Licata, a seaside resort located almost in the centre of the Sicily's southern coast, in Agrigento's coastal region, is filled with historical sights and natural beauties.
The city has prehistoric roots and its splendid sea often brings forth precious treasures: from the anchors of ancient Roman and Byzantine ships, to relics dating back to the Allied landing, which took place right on the coast of Licata.
The relics of some Punic and Roman ships remind us that the sea of Licata was the scene of a famous naval battle between Romans and Carthaginians.
Some of these finds are preserved in the cloister of Sant’Angelo, now the Museo del Mare maritime museum. Not far away, in the former Cistercian convent of S. Maria del Soccorso, still known today as Badia, there’s the Archaeological Museum.
On a large cliff that almost dominates the city stands Castel Sant’Angelo, originally an Aragonese fire tower.
From here you can enjoy a breath-taking view of the long coastline and the city.
Where the ancient city, Finziade, used to stand, you can visit some interesting archaeological excavations and even some houses typical of the Hellenistic period.
Every population, coming from the sea or from the land, has left its mark on the city: from the Carthaginians to the Romans, and the Byzantines, Arabs and Normans. Frederick II gave her the title of “Dilectissima” and declared her the king’s domain.
Licata had to face several raids, especially in 1553, when the pirate Dragut plundered the city: hence the famous story of the Cristo Nero of Licata. According to tradition, the Turks, using some fiery arrows, continually tried to burn the effigy of Christ, but the statue remained miraculously intact. Today, it can be visited in the main church of Santa Maria La Nova inside the priceless chapel, Cappella del Cristo Nero, completely covered with inlaid wooden panels and decorated with gold.
Your historical and artistic tour also includes a visit to the church located inside the grotta di San Calogero, a stop at the mediaeval Benedictine basilica of Santa Maria La Vetere and a stop at the chiesa di San Domenico church which houses two paintings by the famous Florentine painter, Filippo Paladini.
You can also visit the cellars of an ancient mediaeval castle, later transformed into an anti-aircraft shelter during the war, and the pozzo di Grangela, an ingenious water supply project dating back to the Hellenic era.
There are many Art Nouveau buildings, including the Town Hall, a work by Ernesto Basile, which preserves a magnificent fifteenth-century triptych, and the small Teatro Re, recently restored and open to the public.
The city was the birthplace of Rosa Balistreri, an unconventional singer and composer, a brave woman and artist, who is very dear to all Sicilians.
Your tour will end, to the delight of the most demanding palates, with the local specialities: fresh fish, arancini, ricotta pastries and robust wines, and to help aid your digestion, one final walk on the seafront, along the new tourist pier, Vigata…Excuse me Licata, in perfect Montalbano style!