Among the most ancient spa resorts in Italy, Sciacca owes its ancient name Xacca, meaning water, to the arabs who after the phoenicians, the greeks and the romans loved and valued its sulphur springs and cave still active and visited today among the terraces and swimming pools of the liberty-style spa establishment.
Sciacca, renowned capital of fresh fish, preserves and takes pride in its sumptuous palaces and churches which relate the history of the feudal nobles of the wine and olives of the area. One among many is the Palazzo siculo-catalan Steripinto, with its main door adorned with figures and the mullioned windows, close by the Scandaliato piazza terrace with a view over the Sicilian Channel, underneath are the old quarters of the fishermen, potters and ceramics makers. Their school, together with that of the coral craftsmen, remains among the most important in Sicily. Even the steps leading to the old port are tiled. Colours in the sun caressed by the turquoise sea.
About 3km east of town, the Castello Incantato is actually a large park festooned with thousands of sculpted heads. The man behind this bizarre collection was Filippo Bentivegna (1888–1967), a local artist who used sculpture to exorcise the memories of an unhappy sojourn in the USA – each head is supposed to represent one of his memories.
This most imposing of Sciacca's palazzi is recognisable by its diamond-point rustication and twin-mullioned windows. It was built in the Catalan-Gothic style at the beginning of the 16th century. To the palazzo's south, the Porta San Salvatore, a 16th-century town gate, is covered in Renaissance ornamentation.
Northeast of Piazza Scandaliato is Sciacca's cathedral, first erected in 1108 and rebuilt in 1656. Only the three apses survive from the original Norman structure. The unfinished baroque facade features a set of marble statues by Gagini.
Chiesa di Santa Margherita
This 14th-century church features a superb Renaissance portal and a rather chipped baroque interior.
Porta San Salvatore
This 16th-century town gate is covered in Renaissance ornamentation.
Chiesa del Carmine
This architectural mish-mash of a church has an odd-looking 13th-century rose window that predates the majolica-tiled dome by some 600 years.