Caltanissetta: villages and surroundings
A visit to Caltanissetta will probably only whet our appetite for the authentic places typical of the Sicilian hinterland. So let’s continue our tour!
Mussomeli, perched on a mountain, is a charming town with a wealth of history and art. Its territory was inhabited by the Sicani, Greeks, Romans and Arabs, and there are traces of these ancient presences everywhere. Castello Manfredonico Chiaramontano stands on a limestone spur about 80 metres high on the outskirts of Mussomeli and is a clear example of Gothic art, characterised by typical ogival arches and mullioned windows.
The village of Santa Rita is a nucleus of houses immersed in the countryside, and one of the many places potentially destined to become abandoned. Still, a historic bakery has survived here since 1999. It uses traditional baking techniques by opting for stone milling and studying the flour and yeast obtained from Sicily’s ancient grains. Using only a wood-burning oven, it produces the bread of the past, which can remain fragrant for up to a week! It is worth a visit to taste the delicious baked goods and to enjoy the tranquillity of village life, where you can also visit the new Immaterial Micro Museum of Wheat and Bread. A bike ride through the wheat fields and peach groves will allow us to appreciate this small town even more.
Sutera, a medieval village with just over 1,000 inhabitants, is part of the circuit of the most beautiful villages in Italy. It consists of three districts: Rabato, an Arabic quarter where the spectacular living Nativity scene takes place each year, Rabatello and Giardinello. It is worth visiting this village, which is shrouded in an atmosphere full of charm, with its ancient houses, churches and narrow alleys, courtyards and steep cobbled staircases.
Moving south from Caltanissetta, about an hour’s drive away we can admire Gela and its gulf, which is considered the largest in all of Sicily. The Regional Archaeological Museum of Gela, located next to the ancient necropolis, traces the entire history of Gela through 4200 finds from different eras, from prehistory to the Middle Ages.
The Timoleontee Walls, located south of the Gela promontory and built in the fourth century BCE in honour of the leader Timoleon, are an extraordinary testimony of the ancient Greek colony of Gela. In addition to serving as the city’s defensive and fortification system, for a long time they were also the backdrop to great battles between the Greeks and Carthaginians.
Legend has it that in 1948 Vincenzo Interlici, an elderly local farmer, dreamed of digging up his vineyard to find a great hidden treasure. His search revealed the presence of a large fortification wall located 12 metres below the ground. The walls’ perfect state of conservation is truly remarkable. Their base is composed of 3-metre-high sandstone blocks, from which the rampart of ancient Gela then rises .
Immerse yourself in an emotional journey through ancient Gela to relive the splendours of the Greek colony and discover the majestic Timoleontee Walls!
THE GREAT STONE The Timoleontee Walls – Revelation of a unique and mysterious side of Sicily
Department of Tourism, Sport and Entertainment – Region of Sicily
video credit : La Casa del Musical Production – Written and directed by Marco Savatteri
The Biviere Nature Reserve allows access to the public, offering an overview of one of the most important areas of migration and rest for the water birds that spend the winter here before returning to Northern Europe. Inside the pond we can find ducks and also birds from Africa, such as the Heron and the rarer red Heron, the Egret and the squacco heron: it’s an excellent experience for those who want to be in contact with nature!
Every self-respecting trip should leave us with the sweet memory of local gastronomy. Sicily’s hinterland has always been based on poor food linked to the goods produced by the land.
Among the foods that can now be recognised by their timeless authenticity, with many modern and rich gastronomic creations, one that stands out is Cuddrureddra from the Slow Food Presidium of Delia (which is half an hour from Caltanissetta by car). It is a delicious traditional fried biscuit from the Carnival period.
Other typical sweets from the Caltanisseta area include Arabic cubaita, made of caramelised sugar and sesame, and torrone nisseno nougat, with almonds, pistachios and honey.