Caltagirone is a city in the province of Catania of about 39 thousand inhabitants which rises to 611 meters on a relief of the Erei Mountains.

Background

Famous thanks to the Arabs who imported ceramics, its origins are even more ancient: many Greek and Sicilian coins have been found and monumental testimonies of even prehistoric necropolises. As in other cities, numerous dominations have followed one another here, although some of the finds are really rare: we are talking about the Roman, Byzantine and Saracen periods.

In this regard, let’s open a parenthesis on the help that the Maritime Republic of Genoa gave in order to free the city from the latter. This would be exactly the reason why the Caltagirone coat of arms would have adopted the addition of a giant bone caught between the eagle’s talons and the red crusader shield on a white background, supported by two griffins; the Genoese, on the other hand, built a temple to their patron St. George right at the top of the city. This happened in 1030.

The Muslims returned to dominate the city again, until in 1090 it was definitively liberated by Roger the Norman.
After the Normans, the city underwent the domination of the Swabians and then of the Angevins (expelled from the island following the Sicilian Vespers).

Baron Gualtiero di Caltagirone during vespers fought extenuatingly for Sicilian independence, to the point that Pietro D’Aragona having discovered and arrested him with other conspirators, decapitated him on May 22, 1283 in the Piano di San Giuliano, today Piazza Umberto .

Caltagirone in the following centuries became the epicenter of illustrious visits. The Infante Giacomo I of Aragon visited it twice, like Frederick III did.

Unfortunately in 1542 an earthquake shook the city, never like the terrible earthquake of 1693 which caused very serious damage and destroyed many buildings.
At the time of the reconstruction Caltagirone maintained its late Renaissance structure represented by the crux viarum, constituted vertically by the Scala Santa Maria del Monte and the Corso, and horizontally by the streets of S. Giorgio and San Giacomo.

After the reconstruction, the city witnesses the birth of a modern and luxurious building contrasted with peripheral and very poor neighborhoods. For this reason the Vittorio Emanuele II public garden was built on a project signed by Giovan Battista Filippo Basile.

From the 1700s to the 1900s the city had a political, social and cultural role. In this regard, we mention the Civic Museum at the Bourbon Prison, the Museum of Contemporary Art at the Women’s Hospital, the Museum of Caltagironesi and Sicilian Historic Villas at Villa Patti and the International Museum of the “Luigi Colaleo Collection” Nativity Scene at the former Elementary School. S. Luigi, the Naturalistic Museum in the hamlet of Santo Pietro and the Hoffman Museum. The Regional Museum of Ceramics is the only one in Sicily.

Folklore

Today Caltagirone is mainly known for its precious ceramic objects with which everything is really done and its beautiful staircase.
Many religious and non-religious events are held, including Easter and the traditional “Passion of Christ”; then there is “La Scala Infiorata” which is set up in May on which a giant design is produced with flowers that takes up all 142 steps. The Feast of the Patron Saint San Giacomo which is July 25, with the traditional Illuminated Staircase “Luminaria”. It is achieved by placing 4,000 cylindrical tiles of colored paper with oil lamps on the Scala Santa Maria del Monte. At Christmas, however, everything focuses on the terracotta nativity scene.