is a lovely town showing a clear Arab feel, with striking white
houses and buildings grouped on a flank of the Kronio Mount overlooking
the sea. It is an outstanding fishing and thermal resort, drawings
tens of thousands of tourists every year. Its majolica objects,
available at the numerous pottery shops in town, are most renowned.
Square – It is the heart of the city, with a panoramic view
over the sea and the harbor crowded with boats. Dominating the west
side of the piazza is the 1700’s Chiesa di San Domenico and
the ex-monastery of the Jesuit Fathers, now hosing the Town Hall.
Nearby is the Piazz Duomo.
Duomo – It is a building of Norman origin (the outer walls
of the three apses only surviving), rebuilt in the 1600s. Its baroque
front elevation remained incomplete. The cross-vault of the central
nave is adorned with frescoes by the local artist Tommaso Rossi,
depicting the Apocalypse and some episodes from the life of St.
Mary Magdalen. Left of the chances, inside a chapel, is a nice Renaissance
marble altarpiece by Antonio Gagini (1581), whose panels depict
scenes of the Passion of Christ.
Scaglione – A 1700’s house, now serving as a museum,
where are diplayed objects and works of art from the 19th century
collection of Francesco Scaglione. This comprises paintings, mostly
by Sicilian artists, printings, coins, archaeological relics and
ceramic pieces. In the last room is a cruficix made of ivory and
mother-of-pearl. The building is ornamented with some fine majolica
floors and frescoes.
of the Duomo stretches the Corso Vittorio Emanuele along which is
Palazzo Arone Tagliavia featuring a lovely battlemented façade
with three doorways and pointed arches. A Gothic three-light window
above the main entrance is highly remarkable.
ahead, on the right hand side, is the southern façade of
the 1800’s Palazzo San Giacomo (or Tagliavia), in the Empire
style. The Southern façade, in a Venetian-Gothic style, overlooks
Friscia Square that stretches out to the Viale della Vittoria. On
the right side rises the Monastero di San Francesco, entirely restored
and used as a convention and exhibition centre, with a lovely cloister
home to sculptures by contemporary artists.
the end of Viale della Vittoria street, stands the religious complex
of Maria delle Giummarre, of Norman origin but rebuilt in the 1500s.
In the central part of the complex there is a church with a baroque
portal flanked by two square-towers forming the monastery. The façade
is enriched with a battlement and two-light windows. Nearby are
the remnants of the Luna Castle, a building of the late 1300s, rebuilt
two centuries later and almost entirely destroyed in the 19th century.
The external walls and an imposing circular tower are all that remain
of the ancient structure. A sloping road in front of the castle
leads to the pleasant Norman church of S. Nicolò la Latina.
S. Nicolò la Latina – It was founded in the early 1100s
by Juliet, daughter of Roger I, with a simple façade with
a doorway. It is a single-nave church with a latin-cross plan and
three semi-circular apses typical of the Norman-Arabian style.
to the castle, the Giglio road leads to the Porta San Calogero,
a old gateway retaining remains of medieval walls. On Piazza Noceto
stands the Chiesa di Santa Maria dell’Itria, adjacent to the
Badia Grande (Abbey), and the nice baroque façade of St.
Michael the Archangel. Inside, it has a fine 1700’s organ
made of carved and painted wood; a Catalan Cross in Gothic style
and an altarpiece of San Girolamo dated 1454 stand at right.
Corso Vittorio Emanuele, turn down Via Licata where are two beautiful
1700’s palazzi, namely Palazzo Inveges and, shortly ahead,
at right, Palazzo Ragusa.
Steripinto – It is a palace in Catalan style dating back to
the 15th century. It has an ashlar facade with mullioned windows
and a ghibelline battlement.
Church of the Carmine, undergoing several reconstructions throughout
the centuries, retains a lovely rose-window on its front.
Church of Santa Margherita – Dating from the 13th century,
it was refurbished at the end of the 1500s. Its façade has
a doorway in the gothic-catalan style; on its left side is another
fine, and much celebrated, doorway in a gothic-renaissance style
by Francesco Laurana and Pietro from Bonitate, with Santa Margherita
and the Dragon in the tympanum. Inside, it contains a 1800’s
monumental organ and, in the chapel on the right, a nice work illustrating
episodes from the life of Santa Margherita.
to it, is the Chiesa di San Gerlando, with a beautiful stone portal.
The 1400’s Palazzo Perollo, a little further on, at right,
has a late-gothic façade with three-light windows, and, in
the courtyard, a catalan flight of steps, slightly ruined.
treatments in this area date back to ancient times, even if a proper
thermal plant was only established in the mid-1800s, located in
the so-called Valle dei Bagni (The Valley of the Baths), currently
under-restoration. The Nuovo Stabilimento Termale (New Thermal Plant)
is a large complex built in 1938 in a new-liberty style, right in
front of the sea and surrounded by a nice park. The sulfur water
which rises naturally is used for mud and bath treatments, (the
former especially recommended for arthrosis, the latter for osteoarthrosis)
and inhalation therapies. The thermal springs of San Calogero, on
the Kronio Mount, and Molinelli are suitable for dermatological
Enchanted Castle – It is set out of town following Figuli
Street, in direction of Agrigento (SS 115) . It is an amazing garden
populated by sculpted stone heads by Filippo Bentivegna or Filippu
delli Testi, as locals use to call him.
route of roughly 110 km – allow at least half a day. From
Sciacca continue north-eastward to Caltabellotta (19 km away).
– The two roads leading to Caltabellotta offer nice views
over the surrounding valley. The road passing by Sant’Anna
is particularly panoramic. Caltabellotta stands at an altitude of
about 900m. Its Arab name, Kalat-al-Ballut (Oaks’ Rock) evokes
the look of the village that is perched atop a rock. Its dominant
position contributed to protect it from the attacks of enemies throughout
the centuries. In 1302, Caltabellotta witnessed a decisive event
for the history of Sicily: the Anjous surrendered to the Aragoneses
putting an end to the Vespers War, lasted for twenty years. On the
peak rise the chapel and the hermitage of San Pellegrino and the
ruins of a Norman Castle, at the foot of which are the old Mother
Church, in an Arabian-Norman style, and the Church of the Saviour,
with a beautiful late-Gothic portal.
back to the crossroad (about 13km away) and take right. Take the
S 624 and continue in direction of Sambuca (29km away).
– Many notable palazzi run the lenght of its central Corso
Umberto I street. At the end of it a stairway gives access to a
panoramic balcony. Behind it stands the Mother Church, currently
Sambuca follow signs to the Scavi di Monte Adranone (7 km away).
Adranone Mount Excavations
– Here was a Greek settlement going back to the 6th century
BC grown on an earlier indigenous one. The site has a dominant position
overlooking a fine landscape. It is naturally defended on one side
and reinforced by strong defensive walls on the other two. The settlement,
loosely identified as the ancient Adranon, documented by historian
Diodorus Siculus, was likely ravaged in 250 BC during the First
– Outside the city walls was the necropolis, with subterranean
tombs among which outstanding is that known as Tomba della Regina,
lined with square-cut blocks of tufa. Nearby is the Porta Sud (Southern
Gateway) flanked by towers. A building nestling within was identified
as a farmstead. Up, in the acropolis, stand a big building with
a rectangular plan, probably intended for public use, and, a little
further on, a complex comprised of storehouses, shops and houses.
On top, the acropolis overlooks the entire valley where are the
city of Sambuca and the Arancio lake. The most significant building
is the Punic Temple, flanked, on its right side, by a large cistern.
your way back down to Sambuca and return to Sciacca through the
island that came and went
– July 1831: anyone looking out to sea is unlikely to imagine
what is about to happen. A great land quickly emerges from the water,
featuring a volcanic outcrop that gently settled back into a truncated
cone, giving life to many diverse theories. The island was christened
Ferdinandea, in King of Sicily’s honour. After a mere five
months it disappeared.