Sciacca: the sea and a thousand years of history. Let us try to tell its story.
To the east, the imposing mass of Mount Kronio with the hypogeum of the hermit saint Calogero and next to it the natural stoves full of steam, then the Enchanted Castle – Fondo Bentivegna.
At the entrance to this immense estate, amidst almond and Saracen olive trees, we immediately notice the Heads carved into the stones and bark of the trees, some painted red and roughly modelled, with cheerful or sad expressions, imbued with great expressive power. Today, some of Filippo Bentivegna’s sculptures are on display at the Museé de l’Art Brut in Lausanne.
Among the first houses in Sciacca are the walls of Castello Luna, and down Via Agatocle we find the former Convent of St Francis of Assisi, founded in 1224 and now a Cultural Centre. Then the spa area with its establishment, park with sulphurous water pool and splendid panorama.
We come to Piazza Saverio Friscia, better known as Potta Vagnu or Porta Bagni because until the 19th century there was a gate of the same name, then the historic Palazzo San Giacomo appears.
The splendid panorama of the sea accompanies us along our route, but we take Corso Vittorio Emanuele and, in the main square, we are surprised by the Norman apses of the Chiesa Madre and Palazzo Arone Valentino.
The Chiesa Madre is a treasure trove of precious works of art, including the simulacrum of the Madonna del Soccorso and the Scaglione House-Museum, which also houses rich art collections.
Along our route, one of the oldest churches in Sciacca, Sant’Antonio, from where the arches of the Porta di Mare, a mighty fortification of the city walls, and its bastion started.
Further on is the former Jesuit college, built in 1613, now the Town Hall, and the Church of San Domenico.
Continue along Via Incisa, where you will find the curious Pardo Tower-House, a courtyard with a Renaissance well, and Palazzo Perollo, the residence of one of the families responsible for the bloody Sciacca Case.
Opposite is the remaining 18th-century portal of the historic hospital, next to it the façade of the former Church of San Gerlando and the deconsecrated Church of Santa Margherita, founded by Eleonora of Aragon in 1342, inside an explosion of stucco and frescoes, a coffered roof and an extraordinary 18th-century organ.
The square is overlooked by the Chiesa del Carmine with its medieval rose window, colourful dome and 16th-century Porta del Salvatore.
Ascending Via Pietro Gerardi is one of Sciacca’s most beautiful mansions, Palazzo Steripinto, with its diamond-pointed ashlar façade. Built in 1501, the palace is one of the city’s outstanding monuments, an example of late Gothic-Renaissance plateresque art in Sicily. Still on the Corso, the 18th century Palazzo Tagliavia.
On the other side, the fourth gate of Sciacca: Porta Palermo. From here, on Corso Giuseppe Licata, we find the Church of San Giuseppe, Santa Maria dello Spasimo, the Church of San Francesco di Paola and the 18th-century Palazzo Ragusa.
And now, in the upper part of the city, the Porta San Calogero. On the large Piazza Noceto you will find the last churches: Santa Maria dell’Itria, Badia Grande, Chiesa del Giglio and the Church of San Michele Arcangelo.
Coral in Sciacca is unique in the world, which is why it is a perfect souvenir from Sicily.
It is distinguished by its unique colour tones, ranging from deep orange to pale salmon-pink, characterised by brownish and sometimes black patches, bearing witness to its volcanic origin.
Now, let’s visit the House-Museum of Soap.
A chemist’s curiosity developed into a passion for the history of soap, a history that goes back as far as 2800 BC. The House-Museum is located in an old rural building from the early 19th century.
The idea of creating this museum was inspired by Alessandro’s desire to pass on historical, technical and scientific information to all lovers of the wonderful world of soap.
The Sciacca Toy Museum takes us on a journey through time. Yes, it’s that simple! A real cultural trip down memory lane.
The museum is divided by historical period in a crescendo of rooms and attractions.
Together with an expert guide, in each room, we discover the changing settings and lifestyles over time. Each toy is a journey full of anecdotes and memories.
Finally, let us take you on a 5-senses tour through the guided tours offered by the Ecomuseum of the 5 senses!
See also Ecomuseum of the 5 senses of Sciacca in the izi.TRAVEL guide.
A must-try: the Tabisca saccense, a rustic pizza cooked in a wood-burning oven, with sardines, tomato, pecorino cheese, oregano and onion; the Minestra di sarde with potatoes, wild fennel and peas; ova murina or summer cannolo, crepes (almonds, cinnamon, cocoa, eggs and marsala) and milk cream, all of which were once the exclusive preserve of the nobles of Sciacca; while cucchiteddi, made with pasta reale (almond paste) and zuccata (pumpkin jam), were the dessert of the people.
Of all the carnivals in Sicily, that of Sciacca is a phantasmagorical experience with very ancient origins (apparently dating back to Roman Saturnalia festivals). It is the popular festival par excellence, where excesses have always been allowed; hence the great binges of sausages, cannoli and wine were the protagonists along with the popular masks. In ancient times, the people were obliged to dress up by order of the viceroy and some groups performed in dialect on large platforms pulled by oxen or horses.
Today, the figures are majestic and the movements of the masked groups are very sophisticated. For months, papier-mâché craftspeople, architects, designers, blacksmiths, choreographers and dancers work with great skill to make the famous “Sciacca Carnival” a success. Scripts with unusual themes are recited in Sicilian and satire is inspired by local and national political figures. “Crazy” people dance in the streets. The floats and groups parade through the streets of the historic centre from Shrove Thursday, with the symbolic handing over of the keys to the city to the king of the carnival, “Peppe Nappa”, to Mardi Gras with the burning of the float in Piazza Angelo Scandaliato.