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Sicily - The sunny Island

INTRODUCTION

Sicily, region in southern Italy, corresponds to the island bearing the same name, located in the south-central Mediterranean Sea and, more precisely, overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea to the north, the Ionian Sea to the east, the sea to the south of Sicily. It is divided into the provinces of Agrigento, Caltanissetta, Catania, Enna, Messina, Palermo, Ragusa, Siracusa, Trapani. Palermo is the regional capital. Sicily is a special administrative region, with large autonomy, such as Sardinia, Valle d'Aosta, Trentino-Alto Adige and Friuli-Venezia Giulia. There are also administratively the archipelagos of the Aeolian Islands or Lipari (in the province of Messina), the Egadi (in the province of Trapani) and Pelagian Islands (in the province of Agrigento), as well as the isolated Pantelleria (in the province of Trapani) and Ustica (in the province of Palermo). Sicily (which because of its triangular shape was called by the first settlers, the Greeks, Trinacria, meaning “land of the three leaders”), derives its name from the Roman period, from its two main native peoples, the Sicani and the Sicilians.

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The region covers 25,707 km2 (the island itself, the largest in the Mediterranean, to 25,426 km2) and is the largest region in Italy. The density of 199 inhabitants per km2, it is still higher than the national average, which is 191. As is characteristic of all large islands, Sicily draws from his insular nature of the characters that distinguish it from other lands though, north-east end of the island, just two miles of the Strait of Messina, separating them from the Calabria, on 'Italy's mainland. Even on the other side, western, distance from the mainland, in this case the African coast of Tunisia, is not much: 150 km. A geographical position, then, of relative isolation, which has had significant influences on Sicilian history.

TERRITORY

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. The island forms an almost perfect isosceles triangle, ending in the north-east with the tip (or head) of the Lighthouse, at Messina, on the west by the Boeo cape or Lilibeo cape at Marsala (in the province of Trapani), south-east Passero cape. The island has a surface morphology rather complex and irregular, and also the coastal trend is very diverse. The area is nearly two-thirds (61.4%) and hilly for about a quarter (24.5%) mountainous, little space remains, therefore, to the plains, which are all located along the coasts.

The lack of interior “corridors” has prevented over the centuries the connections between the various coastal fronts, in addition to the prospect of three different seas, have failed to establish lasting relationships with each other: even more isolated is of course the left side of island that is coming to Africa. The Tyrrhenian coast, and Messina stopped short of Trapani, is generally high and jagged (immediately behind rise an almost uninterrupted series of reliefs) will open up various gulfs, including those to the east of Patti and Milazzo , and Palermo and Castellammare west. The coast on the sea of ​​Sicily (also called the Sea of ​​Africa), which turns from north-east to south-west, on the other hand is mostly low and sandy, almost straight, and with a hilly hinterland; sometimes has dunes, making it difficult the outlet into the sea of ​​water courses and favour the formation of marshes. There is only one large recess in the Gulf of Gela. The Ionian coast is more varied: tall and straight in the northern section, from Messina to Catania where the mountains sweep down to the sea, the center includes the vast plain of Catania, the largest of the island to the south is mostly low but with various inlets, closed by extremes foothills of the mountains beyond (gulfs of Augusta, Siracusa, Noto). The section includes six main mountain range of the island, very different orientation, the origin and structure of the rocks. In the eastern half of the coastal develop, from east to west, three mountain groups which together are called Sicilian Apennines: the Peloritani, Nebrodi and the Madonie. The Peloritani, consisting of ancient crystalline rocks, constitute a direct continuation of the Apennines of Calabria; occupy the entire north-eastern portion of Sicily, then also looked forward to the Ionian Sea, and have shapes rather harsh, despite the modest height (maximum touches the top just 1374 m). The Nebrodi are formed instead of sandstones and clays, easy erosion and thus determine landscapes with soft lines; shares rise up to 1847m of Mount Soro. Forgiveness towards the west ridge to the trend for weld with a large and massive squat, the Madonie; here the rocks are mainly limestone, with arid plains and frequent karst phenomena, culminating in Pizzo Carbonara, with its 1,979 m, is the highest peak of the Apennines Sicilian. Beyond the foothills of the Madonie Mountains, western Sicily is formed by a dizzying array of hikes, mostly hilly, but sometimes also with impressive elevations, above 1500 m, particularly where they emerge, above the expanse of clay and sandstone marl, more resistant limestone ramparts, locally called “fortresses”, because of their isolated form: thus the Busambra Rock (1610 m). In central Sicily is accentuated irregularities of the relief, however you can distinguish a broad transverse band, just over a plateau of nature arenaceous limestone, which roughly departs from the Madonie and turning towards the south-east of the southern reaches to the very top island. The first formed the Erei, therefore, further south, the vast plateau of the mountains Iblei, the highest share slightly over 1100 m in the first system, not even reach 1000 m in the second. However, represent a significant factor basin, because they form the line of watershed of many rivers that originate there, turning then to the sea of ​​Sicily and the Ionian Sea.

Etna

Etna is the most impressive piece on nature of Sicily. It is an active volcano, the highest in Europe (3323 m), it dominates the eastern coast of the island, has an imposing size, conical in shape, which stands out from far away, showing slopes which become progressively steeper with the move towards the top, whitened with snow for most of the year. Etna dominates the largest and most important plains of Sicily, which has made it fertile with its own volcanic deposits: the plain of Catania. Formed by the floods of the river Simeto and its tributaries, including the Dittaino, the plain of Catania has an area of ​​430 km2, accounting for one fifth of all the plains of the island, other important lowland areas are also the plain of Gela, the sea of ​​Sicily, which has, however, numerous sand dunes, and the Conca d'Oro, which extends Palermo, on the Tyrrhenian Sea.

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Waterways

The particular trend of the survey and the triple break the maritime front insular surface in the catchment areas of limited size. The waterways also having flow only related to the rains, they have a very irregular regime, with floods in winter and early spring, a time when they are not rare flooding from river beds, and especially lean summer very marked. Much of the waterways are rivers with large gravel beds completely dry in the summer months. The most important river of Sicily is the Simeto, born on Nebrodis and is enriched by various tributaries that descend from Etna, wetting the plain of Catania. It is 113 km long and has the largest catchment area: 4169 km2, the largest of the whole southern Italy after the Garigliano. The longest river (144 km), however, is the Imera-Salso, which originates in the Madonie and crosses the island from north to south, resulting in the Sea of ​​Sicily. The Belice drains the most western section of the island (the Val di Mazara).

Climate and Environment

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. While Sicily has a Mediterranean climate in full, subject to the maritime influences, on the other its mountainous and hilly nature also helps to alleviate a short distance from the coast the influence of the sea. In large parts of the island there are very hot summers and winters too rigid - outweigh properly Mediterranean subtropical, tempered by the maritime climate. Fairly uniform throughout the island are also summer temperatures, averaging almost anywhere above 24 ° C (and maximum that can exceed 40 ° C) which of course are lowered to a considerable extent on the reliefs; winters are mild only during the scheduled coastal, averaging about 10 ° C, but they are also cold inside, with temperatures quite frequently fall below zero. As for precipitation, Sicily knows practically only two seasons: rainy, with peaks between November and February, and the dry, with almost no rain between June and August. In addition, the rains are scarce where more would be useful for agriculture, in the coastal plains (about 500 mm per year), in fact the rainfall increases towards the interior, where is about 700 mm, with peaks above 1000 on the reliefs higher.

Flora and fauna

The naturalists do not agree on the extent of past wealth wooded island. the climati conditions and soil have been considered unsuitable for the formation of vast stretches of forest. The forests now account for only 7% of the territory. The typically Mediterranean formation prevails, only where rise reliefs behind it, from which it receives more moisture, so the Tyrrhenian Sea at the foothills of the Apennines Sicilian, and in the Ionian along the foothills of the Peloritani. On the other hand, where accentuates the dryness, and then clearly in a broad band south, overlooking the sea of ​​Sicily, the vegetation is now degraded in grassy steppe, with sparse shrubs and thorny bushes frequently and much of the ground is covered from a grass typical of the North African coast, the throng. The upper limit of the vegetation varies, depending on the greater or lesser degree of humidity, from 400 to 700 m above sea level, above grow oak and chestnut trees, up to 1300-1400 meters. In very narrow areas such Mount Etna, Nebrodi and Madonie mountains, you have beech trees mixed with conifers as well as a particular birch, called Etna. The natural fauna is rather poor, even for the inveterate habit of hunting. We have feral cats, porcupines, foxes, martens, and among birds, hawks and eagles.

ECONOMY

Sicily is among the economically less developed areas of Italy. This is demonstrated by the economic indicators of the region, whose values ​​lie within the average for the other regions of South Italy. Services and connections - the so-called infrastructure - that the economy needs to expand, starting from the means of communication and transportation are relatively sparse. The environmental conditions are certainly not favorable; summer droughts are prolonged and the lack of sufficient water availability for agriculture (as well as for domestic consumption); poor is also the power to promote the industry. The territorial organization, based on large cities to isolated rural economy is not conducive to modernization. Unemployment is high.

Agriculture and Fisheries

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Even in Sicily, as in the rest of the South, the number of workers in the agricultural sector is significantly higher than the national average and against the values ​​of profitability are among the lowest (the lack of water and irrigation systems in general is a factor decisive). However, agriculture maintains its decisive role in the regional economy. There is a certain restructuring of the production on a more rational basis, but in principle the agriculture continues to record two opposite segments and uncoordinated: a coastal area with intensive cultivation and specialised companies and a small and medium size one, intended the production of citrus fruits, vines and other woody plants such as almonds, beans, and vegetables, and a large indoor area, with companies large surface area, occupied by extensive cereal. Considering the surface placed in culture, Sicily has the record for cereals, while it is preceded (although very little) from Puglia for woody crops. However, the yields are on average so low - even lower than those of other regions of the South - and for the production of wheat is preceded by Puglia, Marche, Emilia-Romagna. Quite the opposite is true for the sectors of horticulture and woody crops. Sicily is the first producer of oranges, with half of national production, coming for the most part by two highly specialised areas, the Palermo area and the Catanese-Syracuse; also holds the record or is at the top places for various other products ( grapes, olives, eggplant, zucchini, and vegetables in general): in addition to the areas already mentioned, even the Ragusa area, at the foot of the mountains Iblei is horticultural area of ​​high concentration. The grapes are largely intended for direct consumption (table grapes) while the wine is traditionally mostly used as a “blending wine” to reinforce others, while also delivering high quality products, such as the Corvo di Salaparuta. It has international fame Marsala, a fortified wine that you get in the homonymous area of ​​Trapani, on the western end of the island. Along with Puglia, Sicily is the only region in the South with a true vocation for fishing. It is at the first place in Italy, providing more than a quarter of the total catch. Traditional fishing is tuna, practiced in the past with archaic systems, as well as that of the swordfish. Particularly high is the capture of crustaceans. The main fishing port on the island and perhaps Italy is Mazara del Vallo, in the province of Trapani, whose vessels operate even on distant seas.

Mineral Resources and Industry

The region has no shortage of mineral resources, even together with Tuscany and Sardinia is the only region with a certain budget in this area. Traditional mining was for decades one due to the deposits of sulfur, for which Sicily boasted in past times even excellent international locations, but the growing foreign competition reduced as the cost of the Sicilian sulphur. Other underground resources are potassium salts and hydrocarbons (oil and natural gas, with main area in Ragusa), the first well was put into operation in 1957. The deposits soon proved much more modest expectations, in the meantime, however, was achieved, but with a very high input of the state capital, a powerful refining industry, while all manufacturing sectors remained practically neglected. The complex chemical and petrochemical, who now work primarily raw material import, have very little influence in creating new jobs (between industries luck with non-regional capital you can even remember the FIAT car plant in Termini Imerese, in the province of Palermo), and finally in recent years has expanded far beyond the building sector, often abusive, which then subjected to greater controls, showed a very serious crisis. In the absence of a coordinated internal distribution network, it is even more detrimental to the Sicilian companies remoteness from large markets to purchase the North of Italy and abroad. Manufacturing activities are fragmented into a myriad of companies that produce largely for local consumption. Mainly include oil mills, pasta factories, canneries of vegetables and fish, small wineries, textiles and mechanical properties.

Activities, services and commerce

While it is a very high number of employees in public administration, weak productivity of the business sector, in small fragmented and poorly coordinated activity in the face of international competition but also nationally (supermarkets, hypermarkets). Tourism has an excellent chance, both for the exceptional scenery and monuments that Greeks, Romans, Arabs and Normans have left on the island. Agrigento, Segesta and Selinunte, have remains of Ancient Greece, or even the Arab and Norman in Palermo. But this wealth is not an adequate protection of the historical and artistic heritage, as evidenced, for example, the case of the many homes built illegally to deface the magnificent Greek temples of Agrigento, and that of the collapse of the dome of one of the greatest expressions of Baroque art in Sicily, the Cathedral of Noto, in the province of Syracuse. Tourism is directed primarily towards Messina and Taormina. The region has good harbours, especially in the north and east, with the triangle Palermo-Messina-Catania, but even more international and national communications remain unsatisfactory. Almost all traffic is channeled through the Strait of Messina, Messina-Reggio Calabria on, but the services of ferries are insufficient, especially in the summer. To overcome the difficulties of communication, the idea is revived from time to throw a bridge over the Strait (or to build an underwater tunnel), with multiple versions of projects. The busiest port of Augusta is at Syracuse, however, used almost exclusively to oil movement. The land routes are likely to increase the separation between Sicily and the inner coast. The main railway lines are the Palermo-Messina, Messina-Syracuse, and diagonally, the Palermo-Catania. Of highways, the Palermo-Catania (which then connects with the Catania-Messina) touches Enna and tries to revitalise the inland areas, while the trunk Palermo-Mazara del Vallo serve the small “capital” fishing island, which it is also the end point of the pipeline from Algeria. It is not yet completed the Tyrrhenian coast Palermo-Messina, which began in decades, which also strongly penalises tourism, as well as the non-motorway Catania-Siracusa. It is also hoped, above all, the connection to the south coast. The region has three airports: that Fontanarossa, which is the busiest and Palermo-Punta Raisi and in Trapani-Birgi Airport.

POPULATION AND CITY

Sicily is placed among the most populous regions of Italy, after Lombardy and Campania. The island has experienced epic migrations in the late nineteenth and the early twentieth century to the Americas, and with other directions in the period 1951-71, when the phenomenon of migration has affected about one million inhabitants, that is, one-fifth of the population. Now the flows are practically exhausted, while Sicily still has a birth rate among the highest in Italy. The distribution of the population sees favoring the coastal areas, especially the Tyrrhenian and the Ionian, there are located all major cities (and the only ones to exceed 100,000 inhabitants), starting from the regional capital, Palermo. The average density of Sicily is high, with 198 inhabitants per km2, however, you pass by a little more than 70-130 people per km2 in the provinces of Enna and Caltanissetta 250-300 of those of Palermo and Catania. Also vary to some extent the forms of settlement: while in the northern and eastern coasts is quite widespread small village and small-medium or isolated farm in the countryside, with a distribution thus more widespread in the territory, in the interior and in the south of island prevail large agglomerations, placed at some distance from each other, which some geographers have called the “city farming”, to indicate their poor urban functions and the prevalence - at least in the past - of a population devoted to his work in the fields. However, there are in Sicily cities rich in history and vibrant, modern traits, although the rush to the cities in the second half of the century exaggerated urban growth, which occurred often, as in Palermo and Catania, in a disorderly manner. Palermo stands out clearly by population, with its 655,000 inhabitants (it is the fifth largest city in Italy, the second in Southern Italy after Naples), is primarily a city of tertiary activities, particularly linked to the management of public capital of a region of self-administration. Follow Catania (341,000 inhabitants), dynamic city enriched by its fertile plain, small metropolis in competition with Palermo (port activity, airport, tourist, with the food industry, textile, engineering, universities, local press), Messina (243,000 inhabitants), which takes advantage of its location and good lines of communication to enhance trade and tourism, and finally Syracuse (120,000 inhabitants), a city in rapid population growth, especially with the coordination function of a highly industrialized area (oil port and complex petrochemical pole of the Augusta-Priolo). The other five capitals do not reach the 70,000 inhabitants: Enna not even 30,000. They rely almost exclusively on agricultural activities of their surroundings Enna, Caltanissetta, Ragusa, all inland cities; Trapani and its province, Mazara del Vallo, are good fishing ports (but the most important city of Trapani and Marsala, with 80,500 inhabitants ). Agrigento, on a hill a short distance from the southern coast, has linked his name above all to the archaeological complex, comparable only to those of ancient Greece. In addition to the capitals and those already reported, - all about 40-50,000 inhabitants - Bagheria, Cefalù and Monreale, near Palermo, the centers of production of citrus fruits and vegetables of Acireale and Paternò (in the province of Catania) , cereal and horticultural those of Modica and Victoria (in the province of Ragusa) and the stopover port of Milazzo, in the province of Caltanissetta Gela, whose population (74,600 inhabitants), drawn from the recent industrialization of the city, is higher than that of the capital .

HISTORY

The first inhabitants of Sicily, the Sicani, the Elimi and the Sicilians, populations are of uncertain origin, certainly not native: prehistoric age the Aeolian Islands were affected by the emergence of numerous settlements, trade-related and linked to the cultures of Aegean. With these people met and clashed the Phoenician sailors landed for reasons of trade on the entire island, and then the Greek colonisers: the latter was the foundation of colonies such as Naxos, Syracusai, Selinunte, Gela, Lipara, which took place between the sixth and fourth centuries BC. From the Greek domination of Sicily took an imprint essential for the later development, although it was soon countered by the arrival of the Carthaginians, who settled in the western area, where the foundations were laid for the establishment of an integrated city. When the Carthaginians destroyed the embryonic political organization of the Greeks, only the city of Syracuse resisted under the tyranny of Dionysius and, indeed, extended its control to the area of ​​the Strait (fourth century BC) through the creation of a triangle of fortified centers ( Messina, Taormina, Tindari). With the end of the Second Punic War and the conquest of Sicily by Marcello (212 BC), the island came under the domination of the Romans, who divided it into two provinces and cities prerogatives attributed to the different policies according to their greater or lesser degree of loyalty to Rome. But in substance were scarce cultural contributions of the first phase of Romanization, so that the region retained for a long time peculiar Hellenistic character. This is proved by the fact that no major Sicilian city was founded by the Romans, who instead revolutionised the landscape and agricultural settlements, engineered a compact administrative structure, and introduced an intensive exploitation of the land. In the countryside than in the cities you can see the Roman heritage, as evidenced by the proliferation of small towns and the rise of sumptuous Villae, in the heart of the big estates, among which stands out the one of Piazza Armerina. The island witnessed, after the fall of the Western Empire, an exceptional phenomenon: the return of Greek culture, resulting in the Byzantine Empire and the presence of the Eastern monks, which was enough to restore almost exclusively Greek. But authentic review of the economic and legal structures island was operated by the Arabs, who arrived in Sicily in the first half of the ninth century. The Arab domination of the island was a happy time. This is the period in which new techniques channels allowed to make fundamental innovations in agriculture, trade and intensify the arts flourish, all in an atmosphere of tolerance. All this, of course, the cooking island brings us testimonies. Those dishes are still present on the table today. In the dietary habits of the Arabs were cucumbers, eggplant, pasta and coffee. To them the Sicilians owe: sesame, bean, millet, melons, sugar cane, the date palm and prickly pears. They introduced in the island the cultivation of peaches, apricots, asparagus, rice, pistachio and jasmine. It also seems to date back to that period the complicated technique of fishing for tuna still in use today. It is among the many prosperity that appears the royal pasta, the same name says, is the queen of the Sicilian pastry. At the Arab Sicily succeeds Norman Sicily, the eleventh century, which is characterised by the return under the jurisdiction of the Church of Rome and by the establishment of the feudal system in the country. Feudalism was reinforced in subsequent centuries in its agricultural and landowner, typical of a predominantly cereal, grain inserted into European markets. Sicily became a land of clear aristocratic dominance, both in the countryside and in the city, with hoarding of power such that led, in the west, to the division of sovereignty between two families, the Chiaromonte and the Ventimiglia. The Spanish conquest did not diminish the hegemony of the barons, as they were modest functions of government that Spain ascribed to his viceroy of Sicily, since 1415, the year of the inauguration of the Spanish Government. Thanks to Charles V, Sicily assumed an important role in the control system of the Mediterranean mighty fortifications, roads, measures to increase agricultural production, the choices were implemented in order to defend not only militarily the island. The Spanish government ended in 1713, when the Peace of Utrecht, which ended the war of the Spanish succession, was attributed to the Savoy, whose dominion, ending in 1720, was too short to leave significant traces. After fifteen years of Austrian rule, Sicily was annexed to the Kingdom of Naples in 1735, at the same time the rise of the Bourbons to the throne of Naples. While hosting a viceroy, Palermo saw weakening the ancient privilege of capital that had by then share with Naples. In the eighties of the eighteenth century an energetic viceroy, who grew more radical Enlightenment culture, the Marquis Carlo Caracciolo, started a new political intervention. Its aims was to curb the excessive power of the barons and to build the foundations of an efficient tax system and administration. In the Napoleonic time, the presence of the Bourbons and, above all, the naval protection guaranteed by the British, kept independent from French rule in Sicily: Ferdinand IV in 1812, pressed by the British, granted the constitution to the Sicilians, abolishing the feudal privileges. A reform that connects the origin of the Mafia, the armed wing of the barons who used it as a power, intimidating and violent, parallel to that of the state. The text of 1812 was a constitution traits too aristocratic to be able to become the benchmark of liberal insurgents in 1820-21 and even less of the democratic revolutionaries of 1848: it must be remembered that the revolt of Palermo, in February of that year, was the first of many European uprisings of 1848-49 biennium. United to the Kingdom of Italy by the military of Garibaldi, in 1860, Sicily had to deal with the economic systems of other national areas: the development of sulfur-mines led to the growth of some port cities such as Catania, and laid the first structures of general interest (railways, roads, ports). The history of Sicily in the Republic is marked by different nodes: regional autonomy with the statute of 1946 the separatist movement in post-war claims of various crucible sign in which the Mafia exerted a significant weight, the intervention financed by industrial state (Gela, Augusta) with results below expectations, the spread of the Mafia with frontal attacks on public institutions, culminating at the end of the eighties and since then countered more effectively by the state and by a new anti-mafia culture, and lastly, recent rediscovery of the potential cultural and landscape, just waiting to be fully exploited.

MONUMENTS AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITES

GREEK THEATRE

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The term derives from the greek Theatron, noun that definitely takes origin from the verb theaomai (to observe). Originally, the word referred, therefore, to all the spectators who were arranged in groups to attend the performance, and then, around the fourth century, came to mean the place where the spectators gathered. The greek theatre in Syracuse is a theatre built in the first phase in the fifth century BC on the slopes on the south side of the hill Temenite and rebuilt in the third century BC and again back into Roman times. The reference model for the whole of Sicily is definitely the Magna Greece: the theaters of Syracuse in Sicily, Taormina, Segesta and Eraclea Minoa are nothing more than a reproduction of the Greek model. The city of Athens gave the model: while the Dionysia, shows that were held at the foot of the Acropolis in Athens in honor of Dionysus, however, they performed at the same time in an educational, civic and religious and for this reason were offered free of charge from the polis to citizens, in Sicily instead they failed to recreate the same environment as the scene was always focused on issues of entertainment and community life.

THE CATHEDRAL IN SYRACUSE

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The cathedral of Siracusa is a magnificent example of Sicilian Baroque. It is, however, a particular work as the result of the mixing of different styles. Originally, in fact, the sacred structure was used for worship greek, especially to the cult of Athena: it was built after the victory of Himera in the fifth century BC Gelone, tyrant of Gela, who had the merit of bringing together the two polis under his power, with the proceeds of the war and the use of labor Carthaginian enslaved, built the temple on a former place of worship indigenous, increasing the prestige, even artistic, of Syracuse. In the seventh century the temple changes, however, destination and is transformed into a Christian church dedicated to the Nativity of Mary. The traces of the old style are still evident: a wall fills the space between the columns that formed the perimeter of greek temple, filling a space that was open before (columns); inside, are practiced eight arched openings along the cell , which becomes the central nave, while the Doric columns are still visible on the left side of the church. The church was then also the influences of Arab tradition, that perhaps turned into a mosque, and Norman. The greater part of the change touched, however, the 1693 earthquake that destroyed the entire facade of the church: as it happened in the entire eastern Sicily, this was rebuilt in Baroque style by Andrea Palma. Today, two columns flank, in fact, the main entrance of the Church, with Corinthian capitals and arch, while two pairs of gigantic columns protect the facade in the central part, a column on each side closes the arcades of the aisles. At the top, there is a recreation of the lower model, with the two pairs of columns of the same style and in the same position and the two columns that flank, above the portal, the statue of Mary. The interior, in the right aisle, offering the columns of the ancient temple, as well as some important chapels: - Chapel of the Baptistery, is home to a fine marble baptismal font embellished by seven lions wrought iron of the thirteenth century.; - The chapel of St. Lucia welcomes the silver statue of the saint, by Pietro Rizzo (1599).

VALLEY OF THE TEMPLES OF AGRIGENTO

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The alternation between democracy and tyrannical regimes was certainly bad for social life and for peaceful coexistence among the inhabitants of ancient Agrigento. A dictatorial regime inevitably causes a restriction, and in some cases, cancellation of citizens' freedom, but despite this, it is at these times, however, that is not only maintained the order and the internal development but also the autonomy against polis nearby and even the motherland (Magna Grecia). It must, in fact, the first tyrant of Akragas, Phalaris (570-554 BC), the fortification of the city and the development of it inland. He is best remembered for her wickedness: the practice of bull bronze, in which the sacrificial victim was imprisoned. The bull, an instrument of torture, was heated by fire to cause the death of its host between heartrending cries that flowed through an opening at the mouth of the animal, creating a sound similar to a bellow. Or the tyrant Theron (488-471 BC) that pushes the boundaries of the polis to the top of the island and to celebrate the victory of Himera over the Carthaginians in 480 BC decreed the building of the temple of Olympian Zeus. His death closes the tyrannical phase and opens the way for the democracy, propitiated by the philosopher Empedocles who refuses the power offered to him by the people and embraces the cause of public affairs. These events along the course of the fifth century BC created an important artistic heritage, known all over the world: the Valley of the Temples, consists of the remains of seven temples in Doric style, a symbol of strength and wealth of the city. The temples have survived many vicissitudes: the fire set by the Carthaginians in 406 BC which has been remedied in the first century BC, the restoration of the Romans, or even earthquakes, not to forget the work of evangelisation supported by Christians, that strong of the promulgation of an edict of the Eastern Emperor Theodosius in the fourth century BC, destroying much of the pagan temples present along the valley (The only exception to this phenomenon is the Temple of Concordia, preserved intact and only escaped the devastation due to its transformation into the Church on VI cent.) and finally, the intervention of destruction of the temples for the construction of other works such as the Church of St. Nicholas was built with material taken from the temple of Olympian Zeus, also called for this Cava dei Giganti.

CALTAGIRONE - City of Ceramics

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The city of Caltagirone is known worldwide for its pottery, art that has its roots in the Greek tradition. Municipality, located in the province of Catania, with its nearly forty thousand inhabitants, is situated halfway between Catania and Gela, between the mountains Iblei and the mountains Erei, a position that allowed him in past ages to assume an important function of filter and control. Thanks to the presence of large and fine buildings, monuments and churches, Caltagirone is one of the municipalities in the Val di Noto, recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. The city bases its economy mainly on tourism and on the production of ceramics: in fact the traveler who comes, surely take notice of the shops and stores that offer vases, little statues and dishes meticulously worked, but mostly the same passion and the same technique revived in homes, palaces, churches: in short, to any direction to move the look! This ubiquitous presence of pottery has been fostered primarily by the topography of the area and the abundance of clay: a feature that allowed the city to specialise in the production of artefacts and pottery, since ancient times, traded throughout the region. Over the centuries, then, the creative art is refined, the methods of production are influenced by the different people who come in contact with it: are learned, in fact, techniques Greek, Cretan (they introduce the lathe to the XI century BC. ) and Arabic. So also the themes of the objects evolve over time: first patterned, then more power symbols of nobility, coats of arms and flowers. The period of greatest splendor can be considered the Norman and Swabian, in which the city is described almost like a fortress located on an inaccessible mountain and surrounded by endless extensions of arable land, at the same time a symbol of strength and wealth. The coat of arms of Caltagirone is the eagle, symbol of freedom, which hold in the claw a bone and it represents the liberation of the city by the government of the Arabs by the Genoese. At the center of the emblem is, in fact, present a crown supported by two griffins with the center a cross shield in honour of the fundamental contribution that Calatini received in the fight against the Muslim population. The city's name derives from Oal'at Ghiran which means “rock cave” maybe at the presence of important archaeological finds. In addition, Caltagirone is best known for her crib. Thanks to the great tradition of artistic craftsmanship are produced every year, earthenware (terracotta), all the characters of the Holy Nativity, shepherds, flocks, fishermen, etc.. A great attraction not only for tourists, but also for the inhabitants of the countries near and far of Sicily, that every year, starting from 1 December until the second half of January, they go to visit the nativity scenes in Caltagirone. Tourists can also visit the museum of ceramics, housed in the old jail, and examine not only the precious statues and artefacts of recent production, but above all objects of fine workmanship, made using the ancient techniques of the craftsmen. In fact the whole city is presenting in its entirety artistic characters, to the point of being compared to a open-air museum: note the artistic beauty of the bridge near the palace of St. Francis (Francesco) and St. Elias (Elia).

SELINUNTE

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Selinunte (in ancient greek Σελινοῦς, Selinus in Latin) was an ancient Greek city located on the southwestern coast of Sicily. The ruins of the city are located on the territory of the town of Castelvetrano, in the southern part of the province of Trapani. All the affected land form today an archaeological park the size of about 40 hectares. In the archaeological site, there are some temples on the Acropolis along with other secondary buildings, while other temples are located on a hill not far. Many of the buildings are ruined as a result of earthquakes that occurred in medieval times, but some interventions allowed to reconstruct almost completely the temple E (the so-called Temple of Hera), and raise most of one of the long sides of the Temple C. The sculptures found in the ruins of Selinunte are mainly located in the National Archaeological Museum of Palermo. One exception is the most famous work, the Efebo of Selinunte, which is now exposed to the Municipal Museum of Castelvetrano.

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