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123km round trip – allow 1 full day

Leave Enna and follow directions for Calascibetta.

Calascibetta – Benefiting from a glorious setting which consists of a natural amphitheatre nestling in a rocky hollow on the side of a hill, Calascibetta was probably founded during the Arab occupation.

The Mother Church erected in the 14th century was completely rebuilt after an earthquake in the 1600s. Remains of the former structure lie under the building, only visible below the left nave. Its three naves are divided by stone columns which rise from bases bearing carvings of monstruous figures to support the arcades of pointed arches. To the left is a fine 1500’s baptismal font.

A Norman tower of the 11th century standing beside the ruined Chiesa di S. Pietro, is ornamented with a shallow relief in stone. From a square, on the left, extends a beautiful view on Enna, to the right (its castle and panoramic balcony being clearly visible) and the Pergusa Lake below.

Leaving the village in the direction of Villapriolo you can see the rock-cut tombs of the necropolis of Realmese dating from the 4th century BC.

Return to the crossroad and take the left turning (SS 121) for Leonforte. The road winds its way inland across the hills around Enna beyond Regalbuto, offering wonderful views over the countryside, particularly on the section between Nissoria and the turning for Centuripe, in the valley of the Salso River and of the Pozzillo Lake.

Leonforte – It is a tiny village perched on a hump at some 600m a.s.l. enjoying a superb position. The monumental slhouette of Palazzo Branciforte is discernible from a distance, a powerful reminder of the fact that the town was founded in the 17th century by Nicola Placido Branciforte. The building, dated 1611, runs the whole length of one side of the enormous piazza of the same name. Of particular interest is the lovely fountain of Granfonte built by the Branciforte family in 1651; made of gold-colored stone it comprises 24 spouts, a series of small pointed arches crowned with a pediment bearing the family coat of arms.

Turn back down the same road, and at the fork, turn left for Assoro.

Assoro – At a height of 850m, the town is grouped around the little Piazza Umberto I, attractively paved, with a fountain in the centre and a lovely belvedere-terrace. Beyond the elegant archway linking Palazzo Valguarnera to the town’s main church, is another little square with viewing terrace, which opens out before the Chiesa Madre, or Basilica di San Leone (now closed for restoration). The church, founded in 1186, has been subjected to major alterations: first in the late 1300’s and again in the 1700’s. It consists of a nave and aisles and has a doorway on the south side. The north porch was adapted in 1693 so as to accomodate the Cappella dell’Oratorio del Purgatorio and given an elegant Baroque doorway. The interior enclosed by a fine ribbed-vault, is particularly attractive on account of its compactness and profuse gilded Baroque stucco decoration. The spiral columns were in fact embellished with their climbing plant ornament in the 18th century, at the same time as when the pelican (right) and the phoenix (left) were added above the apses – these emblems allude to the sacrifice of the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Christ; the first represents the bird which, according to myth, plucked flesh from its own breast to feed its young while the second fabulous creature having burnt itself to ashes on altar fire, re-emerged rejuvenated.

The main body of the church has a fine wooden tie beam ceiling, painted and ornamented with arabesques (1490); the attractive wrought-iron chapel gates (15th century) are also worthy of note.

Beyond the town, follow the road past San Giorgio which intersects the SS 121 again at Nissoria. Turn right towards Agira.

Agira – Spread over the slopes of Monte Teja, at a height of 650m, the town is overshadowed by the silhouette of the castle, which towers above it. Built under Swabian rule, this defensive outpost appears to have played an active role in various struggles between the Angevines and the Aragonese, and later between the Aragonese and the Chiaramonte. From the ruins, there is a beautiful view over the Pozzillo Lake.

Town and monastery – The story of Agira, home of the ancient historian Diodorus Siculus (90-20 BC), echoes the pattern in fortune of the Basilian monastery of San FIlippo. It came to particular prominence when, during the Norman occupation, the resident community was joined by a group of monks from Jerusalem who were forced into exile by the wrath of Saladin. The monastery also prospered on account of the enormous income generated by its immense holdings throughout Europe. In 1537, Charles V conceded the title of “città demaniale” upon Agira, providing it with a “royal” status complete with privileges that included the right to administrate its own civil and penal justice system. The town’s decline began in 1625 when King Philip IV of Spain, in a desperate effort to boost the dwindling finances of the monarchy, decided to sell the town to Genoese merchants; faced with the threat of losing their freedom, the citizens of Agira offered to raise the enormous sum required themselves.

Chiesa Madre – The former monastic Church of San Filippo is the town’s most important religious bulding. It dates in its present form from the late 1700’s and early 1800’s (the front was completely rebuilt in 1928). Inside, it is decorated with gilded stuccowork; among the works of art is a dramatic wooden Crucifix by Fra’ Umile da Petralia (over the high altar), wooden choirstalls depicting scenes from the life of St. Philip by Nicola Bagnasco (1818-1822), three 1400’s polyptych panels representing the Madonna in Majesty with Saints, as well as paintings by Olivio Sozzi and Giuseppe Velasquez.

Regalbuto – Coming from Agira, the visitor is welcomed by the fine Baroque pink-stone façade of Santa Maria La Croce (1744), that is graced with columns crowned by an elegant pediment. Turning left into Via Ingrassia, immediately on the left-hand side is the Jesuit school and, just beyond it, the Liberty style Palazzo Compagnini. A little further, the town’s main square provides a board open space before the Chiesa Madre (1760), from which to survey the monumental Baroque frontage of the church dedicated to St. Basil assembled from a miscellany of features, articulated by pilasters.

From the SS 121, a narrow road winds its twisted way to Centuripe.

Centuripe - The little town which today seems rather off the beaten track, was at one time in the dark and distant past a strategic outpost on the main link-line between the plain of Catania and the mountains inland. This explains why, particularly in the Roman age, Centuripe enjoyed a great economic prosperity (in 70 BC Cicero described it as one of the most prosperous town in Sicily). Many of the town’s attractive monuments date back to that time. The Tempio degli Augustali, dating from between the 1st – 2nd century AD is a rectangular building raised above a colonnaded street onto which it faced (alongside the new archaeological museum). The two monumental tombs with towers are known as “la Dogana” (with only the upper floor visible) and the “castle of Conradin”. Down a stone-cobbled side street on the far north-western side of the town, in the contrada of Bagni, sit the ruins of what must once have been a spectacular nymphaeum hanging above the ravine of the river, with fountains designed to delight visitors approaching the town. A brick wall containing five niches, the remains of a cistern in which water was collected and parts of the aqueduct are still visible.

Finally, the vast majority of artefacts recovered from the 8th century BC to the Middle Ages and destined to be displayed in the modern building that will accomodate the Museo Archeologico, are, for the time being, “in storage” somewhere in the Town Hall, a limited selction is however open to the public. Of particular interest are the statues from the Tempio degli Augustali representing various emperors and members of their families; a fine head of Emperor Hadrian which, given its size, must have belonged to a statue of at least 4m; two splendid funerary urns belonging to the Scriboni family (almost certainly imported from Rome); locally produced pottery (3rd –1st century BC) and an impressive collection of theatrical masks.

To return to Enna from Centuripe, continue in the direction of Catenanuova and take the motorway.



Gagliano Castelferrato
Piazza Armerina
Valguarnera Caropepe


Monti Erei
Villa Romana Del Casale

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