Sciacca: the sea and a lot of works of art. Let’s try to describe it…
On the eastern side there is “Monte Kronio”, a big mountain with the cave-chapel where the hermit Saint Calogero lived and, next to it, the natural steam caves. Moving to the city centre, you can meet the “Castello Incantato”, the Enchanted Castle of Filippo Bentivegna
When you get into this huge farm with almond trees and Saracen olive trees, you are immediately attracted by its “Heads” carved in stones and trees. Some of them are red painted and roughly moulded.
Some are happy, some are sad, but all of them have a real facial expression. Some of Filippo Bentivegna’s heads are now on display at the “ Musée de l’Art Brut” in Losanna.
Over the houses roofs you can see the walls of Lunas Castle. Going along via Agatocle, you find the old monastery of San Francesco D’Assisi which was founded in 1224, nowadays a cultural centre. Then the thermal spa with a park, a thermal swimming pool and a beautiful view.
After that you reach the Square Saverio Friscia, also known as “Potta vagnu” or “Porta Bagni”, after an old gate so named which was there until XIX century; from there you can see the ancient Palazzo San Giacomo.
Walking along the Corso Vittorio Emanuele, enjoying the beautiful view of the sea, you can see the Norman apses of the Basilica Maria SS. del Soccorso and Palazzo Arone Valentino.
In Piazza Duomo you can admire the Chiesa Madre, with a lot of artworks, in particular the simulacrum of Madonna del Soccorso, and the house- museum Scaglione with its art collections.
Going on, you’ll meet one of the most ancient churches in Sciacca, Chiesa di Sant’Antonio, where once rose the arches of Porta di Mare (another gate of the town), then the strongly fortified, ancient city walls with their bastion.
Further on, you can see the “Ex collegio dei Gesuiti”, built in 1613, today the Town Hall (Palazzo Comunale), and San Domenico church.
Walking through Via Incisa you can see the bizarre House/Tower of Pardo, with a Renaissance well in the courtyard, and Palazzo Perollo, the house of one the families involved in the bloody case of Sciacca (Caso di Sciacca) .
On the other side of the street, you can see the eighteenth-century gate of an old historic hospital, the façade of the church of San Gerlando, the deconsecrated church of Santa Margherita, founded by Eleonora d’Aragona in 1342: inside you can admire marvelous stuccos and frescoes, a coffered ceiling and an extraordinary eighteenth-century organ.
In the square there is Chiesa del Carmine, a church with a medieval rose window and a colourful dome, and the sixteenth-century San Salvatore gate. Going up through Via Pietro Gerardi you can find one of the most famous palaces in Sciacca, Palazzo Steripinto, whose façade has diamond pointed ashlars. Built in 1501, it is an important example of plateresque art in Sicily of the late Gothic-Reinassance period.
On the same street, you can see the eighteenth-century Palazzo Tagliavia.
On the other side of the city there is the fourth gate of Sciacca: Porta Palermo. Walking through Via Giuseppe Licata you meet several churches: Chiesa di San Giuseppe, Santa Maria dello Spasimo and Chiesa San Francesco di Paola; finally the eighteenth-century noble Palazzo Ragusa.
In the upper part of the city, there is another gate: Porta San Calogero. In Piazza Noceto you can see the last churches: Santa Maria dell’Itria, Badia Grande, Chiesa del Giglio, Chiesa di San Michele Arcangelo.
Sciacca is famous for its coral which is unique in the world for its shades of colour and characteristics. The volcanic phenomena in 1831 (Isola Ferdinandea) created an extraordinary microclimate which gave birth to a huge coral reef. Due to frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, coral was detached from the rock and was deposited on the seabed, creating three coral deposits. Thanks to volcanic muds and gas, the structure of the coral changed, so the “rubrum coral” (Red Coral of the Mediterranean Sea) started to grow profusely.
It is characterised by a unique colour tone (from intense orange to pale salmon-pink with black stains because of its volcanic origin).
The curiosity of a chemist it’s transformed into a passion for the history of soap, this history dates back already from 2800 a.c. The House Museum is situated in an old farmhouse in the early nineteenth century.
The idea to create this museum space is born from the desire of Alexander to pass down historical information and scientific techniques to all enthusiasts of the wonderful world of soaps.
The Toy Museum in Sciacca makes us travel through time. It is a real cultural trip down memory lane. The collection is organised according to the different historical periods, in a succession of rooms and suggestions. Accompanied by an experienced guide, in every room we discover the changes of eras through the different locations and lifestyle.
Each toy tells a story full of anecdotes and memories.
Something to eat:
“Tabisca Saccense”, a kind of rustic pizza cooked in a wood-burning oven, it has a particular elongated shape, with tomato sauce, pecorino cheese, oregano, onions and anchovies – “Sardine soup”: sardines, potatoes, fennel and green peas – “Ova Murina”: crêpes (almonds, cinnamon, cocoa, eggs and Marsala) and milk cream; in the past only noble people of the city used to eat them.
“Cucchiteddi” made of almond paste, pumpkin jam (zuccata); in the past working class people of the city used to eat them.
The Carnival of Sciacca is an amazing experience; it has ancient origins and it is very probably linked to the ancient, Roman Saturnalia. It has always been a party among the people during which all excess was allowed: eating and drinking binges (sausages, cannoli and wine) ruled the roost together with the popular masks. All the people, by order of the viceroy, were even forced to dress up: some groups recited dialect poems on large stages dragged by oxen or horses.
Nowadays the masked groups are very refined. Artisans of papier-mache, architects, illustrators, blacksmiths, choreographers and dancers work for months and months with great alacrity and mastery.
Saccensi and “sciacchitani popolo scialusu” (the people of Sciacca, that like to have fun) work hard for the success of the famous “Carnival of Sciacca”. The actors act unpublished, dialect poems and scripts whose satire is inspired by the local and national political personalities. People dance in the streets, with joyful, “crazy” movements. The Grotesque floats and masked groups parade along the streets of the historical center starting from fat Thursday, when the key of the city is symbolically given to the king of Carnival, Peppi ‘Nappa, untill fat Tuesday, when the King’s Float is burnt at the stake in Angelo Scandaliato square.
Discover here the Carnivals of Sicily