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Caltagirone

Swirling patterns, vibrant colours, painstakingly detailed designs..... Wherever you go in Caltagirone this is what you will see: ceramics is the name of the game and it has been for millennia. Virtually all buildings in the old town are decorated with ceramic tiles, shops spill their delightfully crafted wares onto the pavements and the effect is one of multichromatic vivacity.

The highlight is undoubtedly the 142 steps of the Scalinata di Santa Maria del Monte that connect the lower town with the older upper town. The upright of each step is decorated with ceramic tiles, offering a colourful alternative to the grey lava stone of the horizontal parts.


The culture of ceramics is what distinguishes Caltagirone from other towns in Sicily. Indeed, its history mirrors that of so many others: the Romans, Arabs, Normans, Spanish and French all passed through leaving indellible traces of their presence and like the towns of the Noto Valley and Catania, it too was destroyed in the famous 1693 earthquake. Very much an aristocratic town, Caltagirone is brimming with splendid palaces and churches.


Caltagirone is very much worth exploring. Only 40 minutes from Catania and close to Piazza Armerina, it is within easy reach of many of our Sicily properties.


Top Attractions


Scalinata di Santa Maria del Monte

Caltagirone's most evocative sight is this monumental staircase, which rises from Piazza Municipio to Chiesa di Santa Maria del Monte. Built in the early 17th century to connect the old hilltop centre with newer developments around Piazza Municipio, it was originally divided into several flights of steps separated by small squares. These tiers were eventually unified in the 1880s to create the 142-step flight that stands today. The hand-painted majolica tiles were a relatively recent addition, only being added in 1956.


Museo della Ceramica

Down from the main historic centre, this museum is the place to learn about the Sicilian ceramics industry. Exhibits, which include Greek terracotta works, medieval kitchenware and some excessively elaborate 18th-century maiolica statuettes, chronicle developments from prehistoric times to the 19th century.


Chiesa di San Francesco d'Assisi

Caltagirone has an extraordinary number of churches, almost 30 in the historic centre alone. Most are baroque, dating to the building boom of the early 18th century, although some have earlier origins. One such, the Chiesa di San Francesco d'Assisi, dates to the 13th century, but now flaunts an extraordinarily flamboyant baroque facade.


Giardino Pubblico

Next to the Museo della Ceramica, the Giardino Pubblico is a lovely place to see out the late afternoon, perhaps with an ice cream or a glass of something cool at the park bar. Manicured avenues lead down to a beautiful (if unloved) pavilion, inspired by Moorish architecture and built in the early 1950s.

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