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Myths and earth’s products

Gods’ and mythological characters’ stories are completely intertwined with the earth’s products: see Cerere, the goddess of cultivated land and of wheat, to Dionysus, the god who gave men wine. Travelling between history, mythology and traditional cuisine this itinerary will guide you through unique archeological findings and through the reconstruction of symbols and traditions relating to food.

Day 1: arrival in Enna, check in in hotel. In the afternoon visit to the town, including Cerere’s Rock, the highest peak of the Erei Mountains, dedicated to Cerere, the goddess of harvest, worshipped in all Sicily. The cult of Cerere (Demeter in the Greek mythology) had here a fundamental importance and wheat is still cultivated here. At the end of the city visit, a tasting of local products: wine, home baked bread and cheese. Overnight stay at the hotel.

Day 2: breakfast in hotel and off to a day to spend in Pergusa. Here the landscape is very pleasant with a wonderful lake, the woods, the village and the hills covered with vineyards and olive trees. This landscape was the scenery to Persephone’s rape (Prosperpina for the Romans) and this is the land where Aristeus, in his exile, introduced olive trees; the experimental field of Villa Zagaria represents the best present expression of the importance of this plant. In a delightful scenery, between the lake and the Etna, this experimental field is an “open air library”, a very important agricultural and scientific repertoire of all existing species of olive trees. Later visit to a country guest house, built on an aristocratic 19th century mansion, former military building and convent. The building, carefully restored, today houses a fully organic farm, with cultivated land, woods and a wonderful plantation where the olive trees are grown that give extra virgin oil. Lunch with traditional food. Afternoon free. Overnight stay at the hotel.

Day 3: breakfast in hotel and Leonforte, in order to see the town, its historic center, the churches and small streets. Not to be missed is the church of the minor friars’ convent with the masterpiece by Pietro Novelli, the painting of “Matthias’ Election to Apostle”. Worth visiting is also St. Joseph’s Church, with frescoes by Guglielmo Borremans and the Main Church. The local cuisine can count on very special agricultural productions as the late peach, the black lentil and the celebrated broad bean, which has a relation with the myth of the underworld , as it was considered a vehicle for the dead’s souls. The typical agricultural products will be the main focus of a visit to a farm whose mission is the safeguard of biodiversity and of the “jewels of the Enna hills”. Visit to the farm and tastings.

NOT OT BE MISSED:

If your stay is before Easter

Good Friday celebrations in Enna: starting at 16.30 the city fraternities walk the streets in a given order, carrying the “coffin” with the representation of the dead Christ, accompanied by the grieving Mary. The town bands play funeral marches in a very emotional atmosphere, while the procession reaches the graveyard where all participants are blessed with the Holy Thorn.

Easter Sunday in Enna: The Peace Procession is very touching; the Holy Virgin and the Resurrected Christ are carried by the fraternities and finally meet in front of the Cathedral.

If your stay is in March:

St Jospeh’s Altars in Leonforte. All the town participates at the celebration which occurs on 19th of March; on the afternoon of the 18th and later in the night until dawn, joyful groups rave the roads in search of the altars, set tables with decorated breads, early fruit and vegetables, drinks and desserts. On the 19th at noon there is the final ceremony with the distribution of food to the “saints”: this sharing of food recalls the Last Supper.

If your stay is in July:

Holy Mary of the Visitation in Enna: it is the celebration of Mary of the Visitation which occurs on the 2nd of July; the feast starts with 101 cannon shots which awaken the population at 7 am and continue to accompany the faithful who crowd the streets of the town center for participating in the procession of the statue of the Holy Mary, covered in golden and precious stones jewels, which are part of the Dome’s Treasure. During the celebration over 100 barefooted men, known as “the naked” carry the statue on their shoulders from the Dome to the Church of Montesalvo; the statues of St. Zacharias and St. Elisabeth come out running from this church in order to meet the Virgin. Typical of this feast are the cannon volleys, shot from the squares where the procession stops. The Virgin is guest of her older cousins, Zacharias and Elisabeth, for two Sundays and then goes back to the Dome with a similar procession.

TO BE SEEN IS NEIGHBOURING TOWNS

Villa Romana del Casale, Piazza Armerina. One of the most important recent archeological discoveries, which brought to light one of the best preserved Roman villas in the world. Dating from IV century a.C. the villa was built on a country farm dating from the first half of III century a.C. where crops were grown. The villa is now part of the UNESCO World Heritage List and is a unique masterpiece of history of art; its over 40 floors covered in polychrome mosaic are of enormous importance both for the mastery of the composition and  for the subjects they depict which have a strong emotional impact on viewers and allow them a fundamental insight in Roman everyday life.

Arceological Museum in Aidone. The museum is set in a former convent dating back to XVII century. The museum collects all findings from Morgatina and the Cittadella hills. The findings have their origins in the centuries between IX and V century b.C. and they testify the co-existence of Sicilian and Greek cultures in town. Among other pieces the museum keeps the “Ecce Homo Head” (attributed to Fra Umile da Petralia) which changes expression when seen from different angles, the magnificent major altar in golden wood, the two archaic Greek acroliths (two heads, three hands and three feet, all in marble)  likely belonging to Demeter and Kore, and finally the Goddess of Morgantina, who had the spotlights on her for being stolen in the middle of last century and sold to the Getty Museum which, after long controversies was given back to her “homeland” in March 2011.

Archeological Site of Morgantina. The visit to these ruins allow the tourist to discover an ancient city which had its climax in the III century b.C. and which was abandoned four centuries later. The park embraces a small valley and the hills which surround it: the visitor can clearly distinguish the agora, a small theatre, and, on a hill, some mosaic. It is advisable to combine the visit to the site with that to Aidone Museum where most of the findings of the excavation in Morgantina are gathered.