Calascibetta, close to Enna, is a small wonderful town in the heart of Sicily. It is one of the towns on the ‘Way of the Antica Trasversale Sicula‘ (Ancient Sicilian Transversal) and it has been a crossroads of ancient history and peoples who have marked its boundaries.
Let the city tour begin.
THE MEDIEVAL TOWN: FROM UMBERTO I SQUARE TO THE NORMAN TOWER
The part of the town that goes from Piazza Umberto I to the Main Church and the Tower of San Pietro, is a precious example of the ancient medieval village built at the beginning of the year 1000, during the Norman domination.
The main square of Calascibetta, one of the largest squares in Sicily, is home to a marble fountain with bronze statues, one of which is an allegory of the city itself.
From the square you can see the Church Maria S.S. del Monte Carmelo. As you go up through the alleys of the “muntata” (the upper part of the village), you will come across the Church dedicated to St. John the Baptist, the first Orthodox church in the district of Enna.
Take in the view from Piazzale Angelo, found along the path that leads to the tower. It is one of the most enchanting panoramic views of the Sicilian hinterland.
The Regia Cappella Palatina (Royal Palatine Chapel) is the Mother Church. It rises above the ruins of Marco Castle, an ancient Arab fortress whose traces are visible in the floor of the church. It was built by Pietro II of Aragon who named it “Cappella Palatina“.
It was the military base of the army of Ruggero d’Altavilla during the siege of Enna. Today only one tower remains, the bell tower of the church of San Pietro. The Cappella Palatina is the oldest building in the town.
VIA GIUDEA: THE JEWISH QUARTER
In medieval times, Calascibetta was home to a large Jewish community. The Jewish quarter, called ‘Iudia‘ in the local dialect, gives its name to Via Giudea.
In Via Carcere there are caves carved into the rock that were used as the town’s prison in medieval times. These grottos are dramatic evidence of the first settlements in Calascibetta.
At Christmas time, because of its magical atmosphere, Via Carcere becomes the perfect setting for the traditional living nativity scene.
OUT OF TOWN TRIP: THE NECROPOLIS OF REALMESE AND
THE BYZANTINE VILLAGE
In the countryside around Calascibetta, there is an extraordinary archaeological site: the Necropolis of Realmese. This is the second most important necropolis in Sicily after Pantalica, in the area of Syracuse. It is possible to see the “grotticella” tombs set in the rock amidst nature and they are a breathtaking sight, especially at sunset.
In the Canalotto valley there are the ruins of an ancient Byzantine village. It is a unique structure with an atmosphere made even more suggestive by the striking backdrop of Monti Erei.