In Enna, art history lovers will not be able to resist the call of the majestic Cathedral that dominates the city's historic centre with its beauty. Classified as a National
Monument and a UNESCO Place of Peace, it was built at the behest of Queen Eleanor of Anjou in 1307, and subsequently renovated and embellished.
It is surrounded by a monumental staircase and its interior comprises a basilica with three naves, with a beautiful wooden coffered roof decorated by Andrea Russo da Collesano.
The wooden choirs placed on the sides of the triumphal arch were made by Scipione di Guido. The central apse is entirely covered with Baroque stuccoes by Pietro Rosso from Bologna. You can admire five large canvases in the panels, which are the work of Filippo Paladini.
The left apse, with historic Gothic shapes and ribbed vaults, is dedicated to the SS. Sacramento; the one on the right, which is richly covered with polychrome marble based on a Baroque design by Andrea Amato, is dedicated to the Madonna della Visitazione.
In the polychrome marble niche, closed by an icon door, is the processional statue of the patron, which was made by a Venetian workshop from 1474.
The sacristy has many art works, such as the casserizio (a wooden item of furniture) depicting scenes from the life of Jesus, or the marble washbasin from 1648. The Sicilian majolica floor features scenes from the New Testament.
Going further back in time, specifically to the fifth century, there used to be pagan temple located in the same place named after Proserpina, mother of Ceres, which dated back to Roman times.
In the piazza opposite, the Varisano Archaeological Museum exhibits objects found in archaeological sites near the city. Starting from a reading of the ancient sources, Enna is seen as the city of Demeter and Kore. The exhibition follows the logical thread of archaeological research from prehistoric times to the Middle Ages.
If you are in Enna on 2 July for the Madonna della Visitazione you will be woken at 7 AM by the sound of the 101 salutes celebrating the protector of the city.
The statue of the Madonna kept in its niche inside the Cathedral all year round is carried in a procession, covered with gold and precious stones donated by the faithful, inside a large “Vara” from the sixteenth century. Known as the Nave d’oro (Golden Ship), it is carried on the shoulders of 118 barefoot confreres, gli ignudi (the naked ones).
The procession starts from the Cathedral and along the way sarbiate, cannon salutes, are fired. Near the hermitage of Montesalvo, the statues of S. Zaccaria and S. Elisabetta come out of the church and meet the Madonna. Immediately after the Madonna enters the church the artistic fireworks start, offering a true explosion of joy that characterises all Sicilian patron saint festivals.