Ready for a new journey, we get up early to get to Piazza Armerina, a town in the province of Enna .
Waiting for us on our arrival was Guido, known by chance as often happens (this is also the beauty of Sicily), our local guide for a day, to let us discover the many curiosities of the place. After introducing ourselves, our journey to discover the area begins, among stories and curiosities of the country.
Perhaps not everyone knows that Piazza Armerina rises on a hill in the southern Erei mountains, a mountain group in central Sicily, mainly falling in the central and northern part of the Province of Enna, set between thick and extensive woods and a well-known archaeological site, also surrounded ‘it in the green. But there is so much more to discover and today we start by telling you a little glimpse of this Sicilian marvel.
Our day begins with a visit to a very special B & B, where we are greeted by Salvo the landlord who, after a good coffee, catapults us into a beautiful and sweet tour of his structure. Each room has its history and peculiarities, each one different from the others, with its furnishings made with recycled objects and family stories. From grandfather’s bicycle to the desk to the tuna cans of the old shop that has been closed for some time now. Everything speaks of affection, life, and traditions that have touched our hearts. And as often happens, we couldn’t help but be moved by listening to these stories that took us back in time, making us relive moments of real life! These are the experiences we like and want to share with you!
After visiting its interior, we discover the beauty of the boulders positioned in the external space, found by chance during the excavation works for the construction of the structure. Unbelievable but true! Although they are rough stones, in a completely natural way they represent the shapes of some animals.
We say goodbye to Salvo and return together with Guido to the center of the city; walking through the narrow streets we reach the Permanent Exhibition of the Ancient Book of the Municipal Library “Alceste and Remigio Roccella”, custodian of very ancient manuscripts of considerable importance, of world-class personalities. We realize that Sicily is rich in history and very important testimonies.
We continue our journey and among the many churches (Piazza Armerina is known not by chance as the city of a hundred churches) and historical monuments, we are struck by the sculpture displayed inside the remains of the deconsecrated Church of Sant’Anna, the < strong> “Torso Croce”: famous sculpture by the Polish artist Igor Mitoraj, which depicts a human torso without the head, and hollowed out in the center by a carving in the suggestive shape of a cross. The sculpture is an integral part of the exhibition entitled “L’Abbraccio”, an art initiative that has involved and symbolically united Piazza Armerina and Noto, both organs of the Sicilian district of the Val di Noto. We would not have expected so much beauty enclosed in a few hundred meters.
Alleys and lanes are the masters, up to the Hotel Suite D’Autore, a real surprise for us! Rooms full of details and works of art of all kinds: from lightness to tradition, to geometry, to magic. “Places without space or time, between reality and fantasy, characterized by the concept of “Total Works of Art”: This is what defines this particular structure…in short, the choice is not easy! But no less impactful, turning our gaze outside, is the view of the cathedral and the terrace of the structure from which you have a magnificent view over the whole town.
In addition to being famous for the Villa Romana del Casale, the area’s major tourist attraction, Piazza Armerina certainly deserves a visit for the naturalistic landscapes it offers: a few kilometers away from the city center is Lake Pergusa with its uncontaminated nature and the Mining Park of Floristella Grattacalda, where industrial archeology blends with nature.
In this regard, we discover the possibility of visiting the Permanent Exhibition of Mining Civilization, a small exhibition of great social and cultural interest that preserves the stories and legends related to the hard life in the Floristella sulfur mines, active until 1986, when they ceased definitively. Through photographic evidence, a young girl tells us a bit of the history of the floristella mines, of the cruelties and difficulties of that period. Seeing that even today there are young volunteers who are interested in our origins and our land heartens us.
A heartbreaking and moving story at the same time, surely to be heard from the voice of those who were protagonists to truly understand its meaning. The mine was born at the end of the eighteenth century and had a workforce, as well as teenagers, even children, who, to bring home some money, worked in truly extreme conditions. For this latter reason, it also possesses a particular charm that is linked to the history of Italian literature, and Sicilian in particular, as first Verga, then Pirandello, drew inspiration for two famous short stories such as Rosso Malpelo and Ciaula discovers the moon.
After our morning tour, it’s time for lunch and Guido hosts us in his restaurant, a place also rich in memories and traditions. Entering you breathe the air of home and authenticity, we just have to eat the delights that tell of the area.
Lunch is a riot of typical dishes, all accompanied by rigorously Sicilian wines. A mouth-watering succulent lunch! With a full belly, we continue our journey through the narrow streets of Piazza Armerina; before taking the way back, we have to burn off some calories.
And as we stroll, Guido tells us about the most important event in Piazza Armerina: the Palio dei Normanni, which takes place every year for three days from the 12th to the 14th of August. It is the most important and ancient historical-medieval costume reconstruction in southern Italy, with over 600 participants. The event is inspired by the conquest of Sicily by the Normans of Ruggero D’Altavilla who put an end to the Arab domination and created the strong and prosperous County of Sicily.
The Palio is linked to the tradition of the city of Piazza Armerina and the devotion of the inhabitants to the patron saint of the city and is the re-enactment of an episode that took place in Piazza Armerina in the 12th century. A suggestive atmosphere of medieval costumes and sounds is combined with Quintana-style jousting in which the four historic districts of the city challenge each other: Monte, Castellina, Canali, and Casalotto.
An engaging event, deeply felt by the people of Piacenza, which excites all spectators!
We greet and thank Guido for accompanying us on this pleasant day, with the desire to return to offer new experiences to live in Piazza Armerina!
We are ready to live a new experience … and you?