smaller buildings from the Punic period with terracotta floors including mosaics of the sign of Tanit. To the north of this area are situated the ruins of the tmenos, which enclosed the temples of the acropolis, split in half by a wide road from the Punic era. You find the ruins of temple O immediately in front of you - a Doric peripteral temple, with six columns at the front and fourteen on each side, whose cella had a prnaos and an opisthdomos, of which only the foundations remain. A little further on stood temple A, which had an identical design to the previous one, although it was slightly smaller; the visible remains are of the base and drums of fluted columns. By


crossing the aforementioned Punic road, you find yourself in the part of the tmenos in which there are the greatest number of buildings. The first building, going from south to north, is a mgaron (sanctuary), a long construction with a cella and dyton, which was used in Punic times as an arms depot. Next comes the small

temple B, which was, maybe, a sanctuary dedicated to Asklepius. It is a peripteral temple, preceded by a portico in the facade, with Ionic columns and Doric trabeation (in other words, the part above the columns is composed of architrave, frieze and cornice). The limestone is covered by a thick layer of plaster, which still

shows traces of polychromy. A square altar is situated in front of the temple. At the centre of the tmenos stands temple C, the oldest and most majestic of the temples of the acropolis, whose construction began around 560BC. Three of the sculpted metope that decorated the front remain and depict Hercules, Apollo,

Perseus and the Gorgon. Some of the remains of temple C can be found in the Archaeological Museum in Palermo.

In basso: il Tempio E si erge in tutta la sua maestosit.

If you intend to visit Mazara, we suggest starting with a pleasant archaeological tour of the outskirts. At Miragghianu there are the important remains of a catacomb called of San Bartolomeo, or of the Beati Paoli; in the districts of Roccazzo and Gattolo there are numerous tombs from the Bronze Age; in the Costa di Piraino zone you will find the remains of a Roman villa from the late Imperial age. Outside of town, it is worth visiting the lookout tower of Maskaro, situated in the district of Santa Maria, which was built in 1584 and has withstood the test of time quite well and the Church of Madonna dell'Alto, on a hill about a kilometre out of the city. Also called Santa Maria delle Giummare (from the dialectal name for a type of dwarf palm), it has a single quadripartite nave and, on the outside, a small portico with two round, slightly ogive, arches opening on the left-hand wall. You can start your walk around the centre of Mazara in via Marina, where you will see a splendid example of Arab-Norman architecture: the Church of San Nicol Regale, otherwise known as Santa Niculicchia. It is a small square building with three apses, from the second half of the 12th century, although the semicircular merlons were added in the following century. Almost in front of the church is the canal-port of Mazara, the centre of life and trade in the city. In the morning especially, the port is crowded with fishermen arriving with fish to be auctioned, buyers and sightseers and echoes to the sound of voices and shouts. Not far away, in Piazza del'Immacolata, stands

the Church of Purgatorio or of San Calcedonio, built towards the end of the 1600s and characterised by a single nave with barrel vaults. From here it easy to reach Piazza del Plebiscito, where you will see the facade of the 18th century Church of Sant'Ignazio and the imposing Collegio dei Gesuiti (Jesuit College). Built of tuff in the second half of the 17th century, it has a monumental facade with a portal framed by telamons, which leads into a rectangular courtyard, surrounded by a portico with round-headed arches. The lower floor houses the premises of the Multivalent Centre, which includes the municipal library, the civic museum, the historical archives and a museum of the fishing industry. A short distance away, in Piazza della Repubblica, you can see one side of the Cathedral, which was built between 1086 and 1093 according to the wishes of Roger. The only remaining parts of the Norman original are the apse and part of the nave, on the wall of which is a Byzantine fresco depicting Christ Pantocrator and a wooden cross dating back to the 12th/13th century. Today the church has a basilican layout with three naves and a harmonious facade with three orders. The lower order is dominated by a 17th century portal, framed by two columns and topped by a high relief depicting Roger on horseback, victor over the Arab leader Mokarta; in the second order, the semi-columns that circumscribe the statues of


Christ and Our Lady take up the theme of the portal; in the upper order a central round window stands out, surrounded by friezes and almost supported by two angels. Inside there are stuccoes from the late 17th century, paintings, a marble portal of 1525 by Berrettaro, sarcophagi in relief from the Roman era and, in the apse, the magnificent group of sculptures of the Transfiguration, a masterpiece of Antonello and Antonio Gagini. A covered bridge links the Cathedral to the right wing of the Bishops' Palace, built in the second half of the 16th century using a wing of the already existing Palazzo Chiaramonte. In the same square stands the 18th century Palazzo del Seminario, a splendid monumental building in neo-classical style. Its facade was designed by G.B.Amico and has a long procession of arches in two superimposed orders, from which come the lower colonnade and the upper open gallery, both with cross-vaults. On the ground floor, you will find the Diocesan Museum, which displays the treasure of the Bishops: old silver objects, crosses, reliquaries, ostensories and liturgical furnishings of great value and beauty. In the background of the nearby Piazza Mokarta, you can see what remains of Roger's Castle: the ruins of a wall with an acute round arch, which belonged to the entrance door. From this square, you can take pleasant walks: you can go shopping in Corso Umberto, relax in the pretty park or head for the simple Church of San Vito, which stands on the seashore. Having left Piazza Mokarta and arrived in Piazza Santa Caterina, you can visit the church of the same name, built in the early 14th century and restored in the 17th century. The massive facade has a robust bell-tower beside it, with goose-breast gratings, and is decorated with a portal framed by columns and embellished with angels, cornices and friezes. The interior has a single nave with barrel vaults and is home to canvases, frescoes and a delicate marble icon

depicting Saint Catherine, sculpted by Antonello Gagini. Not far away stands the Church of Santa Veneranda, in the baroque square of the same name, connected to the ex-Benedictine monastery. Dating back to Norman times, it was rebuilt and altered between the 17th and 18th centuries. It has a facade characterised by an iron goose-breast balcony and two bell-towers with pagoda spires. From here, it is easy to reach Piazza San Michele, with the church of the same name and the adjacent Benedictine monastery, whose monks dedicate themselves to the ancient art of embroidery and the preparation of tasty cakes, according to traditional recipes. Next to the monastery there is a belltower with a small Oriental cupola. Founded in the 12th century but rebuilt in the 17th century, the church has a single nave with a deep apse and barrel vaults. The exterior is characterised by a cupola, covered with majolica tiles, and statues of Saints, which occupy the nooks and cornices of the rough facade. Inside the rich decorations of stuccoes, frescoes and balconies with goose-breast grating are spaced out by twenty statues of the Serpotta school; the whole is embellished with a beautiful multi-coloured majolica floor. From via Gotti, you can set off to explore the old districts of La Giudecca and San Francesco, with their labyrinth of narrow alleys and courtyards, laid out according to the traditional Islamic town plan. In the Arab quarter, now called the Kasbah, you will find the Church of San Francesco d'Assisi, which was entirely rebuilt at the end of the 17th century on the site of a previous Norman church. The church has a single nave decorated with stuccoes and with barrel vaults. The baroque facade is decorated with friezes and the bell-tower has aspire covered with majolica.
In alto: il Satiro Danzante. Nella pagina precedente, in alto: San Nicol Regale; in basso: collegio dei Gesuiti.



Castellammare del Golfo

Overlooked by Monte Inici, the town of Castellammare stands on the splendid gulf of the same name, a privileged position that has made it a 'Mecca' for seaside tourism. It was the mysterious Elimi of Segesta who founded the first centre of Castellammare in order to engage in trade with foreign ships. The new trade centre immediately found itself involved in the struggle between Segesta and Selinunte, which obviously made it necessary to fortify the town. In truth, the history of Castellammare is nothing but a series of fortifications. The most versatile occupiers of the site were certainly the Arabs. They were specialised in fortresses and built a tower that was the centre of attention for all the future occupiers (indeed, from a tower it became a castle), set up a tuna fishing plant, constructed a 'loader' for transporting and trading grain and, as was their custom, changed the name of the place to Al Madarig, in other words the steps, probably referring to its impregnability. Before starting your visit to the town, we suggest you take a look at it 'from up above' by stopping at the pleasant viewpoint on the SS187 road. The view over Castellammare is decidedly charming: a seemingly endless white beach, the sky merging with the deep blue crystalclear sea, the castle seemingly anchored to the jetty of the port and the fishermen's houses. Even if you have come to Castellammare for its beach, don't forget, between swims, to have a look at its monuments. Those of particular interest are: the baroque Church of Sant'Antonio di Padova characterised by its two bell-towers; the small Church of Purgatory; the Cathedral with its imposing 16th century style facade, which contains the altar of Our Lady of Succour, patron of the town. However, the most fascinating building is, without doubt, the Castle.


ASTELLAMMARE - riserva dello Zingaro

BAYS AND COVES Leaving Castellammare behind you, after a few kilometres along the main road (the SS187 towards Trapani), you reach the turn-off for Scopello. The secondary road that leads to the characteristic town winds through a steppe-like area covered, here and there, by bushes of dwarf palm and flanked by the slopes of the mountains on the left, covered by carob trees and olive trees. The stretch of the Gulf of Castellammare that comes into view is characterised by a series of points and inlets along a high jagged coastline. The road first runs alongside the inlet of Cala Bianca, which takes its name from the colour of its sheer cliffs and its white pebble beach; immediately afterwards come the splendid Baia di Guidaloca and the cliff of Cala Rossa. You then arrive at a point near Scopello, where you can see the faraglioni (crags) emerging impressively from the water, covered by pricklypears, in front of the old Tuna-fishing Plant. After the Tuna Plant of Scopello the road leads to a tunnel, which is the entrance to the Zingaro Nature Reserve.

SEA AND FRIENDLY PEOPLE The old 'baglio' of Scopello is a charming magical place. If you have the opportunity, visit it in two different periods of the year: it will be like visiting two completely different places. In winter it will seem to be a place isolated from the rest of the world, silent and enchanted; in summer it will give the image of being a folkloristic tourist town, noisy and lively. Which of these is the real soul of this little paradise, you can decide for yourself but, in any case, you will be charmed.


Segesta was certainly the political capital of the Elimi and, along with Erice and Entella, one of their principal cities. Although Greek in its customs and architecture, Segesta was in constant conflict with Selinunte because of the frontiers marked by the upper stretches of the river Mazaro. At this point Segesta formed an alliance with Carthage and, in 409BC, decisively defeated Selinunte. However, the alliance with Carthage angered Dionysius II the Elder, tyrant of Siracusa, who besieged the city in 397BC. The final blow was delivered by Agathocles, another tyrant of Siracusa, who conquered it and practically destroyed it in 307BC. Segesta is situated in the administrative area of Calatifimi, on Monte Barbaro (415 metres). Recent archaeological research has allowed the experts to confirm that the city covered the entire area of the mountain, had two acropolises (called north and south acropolis), which followed the contours of the top of the mountain and were divided by a saddle, and was surrounded by two sets of walls from different periods. The lower walls, from the classical age, had five gates and eleven square towers, while the higher ones, from the Hellenistic-Roman age, had thirteen towers and two gates. At the

highest point of the north acropolis the agor of the Hellenistic-Roman city has been uncovered (225BC-50AD), set out on three terraces and surrounded by porticoes. On the highest terrace of the agor, the remains of large public building with a portico have been found. In the district of Mango, on the western slopes of Monte Barbaro, about 800 metres from the main road, a sanctuary was partially uncovered in the 1950s. This is marked by a large rectan-



gular tmenos (83.4 metres by 47.8), whose exterior is decorated with panels divided by wide grooves. Inside the tmenos, the remains of two Doric temples dating back to the 6th and 5th centuries BC and of smaller buildings have been discovered. UN TEMPIO STUPEFACENTE The temple is situated on a hill on the slopes of Monte Barbaro, just outside the old perimeter walls. It can only be reached on foot, along a short climb bordered with agaves, beyond which there is a beautiful view. It is a white temple, solitary and imposing, which instils awe and respect. It seems to have always been here on this hill, a detached and insensitive witness to the greatness and wretchedness of man. Dating back to the 5th century BC, it was built according to typical Doric architectural style and is constituted by a stilobate (base) with three steps, unfluted columns 9.36 metres in height, six at the front and fourteen on each side, 2.4 metres apart, whose trunk is made up of 10/12 drums. The columns have a slight bulge, which corrects optical illusions, a refinement that can also be found in the Parthenon in Athens. The structure is topped by architrave and friezes with two tympanums at the front. It is open-air (the only open construction known in the ancient world), without a cella of the God and lacking in some refinements; indeed, the

blocks of stone in the steps are not chiselled and the abachi (square elements which crown the capitals and on which the architrave rests) are not finished.
In alto: il tempio di Segesta al tramonto. In basso: torre di avvistamento medievale. Nella pagina precedente, in alto: colonnato del tempio di Segesta. In basso: panoramica del tempio.


THE PANORAMIC THEATRE After visiting the temple, you can return to the car park area and go up to the theatre along a 3.5km stretch of road. This can be done on foot in about thirty minutes or, alternatively, you can use the shuttle bus service, which leaves every half hour.

The theatre is at a height of about 400 metres on the northern slopes of Monte Barbaro and, unlike other constructions of this type, faces north, probably to enjoy the splendid view, which takes in the sea and the mountains of Erice, Bonifato and Inici. The semicircular cavea is 63 metres in diameter and surrounded

on all sides by a strong perimeter wall. It has twenty tiers of seats cut out of the rock and split into seven wedges leading down to the Ushaped orchestra. The latter had an underground passage, which allowed the actors to appear suddenly on the scene. The scene has unfortunately been changed from the original

and consisted of a sumptuous two-storey building bordered by two lateral walls adorned with figures of Pan. The front part of the scene was decorated with two telamons.

In basso: panoramica del teatro.

San Vito
San Vito Lo Capo, an old fishing town that grew up around the 16th century. The legend tells that the job of founding the town was given to Santa Crescenzia and San Vito who, however had to keep to a pact: never to turn back during their journey. Santa Crescenzia, however, turned round when she arrived at the point where there is now a chapel dedicated to her, so was turned into stone; San Vito, on the other hand, completed his mission. The delightful and arabesque chapel of Santa Crescenzia is a place of pilgrimage for people 'pigghiati i scantu' (in other words shocked by a sudden fear), who, according to tradition, have to turn their back on the chapel and throw a stone. They then go away without turning round. The picturesque town stands on the promontory of Capo San Vito, at the point in which the high coastline spreads out to form a wide plat-

form, which has one of the most beautiful beaches in Sicily. The most important monument in San Vito is the Cathedral, called Sanctuary, with a characteristic quadrangular design, built in the 1600s on the site of a 16th century fortress, which, in its turn, substituted a previous chapel visited by pilgrims since mediaeval times.
In alto: la Chiesa Madre di San Vito. In basso: il porto di San Vito e Monte Monaco.

Puoi avanzare tutti i pretesti di questo mondo, ripeterti che per te un cibo nuovo, che potrebbe risultarti eccessivamente piccante, che non per niente indicato per lo stato di perenne cura dimagrante che ossessiona la tua vita, puoi far finta di ignorarlo nelle carte dei ristoranti. Al momento di decidere, provi persino piacere nel pronunziare il suo nome. A San Vito Lo Capo, couscous. Couscous di pesce. Qui consacrato piatto tipico e ogni anno, a settembre, ha il suo bravo festival con una manifestazione di assoluto rispetto, che travalica gli ambiti angusti della gastronomia, per assurgere a significati di politica aggregante tra i popoli di civilt mediterranea. A me il couscous piace, ma ci che mi entusiasma latmosfera da couscous che accompagna la pietanza. Il couscous altra cosa e richiede tutta una fase preparatoria farcita di desiderio, pazienza e amore per una cultura che ti sta nascosta dentro e che diventa indispensabile tirare fuori. Ecco, un buon couscous nasce gi in questa fase preparatoria, nella scelta del pesce da zuppa, nella ricerca degli aromi, nella consapevolezza che se lo vuoi per il pranzo la semola devi lavorarla (ncucciarla) di buon mattino, quando le tue energie hanno ancora sapore di freschezza pi di quel SUGGESTED EXCURSIONS We recommend two pleasant excursions for lovers of archaeology and nature: a walk along the coast to discover the numerous caves that open up in the calcareous rock of the promontory, both to the east (Capreria cave, Ciaravelli cave and tonnara del Secco) and to the west (Racchio cave, Cala Mancina cave, Isulidda cave and Perciata cave), in many of which incisions and paintings can be found; the not too difficult climb, or if you prefer drive, up Monte Monaco (532 metres), which dominates the two gulfs of
A fianco: la bellissima spiaggia di San Vito Lo Capo con il Monte Monaco.


pesce e di quelle spezie che hai davanti. Devi accettare e condividere la flemmaticit di un incessante movimento rotatorio delle dita che ncoccianu la semola di grano duro con un filino di acqua salata e che continuano con la cannella in polvere, il pepe nero e il trito di mandorle, aglio, cipolle, prezzemolo e olio doliva, come invocazioni musulmane una dopo laltra sui grani di un rosario. Opera darte nemica della fretta, lo capisci subito. Anche per quellora e mezza abbondante che richiede la cottura a vapore. E poi, il lungo riposo dopo averlo bagnato con brodo di pesce. Lento, flemmatico, sedentario e solare, questo il couscous, come gli Arabi che ce lo hanno trasmesso, come quella millenaria abitudine allattesa sedentaria di cui siamo impastati. Tratto da Storie, cose ed emozioni di Enzo Battaglia Castellammare and Cofano and is home to now rare birds of prey, such as the Bonelli eagle.


If you want a relaxing holiday, the Egadi archipelago is the ideal place to go. The mere mention of the Egadi Islands evokes images of swimming in crystal clear blue water, sunbathing, peace and tranquillity. The only problem is choosing one of the three principal islands which, along with the islets of Maraone and Formica, make up this archipelago: Favignana, Levanzano, Marettimo. After all the Egadi Islands (whose ancient name is Aegades or Aegates, meaning goat islands) are easy to reach. The archipelago is so close to the coast that it is part and parcel of the landscape. Despite being so near the coast, they maintain, like all islands, a sense of mystery that fires the imagination of even the most disenchanted tourist. Since prehistoric times men of various races and cultures have passed through here: Phoenicians, Romans, Arabs, Normans, Spaniards and Turks. If you decide to visit the Egadi Islands, youll discover that myth and history are still very much alive here. It is an understatement to say that beach-lovers are spoilt for choice. There are so many beach-


es, rocky and sandy, that it can be confusing. The best thing to do is to get on a bike and try all of them. Lets take them in order: rocky beaches - Cala Rossa has superb natural scenery. Climb up its rocks or swim out and admire it: fantastic. The Cala del Bue Marino is one of the best loved beaches for bathers as it was for the seals that used to live here and gave the bay its name. Cala Rotonda is lovely. Punta Sottile has a wonderful view and crystal clear water. What can we say about Punta Marsala, Grotta Perciata, Punta Lunga, Punta Ferro and Punta Faraglione? Try them, try them all and youll thank us. For those who prefer sand there is a wide choice including the lovely little beach of Cala Azzura, the large beach of Lido Burrone with changing rooms, showers and bar and the beach of Marasolo. Clear blue sea, white sand and beautiful beaches. What more can you ask of an island? Finally, some advice for lovers of diving. The best places for diving are Punta Marsala, Secca del Tonno, Cala Marasolo, Punta Fanfalo and in the underwater cavern between Cala Rotonda and Scoglio Corrente. The coastline is a series of headlands and caves including the Grotta dei Sospiri (Cave of Whispers) and the Grotta degli Innamorati (Cave of Lovers).

In alto: grotta Bombarda a Marettimo. In basso: il Faraglione di Levanzo. Nella pagina a fianco, in alto: Cala Rossa; in basso: la mattanza.


A Green and Black Pearl

Pantelleria is so extraordinary as to be almost impossible to describe. It is... grandiose, also in terms of size: it is the third of the minor Italian islands after Elba and Sant Antioco. You must bear in mind that it is impossible to visit the island without some means of transport. Just a short distance from Tunisia, Pantelleria has a typically Mediterranean climate, with hot summers, mild winters, scarce rainfall and constant wind. Strangely the people of Pantelleria have never been great fishermen, even though they have one of the most beautiful parts of the Mediterranean at their disposal, and they have always concentrated on agriculture. Zibibbo grapes and capers are grown in huge quantities, with the help of the fertile volcanic soil, and protected from the wind by drystone wall boundaries. Pantelleria is an island for all tastes: hiking, spa treatment, seaside holidays, underwater fishing and photography, bird-watching, archaeology and mineral collecting.
In alto: Lago di Venere. In basso: abitato di Pantelleria. Nella pagina a fianco: Arco dellElefante.


The town of Caltanissetta is situated in the centre of Sicily, surrounded by hilly wooded countryside, overlooking the Salso Valley from the foot of Monte San Giuliano. The town has ancient origins, inscriptions indicating that it was founded by the Romans in the area near Monte Gal El Abib, but it was not until the arrival of the Byzantines in the late 8th century that it moved to its present site, where the Castle of Pietrarossa once stood, dominating the valley right down to the River Salso. However, it was probably the Arabs, who gave the town its name, calling it Qalat al-nisa, castle of women. The earliest reliable historical evidence, however, dates from the Norman period, when Count Roger de Hauteville occupied the area, defeating the Arabs and conquering the Castle of Pietrarossa. The Norman presence is testified by the two beautiful buildings. The Abbazia di Santo Spirito was built according to the wishes of Count Roger, probably on the site of a pre-existing Byzantine place of worship and incorporating certain architectural elements of an ancient Arab manor house. It was consecrated in 1153 and was the towns first parish church. The Church of Santa Maria degli Angeli, commonly called la Vetere, stands close to the Castle of Pietrarossa; unfortunately, nothing is left of the original interior of the building but you can still see the typically Norman layout, which includes a single nave. The main western door is of particular importance, decorated with interesting friezes. The Church of SantAgata, with the adjacent Jesuit College, is a late 16th century building of particular beauty and certainly one of the most sumptuous religious buildings in Caltanissetta, constructed according to the wishes of Lady Luisa Moncada and her son Prince Francesco, who wanted to make Caltanissetta one of the most important cultural centres in Sicily and, among other things, invited the Jesuits to take up residence in the town, giving them control of this church. The church has a Greek cross layout; the interior is covered with marble decorations and stuccoes that simulate the texture of marble and the walls are decorated with interesting frescoes and attractive basreliefs, while the altar is enhanced by a beautiful frontal inlaid with marble and hardstones. The impressive College building is now home to the Luciano Scarabelli Municipal Library. The Cathedral of Santa Maria la Nuova was built between 1560 and 1620; the name la Nuova was added to distinguish it from the church of the same name constructed during

the Norman period. The cathedral has a wide faade with two orders, divided by pilaster strips and two imposing bell-towers rising above Piazza Garibaldi in the town centre. The cathedral has a Latin cross layout with three naves supported by fourteen arches, each one inspired by a character from the Old Testament. The ceiling of the central nave is decorated with lovely frescoes, many of which are the work of Guglielmo Borremans (1670-1744), a Flemish artist who lived mainly in Italy and was active particularly in Sicily and Campania. The second chapel on the right houses a particularly beautiful wooden statue of the Immaculate Virgin (1700). Other important marble and wooden sculptures are to be found in the chapel next to the main one. There is also a fine altarpiece by Borremans on the high altar. Piazza Garibaldi, which is overlooked by the cathedral, is the heart of Caltanissetta and is also home to a monument which is considered to be the symbol of Caltanissetta: this is the famous Fontana del Tritone, sculpted by the local artist Michele Tripisciano in 1890, made up of an attractive group of bronze sculptures depicting a triton driving a seahorse and two sea monsters chasing him. Among the important archaeological sites bearing witness to the pre-Greek origins of Caltanissetta, it is worth remembering the site of Sabucina, situated on the mountain of the same name, which was built by the Sicans and is particularly interesting because it was inhabited as early as the Bronze Age and right up to the classical period. This has been the site of important finds, such as some rock tombs, a hut used as a sanctuary, as well as the famous Sacello di Sabucina (see Archaeological Museum). The archaeological site of Gibil-Habib, home to prehistoric and Greek settlements, is about 25 km from Caltanissetta. This site is also very important because of the wide variety of buildings and objects that have been found here from the 19th century right up to the present day. Caltanissetta is home


to various museums, the most important being: the Archaeological Museum, situated next to the Abbazia di Santo Spirito, housing a large number of artefacts, including the famous Sacello di Sabucina, a stone model of a small temple with a pronaos in antis, supported by a pedestal and with the tympanum decorated with apotropaic figures and Dioscuri on horseback on the edge of the roof; the Diocesan Museum, in Viale Regina Margherita, houses various


collections from the churches of the surrounding area, including numerous paintings, vases and religious vestments. Caltanissetta is home to the Regalpetra Literary Park, named after the famous Sicilian writer Leonardo Sciascia, who attended a school where he was taught by Vitaliano Brancati, who became his model and guide. The town was also the birthplace of the famous playwright and journalist Pier Maria Rosso di San Secondo.

The town of Gela overlooks the largest gulf in Sicily and was one of the first and most important sites of the Greek colonisation of Sicily, being founded in 689 B.C., on the site of previous Sikel settlement, by settlers from Rhodes and Crete, who gave the town the same name as that of the river running through it, Gela. It is thought that it was Gela that created, among other sub-colonies, Akragas, present day Agrigento, and that Gela was also the first colony in Sicily to set up a tyrannical form of government, with widespread effects, given that Gela succeeded in conquering numerous other important Greek colonies, even defeating the very powerful city of Syracuse. Gela gradually lost its importance and by the Roman era it had become nothing more than a modest village; then, when the Arabs arrived in Sicily, they called it the city of columns because of the remains of its ancient glory lying scattered around, after the city had been destroyed several times. In 1233 Frederick II rebuilt the town and fortified it, building the Castelluccio, but the ancient beauty of Gela was lost forever and indeed recent history has seen the devastation of the town, thanks to the post-war building boom. Now Gela is growing again as a tourist destination, promoting itself as an important archaeological centre, seaside town and home to the Biviere, the largest coastal lake in Sicily, which has been made a Nature Reserve. There are numerous archaeological sites around Gela. At Capo Soprano we find the remains of fortifications, the Timoleontee Walls, dating back to the 4th century B.C. About 400 metres of walls have been brought

to light, mostly in excellent condition and built using peculiar materials: large square blocks of sandstone in the lower part of the walls and a thick layer of unbaked or sun baked bricks in the upper part. Nearby, we can find the remains of the Hellenistic Spa (4th century B.C.), composed of about forty pools and equipped with a sophisticated underground heating and drainage system. The area of the Acropolis is made up of the remains of houses, shrines, workshops and walls, to the north of which a we find the ruins of the sacred area, with the foundations of three temples. All that remains of the Athenaion is a Doric style column (almost 8 metres high), which is one of the symbols of the city. To the south of the Acropolis, in the LIttorio Wood, we find the archaic Greek Emporium complex (7th-6th century B.C.), which housed workshops, warehouses and shops. Its importance is testified to by the interesting underwater archaeological discoveries in the Gulf of Gela, where the wrecks of three ships have been found, one of which was recovered. The Regional Archaeological Museum is dedicated to Greek and prehistoric art, Norman ceramics and ancient coins. It houses numerous important artefacts uncovered in the Gela district and in the depths of the Gulf.


Attractively perched on a rugged mountain top, Enna occupies a peculiar position in many respects: firstly, it is the geographical centre of Sicily; secondly, its location on a highpoint of the Erei mountain range makes it the highest provincial capital in Sicily (at 931 metres, or just over 3,000 feet, above sea level), and indeed in the whole of Italy; finally, it is the only Sicilian province without a coastline. Its charm and peculiar character, which have so far been unfairly neglected by the tourist industry, derive directly from its geographical position: indeed, Enna is the Belvedere della Sicilia, its picturesque narrow streets stretched out along a mountain ridge which overlooks the upper valley of the River Dittaino, offering views of incomparably beautiful countryside, allowing a glimpse of the other face of Sicily, which is just as fascinating and attractive as the better known scenery associated with sea and beaches. The climate in Enna is also different from that found in the rest of Sicily: cold weather, fog and snow (the latter now quite rare) create an unusual atmosphere during winter, while in summer it is unlikely you will find the same unbearable heat in Enna that you will meet in the rest of Sicily. The district once called SantAnna, now known as Enna Bassa, expanding rapidly and administratively part of the town of Enna, has a slightly less rigid climate, being

situated at the foot of the mountain, about 250 metres (810 feet) lower. The natural stronghold position of Enna, apart from making it one of the quietest and most pleasant Sicilian towns to live in, has also influenced its long history. The Romans described it as Urbs inexpugnabilis (unconquerable town), arriving here after the Sicans, the Sikels and the Greeks, and before the Arabs, Normans, Suevians, Aragonese. The Lombardia Castle is one of the largest in Sicily and the main attraction for visitors to the town. It stands on ground occupied in the 5th century B.C. by a sanctuary dedicated to Cerere, which the Byzantines turned into a castrum and then became the site of the castle built by the Normans. Originally it had 20 towers, of which 6 survive, the most important one being the Pisana Tower, topped with battlements. The choice of this site was perfect: the austere castle takes you back in time and from the wide green open space in front you can enjoy views that take in the north and south coasts of Sicily, as well as much of the central and eastern parts of the island. The same can be said for the nearby Rocca di Cerere, which faces east and was a place of worship from its settlement in the 14th century B.C., later linked to the sanctuary created on the site where the castle now stands. In the centre of the public park, on a wooded hill, stands the octagonal Tower of Frederick II, built on the orders of the emperor of the same name (13th century) in order to control an otherwise unprotected part of the town.
In alto: il Castello di Lombardia. A fianco: il Duomo.

Enna Cathedral was built in the 14th century, but was restored during the baroque period following a fire that caused serious damage. It has three naves and the same number of apses with imposing Corinthian columns and houses valuable works of art, including frescoes by the Flemish artist Borremans. A wide stairway leads up to the faade and the bulky bell-tower dominates the town. The Sanctuary of Papardura is wedged into a sheer rock face overlooking the lush Rizzuto Valley. It has a fascinating history of religious devotion, which grew up around an ancient holy image, discovered in 1659, painted on the rock inside a cave. The inside of the single

nave church is decorated with stuccoes by Serpotta and has a wooden ceiling which was added later. The church is surrounded by twelve life-size statues depicting the Apostles. 5 km from Enna is the Pergusa Lake Special Nature Reserve, which was set up to protect and enhance this lake encircled by the Pergusa motor-racing circuit, a Sicilian sporting venue with a prestigious history and promising future. The district of Pergusa is home to a large number of hotels and other types of accommodation as numerous international sporting events are held here.


Le feste di Pasqua
I RITI DI CALTANISSETTA Quelli di Caltanissetta sono fra i riti meglio organizzati. Le tradizionali processioni che ormai da decenni si snodano allinterno del centro cittadino fanno parte di un calendario gestito dalle maestranze e dai vari enti pubblici cittadini incaricati della promozione turistica. Gli appuntamenti pi rilevanti si svolgono il mercoled, con le cosiddette varette cio i gruppi statuari della Via Crucis in scala ridotta, e soprattutto il gioved pomeriggio, con le rappresentazioni scultoree delle varie fasi della Passione che vengono trasportate, per tutta la serata, per le vie della citt dalle maestranze che hanno cura di ciascun gruppo e gareggiano anche nella bellezza degli addobbi floreali. Lappuntamento pi sentito della Settimana Santa a Caltanissetta resta, per, quello del venerd pomeriggio intorno alle 17, quando il simulacro di un esile Cristo nero, ritrovato casualmente in campagna, viene portato sulle spalle dagli appartenenti alla confraternita de fogli amari, ovvero dai rappresentanti di quelli che un tempo facevano come mestiere i raccoglitori di erbe selvatiche mangerecce. Gli appartenenti a questa confraternita intonano ancora oggi antiche ed incomprensibili nenie che vengono cantate solo in occasione della processione del Cristo nero. IL VENERD SANTO A BUTERA Tutto il paese viene coinvolto dai riti della Settimana Santa. Il Venerd Santo di Butera, un centro collinare a pochi chilometri da Gela, non ha la notoriet di altri riti religiosi dedicati alla Passione, ma ha la singolare caratteristica di essere cadenzato da quattro diverse processioni organizzate dalle parrocchie del piccolo centro durante lintera giornata. A partire dalla mattinata i quattro cortei, con i rispettivi simulacri, rievocano i diversi momenti della Passione: lEcce Homo (ore 10, chiesa di San Giuseppe), la Salita al Calvario (ore 13.30, chiesa di Maria SS delle Grazie), il Cristo Crocifisso (ore 17, chiesa di Santa Maria di Ges), il Cristo Morto ncatalettu (ore 21.30 chiesa Madre). Le processioni delle ore serali possiedono indubbiamente un fascino maggiore, grazie ai lunghi cortei che attraversano lentamente le strette stradine del centro storico accompagnati da mesti motivi musicali.


Piazza Armerina
The history of the town of Piazza (Armerina was added in 1862) began in Norman times, but the area was already inhabited in prehistoric times, as is demonstrated by the archaeological finds on Monte Navone and, above all, on Montagna di Marzo. The area must have flourished in the Roman era: this can be seen from the splendid Roman Villa Casale, dating from the early 4th century AD, with its world famous mosaic floors. You experience a feeling of wonder when you catch sight of the cupola of the Cathedral rising up above the roof-tops, as you make your way along via Roma and into Piazza Garibaldi. It towers above the faade of the Palazzo di citt (18th century), the Palazzo Capodarso (18th century), the church of Fundr (17th century) and the ex-Benedictine monastery (17th century), almost as if to underline its architectural superiority over all the other monuments of the town. All these buildings are notable for their simplicity and elegance and, although they can each be admired independently, they can also be considered as a single architectural complex. Each building fits harmoniously into the framework of the beautiful Piazza Garibaldi, the pulsating heart of the town. From this square streets lead off into the old town, where every stone has a story to tell if you look carefully and appreciate the intrinsic beauty of the buildings. To Piazza S. Rosalia, here you will see Palazzo Trigona di Canicarao (17th century) on the right, a noble 17th century residence. Further on, you arrive in Piazza Duomo, dominated by the imposing mass of the Cathedral. It took nearly three centuries to build this colossal monument, with its majestic portal and tortile columns and the Gothic-Catalan style bell tower; the statue of Baron Marco Trigona, portrayed offering the Cathedral to the town. Overlooking the square is Palazzo Trigona della Floresta (18th century). The Aragonese Castle was built at the end of the 14th century and was the residence of King Martin I of Aragon for a long time. It has a quadrilateral layout with quadrangular towers and looks over a wide valley.
In alto: veduta panoramica della citt. A fianco: statua del barone Marco Trigona.


17/A CUCINA 1 2/A 2/B 2/C 3


AMBIENTI DELLA SERVITU 20 18 19 22 21 25 23

26/A 49 26 47


17 3/A 14 4 15 12 10 16







6/A 9






1 Praefurnia - Ovens for heating the water and air of the spa complex 2/A Male Calidarium; 2/B Sauna; 2/C Female Calidarium 3 Tepidarium 3/A Room for greasing and massage after bathing. 4 Frigidarium - Seascapes in the centre and bathing scenes in some of the niches 5 Large latrine 6 Shrine of Venus 6/A Spa Vestibule for servants 7 Polygonal courtyard with Ionic columns 8 Ancient entrance to the Villa, originally with 3 arches 9 Adventus Vestibule - Guests were greeted in this room 10 Peristyle - Rectangular four-sided portico with 32 columns 10/A Garden containing large pond with statue of Cupid 11 Votive shrine for worship of the Lares who protected Roman households 12 Courtyard 13 Latrine with mosaics depicting running wild animals 14 Large gymnasium - The mosaics depict chariot races in the Circus Maximus 15 Trapezoidal Vestibule - The mosaics probably depict Eutropia, Maximianus wife and mistress of the Villa, with her children 16 Arab or Norman furnace room 17 Servants room with geometrical

mosaics 17/A Kitchen with basin 18 Room with star patterned mosaic 19 Rectangular room without mosaics 20 Bedroom with dance or theatre inspired decorations 21 Four seasons room 22 Fishing cupids room 23 Small Hunting Room - Hunters making a sacrifice to Diana 24 Servants room with octagonal patterned mosaic 25 Servants bedroom. Square patterned mosaics 26 Large Hunting Ambulacrum or corridor (60 metres long) 26/A On the left: apse with mosaics depicting Mauritania (Africa) 26/B On the right: apse with mosaics showing scenes from India or Armenia 27 Servants room with geometrical patterned mosaic 28 Room depicting ten girls in bikinis doing gymnastics 29 Diaeta of Orpheus - Rectangular room for listening to music 30 Xystus - Wide open-air atrium in an ellipsoid shape 30/A Triclinium kitchen 30/B Corridor linking the four-sided portico with the Xystus 31 Putti pressing grapes; 32 Cupids harvesting grapes; 33 Vine growing;


27 30/B 33 31 32 29

SOGGIOR 41/A DELL PADRO 41 42 43 38 39



30 ATRIO TRIPO TI 35 34 36



34 Cupids fishing; 35 Eroti fishing; 36 Seafaring putti 37 Triclinium - Large dining-hall with apses on three sides 38 Secondary aqueduct 39 Castellum Aquae (water collection tank) 40 Octagonal latrine for members of the family 41 Diaeta of Arion - The mistresss sitting-room 41/A Atrium with semicircular portico with Ionic columns and central impluvium 42 Vestibule of the small circus - mosaics of chariots driven by children 43 Bedroom (cubicle) used by the mistresss daughter 44 Vestibule of Eros and Pan - The mosaic shows Eros and Pan wrestling 45 Bedroom used by one of the children of the owner of the Villa. In the ante-room mosaics with children hunting 46 Basilica - Large hall for official functions 47 Vestibule of Polyphemus - Large mosaic portraying Ulysses and Polyphemus 48 Fruit cubicle - Bedroom used by the mistress (domina) of the Villa. The mosaics in the ante-room depict laurel wreaths with fruit 49 Bedroom used by the owner of the Villa. Mosaic with erotic scenes


The Roman Villa of Casale

Among the large country houses of the late Roman period, the Villa of Casale is perhaps the best preserved of those surviving. It is especially famous for the splendid mosaic floors that decorate almost all the rooms and is considered to be one of the most important Roman monuments in the world. It is composed of four groups of buildings on four different levels (following the slope of the hillside), set in peaceful green countryside at the foot of Monte Mangone, in the Gela river valley. Its existence had been known of for some considerable time, but only in 1881 did digging begin and only since 1950 have there been serious efforts to uncover it systematically and to preserve it; the servants quarters still remain to be uncovered. The building (2nd century AD), was originally a simple construction, but was enlarged and rebuilt at the end of the 3rd century so as to become a luxurious country house in the centre of a large estate. The estate was composed of a small village and several mansiones (farms) where slaves and procuratores (overseers) were engaged in cultivating the fertile land. Nearby, there was a place used for as a stop-off point and market place called Philosophiana, on the road connecting Catania to Agrigento, mentioned in the Itineraria Antoninii, a sort of tourist guide book of the 1st century AD. The new owner of the Villa could have been a rich landowner, a Senator, or even the Emperor Max-


imianus himself, a man of humble origins from Pannonia. He became Emperor after having served in the Roman army as a General under Diocletian, who appointed him co-regent and gave him the name of Herculius (under the divine protection of Hercules). He achieved numerous military victories, particularly in Gaul, and was Emperor from 286 to 305 AD. The richly decorated Villa could date back to the age of Maximianus but some researchers date it later. Stylistically the mosaics are similar to those in Tunisia and Algeria around 300 AD. The mosaic designs, made of African stone help in

the task of dating them: the hairstyles and beards of the figures were fashionable at that time; the cylindrical hats worn by state officials and military officers are of Illyrian type, popular at the time of Diocletian, and the stick with a mushroom shaped handle carried by some of the dignitaries comes from the tetrarchy period. The capitals of the columns found in several rooms belong to a type mass produced at the time of Diocletian and were also used in the Palace in Split.
In alto: Sala degli Amorini Pescatori. Nella pagina precedente, in alto: Sala della Piccola Caccia. In basso: Sala della Grande Caccia.


Throughout the Villa the common theme is that of Hercules, symbol of the reigning Emperor, according to a panegyric of 289 AD, offered by the Emperor Maximianus Herculius, who compared his victories to the labours of Hercules. It is interesting to note that the Liber Pontificalis refers to Constantines possessions in Sicily (around Catania) and it is possible that he inherited these lands from Maxentius, son of Maximianus, after having defeated him in 312. Continuing along the avenue you arrive at the first of the four levels on which the Villa is built.

This level is a spa complex, including pools, a gymnasium and a sauna, equipped with a heating system that allowed hot air to circulate under the floor and in the cavities between the brickwork of the walls. The spa in the Villa is a small scale reproduction of those which graced every Roman town and were widely used both in Rome and in every province of the Empire. Hot air was circulated through the cavities under the floors, which rested on brick supports in order to allow this to happen. Having concluded your visit to the spa, you move on to the second level, before entering the Villa proper, and here you will find the Large latrine (5), the Shrine of Venus (6), the Polygonal courtyard (7) and the original three-sided entrance to the Villa (8). The POLYGONAL COURTYARD (7), it is a spacious courtyard, surrounded by eleven columns with Ionic style capitals, once the atrium (entrance hall) of the Villa. Visitors in the 3rd century AD would certainly have been impressed by the majesty of the entrance hall: three wide arches gave access to the Villa. The central entrance arch was 4.5 metres wide and those to the side measured 2.6 metres. ADVENTUS VESTIBULE (TABLINIUM) (9) Gave access to the large colonnade of the Villa and it was here that guests were welcomed. Climbing a few steps from the Vestibule you come into the beautiful Peristyle: a wide rectangular four-sided portico surrounded by 32 columns with capitals in Corinthian style supporting roofs jutting out into the garden. The garden was once home to peacocks, pheasants and doves and is now full of trees and box-tree hedges. Following the walkway you can observe the Large



Gymnasium of the Villa from above. It is a rectangular room with an apse on either side. The dominus and his family entered through the Vestibule (15). The design decorating the floor depicted chariot races in the Circus Maximus in Rome. ROOM OF THE FISHING CUPIDS (22) The mosaic is in good condition and depicts four boats with cupids fishing and a sea full of fish. LARGE HUNTING AMBULACRUM (26) In this room you can see the most beautiful mosaics of the whole complex. It is called the Large Hunting Ambulacrum because of the magnificent hunting scene represented here. The Ambulacrum served as access to the rooms used by the dominus (47/49), to the Basilica (46) and to the rooms occupied by the domina and the children (41/45) situated to the right of the Basilica. The room is basically a 65 metre long corridor, with an apse at either end, decorated by mosaics depicting the personifications of two Roman provinces. The whole central part of the room is occupied by the hunting scene, which takes place in the African countryside, with buildings and colonnades, on a hillside near a river and the sea. ROOM OF THE GIRLS IN BIKINI (28) The present mosaic depicts ten girls doing gymnastics or taking part in some kind of race. The fig-

ure in a tunic is acting as a referee and is offering a crown to one of the winners. The gymnasts are extremely modern looking, wearing subligar, the briefs of that time, and stropkion, a sort of top. TRICLINIUM (37) The Triclinium is a large square dining room with three apses and an entrance with two columns. This is where the dominus received his important guests. The origin of the name triclinium derives from the ancient habit of setting out three sofas perpendicular to one another, with a table in the centre. The mosaics in the central part of the room depict the twelve mythological labours of Hercules. The imposing Basilica (46) is the largest room in the Villa and was reached by passing through the Large Hunting Ambulacrum. The basilica was the place where the basileus (emperor or king) reigned, imparted justice and received important guests.
In alto: Sala delle Ragazze in Bikini. Nella pagina precedente, in alto: basamento su cui poggiava la vasca per riscaldare lacqua; in basso a sinistra: il Tepidarium; a destra: tubi di argilla attraverso i quali veniva introdotta laria calda.



The walls were once decorated with beautiful marble, remains of which can be seen at the base of the walls. In the apse, slightly higher than the rest

of the room, was the Emperors throne. Vestibule of Polyphemus (47) This luxurious room was entered through the Large Hunting Ambulacrum. The room was used as a vestibule for the bedrooms (48-49) occupied by the dominus and by the domina of the Villa. The walls are decorated with moulded squares and the entrance doorway still has the four holes for the door hinges. The real beauty of this room, however, is in the mosaic, which portrays the Cyclops Polyphemus and Ulysses with some of his companions in a cave. The enormous Cyclops, with three eyes, a beard and long hair, is seated on a rock, naked and with a ram on one of his legs, while Ulysses hands him a crater full of wine. This Homeric theme is often to be found in Roman mosaics. BEDROOM WITH EROTIC SCENE (49) Moving to the left, you come into the bedroom used by the dominus. This room has a rectangular alcove with two stone pillars.

In alto: Vestibolo di Polifemo. A fianco: Cubicolo della Scena Erotica.


This was an architecturally beautiful city and one of great historical importance in the events of ancient history in Sicily. Morgantina is situated in the heart of Sicily at a point where the mountainous interior begins to slope down eastwards into the Gornalunga valley, towards the vast plain of Catania and the Ionian coast. The site on which the city stood was, therefore, of great strategic importance, so much so that it was already inhabited in prehistoric times (early bronze age). In addition to its strategic importance, it was also a zone with a very good water supply and fertile land, unlike most of the arid countryside of the Sicilian interior. You can begin your visit to the ruins at the Citadel since it is the site of the first settlement (founded around the beginning of the 2nd millennium BC). This place was chosen by the first settlers, the Morgeti, because it was the highest point and thus the most easily defended. After a long period of abandonment the Citadel was refortified around the middle of the 3rd century BC. The area with most monuments is the agora, the heart of classical and Hellenistic cities. Built between the late 4th and early 3rd centuries BC. The construction of the theatre in the south-western corner of the lower agora dates from the same period. On the eastern side of the lower agora there is a long building with adjacent rooms of varying sizes. For this reason, this building has been identified as the public granary of Morgantina,. In the northern stoa the end wall was occupied by a series of public buildings, including the prytaneum and the gymnasium. In the western corner of the area bordered by the stoai, there is a rectangular building with a courtyard leading into a large room. In this room there is a semicircular foundation, followed by a rectangular one, leading experts to believe that this was the bouleuterion, the meeting place for the city assembly, a kind of senate. The hillsides to the east and west of the agora were home to the wealthy inhabitants of Morgantina. One of the most impressive residences is the so-called House with the Doric capital. Some of the rooms had mosaic or earthenware floors.

As the ferry leaves from the coast of Calabria to cross the short stretch of sea separating it from the other side you begin to feel the intoxicating sensation given by the knowledge that you have undertaken a journey into another dimension, into history, in a land of legends. Your eyes scrutinise the horizon in expectation as you approach your destination, the sickle-shaped harbour wall surrounding the waters of the port. If you arrive in Sicily by train or by car, it is Messina that welcomes you to the island. A very warm welcome. Messina has experienced power and decay, expansion and destruction. Despite this, the people of Messina have always found the strength, patience and courage to rewrite the history of their city, a history with roots in the remote past, so much so that there is a saying that goes: When Messina came into being, Rome was still countryside. The origins of the city are lost in the mists of time; there are few certainties about the more ancient history of the city and these are often confused by myths and legends. Even the more authoritative sources, Diodorus Apollonius and Silius Italicus, say that the city was founded by Saturn, more than two thousand years before the Christian age.

The historian Strabone attributes the foundation of Zancle (a Siceliot word that means sickle, in reference to the natural shape of the port) to the Chalcidians from Euboea. The best place to start your visit is Piazza Duomo, where you will see the Cathedral and the Fountain of Orion. The fountain is dedicated to the mythical founder of the city and was completed in 1553. According to the most reliable research the Cathedral was built in Norman times, on the


orders of Count Roger. It was almost certainly consecrated in September 1197. The Cathedral was almost completely destroyed during the violent earthquake of 1908. The post-war reconstruction gave the Cathedral its present appearance, which faithfully reproduces the original style and shapes. The Treasury attached to the Cathedral is particularly interesting


to visit. The most important works of art belonging to the Basilica include: the Golden Manta of Our Lady of the Letter, by the Florentine goldsmith Innocenzo Mangani (1668). The building of the Bell Tower which stands alongside the faade of the Cathedral dates back to Norman times. In 1933 the bell tower was equipped with a large astronomical clock, connected to a complex mechanism that brings to life gilded mechanical figures representing characters and events from local history, civil and religious,
A fianco: il Duomo e la fontana di Orione. In alto: la Manta dOro della Madonna della Lettera. Nella pagina precedente: in alto, la Madonnina; in basso: lo Stretto di Messina.


and symbolic figures. This mechanism functions every day when the clock strikes midday. This clock was made by the highly skilled Ungerer brothers of Strasbourg and is an important tourist attraction. Church of Our Lady of the Annunciation of the Catalans, built around 1150 on the ruins of the temple of Neptune. The church still represents one of the most important monuments of its time, with its mixture of Norman, Byzantine, Arab and late Pisan Romanesque and Lombard architectural styles. On the tip of the S. Raineri peninsu-

la, on top of a 16th century fortress, stands the statue of Our Lady of the Letter, with her hand held up to bless the city.

In alto: la Chiesa dei Catalani. In basso: il Teatro Vittorio Emanuele. Nella pagina a fianco, in alto: Polittico di S. Gregorio di Antonello da Messina; in basso: tavoletta del 400 di Antonello da Messina, raffigurante La Madonna col Bambino da una parte e un Ecce Homo dallaltra.

The Regional Museum of Messina, successor to the Peloritano Public Museum founded in 1806, still stands on the coast road leading to the lakes, on the same site on which the Basilian Monastery of SS. Salvatore dei Greci stood in the 1500s. Custodisce opere di eccezionale interesse tra cui segnaliamo i dipinti raffiguranti lAdorazione dei Pastori e la Resurrezione di Lazzaro di Caravaggio; il Polittico di San Gregorio e una tavoletta del 400 di Antonello da Messina.

Inhabited since 4000 B.C., Milazzo was home to the Sikels before the arrival of the Greeks, who came here in 716 B.C., founding Mylai on the narrow peninsula that seems to stretch out into the Tyrrhenian Sea in order to enjoy the view of the lovely Seven Sisters, the Aeolian Islands. Milazzo lies in a strategic position and has always been the site of important battles, from those of the Punic Wars, to those involving Garibaldi and the more recent landings in Sicily in the Second World War. The Castle of Frederick II is the most important monument in the town, built in the 13th century on the site of a pre-existing Arab construction and later equipped with defensive walls by the Spanish.

The town of Patti has a sandy coastline about 12 km (19 miles) long, characterised by the presence of caves, stacks and small bays. The sea is crystal clear and perfect for swimming. There are beautiful

views, such as the one you can enjoy from the district called Sorrentini, situated at an altitude of 450 metres (1,450 feet), taking in the Gulf of Patti, the Aeolian Islands, Mount Etna, the Nebrodi and Peloritani mountains and the coast of Calabria. The town is home to numerous interesting monuments, the most important being the Norman Cathedral, built in the 12th century on the site of a previous Byzantine church.
In alto: veduta aerea di Capo Milazzo. In basso: lungomare di Patti.


As well as being an important archaeological site (here you can see the remains of a Greek Theatre, parts of the ancient city walls and of a Spa from the Roman era), Tindari is also beautiful from the point of view of nature, with its picturesque lagoon and the seawater lakes which change shape, protected as part of the Marinello Nature Reserve. Tindari is dominated by the famous Sanctuary of Our Lady of Tindari, which houses an ancient wooden Byzantine sculpture depicting a Black Madonna.

Gioiosa Marea
This is a popular tourist destination, offering lovely beaches surrounded by mountains and breathtaking views, such as those enjoyed from the promontory of Capo Calav. The parish church is home to canvases by Olivio Sozzi and a sculpture of the Madonna, by an artist of the Gagini school.
In alto: veduta aerea dei laghetti di Tindari e del Santuario. In basso: veduta aerea di Capo dOrlando.

Capo dOrlando
The town received this name in Norman times, in honour of the fact that the paladin Orlando is said to have stopped here on his way to a crusade in the Holy Land. The town is dominated by a sheer rugged promontory on which you can see the ruins of a 14th century castle and the Sanctuary of Our Lady, once a lookout point against incursions by pirates, which was built in 1598 and houses various interesting canvases.


358BC is generally considered the year in which the city of Tauromenion was founded by Andromachus, a Greek from Naxos, father of the historian Timaeus. In 212BC Tauromenion voluntarily subjected itself to Roman. The town was given the name of Tauromoenium and became one of the first federated towns in Sicily, thus enjoying a certain degree of autonomy and some privileges. Under the rule of the Byzantine empire the town became the most important place in eastern Sicily because of its militarily strategic position. In 902 Tauromoenium fell to the Arabs. The name of the town was changed by Caliph Al Moez to Almoezia. The conquest of Sicily by the Normans put an end to the Arab domination. In 1078 Count Roger conquered the town and restored its previous name. Under the Normans and the Swabians Tauromoenium experienced a renewed period of peace and prosperity, particularly during the reign of Frederick II. If you want to fully appreciate the beauty of Taormina, the best times of year to visit are spring and autumn, when the air is warm and fragrant and the main tourist season is yet to

start or has already finished. Taormina is an aristocratic town sitting on its 250 metre high hilltop and overlooking a crystal clear blue sea; Etna in the background, distant but forbiddingly ever present, as if offering you unforgettable emotions. Alleyways and picturesque courtyards, artistic arches and stairways, surprises round every corner: wandering


slowly around the town is the best way of visiting it, admiring its beauty and soaking up the atmosphere. The Catania Gate marks the southern boundary of the old Town, the heart of Taormina and the area containing numerous examples of 15th century architecture. Near the Gate, in via De Spuches, stands the massive structure of the Palazzo dei Duchi di Santo Stefano. It was built in Gothic style and also included elements in clear Arab-Norman style. the ex-Monastery of Saint Dominic. The building dates from the 14th century and was originally a fortified palace belonging to the Prince of Cerami, Damiano Rosso, who became a monk and donated it to the Dominicans. Today, the San Domenico Palace Hotel is one of the most prestigious and best known hotels in Italy. The monks cells of the old monastery are now luxurious rooms for the hotel guests and you can still see some of the original furniture of the

monastery , as well as the charming 17th century cloister with its arched columns. Also from the San Domenico square, you can go up the stairway which leads to Piazza Duomo, where you will find the Cathedral, dedicated to Saint Nicholas of Bari. It was built in the late 15th century on the site of a pre-existing mediaeval church. The two side portals of the Cathedral are particularly interesting. In front of the Cathedral you can see the artistic Tauro Fountain, so called because on top it has the figure of a biped female centaur which has become the civic emblem of Taormina. Slightly uphill from Corso Umberto stands the massive construction of the so called Badia Vecchia, which owes its peculiar castle keep shape to its Norman origins. Its later adaptation to a noble residence and the inclusion of late Gothic decorative motifs date from the 14th century. a little further on from Piazza Duomo, on the left you come to Palazzo Ciampoli, at the top of a wide staircase. The lower of the two floors has an attractive portal decorated with vigorous
In basso: Palazzo dei Duchi di Santo Stefano. Nella pagina precedente: in basso, Porta Catania. In alto: particolare della decorazione di un carretto siciliano che raffigura Arabi e Normanni in lotta.



profiles in relief in the two top corners; it dates from 1412. Continuing along Corso Umberto I you come to the Clock Tower, which marks the end of the old town. The Tower was built in the 12th century, probably on pre-existing foundations from the Greek period, and it encompasses the so-

called Halfway Gate. After passing the Halfway Gate, you turn into the panoramic Piazza IX Aprile, where it is
In alto: a sinistra, pregevole mosaico della Porta di Mezzo; a destra, palazzo Corvaja. In basso: il San Domenico Palace Hotel.



worth stopping a while to enjoy the spectacular view of Mount Etna. In this square you will find the ex-Church of Saint Augustine, now home to
In alto: la trifora di Palazzo Corvaja e la Chiesa di Santa Caterina dAlessandria. In basso: La Cattedrale di San Nicol e la fontana del Tauro.

the Municipal Library. On the opposite side of the square, at the top of beautiful stairway with balustrades, stands the Church of Saint Joseph, which was built in the late 17th century. At the end of Corso Umberto stands the splendid Palazzo Corvaja, which overlooks Piazza


Vittorio Emanuele II. This complex and stylish building belongs to three different historical periods: the Arabs built a cubic shaped military tower on top of ruins from the Greek period; in the 13th century the main body of the building, called the Salone del Maestro Giustiziere, to the left of the entrance portal was added; finally, in the early 15th century the part of the building overlooking the square was built, with four two-mullioned windows on the first floor resting on an attractive coloured frieze. The south-western faade is characterised by a single three-mullioned window and a portal leading into the courtyard with an exterior staircase climbing up to the first floor. Today it houses the Museum of Sicilian Arts and Traditions Panarello Collection, which exhibits a large collection of art and craft objects dating from the 16th to the 20th centuries. In the Greek period the present day Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II was the Agora, the main square of Tauromoenion, situated at the juncA fianco: Palazzo Corvaja. In basso: il Teatro Greco e sullo sfondo Naxos e lEtna. Nella pagina accanto: veduta aerea del Teatro Greco.



tion of the two principal streets, the consolare Valeria (now Corso Umberto) and the decumano (now via Teatro Greco). This was the heart of the town, where the assemblies of the town council and the markets were held and where the most important public buildings were located. This square also housed the Roman Forum from 201BC onwards. From the Piazza you can go uphill along via Teatro Greco to reach the Greek-Roman Theatre, the largest ancient theatre in Sicily after the one in Siracusa (open to visitors every day from 9 a.m. until one hour before sunset). Next to the Theatre you can visit a small Antiquarium housing artefacts of various origins: epigraphs, carvings and pieces recovered from the various monuments of Taormina. There is a particularly interesting torso of Apollo from the Hellenistic age and numerous tablets documenting details of the administrative and political life of the Greek town. The theatre was built in a depression in the hillside and was originally in accordance with the standard Greek architecture, consisting of an orchestra, a cavea and a stage, like the one in

Syracuse; the maximum diameter of the theatre is 109 metres, that of the orchestra is 35 metres. The stage was fixed and represented the faade of a two storey building. The orchestra is the open area low down in the centre, dividing the stage from the cavea. In the Greek period the orchestra, housed the musicians who accompanied the performance of the tragedy or the comedy; in the Roman period it was also used as an arena. The cavea consists of the tiers of seats which rose up from the level of the orchestra to the top of the theatre, widening as they rose. The acoustics were, and still are, perfect. The shape of the theatre creates a sort of soundbox, making it easy to hear clearly what is said on the stage from anywhere you are sitting. The extraordinary beauty of the theatre and the incomparable scenery of the bay of Naxos, dominated by Etna, fascinated Frederick II, who transformed the structure to the right of the stage into an imperial palace. On the road leading up to Castelmola there is a turn-off that leads to the Sanctuary of Our Lady of the Rock. Near the Sanctuary, a stairway leads up to the ruins of the Medieval Castle, built on the sum-


mit of Monte Tauro (400m) on the site of the acropolis of the ancient town. CASTELMOLA Castelmola is situated at a height of 550 metres above sea level on the site of the primitive defensive settlement founded by the Sikels in the 8th century BC. Piazza S. Antonio is a panoramic viewpoint overlooking the coast below and is the heart of the town. A stairway

offers you the chance of getting to the beach in just a few minutes. The coastline at the foot of the town has something for everyone: sandy or pebble beaches of all shapes and sizes, quiet cliffs, charming bays and spectacular rocky outcrops, caves to explore and, above all, a crystal clear inviting sea both above and below the water. While everybody can admire the cliffs and stacks, divers have the added pleasure of discovering an underwater world full of caves and gorges. Coming down from Taormina towards

to the right of the Piazza leads to the highest part of Castelmola, where you will find the ruins of the 16th century Castle. THE SEA AT TAORMINAS FEET Along with the many other attractions Taormina

In alto, il mare ai piedi di Taormina; al centro, pregiate ceramiche ed oggetti di artigianato dei negozi di souvenir di Castelmola e in basso, veduta panoramica della spiaggia di Giardini Naxos.



the coast and turning left along the main SS 114 road, you come to Cape SantAndrea, where there are some lovely grottos that can be visited on board small boats, such as the superb grotta azzurra. A boat trip is the best way of viewing the rocky coastline, which is otherwise rather inaccessible. After Cape SantAndrea there is a series of sandy beaches with bathing establishments, very popular with tourists: Spisone, Mazzar opposite which you can admire the luxuriant island of Isola Bella - connected to Taormina by a cable car. Immediately after Mazzar, after another stretch of rocky coastline, is the beach of Letojanni, a pleasant town overlooking a magnificent bay, which offers visitors interesting cultural and artistic events all year round. The mild seaside climate, the luxuriant Mediterranean vegetation and the groves of lemon trees all go to make Letojanni a popular tourist destination. Further on, finally, you reach the beach of Cape SantAlessio, at the foot of a promontory with a castle. Off the coastline of Cape SantAlessio several shipwrecks have been found, along with their loads of amphorae. Above Cape SantAlessio, just four kilometres away, stands Forza dAgr, situated at a height of 400 metres above sea level on the slopes of
In alto, la lunga spiaggia di Letojanni. A fianco: abitato e spiaggia di SantAlessio.

the Peloritani mountains. This old town (the name is an abbreviation of the word fortress) was founded and expanded in Norman times around the Basilian monastery and the castle, the remains of which dominate the town and the coastline from on high. Forza dAgr is a mediaeval town and still has the characteristic narrow streets that make it so picturesque.

In the past, like today, great and famous travellers like Dumas, Houel, Guy de Maupassant, De Dolomieu and the Archduke Luigi Salvatore of Austria, explored the islands and studied their economy, traditions and customs, giving them early recognition in important works like the eight volumes of the Archduke of Austria. The Eolian islands are volcanic creatures born

from the active presence of the four elements: air, water, earth and fire. They emerged from the sea during the Pleistocene period and since then have changed shape several times. Evolution is still ongoing and indeed, in 1955, near Stromboli, a small new island emerged and then sank again; on Lipari, the pumice and obsidian flows of Monte Pelato and Forgia Vecchia date back to 729 AD. The volcanoes of Vulcano and Stromboli and the spa waters and mud baths on Vulcano, Lipari and Panarea remind us that all is not dormant underground. The islands offer their natural beauty to tourists, scholars and sea lovers. A clean sea, still full of fish, grottoes and high cliffs, crags and fine black sandy beaches, sulphur springs and white pumice mountains and all the charm of an island environment. You can get here all year round by hydrofoil and ferry and easy connections are one of the reasons for the increase in tourism. You can board from Naples by car without having to go to Sicily. In summer, hydrofoils serve the islands, with varying daily routes, to Reggio Calabria, Gioia Tauro, Messina, Palermo, Cefal, Sant'Agata di Militello, Patti, Capo D'Orlando, Giardini and Milazzo. There is a fast helicopter service, based on Panarea, linking the islands to the main airports of the region (Air Panarea 090/9834428). Furthermore, there are plans for a small airport on Lipari. The climate is mild and in winter the temperature never drops below 10. Summers are not torrid as they are freshened by a sea breeze. That is why, even out of season, long, pleasant

stays are possible. In spring, the vegetation that carpets the islands is an explosion of colour and scent. Once they were covered by thick woods, but today Mediterranean scrub prevails. Man has cleared almost every available centimetre of woodland to cultivate grapes, olives, capers, pulses and vegetables. The widespread terraces, now abandoned, are evidence of great human work over thousands of years. Man and geographical features have given each island a different identity. Filicudi and Alicudi are "anti-stress refuges" with an uncontaminated environment. Panarea is a fashionable island, the destination of elite tourists. Stromboli and Vulcano, rough and wild, attract young, rather bohemian tourists. Salina, the greenest, with its twin mountains, appeals to families with children because of its peace and quiet. Lipari is the biggest and most heavily populated, the municipality which administers all the other islands (excluding Salina), offering plenty of comfort, space, and all kinds of services, including a fully-equipped hospital and a sheltered port.
A fianco: Stromboli in eruzione. In basso: Dattilo visto da Panarea. Nella pagina precedente, in alto: il Castello di Lipari; in basso: Vulcano e sullo sfondo Salina.

The real mystery about the history of Catania is that it has remained here, in the same place, for 2,700 years at the foot of the volcano, despite earthquakes, eruptions, destruction of all kinds that have often threatened its existence. The Chalcidians from Naxos, who Thucydides says founded the Greek colony of Katane in 792 BC. Under Roman rule, after 262 BC, Catania increased its prestige as a large city, despite the destruction caused by Etna in 121. In 21 BC Augustus gave Catania the statute of Roman colony, repopulating it with veterans. It was then that the amphitheatre, theatre, odeon, gymnasium, naumachia, forum and numerous spas were founded. The earthquake of 1169, which left only the apse of the Cathedral standing. The city arose again, however, and became a productive and lively urban centre. The double destruction of the eruption of 1669

and the earthquake of 1693 demonstrated the financial and organisational strength of the Church, of the monastic orders and of the aristocracy, who invested sufficient money to rebuild the city from its foundations. The common people, particularly merchants and professional people from the University, also played a significant role in the rebuilding. In the last two hundred years Catania has been a city of sulphur refineries, weaving mills and trade, while maintaining its control over the surrounding rich agricultural lands. However, the city managed to
In alto: il Teatro Greco di Catania. A fianco: palazzo Biscari.


arise again after the bombing of 1943, transforming the rubble into new economic activities. Our first itinerary in Catania begins in Piazza Duomo, where your attention is drawn to the Elephant Fountain, one of the most original monuments in Sicily surrounded by legend and mystery. One of the most famous legends is connected with the figure of the wizard Heliodorus, who, according to M. Amari, really existed in Catania in the 8th century AD. It is said that he dared to

challenge Christianity with his occult arts and rode upon an elephant that he then turned into lava stone. Despite the imaginative story, it is an undoubted fact that the people of Catania call their elephant liotru. The Amenano Fountain is situated in the south-western corner of the square. Once the Amenano River flowed through the city and frequently burst its banks, causing flooding and turning the city into a swamp. In order to keep things under control, it was decided to redirect the waters of the river. The Amenano Fountain was commissioned in memory of the event and was made by the sculptor Tito Angelini in 1867. Also in Piazza Duomo,

opposite the Clerical Seminary, stands the City Hall, also called the Senate building or of the Elephants. The Clerical Seminary is situated on the southern side of Piazza Duomo. The building houses municipal offices and dates back to 1614. On the eastern side of the square stands the Cathedral, which forms a right angle with the Seminary and the City Hall. The Cathedral is dedicated to Saint Agatha and was built on the orders of Roger the Norman between 1078 and 1093. The only parts remaining from that time are the three apses and part of the transept. Along with the Cathedral of Modena, the Cathedral of Catania is the only example of a churchfortress in Italy. Originally, indeed, it acted as a fortress in defence of the city against raids from the sea. To the right of the entrance is the room where you can see the 16th century carriage used, in February, to carry in procession the bust and casket containing the holy remains of Saint Agatha. The chapel of Saint Agatha (right apse) is always full of devotees and is closed by

Dallalto: il Duomo di Catania; la fontana dellElefante, simbolo di Catania; la fontana dellAmenano.


THE FISH MARKET OF CATANIA Visiting Catania and experiencing it are two completely different things. In order to visit the city it may be enough to tour the monuments and artistic heritage, but if you want to really experience the city you have to go where Catania pulsates and throbs, rejoices and suffers. The Fish Market is not only one of the street markets of Catania, but is also one of the most genuine examples of working-class life in Catania.

wrought iron railings. Uzeda Gate, erected in 1695 during the rebuilding of Piazza del Duomo after the earthquake, along via Dusmet. You immediately come to the Archbishops Palace with its beautiful balcony and the 17th century Fountain of Saint Agatha. A little further on, you come to the 18th century Palazzo Biscari, which was built over a long period by some of the most famous architects of the time. The facade that overlooks via Dusmet, the oldest part of the building, dates back to the early 18th century and is the inspiring work of Antonio Amato: the facade is coloured black, the colour of lava, and is decorated with putti, flower festoons, telamons crowd along the pilaster strips and around the windows of the large balcony, standing out with great expressive strength. At the end of via Landolina you enter Piazza Bellini, where the Massimo Bellini Theatre stands. This is the undisputed home of opera in Sicily and was designed by the architect Carlo Sada, who gained inspiration from the eclectic style of the Paris Opera House. On the outside the Massimo Bellini Theatre has arched porticoes articulated by semi-columns which are repeated in the design of the upper floor, in which the portico arches have corresponding windows. You reach Piazza Cutelli, overlooked by the 18th century facade of the College of Nobles or Cutelli Boarding-School. On request you can visit the original interior courtyard, circular in shape, surrounded by an arched portico articulated by robust marble semi-columns. Ursino Castle is a building highly representative of the history of Catania. Its construction was ordered by Frederick II and was carried out in 1239-50 on a promontory overlooking the sea and dominating the city. It was surrounded by walls and renovated in the 15th century. The approximately 15,000 archaeological and historical-cultural pieces kept in the Ursino Castle Civic Museum represent a heritage of inestimable value for the City of Catania.


The Garibaldi Gate was designed by S. Ittar and was erected in 1768 to celebrate the wedding between Ferdinand IV and Maria Caroline of Austria. For this reason it was called the Ferdinandea Gate until Garibaldi became more famous than the king. The peculiar colour effect is achieved by alternating lava stone and limestone and the structure is enriched by the white symbolic sculptures by G.B. Marino. In the square Dante is overlooked by the majestic Benedictine Monastery, now home to the Faculty of Arts, and the Church of Saint Nicholas. This is the area where the acropolis of the ancient city stood and, for this reason, has been the site of numerous digs that have brought to light the remains of a spa building from Roman times, the so-called Roman Spa (visible opposite the Monastery), Greek artefacts dating back to the 7th century BC and evidence from prehistoric times. During the rearrangement of the city streets during the 18th century, the square was altered with the intention of making the monumental Benedictine Monastery of Saint Nicol lArena more prominent, since it was previously overshadowed by the presence of poor run down buildings. The main staircase and the northern wing of the complex are particularly worthy of note.


The cloisters must not be missed, two of the four planned in the original project, both on the southIn alto: la cappella di SantAgata. In basso: il Castello Ursino. Nella pagina precedente: il Teatro Massimo Bellini.



ern side. On request you can visit the premises that house the Ursino Recupero Civic Library, containing the volumes belonging to the Benedictine collection, to which other collections have

been added. The Roman heatre probably stands on the same site as the Greek theatre and can be dated to the 1st-2nd century AD. The parts that remain are the cavea, almost integral, part of the orchestra and the stage. It was built in lava stone with limestone seats and could host about seven thousand spectators. Next to the Theatre is the Odeon, the only example of this type of building in Sicily, which was certainly built later than the Theatre and can be dated to the 2nd-3rd century AD. The cavea is the only part remaining and this is partly in poor condition. It is just a short walk from Piazza San Francesco to via Crociferi, which Carlo Levi described as one of the most beautiful streets in Italy. Via Crociferi is, indeed, undoubtedly lovely, even splendid. It is the highest expression of Catania baroque, shown off by sumptuous noble mansions, convents and churches, often with attractive wrought iron railings. From Piazza Duomo you go up along via Etnea as far as Piazza Universit, an attractive square in which the University is situated, along with some other noble buildings, among the most beautiful in the city. The imposing and severe University building was reconstructed, on the same site as the previous
In alto: il Monastero dei Benedettini. A fianco: veduta del Teatro Romano.


THE FEAST OF SAINT AGATHA The feast of Saint Agatha is a phantamasgorical event, with the white shirts of the devotees, the swaying Candlemas, the characteristic rites of the offering of a candle by the Senate and the throwing of paper strips by the clerics, the extraordinary illuminations, the deafening fireworks and the immense crowds of people.


one, from 1696 onwards, but the foundation of the University of Catania, the first Sicilian University, dates back to the era of Alphonse the Magnanimous, who set it up in 1434. It is only a short distance from the Church of the Minorites to Piazza Stesicoro, where you will find one of the most important archaeological sites in the city, the Roman Amphitheatre. It was brought to light in the early 20th century and has a circumference of 309 metres, making it one of the largest in Italy. A short distance from Piazza Stesicoro, following via Etnea, at the junction with via Umberto, you come to Villa Bellini, the prettiest park in the city. The park is dedicated to Bellini, whose bust is situated opposite the swan pond, between the clock and the datary. There are numerous fountains, busts, statues and monuments.

EVERYBODY TO THE BEACH For bathing in Catania you can either head for the sand of the Lido Plaja, in the direction of the airport and Siracusa, or the lava rocks of San Giovanni Li Cuti and Cannizzaro, towards Messina. Just beyond the beautiful black rocky lava beach of Aci Castello and Aci Trezza begins, one long seafront overlooking the Isles of the Cyclops and with plenty of bathing establishments, some free and some with a charge.

A fianco: la fontana di Villa Bellini.


The Aci and Cyclops Riviera

Leaving Catania and heading towards Messina you can visit numerous pretty towns (and villages) built along the so called Cyclops Riviera and which mostly have the prefix Aci before their name. The reason for so many names with Aci is linked to the myth of Aci and Galatea, which we will now explain. According to the myth, Aci, son of King Faun of Latium, fell in love with the sea nymph Galatea. Unfortunately, the Cyclops Polyphemus was also infatuated with her and, blind with jealousy, he crushed Aci under a boulder. Aci was transformed into a river by the magnanimous gods. After this sentimental adventure Polyphemus met the person who was destined to change his life and vision of the world radically. Ulysses arrived almost by chance on the Catania coastline and found himself obliged to refuse the hospitality offered by Polyphemus, above all when he realised that for the Cyclops he and his companions were no more than a food supply. Using shrewdness against the colossal strength and limited intelligence of his cannibal host the Homeric hero blinded the Cyclops and fled towards the sea. Polyphemus was determined to resolve this situation with the use of force again and, despite being blinded, tried to sink the departing ship by throwing rocks at it. These rocks correspond to the crags off the coast of Aci Trezza, which are called the Faraglioni or the Isles of the Cyclops. ACI CASTELLO: THE ROCK OF MARVELS About 10km from Catania stands the town of Aci Castello, which can be reached along the SS 114 road. The name of the town comes from the Norman Castle, dating back to the late 11th century, built in lava stone on a rock sheer above the sea. Historical sources document the existence of a fortress under the Arab domination of Sicily, a fortress destroyed by the Arabs themselves in 902. The present Castle was built between 1071-81 to the orders of Roger dAltavilla and was completely surrounded by the sea until 1169, connected to the mainland by a drawbridge. In 1169 a volcanic eruption affected the whole area and practically joined the Castle rock to the coast. The Norman Castle houses the Civic Museum, with a small adjacent Botanical Garden, which brings together


specimens of considerable interest. Aci Trezza is the most important and famous district of Aci Castello. The two are very close to each other and are joined by a beautiful promenade, dominated by the black of the lava, the orange of the citrus fruit, the green of the capers and the Mediterranean vegetation. It is a very sought-after holiday destination, thanks to the lovely sea and the coastline that offers you hundreds of opportunities for sunbathing, but it still maintains the cosy appearance of a fishing village, even though it is well prepared for guaranteeing tourist services and conveniences. It is not difficult to see in the faces of the local people those characteristics described in the book Malavoglia (Reluctance) by Giovanni Verga or in the Luchino Visconti film La Terra trema (the Earth quakes). The writer and director set their works here, inspired by the humble and courageous life of the people of the sea, by the uncertain and troubled existence of a population in symbiosis with their land and their beloved-hated Etna. he so called Isles of the Cyclops stick up out of the waters of Aci Trezza. They have been protected since the early 1990s as a Nature Reserve. They are lovely crags out to sea (the highest reaches more than 70 metres) and are the consequence of a volcanic eruption that happened in the Quaternary.

In alto: il castello di Aci Castello. In basso: i Faraglioni dellisola dei Ciclopi. Nella pagina precedente: il litorale di Aci Castello.


Acireale: the most splendid

full and integral part of the Piazza. The building is in baroque style with an interesting lava stone portal and in the early 1900s was home to the Eldorado Theatre. All that can be seen of the theatre today is the name under a grotesque mask. A short distance away is Piazza Vigo, where you can see the 18th century Collegiate Basilica of Saint Sebastian, preceded by a broken line balustrade enclosing the small parvis with its ten 18th century statues. Following the SS 114 road, after about 6km, you come to Acireale, the most important coastal town in the province. Your visit to Acireale can start from the picturesque Piazza Duomo, the heart of the town, overlooked by the facades of religious and civil buildings of considerable architectural and artistic interest. The Cathedral was built in the late 16th and early 17th century and was greatly extended in the 18th century. Adjacent to the Cathedral, but placed further back, is the Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul, with a facade designed by Vasta that is decorated by thin columns and a beautiful bell-tower. In the same square stands the Town Hall, richly decorated in typical Catania baroque style. The grandiose architecture of Piazza Duomo is completed by Palazzo Mod, which, although it is at the start of via Dav, can be considered a
In alto: piazza Duomo e la Basilica dei SS. Pietro e Paolo.

EVERYBODY TO THE BEACH Acireale is not only famous for its sumptuous and elegant baroque but also for other characteristics, maybe less intellectual and more down to earth, that have made it a tourist destination. During the summer, which lasts practically half the year here, Acireale and some of its outlying districts such as Santa Maria La Scala (two kilometres from the town), Santa Tecla (at the foot of the Timpa, a terraced lava stone hill of extraordinary beauty) and Pozzillo are filled with hosts of tourists, attracted by the prospect of combining a stay by the sea with beautiful countryside, relaxation with enjoyment. The clear clean waters of the rocky beaches at Santa Maria La Scala, Santa Tecla, Stazzo and Pozzillo are ideal for those who want to swim and sunbathe. From the small ports of these localities you can set off on boat trips along the coast.

Acireale Carnival It is rightly described as the best Carnival in Sicily and consists of seven days of celebrations, during which there are parades of sumptuously decorated allegorical floats and floats decorated with flowers, each one adorned with thousands of fresh blooms. All of this is accompanied by folkloristic groups, musical bands, displays, street entertainment and fireworks.


Caltagirone disposta ad anfiteatro e si presenta agli occhi del visitatore in tutto il suo splendore con le grandi chiese, i campanili, le torri ed una distesa di tetti dalle caratteristiche tegole in cotto. Allimbrunire sembra proprio un presepe. Le sue nebbie invernali la rendono misteriosa, alta e inespugnabile tra i monti che la racchiudono. Il centro storico di Caltagirone riserva gradite sorprese, infatti una delle poche cittadine di questa parte della Sicilia ad aver conservato, dopo il terremoto del 1693, parte delle testimonianze dellarte e dellarchitettura medioevali e, soprattutto, la tipologia dellabitato. Ma la vera attrazione della citt rappresentata dalla ceramica che qui ha una tradizione millenaria che risale al V sec. a.C: le sue fornaci non hanno mai smesso di ardere. Oltre a visitare il Museo della Ceramica, per conoscere la storia e levoluzione di questarte attraverso i suoi manufatti, ogni angolo di Caltagirone, museo allaperto, coglie di sorpresa il visitatore, qui con un inserimento colorato e originale, l con un vaso, per non parlare di quel capolavoro indiscusso che la scalinata di Santa Maria del Monte.

The foundation of the present town can be attributed to the Normans, who first began to build public and private buildings here. Randazzo was almost immediately divided into three districts: the Santa Maria district, inhabited by the Normans called Latins, that of San Nicola, populated by Ortho-dox Christians called Greeks, and that of San Martino, where the Lombards lived. Under the Swabians, thanks to Henry VI and the great Frederick, Randazzo took on the role of a fortress-town. It was Frederick II that had the Church of Santa Maria built and brought Randazzo into the circle of state owned towns. The War of the Vespers, despite its bloody battles, marked the beginning of the economic and artistic rise of Randazzo. Indeed, the Royal Family lived in the town with their noble Sicilian court and turned the town into a real artistic

jewel. It was the Bourbons, with their policy of repression, that brought an end to Randazzos long period of splendour. UNDER THE ARCHES OF TIME Rather than visiting Randazzo, you should walk it. Indeed, the ideal thing to do is to stroll around without any particular destination, letting yourself be charmed by the outlines of old ephemeral noble buildings, by the black of the lava stone with which the principal monuments of the oldest part of the town were built. This part of town has a cosy pleasantly old-fashioned atmosphere with its mediaeval layout of narrow covered streets. Examples of mediaeval streets can be found in via Frisauli, characterised by the presence of arches, and via Degli Archi, which owes its name to the numerous round-headed arches. In Piazza Basilica stands the Basilica Minore, also called the Church of Santa Maria. The Church was built in the early XIII century using lava stone that characterises the black facade, with the splendid belltower in the centre, on which you will notice the elegant white decorations and the round-headed arches of the portals and the windows. Near the Cathedral is the Tribonia, a viewpoint from where you can admire the wonderful view of the Alcantara Valley. In the ancient district of San Martino, once inhabited by the Lombards, stands the Church of Saint Martin with an austere facade, flanked by a superb Gothic style bell-tower in lava stone with elegant white windows in its embattled structure. In Piazza San Nicol stands the great Church of Saint Nicholas, built in the 13th century. Piazza Municipio is overlooked by the Town Hall, which is situated in the premises of an ex-convent, of which you can see the characteristic cloister, and the Swabian Castle. The Paolo Vagliasindi Archaeological Museum collects together material largely from the district of SantAnastasia, a few kilometres from Randazzo.
A fianco: Basilica di Santa Maria.


The Alcantara River

The Alcntara river is just under 50km long in all and marks part of the border between the provinces of Catania and Messina. The river rises in the Nebrodi mountains, near Floresta, and flows into the sea near Taormina, crossing the territory of 15 districts in the two provinces. The Alcnatra does not have a regular flow, it is often winding and meandering, sometimes it forms small ponds and sometimes quite substantial waterfalls. The most charming stretch of the river and the most interesting from a natural and geological point of view is the one in the province of Messina, called the Alcntara Gorge. Here the water flows on a gravel bottom and the walls, which are five metres apart, are dark because made of lava. The area is well equipped from a tourists point of view. On private land there is a car park, snack bar and a picnic area. A small fee is payable for using the lift that takes you down into the Gorge. Alternatively, you can use the steps, situated about a hundred metres from the car park on the main road. You have to equip yourself with rubber boots, which can be hired on the spot, because at certain points the water is quite deep and the bottom is slippery. The peculiarity of the Gorge is due to the fact that water erosion over the centuries has revealed the internal conformation of the thick basalt walls. They have a column structure with hexagonal and pentagonal prisms that are mostly perpendicular to the height of the walls. This geological phenomenon is determined by the cooling of the lava, which begins externally and gradually reaches the interior. The Alcntara Gorge is one of the most spectacular examples of this phenomenon in Europe.
In alto e a fianco: rocce basaltiche.


Etna: il Vulcano
The whole province of Catania is dominated by Etna, the most majestic active volcano in Europe, the highest mountain in Sicily. Its presence is worrying, frightening, fascinating and seductive. It is typical of human nature to be able to dedicate to the same object both love and hatred at the same time. Indeed, the people of Catania love and hate Etna, they submit to the charm of such a magnificent presence, they are proud of their national park and of their mountain of fire, but they know that it could destroy them, that lava flows quickly. Yet, none of them would really like the activity of the volcano to end. The lava of Etna is present just about everywhere, in the city and the towns, in the cliffs and the hills, in the church facades and lying alongside the road. The colour of lava is dominant and even the local produce takes on this colour: cauliflowers and tarocchi (a variety of orange). Living with the volcano is now almost part of the genetic make-up of the people of Catania. Etna is not a mountain isolated by its height of over 3,300 metres (12,400 feet), it is not a volcano that makes its presence felt only when in full eruption. Everybody here (from Giarre to Bronte, from Randazzo to Misterbianco) is accustomed to wiping the black sand of Etna from their cars, doing the washing again because the clothes hung out to dry have been stained with black ash, picking up a hammer and chisel to break up the mixture of rain and volcanic debris that has solidified on the balcony or in the guttering, putting up with the earth tremors, sometimes slight at others more serious, that accompany the changing moods of the mountain, of not trusting the clouds in the sky, which might not be what they seem but smoke from Etna. There is a certain amount of fatalism in all this, an ancient fatalism that has often gone hand in hand with faith, superstition, myth and legend. What can be done against the unbridled forces of nature? Today scientists keep a watchful eye on Etna and are able to foresee activity, both great and small. Today technicians have the means at their disposal to try to divert the direction of lava flows. Yet, now as in the past, people invoke patron Saints to protect the towns from the lava and the eruptions. While scientists busy themselves with lasers and highly sophisticated equipment, people continue to carry relics and simulacrums in procession to defeat the beloved-detested mountain of fire. So every town has its heavenly champion in the fight against Etna. In Fornazzo the heavy responsibility lies with the Sacred Heart of Jesus, in Nicolosi with Saint Anthony, in Catania with the veil of Saint Agatha. However, like all important natural phenomena, over the centuries Etna has not only aroused all kinds of emotion in the population, generating fear, veneration, amazement, legends. It has also aroused the interest of scientists and researchers, of travellers (especially in the Romantic period) fascinated by its beauty and its terrible majesty and has inspired poets and writers, such as Hesiod, Pindar, Virgil and Dante. The name of the volcano comes from the Phoenician attano (furnace) or the Greek aitho (burning) to which is also connected the Latin Aetna The Arabs called it Gibel Utlamat, in other words mountain of fire. Some sources, dating from around 1000 already use the name Mons Gibel, then changed into Mongibello (Dante, in the 1200s, also used this name in the 15th canto of Hell). Etna was formed about 500,000 years ago. The scientific explanation of its birth is directly connected to the phenomenon of continental drift and particularly to the colossal clash between the African and Eurasian shelves, the same clash that probably caused the creation of the Alps and the Himalayas. The immense impact between the two shelves caused the compression of the magma that was deep below the sea and it came out violently, creating Etna. Obviously, over thousands of years, the mountain has undergone considerable transformations and, although today its geological history can be partly reconstructed, as regards the relationship between the volcano and man, the history of Etna is still fundamentally based on myths and the most important eruptions, even though the number of eruptions recorded is


certainly much lower than the real number. Several centuries before Christ there are already references to the activity of the volcano in historical sources. Two important eruptions were those of 475 BC and 396 BC. From the end of the 1st century AD onwards more eruptions are documented, about 200 up to the present day. In the 20th century there have been numerous eruptions: in 1910, 1928, 1950 (the activity began in March and continued until the December of the following year, 372 days, during which the lava caused enormous damage overrunning vineyards, orchards, grazing land, broom thickets), 1952, 1971 (when the observatory and the cable car were destroyed), 1979

(when nine people were killed by the sudden expulsion of a lava plug from an eruptive mouth), 1983 (the lava destroyed the Sapienza mountain hut and the lower cable car station) and in 1992 (the year that saw people all over Italy following with apprehension the news about the lava that was threatening the town of Zafferana). The last two dates are worthy of particular attention because on both occasions attempts were made to put an end to the atavistic fatalism of the local people faced by eruptions by trying to divert the lava flow with explosives, with partial success, in order


to save the threatened towns. The landscape of the Catania area is greatly influenced by the presence of Etna, which is visible even from a great distance. It occupies a vast area of the province, indeed its circumference at the base is about 250 km. It is true to say that life revolves around the foot of the mountain, so much so that the towns here are connected by the famous Circumetnea railway, opened at the
Dallalto: le pendici dellEtna innevate e sullo sfondo il golfo di Catania, lEtna nella sua veste invernale, il lago Gurrida.


end of the 19th century. It could be said that each town has its own volcano. Indeed, the appearance of the mountain changes according to the place from which it is viewed. So the Etna you see from SantAlfio is different from the one seen from Linguglossa, the one seen from Randazzo is different from the one you see from Adrano, and so on. The continuous eruptions and lava flows over the centuries have not only created outright hills and mountains but also characteristic formations, closely linked to the process of magma consolidation. Some of these formations are called dykes, bombs, daggers, the Crags of Acitrezza are nothing more than a rocky agglomerate that came from an eruption. The lava of Etna is particularly fluid (the temperature of the magma is about 1,000C), which brings both advantages and disadvantages. The fluidity means that gases escape more easily, reducing the risk of explosions. However, fluidity also means speed; the lava flows quickly and can cover great distances in a short time. Overall it can be said that Etna is rather mod-

erate as regards explosions and expulsion of magmatic material. This is due to the fact that every day it gives off tons of gases and sulphur dioxide into the air (looking like clouds from afar), maintaining an acceptable level of internal pressure. Obviously, however, pressure builds up to an explosion when lava plugs are created, blocking the eruptive mouths. Etna has four summit eruptive craters (New Crater, Central Crater, South Eastern Crater and North Eastern Crater) and numerous lateral craters. The Etna National Park was set up in 1987, covers 60,000 hectares and includes 20 district councils of the province of Catania. No form of life, vegetable or animal, is present in the areas affected by recent lava flows, while the areas of old lava flows are teeming with life. The flora numbers over 1,500 species, including the soapwort, symbol of the Park, and the fauna counts numerous species of mammals and birds. The natural landscape changes according to the altitude. At sea-level, along the coast, the vegetation is mostly halphilous.


As you begin to climb up, you find land given over to growing apples, pears, nuts, pistachios, almonds and, naturally, grapes. These gradually give way to ilex groves, oak woods and chestnut woods. From 1,500 to 2,000 metres the landscape is dominated by beech-trees, aetnesis birches and large fragrant gorse bushes. Above 2,000 metres you only find extremely hardy plants, such as groundsel and mouse-ear chickweed. The fauna is also very interesting. On Etna you can find porcupines, foxes, wild rabbits, wild cats, hedgehogs, dormice and, pay attention, vipers. The birds, above all, give particular joy to animal observers and especially to birdwatchers.

The Park is populated by both diurnal and nocturnal birds. These include Golden Eagles, Peregrine Falcons, Kestrels, Rock Partridges, Scops Owls, Buzzards, Barn Owls, Cuckoos and Tawny Owls. In the Gurrida lake you can also see ducks, herons and other aquatic species. Although the Park can be visited freely and independently, we recommend visitors take the greatest care, especially when hiking. You do not need special equipment, just hiking boots, a map, binoculars and, obviously, a camera. However, Etna is not a mountain like any other, it is and remains an active volcano. Our advice is not to venture off on your own but to hire authorised guides.


In alto: un fiume di lava. A fianco: una montagna di magma sommerge case coloniche e coltivazioni. Nella pagina precedente: ultima eruzione.


Syracuse was the flourishing city where the unforgettable genius Archimedes was born, lived and died, the powerful city described by illustrious names of the ancient world, including Livius, Plutarch, Cicero, Ovid, Pindar, Virgil and Thucydides. Still today it preserves the elegance and prestige of an important archaeological and historical city, with its limestone buildings from different ages making it seem an ageless woman dressed in white, in which there is a harmonious and enchanting mixture of remains from the ancient past, mediaeval essentiality and baroque exuberance. The cliffs and beaches of Syracuse are also white, with occasional shades of gold. It must have been this coastline that attracted the Greek colonisers, who greatly admired and appreciated beauty in all its forms. Unfortunately, post-war Italians do not seem to have had the same appreciation, ruining part of this beauty by building petrochemical plants, power stations and such like along part of this coastline. Archaeological studies and finds bear witness to growing contacts and trade between the local population and the Greeks even before they founded the city, having come to realize its natural advantages: the presence of two safe harbours, abundant water supplies, fertile soil and a strategic position in terms of defence. The Greek colonisers of Corinthian origin, led by Archias, who settled in the city around 734 B.C. gave the city the name of Syracossai, derived from the local word Syraco, meaning marsh, plenty of which were to be found then and are still to be found in part today. Over the centuries Syracuse became one of the most prestigious cities in Magna Graecia and certainly the most powerful Greek city in Sicily, growing from the original settlement on Ortygia, with the addition four other urban areas (Akrandia, Tyche, Epipoli, Neapolis) and experiencing a boom in construction and the building of monuments, but an economic and military expansion, which thanks to the founding of the three sub-colonies of Akrai, Casmenae and Camarina led to the defeat of the various enemies who from time to time threatened the city: Carthaginians (Himera, 480 B.C.), Etruscans (Cumae, 474 B.C.), Athenians (416-413 B.C.). The history of Greek Syracuse is full of ups and downs, many of them intricate and violent, but it came to an end in 212 B.C. during the Second Punic War, when the city was conquered by the Romans in a bloody battle, Archimedes becoming their most famous victim. This signalled the beginning of a period of bad government and decline, even though Syracuse was capital of the Roman province of Sicily and had a resident praetor, while remaining a strategic port for trade between the eastern and western Mediterranean. In 663 the Emperor Constans made the city capital of the Eastern Empire, a position it lost when conquered by the Saracens in 878, losing once and for all its prestige. The period characterised by the struggles between the Angevins and Aragonese (12661295), however, left an important mark on the architecture of Syracuse, with the building of numerous defensive works, as did the period of Spanish domination, which saw the construction of elegant buildings in Aragonese and Catalan style. The period from the 16th to the 18th century was distinguished by a series of calamities and disastrous events: these include the two earthquakes of 1542 and 1693, which destroyed or damaged many of the citys ancient buildings; other constructions of interest later fell victim to human intervention: following the unification of Italy, the Spanish city walls and some of the city gateways were demolished, as were four blocks of mediaeval buildings in 1934. After the Second World War, as we have already mentioned, the whole of Sicily suffered an uncontrolled construction boom, the effects of which have fortunately been limited in recent years by the development of measures to protect the environment. Thus, Syracuse is now included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site list.
In alto: Venere Anadiomene, museo archeologico. Nella pagina a fianco: veduta aerea dellisola di Ortigia.


As we said above, the island of Ortygia is the oldest part of the city of Syracuse, where first the Sikels and later the Corinthians settled. It has given birth to numerous myths and legends and was a destination for illustrious travellers even in ancient times. The island is about 1,660 metres (about 1 mile) long, separating the large port from the small one, and is connected to the mainland by two bridges, one of which can be considered a monument (Umbertino Bridge). Temple of Apollo This is the oldest Doric temple in Sicily (6th century B.C.). The surviving parts are the base with four steps, two complete columns, a few parts of the entablature and the remains of the southern wall of the cella. Over the centuries the building has been converted numerous times: firstly into a Byzantine church, then into an Arab mosque and later into a Norman basilica. In 1562 it was integrated into a Spanish barracks and then, in 1664, completely covered by the construction of a church, which was removed two centuries later. Piazza Archimede Here you can see traces of the original mediaeval layout of the town into which this piazza was inserted between 1872 and

1878, notwithstanding the damage it suffered during the Second World War and later alterations made to it. In the centre of the piazza stands the Artemis Fountain, a work by Giulio Moschetti, and it is overlooked by attractive buildings from various periods, some of which still retain mediaeval elements. Palazzo Mergulese Montalto This is one of the loveliest mediaeval buildings in Syracuse and dates back to 1397. In the faade you can see a beautiful portal with a pointed arch and three windows (a double lancet, triple lancet and singlelancet respectively). Via Maestranza This is one of the main streets in Ortygia, along which are situated the residences of the most important local families. The architecture is in an attractive 18th century style, the most interesting elements being the Aragonese-Catalan portal on one side of the Palazzo della Prefettura, the courtyard of Palazzo Romeo Bufarderci and the eight granite columns of Palazzo Dumontier. Church of San Francesco allImmacolata This church was built in the 13th century by the Franciscans while Saint Francis of Assisi was still alive. Although it still retains some of the elements of the original building (the Gothic portal in the presbytery and the old vestry with cross vaults), it has been greatly altered over the years with the



addition of frescoes, stuccoes and other decorations. Palazzo Bellomo and the Regional Art Gallery This building was constructed during the revival of Syracuse under the reign of Frederick II. It is an austere 13th century construction, although the first floor was added in the 15th century when it became the property of the Bellomo family, who were allied to the Aragonese and thus introduced Catalan style architectural elements, such as the multi-lancet windows in the faade and the monumental stairway inserted into the Suevian portico. The ground floor has a rampart structure and, just like a fortress, has only one entrance, through an attractive Gothic portal. Since 1958 Palazzo Bellomo, along with the adjacent Palazzo Parisio del Cassero, has been home to the Mediaeval and Modern Art Gallery. The gallery has recently been reorganised with the works now displayed in a better order. The highly refined works on display date from as far back as the Byzantine era right up to the 19th century, including paintings and sculptures, as well as objects in silver and gold, ceramics, arms, furniture, vestments, church plate, historical costumes, fabrics, lacework, crib scenes and prints. The most famous works of art housed here are the Annunciation by Antonello da Messina, which is the main attraction of the gallery, the Madonna del Cardillo by Domenico
In alto: Palazzo Ortigia. A fianco: fontana di Diana a Siracusa. Nella pagina precedente: tempio di Apollo .

Gagini, a Madonna enthroned with Child attributed to the Spanish artist Pedro Serra, a San Leonardo attributed to Lorenzo Veneziano and the paintings Deposition, Martyrdom of Santa Lucia and Miracle of Santa Chiara, by the excellent local artist Mario Minniti, who was a friend and follower of Caravaggio. Also of importance is the precious illuminated manuscript Book of


hours (a compendium of devotional texts for use by lay people), from a Flemish workshop. Piazza Duomo This has always been the heart of Ortygia and the site of its original settlement: this is where the oldest evidence of human habitation have been found (Bronze Age huts) and also where the Corinthian settlers first set up home. It is bordered by buildings constructed by the church and the nobility of the city. In the north-

eastern corner stands the present Town Hall, Palazzo del Senato, or Vermexio (from the name of its Spanish architect), which was built to house the Senate in 1629-33 and is partly situated on the remains of a temple from the late 6th century B.C.. Opposite this you can see Palazzo Beneventano del Bosco, of mediaeval origin but restored in the late 18th century, with a beautiful exterior, marvellous courtyard and an interior decorated with sculptures and stuccoes. The Superintendency of Cultural and Environmental Heritage houses the Coin Museum, which boasts a varied collection of ancient coins from all over Sicily. Piazza Duomo is closed off on the southern side by the attractive baroque faade of the Church of S. Lucia alla Badia, entirely rebuilt, along with the adjacent monastery, after the earthquake of 1693, and housing The burial of Santa Lucia, the first Sicilian work by Caravaggio, who took refuge in Syracuse in 1608 after fleeing from Malta and had this work commissioned thanks to his friend Minniti. Cathedral The Cathedral stands on the site of the grandiose Greek temple dedicated to Athena, preserving many elements of this ancient building. In the 17th century it underwent numerous alterations and additions, such as the opening of the chapels, the building of the cupola and the reconstruction of the facade in baroque style with three entrances. The interior is composed of a vestibule and three naves, one of which has walls incorporating ten columns from the original Greek temple and containing sculptures by Gagini; the central


nave, on the other hand, is enhanced by a 16th century wooden ceiling. Arethusa Fountain and Alpheus promenade An ancient Greek myth, also recorded by Ovid, recounts that the nymph Arethusa (who became a symbol of the city) was changed into a fountain of clear water spouting on Ortygia by the goddess Artemis in order to help her escape the advances of Alpheus the river god. Alpheus was so desperate to possess her that he ran under the sea from Greece to Ortygia and let his waters mix with hers. The Arethusa Fountain has always inspired artists and visitors because


General Maniace. The Normans had also had a castle on the site, transforming a building that had very probably been used as a mosque. The building is separated from the land by a wide moat and has a square layout, with an imposing defensive tower at each corner. Over the centuries, it has been put to many uses and has undergone numerous alterations (for example, the Gothic style entrance portal on the northern side. Today the Castle welcomes visitors with the magnificent view of its entrance portal, decorated with multicoloured marble. The interior is also of great interest, with the cellars housing the so-called Queens Bath, a fresh water spring that was probably used for ritual washing in Arab times. of its beauty and ancient charm and nowadays it is adorned with papyrus and populated by ducks and fish. The Alpheus promenade, where the Fountain is situated, offers one of the most enchanting views you can find of Syracuse. Maniace Castle This fortress was built between 1232-40 on the tip of the island of Ortygia by the Byzantine

In alto: il castello Maniace. Al centro: la fonte Aretusa. A fianco: lungomare Alfeo. Nella pagina precedente: in alto, interno del Duomo; in basso: piazza Duomo.


Il parco archeologico della Neapolis

The territory immediately across from the island of Ortygia has a strigas network of streets, that is with orthogonal intersections, a hangover from the Greek colonisers. The area on which the ancient districts of Akradina and Tyche stood is home to numerous buildings from the Hellenistic and Roman age, within the present day Neapolis Archaeological Park, as well as other artistic and architectural gems. Roman Amphitheatre This is the largest structure of its kind in Sicily (140 m x 119 m) and it seems to date from the 1st century A.D., although this has been disputed. The lower part is dug directly out of the rock and the centre is occupied by a pool fed by two canals; the arena measures 70 m x 40 m and the animals and gladiators entered through openings in a covered passage way situated beneath the terraces. All that remains are the foundation structures, as is the case for the theatre and the Altar of Hieron II, which are the most important monuments to be found in Neapolis, along with the amphitheatre. Altar of Hieron II We can deduce from the writings of Diodorus that this Altar was built by the tyrant Hieron II (3rd century B.C.) and was perhaps dedicated to Zeus: It is of impressive dimensions, measuring 22.8 m x 198 m. Origi-

nally, there were two stairways leading from the northern and southern extremities to the central platform, where ritual sacrifices were carried out. There is a porticoed piazza in front of the structure, combining with it to make an immense rectangle, in the centre of which is a large pool. Greek Theatre We know from the mimographer Sophron that the theatre was built by the architect Damocopos in the 5th century B.C. Diodorus, Plutarch and Cicerone speak about the theatre, as do numerous other sources, all of whom mention its importance in the religious and civil life of Syracuse and its international prestige as the scene for the performances of the great Greek tragedians. Aeschylus himself appears to have staged two of his works here, The Persians and The Etnee. The Theatre is placed on a site from which you enjoy one of the

most beautiful views to seen in Syracuse and it was adapted to the terrain, with the cavea being sculpted out of the rocky slope of the Temenite Hill. During the reign of Charles V (1520-31), the highest part of the cavea and the whole backstage area were dismantled and the stones reused in the construction of the fortifications on Ortygia. Thanks to the illuminated and genial work of Mario Tommaso Gargallo (1886-1958), founder of the National Ancient Drama Institute, the Greek Theatre of Syracuse, after almost two and a half thousand years, started hosting performances of the ancient Greek dramas in 1914, a tradition of great artistic and cultural prestige that still continues today. Latomie, Ear of Dionysius and Cave of the Rope-Makers The latomie are the quarries


from which stone was extracted in ancient times for the construction of public and private buildings. Within the archaeological park, these are perhaps the most charming and fascinating

areas to visit, as they take you on a journey back in time to another civilisation, a journey that starts a very long time ago (remembering the construction of Castelluccio or Thapsos, in the 19th-13th centuries B.C., and the necropolises of Pantalica and Cassibile, dating back to the 12th-9th centuries B.C.). Quarrying probably started here with the Greek colonisation, which hugely increased the demand for building materials. The area in which the latomie are situated is arch-shaped and about a mile long, in which you find one after another the latomie del Paradiso, dellIntagliatella, di Santa Venera and, further on, di Broggi, del Casale and dei Cappuccini. The appearance of the latomie has been modified by earthquakes over the centuries: many rock walls have collapsed, allowing the sunlight to filter in and encouraging the growth of vegetation. The Latomia del Paradiso, which is open to visitors, is dotted with several artificial caves, created by quarrying to reach the deepest layers of stone. The most famous of these caves is the Ear of Dionysius (or, as it is called locally, of Dionisio), as it was named by Caravaggio during his stay in Syracuse in 1608, because of its ear-like shape and the legend, according to which the tyrant Dionysius created it in order to listen to the conversations between


prisoners held there. Indeed, the cave has notable acoustic properties and is used by actors and choirs to create special sound effects during performances in the nearby theatre. In reality its shape is probably due to the quarrying techniques used at that time. In the dampness of the Cave of the Rope-Makers, in the 17th-20th centuries, artisans manufactured ropes using hemp. Apart from the charming tricks of the light and the musk and maidenhair ferns growing there, the cave is also of great interest because of the numerous signs left by the repeated quarrying that went on, with the various levels of contrast creating extraordinary visual effects. Grotticelli Necropolis and Archimedes Tomb Originally, there was an enormous necropolis that stretched across the plateau around the latomie, right up to the area overlooking the Greek Theatre. You can still see the numerous burial vaults and cavities dotted around among the rocks. In the Grotticelli Necropolis two tombs stand out from the others, characterised by a front decorated with Doric style semi-columns in relief, surmounted by a


tympanum pediment. The one facing south is known as Archimedes Tomb, although it is really a Roman columbarium dating from the 1st century B.C. to the 1st century A.D., used for housing cinerary urns. Roman Gymnasium Along the via Elorina, which connected Syracuse with the sub-colony of Eloro, you will find this place used for ancient forms of eastern worship, which were popular from the 1st century A.D. onwards. It was mistakenly identified as a gymnasium. The remains of a four-sided portico enclose the ruins of a temple in Corinthian architectural style, with an altar, two wells (one inside the temple and another outside) and a theatre, originally covered in marble. Dionysian Walls and Euryalus CasIn alto: Ginnasio Romano. A fianco: veduta aerea del castello Eurialo. Nella pagina precedente, in alto: Orecchio di Dionigi; in basso: veduta aerea dellAnfiteatro Romano.


tle Situated about 7 km from Syracuse on the Epipolae plateau, these are the most grandiose military fortifications of the Greek era still in existence. The walls were originally equipped with gateways and watchtowers and extend to a length of over 27 km, while the fortress structure covers an area of over 15 square km. Diodorus Siculus recounts that the building of the fortress took just six years (from 402 to 397 B.C.) and was started on the orders of Dionysius the Elder. The castle had a system of underground tunnels for moving men and weapons and was equipped with a drawbridge and five 15 metre high towers, situated between the third and final moat and the keep. Paolo Orsi Regional Archaeological Museum The museum is named after the archaeologist and scholar from Rovereto, who played a large part in the rediscovery of prehistoric, Greek and Roman Syracuse. It houses one of the most important archaeological collections in Italy and is situated in the Villa Landolina Park. You will find material from digs carried out by the local Superintendency of Cultural and Environmental Heritage, divided into three distinct sectors dedicated to the prehistoric and proto-historic cultures of Stentinello, Castelluccio,

Thapsos and Pantalica (covering a time span from the 5th millennium B.C. to the 7th century B.C.), to the Greek colonies (including Naxos, Katane, Leontinoi, Megara Hyblaea and Syracuse) and finally to Eloro, outpost of the city, and to the sub-colonies of Syracuse (Akrai, Kasmenai and Kamarina). Sanctuary of the Madonna delle Lacrime This church is 74 metres high and dominates Syracuse. Its peculiar circular shape is made up of 22 reinforced concrete girders in a radial pattern and is probably intended to reproduce the shape of a tear falling from heaven, as it was built to commemorate a miraculous event, when a figure of the Virgin Mary wept. The figure is now housed in the church. The lower part of the church, the crypt, was completed in 1968, while the upper part was finished in 1994. The floor is inlaid with multi-coloured marble forming the shape of a star. To the left of the main altar there are some Roman era remnants. River Ciane and Papyrus Museum In the Metamorphoses, Ovid recounts the story of Ciane, who was changed into a water source by Pluto while trying to rescue Proserpina, who had been abducted by the god. On Via Elorina,


heading towards Ragusa, you will find the twin mouths of the Ciane and Anapo Rivers. An excursion along the river allows you to reach the necropolis of Pantalica and the source of the Ciane, 7 km from the mouth. This area has been a Nature Reserve since 1984 and is home to several rare species of bird and characterised by luxurious vegetation with ash trees, ferns and above all papyrus. The latter plant was introduced to Syracuse from Egypt in the 3rd century B.C. (although others believe it was the Arabs who brought it here) and over the centuries it has spread widely around the Syracuse area, making this the most important site for the plant in Europe and one of the main centres for producing the valuable paper obtained from it. There is an interesting Museum dedicated to papyrus in Syracuse, opened in 1989 and situated in Viale Teocrito.
A fianco: veduta aerea del Santuario della Madonna delle Lacrime. Nella pagina precedente, in alto: ???????; in basso: papiri del fiume Ciane.


Augusta is home to an important military and commercial port, as well as oil refineries and chemical plants, which dominate the coastline. The town itself is situated on a small island, linked to the mainland by two bridges; you enter the town through the Porta Spagnola gateway, overlooked by the Suevian Castle, built on the orders of Frederick II in the 13th century. Other buildings worthy of note are the Cathedral and the Town Hall. A few miles from Augusta you can find the small seaside town of Brucoli, where you can admire the view of a small bay with crystal clear water, dominated by Mount Etna. There is also a 13th century Aragonese castle situated at the estuary of the small Porcaria river, which forms a port known as the Canale. The local fishing boats find shelter here, along the rocky sides dotted with caves and caper plants.


Palazzolo Acreide
Although there are traces of human settlement in the area dating back to the prehistoric period, the town was founded by the Greeks from Syracuse, who made it their first sub-colony, Akrai, and exploited its strategic position as a hub for roads connecting with the Greek cities along the southern coast. It is situated on a hill called Acremonte, which separates the valleys of the Rivers Anapo and Tellaro. The town was very prosperous, thanks to the fertile soil, which favoured agriculture. Its prosperity continued into the Roman age, but it was apparently destroyed by the Arabs and then recaptured and rebuilt by the Normans. Today Palazzolo Acreide is an interesting archaeological site and is included in UNESCOs World Heritage List. It contains the ruins, in good condition, of a small Greek Theatre dating back to the 2nd century B.C., designed to seat about 600 spectators and discovered in 1824. From the cavea of the Theatre, a tunnel leads to the modestly sized bouleuterion, where the meetings of the local Senate took place. Very probably Akrai was home to a Temple of Aphrodite, as is indicated by the presence of the remains of an archaic temple construction, dating from the 6th century B.C., on the site of the acropolis. The Latomie dellIntagliata and dellIntagliatella were initially used as stone quarries for the construction of ancient Akrai, but they later became places of worship in Greek and Roman times and were then used for burials in the Byzantine era, when they also housed cave dwellings. The Latomia dellIntagliatella has scenes of sacrifices and banquets sculpted in relief out of the rock. On the hillside of the ancient town we find the Templi Ferali, which are also a latomia and so a place of worship, and a series of 12 rupestrian bas-reliefs, dating back to the 3rd century B.C., carved out of the limestone and locally known as Santoni, which can be traced to the worship of Cibele. Palazzolo is home to numerous lovely churches, the most attractive being the Church of S. Paolo, which has an interesting baroque facade designed by Sinatra. The Chiesa Madre, founded in 1215, was rebuilt following the earthquake of 1693. In 1474 Antonello da Messina painted the Annunciazione for the Church of the Annunziata, which was then rebuilt in the 1700s. The 18th century Church of S. Sebastiano, on the other hand, houses a painting attributed to Vito DAnna, while the statue depicting Santa Maria delle Grazie, kept in the Church of the Immacolata, is held to be by Laurana. Among the private residences of Palazzolo, the most interesting from the point of view of architecture and decoration are the Palazzi Judica, Zocco and Ferla. Finally, a brief mention for the Antonino Uccello House and Museum, housing a varied ethno-anthropological collection brought together by this tireless scholar and poet who took an enthusiastic interest in history and folk traditions, and one for the Museum of Travellers in Sicily, located in the 18th century Palazzo Vaccaro, which has opened only recently and an exhibition of documents, drawings and etchings from the past and photographs by Giuseppe Leone and Lamberto Rubino.


The town of Noto is famous for its extraordinary Baroque architecture, which has earned it a place in the UNESCO list of world heritage sites. Like many other Sicilian towns, it was born out of the catastrophic earthquake of 1693, which caused widespread destruction, meaning that the towns were partly or completely rebuilt in accordance with the style of the time. The stone used in the construction of the buildings is also very attractive, being a soft travertine that takes on a golden tint in the sunlight.
A fianco: Chiesa del San Salvatore. In basso: la Cattedrale di San Nicol.


This ancient town has a long and illustrious history; we know that in the 9th century B.C. it was called Neas and that later, in the 5th century B.C., according to the myth, it was the birthplace of the Sikel hero Ducezio, who defended the town from the advance of the Greeks from Syracuse. After a series of battles of mixed fortune, he was finally defeated and with him died the dream of a confederation among the Sikels. Under the Greeks the town became Neaton (brand new), then Netum under the Romans and Noto under the Arabs. Following the earthquake of 1693, the rebuilding of the town on the Meti Hill, about 15 km from the old town, needed the work of three generations of architects and masons, who centred the town on the present day Corso Vittorio Emanuele III, along which the main religious and civil buildings were situated and which starts from the Porta Reale gateway, built in 1838 to commemorate the visit of Ferdinand II of Bourbon. Along the Corso there are three piazzas, the first of which is Piazza XXX Ottobre, where you will see a wide stairway leading up to the Church of San Francesco allImmacolata, designed by Sinatra. This is followed by the baroque complex of the Monastery and Basilica del Santissimo Salvatore, decorated in pure gold and with a richly frescoed ceiling. The Monastery houses the ancient section of the Civic Museum, which brings together artefacts from the old town of Noto, particularly numerous objects regarding the worship of Demeter, the goddess of fertility. You then come to the Church of Santa Chiara, with adjacent Monastery, inside which there is a Madonna with Child attributed to Gagini. Piazza del Municipio is overlooked and dominated by the Cathedral, also known as the Church of San Nicol, with its three monumental stairways. It was built in 1776 and is characterised by a wide faade in a mock-classical style with a bell-tower either side. Following an error in its construction, which was only discovered later, the building suffered a disastrous collapse in 1996 and it took seven years of rebuilding work before it could be reopened to the public. The modern bronze portal of the Cathedral shows scenes from the life of the towns patron saint, Saint Corrado Confalonieri. The Cathedral houses several works of art,
In alto: lInfiorata.



including a Saint Michael by Gagini and a 16th century Madonna with Child. Palazzo Ducezio is another lovely building facing onto Piazza del Municipio. Work started on it in 1748 but was finished only a century later. The attractive faade, in mock-classical style, is by Sinatra and is characterised by a portico supported by elegant columns. Another floor was added in 1951. Palazzo Ducezio currently serves as the Town Hall. Also facing onto Piazza del Municipio are the 19th century Archbishops Palace and the baroque Palazzo Landolina. In Salita Nicolaci, not far from the piazza, you will find one of the most beautiful private residences in Noto, Palazzo Nicolaci Villadorata. It has balconies with curved railings supported by zoomorphic and anthropomorphic figures, typical of the baroque style, and sumptuously decorated and frescoed interior spaces. It is thus a typical and attractive example of a residence of the Sicilian nobility. On the same street there is also the 18th century Church of Montevergine, also attributed to Sinatra, inside which you can see a lovely multi-coloured marble altar and four 18th century paintings by the artist Carasi. Finally, it is also worth visiting the 18th century churches of San Carlo Borromeo, San Domenico and Santissimo Crocifisso; the latter is home
In alto e a fianco: particolari dei balconi di Palazzo Nicolaci.

to some valuable works of art, such as the Madonna della Neve, a sculpture by Laurana dating from 1471, and several works from old


Marzamemi & Portopalo

Marzamemi is a small fishing village situated near Capo Passero, the southeastern point of Sicily and most southerly point of Italy. Its name derives from the Arabic Mars al hamem, or Bay of Turtle-Doves: these birds frequently stop off in this area during their migrations. The village has grown up around the harbour and has developed mainly thanks to fishing, which is still very important to the local economy, along with the processing of fish products: it is very famous, for example, for bluefin tuna roe, processed by ancient desiccation methods inherited from Arab-Phoenician culture. The beach and the water at Marzamemi are lovely and the village has begun to take advantage of its tourism potential in recent years by offering berthing for pleasure craft. In summer the population increases considerably, thanks to the new summer houses that have been built around the village. In 1993 the pretty village of Marzamemi was used as the backdrop for the making of the successful film Sud, directed by Gabriele Salvatores, and has been home to the Frontier Cine-

ma Festival since 2000. A short distance from Marzamemi there is another popular destination for visitors: Portopalo di Capo Passero, which is particularly attractive for surfers and windsurfers, due to the almost constant wind that blows here. Their sails, trapezes and wetsuits add a touch of colour to the beaches and the waters in the port or around the Isola delle Correnti.
In alto: Marzamemi. In basso: lIsola delle Correnti.


The Vendicari nature reserve

Founded in 1984, the Vendicari Nature Reserve is managed by the State Forestry Commission, protecting of one of the few tracts of land on the coast of Eastern Sicily not yet built up or dissected by roads. There are eight kilometres of beaches, cliffs, small hidden bays and, above all, a series of ponds situated behind the sand dunes, which make it one of the most beautiful and best conserved wetland areas in Sicily. These ponds, locally called marshes, border almost the whole length of the coast. From north to south you come across the mouth of the Tellaro river, the Calamosche pond and the Piccolo, Grande, Roveto and Scirbia marshes. It is a separate world, different from the agricultural areas that grow almonds and olives, or the thick and fragrant tracts of scrub that are typical in this corner of Sicily.

thousands of water birds. In the winter months there are great flocks of Ducks, Cormorants, Flamingos, Coots and various species of small wading birds. In late spring, Black Winged Stilts lay their eggs among the saltwort. Vendicari also offers the visitor interesting historical testimonies: the ruins of the eighteenth century Tuna processing factory, the Swabian tower, the small Byzantine church in Trigona and the ruins of the Greek city of Eloro that mark the northern boundary of the park. This protected area is enjoyable all year round. There are signposted trails, observation huts for bird watching and a nature guide service for organised tours. The entrance to the park is well signposted along the Noto-Pachino provincial road. Carmelo Iapichino

Typical plants associated with humid, brackish areas grow around the ponds: there are relatively few reeds, the plants which are more distinctly common are saltwort, in beautiful, salty stretches of changing colours, rushes and limonio, a type of reed with delicate blue flowers. With the exception of the Piccolo marsh, the other marshes are seasonal and their level depends on the amount of rainwater: often in the summer months they are completely dry and the bottom is covered by a thin layer of salt. The fauna in Vendicari is extremely rich. More than two hundred and fifty species of birds have been observed and the marshes are often host to concentrations of


Ragusa is the capital of the province and is situated in the southern part of the Iblei mountains. The 18th/19th century town of Ragusa stands on a slope of the Ibleo tableland, bordered by two deep picturesque valleys, the Canyon of S. Leonardo and the Canyon of Santa Domenica. Modern Ragusa is made up of a grid layout, Ragusa Ibla, full of mediaeval remains and elegant baroque buildings, standing on a hill (380 metres), following its contours and completely in harmony with it. Experts now agree that Ragusa stands on the site of the ancient Hibla (a name that derives from the Goddess Hybla). The town was founded by the Siculi, who left behind signs of their presence in the burial chambers dug in many areas and clearly visible in the sides of the Gonfalone valley, along the road to Modica. Under the Arabs the name of the town became Rakkusa or Ragus, as it appears in some texts. However, it is more probable that it derives from the Byzantine Pogos (Rogus), which means granary. You can start your visit to modern Ragusa in Piazza San Giovanni, the heart of the new town. The magnificent Cathedral of Saint John, built in the early 18th century, has a rich facade with three portals, the central one being adorned with beautiful statues. Robust columns with Corinthian capitals on high plinths characterise the facade. To the left of the church stands a high belltower ending in a spire. Statues and numerous gilded stuccoes that make it a masterpiece of Ragusan baroque. In Corso Italia, beside the cathedral, you will see the church of the College of Maria Addolorata (1801), whose facade is enlivened by pairs of Corinthian columns and, on the first level, by windows with centring. At the northern end of via Roma, from a pretty roundabout, you have a beautiful view over the wild canyon of San Leonardo and the district of Ibla, dominated by the cupola of Saint Georges. Going back towards the opposite end of the same street and passing in front of the

18th century Presbytery, you get to the New Bridge. At the beginning of the bridge there is a building that contains the Mediterraneo Hotel and the bar-confectioners of the same name, where you can taste excellent ice-creams and cakes. On the ground floor of this building is the Ibleo Archaeological Museum, which is home to material collected from the digs in the province. Going down Corso Italia, immediately on your right you will see Palazzo Lupis, a lovely example of an 18th century noble house, whose top floor is characterised by balconies and artistic corbels. Just before the bridge, on the left at the corner of Corso Vittorio Veneto, stands the beautiful Palazzo Zacco, one of the most important noble houses. Returning onto Corso Italia and heading towards Ibla, at number 35 you will see the Palazzo Bertini. The building is characterised by three masks, placed in the keystones of the windows. The three masks have been interpreted in different ways, but the most widely accepted is that of the three powers. At the end of Corso Italia, via Mazzini begins. This street twists and turns on its way down to Ibla. Just after this, at the first turning, you get a marvellous view over Ibla, dominated by the cupola of the Cathedral. After the first flight of steps the church of Santa Maria
In alto: Cattedrale di San Giovanni. Al centro: riproduzione (Giuseppe Bella) di uno dei mascheroni, il ricco di palazzo Bertini. Nella pagina a fianco: la Cattedrale di San Giorgio a Ragusa Ibla.


delle Scale stands out majestically. It was started under the Normans, rebuilt in Gothic style under the Chiaramonte family in the 14th century and reconstructed after the earthquake of 1693 in its present form. From here you go down to Ibla using a long series of stairways. Those who have enough time and breath left will enjoy unexpected surprises. You pass by simple doorways and well decorated portals, gates and windows adorned with flowers. You pass through districts where life still goes by slowly, almost in another dimension. When all the

church of Santa Maria dellIdria, whose octagonal base is covered by multi-coloured tiles from Caltagirone, decorated with vases and flowers. The church was built for the Order of the Knights of Malta in 1639. Right at the end of the stairway, on the corner of via Mazzini, stands Palazzo Cosentini. The balcony that overlooks the square is supported by sneering masks, in complete contrast with the pretty female figures with naked breasts. The masks, which are similar to the subjects of the paintings of Bosch, were sculpted with foul animals in their

excitement seems to be over, you come to a square from where you can admire a baroque corner, still miraculously intact. You immediately notice the Palazzo della Cancelleria, a magnificent example of baroque, very refined in the decoration of the portal and in the rich decoration of the corbels, which support the jutting balconies. Finished in 1760, it was the seat of the Chancellery of Ibla until the last century. The picturesque and charming square is completed by a pointed arch, under which there is an old stairway, and the magnificent bell-tower of the

mouths, making them even more horrible: scorpions, snakes, mice and frogs. The other side of the square is occupied by the attractive facade of the church of Purgatory, which was built atop a beautiful staircase, making it seem even higher, and is enclosed by an artistic gateway. In this district the streets are made up of steps, both wide and narrow,
Immagine a sinistra: Palazzo la Rocca; le altre immagini si riferiscono ai mensoloni di Palazzo Cosentini.


which climb up and are crossed by small quiet alleyways. Here you will find arches, bridges, unexpected views, light and shade, taking you back in time. In this area, near the church of Purgatory, stands the massive structure of the baroque Palazzo dei Sortino-Trono. The facade is marked by five pilaster strips with Corinthian capitals and superbly decorated by balconies with corbels and beautiful acanthus leaves. Along via Cabrera you arrive in Piazza Duomo, irregular in shape and on a slight incline, dominated in the higher part by the splendid church of Saint George, one of the most significant works of Sicilian baroque art. The square is enlivened by palm trees, giving it an exotic touch of colour, and is surrounded by neo-classical and baroque buildings, among which the spectacular Palazzo Arezzi stands out, with its magnificent arch, under which the street passes. The Cathedral was built on top of the church of Saint Nicholas after the earthquake of 1693. The church has its front axis divergent from the line of the square, giving it an admirable look and allowing you to see the cupola from the other side of the square.
In alto: San Giorgio e il suo Campanile. A fianco: veduta panoramica di Ragusa Ibla.

The visual effect is made even prettier by the high stairway, also divergent from the line of the square. The portals are very rich, especially the central one, with festoons and a heraldic shield supported by putti. The interior of the Cathedral has three naves on pillars ending in Corinthian capitals and has a deep apse and windows decorated in 1926 to designs by Elena Panigatti and depicting scenes from the martyrdom of Saint George. The itinerary continues, after passing under the arch of Palazzo Arezzi, up to the top of the Ibla hill, where the castle once stood. From here you can admire the cupola of Saint Georges. Going back and continuing down via Dott. Sola-


rina and via Bocchieri, we come to the Cathedral again, but on the side of the apse, from where, as well as the impressive structure of the church, you can admire the harmonious baroque palace of the La Rocca family. The building has six beautiful balconies, three on each side, above the entrance portal and beside the main balcony. To Piazza Duomo you notice a pretty fountain in the lower part of the square and opposite this the neo-classical Conversation Club. Just after this stands Palazzo Donnafugata, which houses a rich art gallery. From here you can easily get to Piazza Pola, where you will see the building that was Ibla Town Hall until 1926 and the church of Saint Joseph with a lively baroque facade, attributed to Gagliardi. In via Torre Nuova you notice the baroque church of the Madonna del Ges with the adjoining convent of the Reformed Philippine Fathers. Returning to Piazza Pola and turning

into via XXV Aprile, after a few bends you will see, on the left, the church of Saint Thomas, ex-monastery of Santa Maria di Valverde, founded by the Normans. Straight after the church you will see the gateway to the Giardino Ibleo, a pretty spacious and panoramic park. Inside the park there are three churches: the Capuchin church with convent, Saint Jamess and the church of Saint Dominic or of the Rosary, with a coloured majolica belltower. However, the masterpiece now considered the symbol of Ragusa is the side portal of the church of Saint George, destroyed by the earthquake, which is to the right of the entrance of the park. It is a magnificent portal in GothicCatalan style with Saint George killing the dragon in the lunette and Aragonese eagles in the two lateral rhombuses. The church of Saint George, built around the mid-14th century in the Chiaramonte period, must have been very large and certainly sumptuous, judging from the artistic exuberance of the portal, which, although corroded by time and neglect, still has an extraordinary beauty.

Dallalto: particolare e antico portale laterale della Chiesa di San Giorgio distrutta dal terremoto, cupola di San Giuseppe.


The Arabic word Jhomiso means water source and perhaps refers to the Diana Spring, around which the town developed, the focal-point and symbol of Comiso. Under the Saracens the town grew; some districts still have names of Arabic origin today (Canicarao, Favaraggi, Donnaduci, Cascalana etc.). However, it was the Norman domination that saw the growth of Comiso into a small city with churches and important monuments. Your tour should begin in Piazza del Municipio from the famous Diana Spring, the symbol of Comiso. The statue of Diana is the work of the sculptor Diano di Spoleto (1937) and stands atop the spring itself, made up of 13 spouts, from which the clear water gushes. In the past this water supplied the Roman baths. In 1887, during work for the construction of the Town Hall, the remains of Roman buildings came to light, with a mosaic floor depicting Neptune

between Nereids and dolphins. If you cross via Ten. Meli, you can head for the church of Our Lady of the Annunciation, easily identifiable from its pale blue cupola. This monumental church stands at the top of an attractive flight of steps and was built on the site of the ancient church of Saint Nicholas, which was pre-12th century. Returning along Corso Vittorio Emanuele, the old Via del Cassero, you come to Palazzo Occhipinti, one of the prettiest buildings in Comiso, with a simple but elegant baroque facade, attributed to Gagliardi.

ian and Byzantine graves and inscriptions have been found, along with evidence of medieval settlements, which are proof that the area was inhabited in ancient times. The land in Vittoria is some of the most prosperous and intensively cultivated in Sicily. Although greenhouse cultivation of early produce has become more common in recent years, vine production continues to be practised, even if in smaller quantities: this cultivation produces table grapes and concentrated wines, used for blending with others and which are in great demand in the north of Italy. The Piazza del Popolo is situated in the middle of the city and is surrounded by beautiful monuments. One side is occupied by the splendid Neo-Classical Municipal Theatre and the seventeenth century Madonna Delle Grazie church.

Vittoria, situated at 169m above sea level on a vast plain in Sicily has a modern urban setting and a grid system of roads, which give it the appearance of a large chess board. Although the city was founded on April 24th 1607, traces of prehistoric settlements, Siculan, Greek and Roman artefacts, early Christ-


The centre is divided into two urban areas: Upper Modica, whose houses scale the rocks and Lower Modica, arranged in a valley formed by two torrents, covered with powerful vaults after the flood in 1902, along which the two most important roads of the city run. Modica gave its name to the earldom, which included a large part of the present-day province, including Ragusa and preserves the charms and physiognomy of a big city. Modica is typically Baroque in style, like all of the towns in the area that were rebuilt after the earthquake in 1693. Unfortunately, not much remains of the previous epochs, when Modica was the strongest feud of the Sicilian Baronial age, but the few remains that can still be admired give an idea of how vast, precious and picturesque the artistic heritage of the city would have been. The various Counts of Modica, animated by a religious fervour often not disinterested, founded churches, convents and monasteries. From an estimate, based on the ruins, traditions and historical documents, it seems that Modica, until the XVII century, had a hundred churches, which is an enormous amount in comparison to the number of inhabitants. Our tour of lower Modica can begin at Piazza Corrado Rizzone, where the incomplete Santa Maria della Grazie church (Santa Maria Ausili-

atrice alle Cipolluzze) and an adjacent ex- convent of the Mercedari fathers, Baroque in style, stand. Today the latter is home to the municipal library and also to the ethnographic museum. You continue to Corso Umberto, where beautifully refined buildings rise and the splendid old Carmine church (Santa Maria dellAnnunziata). Continuing along Corso Umberto, u salottu, you encounter magnificent and, going by the balconies, probably noble buildings, which are decorated by stupendous, large consoles like those of Palazzo Ascenzo. Along the way, at the summit of a high picturesque flight of steps, animated by statues of the apostles, a magnificent grand church rises, that of Saint Peter, patron of the city. At the foot of the staircase, every year at Easter, the statues of Our Lady and of the Resurrected Christ meet in a sea of noise and people. This is the feast of Our Lady Vasa Vasa, during which holy celebrations,

Easter rites and musical concerts are held. In the vicinity of the Cathedral, in a modestly wide area, we can find the small church of San Nicol Inferior. Its a grotto which was found in 1987, by Duccio Belgiorno, and its almost always cool. The most interesting paintings are those that date back to the XIV-XV centuries, which represent, among others, Christ under an almond tree surrounded by angels and Saints. Nearby you will find the birthplace of Salvatore Quasimodo, winner of the Nobel prize for literature. The house contains documents, photos and other memories of the poet. Continuing along the same road, we can see the church of Our Lady of Succour, palazzo Rubino, palazzo Arena the Garibaldi theatre and other noble buildings. IN UPPER MODICA From Saint Peters via Garibaldi begins, which, following a series of bends, takes you to Upper Modica and offers a good view of the lower part of the city. From this road a scenic flight of steps begins, with several flights and 250 steps, and leads to the monumental church of Saint George, one of the most important artistic masterpieces in Modica. The huge flight of steps, a real wonder of 18th century architecture, climbs up towards the church with four flights. The interior is richly adorned with stuccoes and, as one can imagine by looking at the five outer gateways, it has five naves, which, as they cross the transept, give way to a spacious central dome and to two smaller side domes. Neighbouring the church is Palazzo Polara. Continuing uphill towards Upper Modica, from the first bend you can get a view of the entire city and of the great Guerrieri bridge which overhangs it. From this point it was possible to enter the castle which belonged to the Counts of Modica. There is very little remaining of the castle; the surrounding walls, the tower.


Along the uphill climb you come across the apse of Saint Georges church with a beautiful squamous dome and right in front of the church is Palazzo Napolino. On the upper floor beautiful balconies in bulging wrought iron grating stand out and are supported by large corbels in the form of gargoyles, with acanthus leaves. In the highest part of the city Saint Johns church impressively stands at the summit of a wide flight of steps, which grants a dash of stateliness to the church.

In alto: chiesa di San Giorgio. A fianco: festa della Madonna Vasa Vasa. Nella pagina precedente, in alto: particolare di palazzo barocco; in basso: Torre dellOrologio.


Travelling from Ragusa or Modica, wonderful Scicli appears almost suddenly from a bend in the road. The town is situated in a valley below limestone rocks which seem to protect it, and the blue Mediterranean on the horizon completes the view. The seventeenth century appearance of the town is the result of the 1693 earthquake. The reconstruction of Scicli was based on the Baroque principles of space and illusionary effects. Churches and buildings were knowledgeably situated in the urban plan and gave life to a small form of architectural work of art which is unfortunately not well known. There are many things to see in Scicli, so take your time when going around to discover new corners and spots. Piazza Italia is in the city centre and is surrounded by beautiful seventeenth century buildings and dominated by the imposing limestone rocks, on which Saint Mathews church is built. On one side of the square is the seventeenth century Matrice church dedicated to St. Ignazio. The beautiful Baroque facade is richly decorated with statues and sculptures which make it a real work of art. Its grand interior is formed of a basilica divided into three naves and decorated with golden stucco work. Among all the richly decorated balconies, the

one which overlooks Via S. Bartolomeo stands out from all the others because of its supporting brackets shaped like galloping horses, winged dragons and fantastic creatures ridden by winged cherubs. Ascending Via S. Bartolomeo, along which the S.Bartolomeo river flows, you see the massive structure of St. Bartholomews church, whose solemn facade stands out against the towering limestone rocks of the quarry. The church dates from the early years of the fifteenth century and is the only church to survive the tremendous earthquake in 1693.

In alto: particolare di palazzo Beneventano. Nella pagina seguente, in alto: San Giorgio a cavallo; in basso: abitato di San Matteo.


Returning to the square and proceeding along Via Nazionale, at the first right turn, a few metres later, you can admire the Baroque Palazzo Beneventano. There are splendid balconies with beautiful curved wrought iron bars supported by brackets depicting fantastic animals. Masks and caricatures of humans. Via Mormino Penna is a perfect interpretation of a Baroque urban concept, in which space, light and harmony combine together to form a perfect balance. The aristocratic buildings, ecclesiastical buildings and picturesque corners make this street an unicum of its type. From the Town Hall go to Saint Johns Church with its elegant concave convex facade harmonised by a series of double semi-columns, of which the central part extends as far as the third order, making it seem longer and majestic. In Via F. Mormino Penna, palazzo SgarlataVeneziano, plazzo Spadaro, chiesa di S. Michele, chiesa di Santa Teresa. Spread all over the hill are numerous


Troglodyte caves, church ruins like that of the Holy Spirit Church with its beautiful baroque facade, and lower down, the majestic ruins of St. Mathews Church, once the mother church of ancient Scicli. And it is the oldest church in the city. Some say it was built by the Normans, others say it dates from the early years of Christianity: the earliest relevant church document is dated 1093.


Il litorale da Pozzallo a Scoglitti

Ultimata la visita di Scicli ci si pu dirigere verso la costa. A Pozzallo, buon porto, mare splendido ed estese spiagge, da segnalare la Torre Cabrera costruita a difesa del Caricatore per la esportazione dei prodotti agricoli. Proseguendo sul litorale vi sono estese dune fossili prima di giungere alle spiagge di Marina di Modica che negli ultimi anni ha avuto un rilevante incremento turistico. Sampieri, villaggio di pescatori, con le sue dune dorate precede Cava dAliga dove la sabbia cede il posto agli scogli. Successivamente si giunge a Donnalucata, borgo dalle antichissime origini e porto naturale di Scicli. Solo pochi chilometri per raggiungere Marina di Ragusa. Negli ultimi decenni Marina di Ragusa ha ampliato in modo considerevole la sua estensione urbana e la sua ricettivit con alberghi, ristoranti e camping. Il centro
A fianco: foto aerea di Marina di Modica. In basso: veduta panoramica di Pozzallo. Nella pagina seguente: la casa del Commissario Montalbano a Punta Secca.


si sviluppato prevalentemente attorno alla torre cinquecentesca fatta erigere dai Cabrera per la difesa della costa. Il bel lungomare, ricco di negozi, bar e ristoranti, il luogo ideale dove passeggiare durante i freschi pomeriggi estivi, godendo della brezza marina. Lasciata Marina di Ragusa si giunge a Punta Secca, caratterizzata da un alto faro, da un piccolo porticciolo turistico e dalla vicina area archeologica di Kaucane. Santa Croce Camerina, posta sulle pi basse propaggini degli Iblei meridionali, a pochi chilometri dal mare, fra i pi piccoli comuni della provincia. La cittadina ha un aspetto tranquillo, conferitole anche dal sobrio impianto urbanistico. Santa Croce la naturale erede di insediamenti molto antichi e storicamente importantissimi, quali quelli di Kamarina e Kaucane. sicuramente da effettuare una gita al Castello di Donnafugata che dista venti chilometri dalla costa.

Donnafugata Castle
The castle, situated among Carob trees and surrounded by an immense park, is one of the most attractive tourist spots in the province. It has the appearance of a large residential villa, preceded by a wide avenue, on both sides of which there are storehouses, stables and houses for the peasants who lived on the barons estate. The history of this castle began between the tenth and eleventh century and was the work of the Arabs, who built a group of dwelling places near a source of fresh water which was called Ayn As Jafat (Fountain Of Health). Successively, in the local dialect the name became Ronnafuata, from which the present Donnafugata originated. The building, submitted to changes and added to until 1960, fundamentally owes its appearance to Corrado Arezzo de Spuches, the Baron of Donnafugata and a prominent figure in nineteenth century political life. The oldest part of the whole complex is surely the solid square tower which dates from the seventeenth century and which is situated in the central part of the building.