Caltagirone (in Sicilian - Caltaggiruni) is located in the province of Catania and is the center of the municipality of Caltagirone within its borders. It is about 70 km from Catania, 75 km from Modica, 242 km from Palermo. The city is located on several hills and has an average altitude of 608 m. The population numbers nearly 40 thousand people.
The area of Caltagirone has been inhabited since prehistoric times, as evidenced by the remains of two necropolises from the second millennium BC. Later, the Sicilians lived here - the population before the Romans. However, the name of the city has an Arabic origin - a combination of the words kalat and gerun, which mean fortress and cave, respectively. The Arabs built their fortress, which was attacked and captured by the Ligurians under the command of a Byzantine general. Therefore, traces of the Ligurian language can be found in today's local dialect. The city flourished under Norman rule, becoming a famous center for pottery production. Caltagirone was almost completely destroyed in an earthquake in 1693. After that, most of the buildings were rebuilt in the Baroque style.
Swirling patterns, vibrant colors and incredibly detailed decorations... whenever you visit Caltagirone, it's all waiting for you. Ceramics are at the heart of the city's charm and have been present in it for millennia.
All the buildings in the city are decorated with ceramic tiles, and the shops spread their wares of impressive handicrafts on the pavement. The highlight of Caltagirone is undoubtedly the 142 steps in front of the church of Santa Maria del Monte, which connect the lower part of the town with the older upper part. The face of each of the steps is lined with ceramic tiles with colorful patterns. Every year the staircase is covered with flowers that are arranged in beautiful shapes. This happens during the La Scala Flower Festival, from May 8 to June 3. The festival is held in honor of Our Lady of Conadomini, who is the patron and protector of Caltagirone. Fragrant flowers adorn the stairs for nearly a month.
In July, you can see the decoration of the stairs again, and this time the occasion is another patron saint of the town - San Giacomo. Then many candles of different colors are added to the plants, arranged to represent a specific figure.
Interesting places to visit in Caltagirone:
- The Church of San Francesco d'Assisi, built in 1236 and rebuilt after the earthquake of 1693 in the Baroque style. The facade has two rows of marine symbols and the statue of the Immaculate Conception. The dome is not finished.
- The Renaissance Church of the New Capuchins, covered with white stone. The church houses a remarkable treasure and houses a picture gallery.
- Also worth seeing is the 15th-century Palazzo Senatorio, the former town hall of Caltagirone.