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Piazza Armerina

Piazza Armerina (Ciazza in the local Gallo-Italic language, Chiazza in Sicilian) is an Italian town of 21 696 inhabitants of the free municipal consortium of Enna in Sicily and is the seat of a bishop with an extensive diocese. The territory of Piazza Armerina rises on a height of the southern Erei mountains, in the central-eastern part of Sicily, at an altitude of 697 m. Until 1927 it was the capital of an extensive district and sub-prefecture, when the province of Enna had not yet been established, to which it was incorporated.

The Nature of Piazza Armerina

The city of Piazza Armerina is surrounded, in addition to the forests of the Ronza Park and other woods, by other sites of prosperous nature, such as the Olivo dam, an artificial basin created for irrigation purposes, or the archaeological site of Montagna di Marzo, also wrapped in it in the green. A few kilometers from the inhabited center insists the Rossomanno Oriented Nature Reserve Grottascura Bellia, much of which falls precisely in the Armerino territory. This last reserve embraces the woods of Rossomanno, which takes its name from the homonymous mountain. In the protected area, a thick forest with small streams, there are several paths, which have recently been traced again to encourage hiking and trekking activities. Not to mention that in a limited radius there is also the Mining Park of Floristella-Grottacalda where you can enjoy the industrial archeology immersed in nature, and the Lake of Pergusa, framed by the enchanting reserve of the same name with high naturalness.

pupi ballerini in natural reserve Rossomanno
“Pupi Ballerini” in natural reserve Rossomanno. Pupi Ballerini means literally Dancing Babies

Late history of Piazza Armerina

After the death of the Grand Prior and the end of the Martini age and then of the Trastamara to these successors, Piazza obtained the title of free Universitatae, as promised by Queen Bianca of Navarra, second wife of the young king Martin I. The city was endowed with his own senate and autonomous from the decisions of the castellania imposed by the tyrant Cabrera, great almirante of the kingdom, who had provided after the death (probably by him hatched) of the Grand Prior to appoint Castellano, against the royal will and of the piazzese people, one of his allies a faithful Alfonso De Cardines, already captain of the stronghold of Gaeta, but this was prevented by the Piazzesi and Don Giovanni Suriano’s cousin the Grand Prior, that is Don Angelo Antonio, who raised the population against the Cabrera, the castle was isolated with a long siege . Thus it was that the De Cardines family never dared to take possession of the castle or to inhabit it. The stronghold became, under the Bourbon government, a prison. The Città di Piazza, which became free Universitatae, is the seat of the senate and the courts, as it was during the period of Frederick II. In 1517 Charles V granted the title of City, with the official name of Urbs Opulentissima. In memory of the remarkable Catalan structure that favored the richness of the territory, in the city of Piazza there is still a “Catalan gate”. In this period, Piazza is the capital of a Comarca that unites the various Lombard countries, having in common a common language and history. From 1689 until 1817 it is the seat of the fourth University of the Kingdom. Since 1817 it is also the seat of a bishopric with a vast diocese, while it obtains the title of Armerina in 1863. Lost its hegemony over the territory it was merged with the Valley of Caltanissetta and from 1926 it passed to the Province of Enna.

Frederik II of Svevia
Frederik II of Svevia. King of Normans in Sicily.

Religious buildings in Piazza Armerina

Piazza Armerina is a city of art with a strong tourist appeal for its valuable archaeological, historical, artistic and natural heritage, known as the “City of the Mosaics and the Palio dei Normanni”, it is one of the 21 candidates for the title of “Capital Italian of Culture 2018”.

  • Cathedral of Piazza Armerina, dedicated to Maria Santissima Delle Vittorie, is a large cult building of mixed Gothic, Mannerist and Baroque style, with a bell tower 40 m high dating back to the 15th century, already related to the previous church, where it was built the current cathedral.
  • Church of San Rocco (also known as “Fundrò”), dating back to 1613, with a bell tower and a rich Baroque portal. The premises of the adjoining Benedictine monastery house the municipal offices.
  • Church of S. Ignazio, was the first dedicated to the church after the beatification. The works for the construction of the factory date back to 1600. The monastery was annexed to the church which, under the Jesuits, in 1689, started a university course. Currently the premises of the former monastery partly hosted a middle school and partly the Municipal Library with the “Exhibition of the ancient book”.
piazza armerina cathedral in the night
The Cathedral of Piazza Armerina dedicated to Virgin Maria Santissima delle Vittorie

Archeological sites near Piazza Armerina

The most important site is the Roman Villa of Casale : a late antique residential building, popularly called a villa despite not having the characteristics of an out-of-town Roman villa but rather of a noble or imperial urban palace, whose remains are located about four kilometers from the town. Since 1997, with its famous mosaics, it is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. For the realization of the splendid mosaics of the villa, African (and perhaps even Roman) masters worked, as evidenced by some reasons of definitely urban derivation, covering an extension of about 3500 m².

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