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Sicily's hidden treasures

From Caltagirone to Caltanissetta, the Sicilian cities which have never seen even a glimpse of the sea.

Sicily's hidden treasures

Even on an Island like Sicily, until the arrival of automobiles there were entire populations who had never seen so much as a glimpse of the sea. This was so for the Sicilians who lived inland, in cities like Enna, often referred to as the "umbilical of Sicily" due to its central position, or Caltanissetta, the economy of which for centuries has relied on sulfur mining.

Ceramics form the basis of the economy of another well-known Sicilian city, situated far from the island's coastline. In Caltagirone even the houses are faced with colorful majolica and its shops filled with every genre of ceramic container and ornament. The most famous of the city's buildings is the Church of Santa Maria del Monte, the entrance of which is preceded by a breathtaking flight of 142 majolica-tiled steps. The tiles have been painted to illustrate the principal events in the history of Sicily, from the arrival of the Arabs to the modern day. The monumental flight of steps is the focus of two annual events held in the city: the Infiorata festival in May, held in honor of the Madonna, when it is laden with flowers; and the Luminaria (24-25 July and 15-15 August), when over four thousand lit candles are placed upon the steps.

On our way to Enna, we make a quick detour to Piazza Armmerina to see the remarkably intact remains of an edifice built by the Ancient Romans. Famous worldwide for its mosaics, Villa del Casale is an ancient rural residence constructed between the 3rd and 4th centuries A.D. The tour of the villa's rooms is made via a series of raised platforms, designed so that visitors can admire the ornate mosaics, depicting hunting and bathing scenes, below. For the best view of the panorama to be seen from the high plain on which Piazza Armerina is built, we head to the town's historic center and the impressive Aragon Castle. Other edifices of note are the Cathedral and the Church of San Rocco, both built in typical Sicilian Baroque style.

Enna is Italy's highest provincial capital. Its position, 1000m above sea level, on the Mountains of Erei, has, for centuries, made the city "inexpugnabilis". From Enna, a breathtaking view across the whole of Sicily and as far as Mount Etna can be seen. The Torre Pisana offers one of the most panoramic viewing points. The tower is part of Enna's Lombardia Castle: an immense fortress in which Frederick II of Swabia became the self-proclaimed King of Trinacria and reunited his parliament. The 24m high, octagonal Torre di Federico II, served as the emperor's summer residence.

The last stretch of our journey takes us to the city which is the center of Sicily's mining industry. Caltanissetta's Mineralogical, Paleontological, and Sulfur Museum records in detail the role of sulfur mining in the area. The name of the city comes from the Arab "Qalat-an-Nisa" which means "city of women". It was not until the late 17th century that Caltanissetta's townscape blossomed, thanks to the baroque architects who designed many of the city's most important edifices and the Flemish painter, Guglielmo Borrremans, who embellished a number of its houses of worship (including the Cathedral dedicated to Santa Maria La Nova and San Michele) with his artworks.

Itineraries

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La Dépendance

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Locanda Don Serafino

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From € 95.00

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Masseria della Volpe

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From € 208.00

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Riserva del Noce

Caltagirone

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Castello Camemi

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Enna Hotels
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Piazza Armerina Hotels