Following the traces of the yellow gold
Together with agriculture, mining has probably been the main productive activity this territory has ever had.
The mining tradition in the 18th century, when sulphur became highly requested for producing pyric powder, changed the landscape through galleries, pits, descents, Gill ovens; and, furthermore, it changed social organisation. To come in touch with the history of sulphur and of its miseries introduces travellers to an emotional journey, connecting industrial archaeology, architecture, social and cultural history.
1st day: arrival in Enna, check in in hotel. In the afternoon tour of the town centre including the magnificent Castle of Lombardia, Fredrick II’s Tower and the many churches among which the most important for historical and artistic reasons are the Church of San Francesco di Paola, with a statue of the Madonna of Loreto and a bust of St. Francis by Gagini, the Cathedral of Enna, built on the ruins of a Persephone’s temple, or the Church of St. Michael Archangel, a former Arab mosque whose façade is in Spanish colonial style. Before or after dinner we propose to taste a good glass of wine at the literary café Al Kenisa, an evocative café in the hearth of the old town, former mosque now deconsecrated church with stuccos of the beginning of 1700 and a mysterious crypt.
Overnight stay at the hotel.
2nd day: breakfast in hotel and transfer to the Mine Park of Floristella – Grottacalda, living memory of the sulphur mines and its miners. In this very large area stand Pennisi Palace, the mansion of the former owners, galleries, pits, descents, Gill ovens and a 400 hectares park of great naturalistic interest. The visit to the Park, guided tours can be organised, lasts approximately two hours and consists of a walking circuit leading from the Palace to the remains of archaeological industry. At the end of the visit lunch can be organised at the nearby farm, which produces olive oil and vegetables and proposes menus based on home-grown organic products. In the afternoon transfer to Piazza Armerina for the visit at the permanent exhibition of mining civilisation born with the goal of safeguarding the traditions of sulphur extraction. Sulphur crystals, mock-ups of the ovens, old tools and photographs guide visitors in a travel towards the discovery of the mining activities that strongly influenced Sicily in the past. Late in the afternoon transfer to Enna.
Overnight stay at the hotel.
3rd day: breakfast in hotel and transfer to the Train-Museum of Villarosa, a very special exhibition, staged in a freight wagon inside the former train station of Villarosa with an audio tour introducing visitors to the collection of everyday objects of common use in mines and in the miners’ homes at the beginning of last century. Lunch can be planned in a nearby farm that creates seasonal menus with local products, both vegetables, fruit, cheese and salumi, cured meats, and bread and pasta made according to old traditions with local grains, ground in a local stone mill. If you have spare time you can visit the Castel of Barresi in Pietraperzia and the ‘valley of gypsum furnaces’ in the narrow valley of Marano creek.
End of the proposed services.
NOT TO BE MISSED
If your stay is before Easter:
From Good Friday to Easter, Enna. These are very old celebration that go back to the Spanish domination (1600-1800), when confraternities already existed, first as workers’ corporations and later as religious movements promoting the Catholic cult and faith. In Enna there were 34 confraternities, now they are 15, each featuring its own outfit and colors; from Palm Sunday onwards each of the confraternities goes every day to the Cathedral for adoring the Holy Sacrament, according to an established calendar. Not to be missed is the procession of the confraternities on Good Friday, a very evocative moment attended by the whole community.
“Lu sugniri di li fasci” , Pietraperzia. un immenso crocifisso, sorretto da un globo colorato simbolo della rinascita, al cui fercolo, come voto, sono annodate centinaia di fasce bianche , conservate e tramandate nei decenni in ciascuna famiglia. In uno spettacolo quasi surreale , “Lu signuri di li fasci”, con i suoi nastri tirati , quasi a formare una montagna, si muove tra le vie strette , accompagnato dai canti e dalle nenie dei fedeli; è questo senza dubbio una delle celebrazioni più suggestive del verdì santa, in terra siciliana.
a huge Crucifix, on the base of which rests a globe (symbol of rebirth) and to which hundreds of white bands are tied. These trail down and form a sort of skirt for the crucifix. During the procession the bands that pass through a ring just below the globe are held at both ends by followers to balance the unstable structure. Each band corresponds to a family, and the bands often represent vows. This is probably one of the most suggestive celebration of the whole Sicily.
If you travel during April:
The procession of the Madonna delle Vittorie, Piazza Armerina. Every year on the last Sunday of April, a copy of the sacred icon the Holy Virgin of Victories is brought in procession from the Sanctuary in Piazza Vecchia with an evocative 2 km route until the Church of the Guardian Angels to be worshipped by all religious people and then brought back on the 3 May, the day of the Feast, when the Holy Image is brought back to the Sanctuary while the local population celebrates this rite with great devotion and conviviality.
If you travel during July:
Holy Mary of the Visitation, Enna: It is the Feast of the Madonna celebrated on 2 July. The celebration starts with 101 cannon shots which wake up the town at 7 a.m. and then go on while the local population crowds the roads to watch the procession of the statue of the Virgin Mary, full of jewels, gold and precious stones, part of the Treasure of the Cathedral. During the celebration over one hundred men, barefoot, carry the statue from the Cathedral to the Curch of Montesalvo. The statues of St. Zacharias and St. Elisabeth come out running to welcome Mary. During the procession more cannon shots accompany the pauses that the Procession does. The Virgin is hosted by her two older cousins, Zacharias and Elisabeth for two following Sundays after the 2 of July and is then carried back to the Dome with a similar Procession.
If you travel during August:
La Madonna della Cava, Pietraperzia. The patron saint of Pietraperzia is our Lady of the Cave: according to the tradition her portrait painted on a sandstone was found in a cave. The person who found it, who used to be dumb, gained back the faculty to speak. After this miracle, pilgrimages – often barefoot - started towards the countryside sanctuary, 4 km away from the village. The Holy Mass is very evocative and it is celebrated in the night between the 14 and the 15 of August, day of the Assumption.
NOT TO BE MISSED IN THE SURROUNDING AREA
Villa Romana del Casale, Piazza Armerina. one of the most outstanding archaeological finds of the recent years was the discovery of one of the best preserved Roman villas. Dating back to 4th century A.C., the villa was built on top of a previous farm (first half of 3rd century A.C.), where crops were grown. This links the villa to Ceres’ cult, the goddess of wheat and of agriculture. The Villa is part of the UNESCO World Heritage List and is a unique document of the history of art, for its over 40 mosaic floors which allow visitors to gain a rich and surprising knowledge of the life in Ancient Romans’ life.
Archaeological Museum, Aidone: Created in a former Capuchin Covent of 1600. The museum preserves the finding of Morgantina and the Cittadella hills, which originated between 9th and 5th century and testify the co-existence of Siculan and Greek culture in the ancient town. Here is kept the celebrated Goddess of Morgantina, after having been brought back from the US. The statue had been stolen in the second half of 1900 and later bought by Paul Getty Museum which finally gave it back in 2011.
Morgantina Archaeological site. Morgantina city reached the climax of its development in 3rd century B.C. to be abandoned 4 centuries later. Visitors can discover the agora, a theatre, and some mosaic while findings are generally kept in the Museum of Aidone.