Piazza Innocenzo Marcinnò

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  • Day82

    Flight of fancy

    January 17, 2019 in Italy ⋅ ⛅ 9 °C

    What raises the blood pressure of the Caltagirone people is this big staircase, the Scalinata di Santa Maria del Monte, which rises from Piazza Municipio to the Chiesa di Santa Maria del Monte, at the top of the town.
    Originally there were several flights of steps separated by small squares built in 1606 to connect the old town on top of the with newer developments on the flatter base.
    These tiers were eventually unified in the 1880s to create the 142-step flight that stands today.

    The Erei mountains, on which Caltagirone perches, separate the plains of Gela and Catania and are fractured by many cracks filled with a very fine clay. Since the paleolithic era, local potters have been capitalising on this abundance aided by a plentiful nearby wood supply for firing their pots. The local ceramic technique was influenced and perfected by the Cretans, who introduced the wheel during the Greek colonization of Sicily in the 8th century BC, then by the Arabs, who introduced the glazing technique, which rendered the ceramic objects impermeable to water, in the 9th century. Under the Arab rule the town took the name of Qal ‘at al Gharùn or qal’at-al-ghiran meaning “Castle (or fortress) of vases” with reference to the processing of clay.

    So in 1956, hand-painted majolica tiles were added to the riser of the steps to celebrate the town's ceramic heritage. The motives alternate between a row of tiles with a floral or organic pattern, a row of geometric patterns and a row of figurative decorative patterns..
    In case you can't wait to see them, the best times are:
    * in May, when it becomes “flowered” in honor of the Madonna, (the Scala Infiorata in honor of the Madonna di Conadomini;
    * at the the end of July when it is illuminated by 4000 coloured oil lamps (coppi) on the occasion of the feast of the Holy Patron, Saint Giacomo;
    * during the mid-August nights when it is lit up again;
    * at Christmas the stairs are decorated with cyclamen and Christmas stars.
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  • Day82

    A subtle warning to all husbands!

    January 17, 2019 in Italy ⋅ 🌧 9 °C

    The Moors dominated Sicily around the year 1100.
    At that time, there lived in the Kalsa district of Palermo 'a beautiful girl with pink skin comparable to peach blossoms at the height of flowering and a nice pair of eyes that seemed to reflect the beautiful Gulf of Palermo '. The young girl was almost always at home.
    One day a young Moor passing by saw the gorgeous damsel taking care of the plants on her balcony. In an instant he was smitten and, filled with desire, he knew he must have her at any cost. Without a second's delay he entered the girl's house and immediately declared his love. The girl, struck by the passion with which he declared his ardour, returned his love in full; and they lived together as happy as happy can be.
    Alas, some time later, the Moor came to tell her that he must leave Sicily and return home to the East, where a wife with two sons awaited him.
    Surprised, hurt and above all furious as only a betrayed Sicilian can be, she plotted to make him stay with her.
    That night, she cooked him a nice dinner and later as soon as he fell asleep she struck off his head and made it into a flower pot. The she planted some basil in it and stuck the vase on the balcony for all to see. Thus the Moor would never be able to leave and would remain with her - forever.
    Meanwhile, the basil grew lush and aroused the envy of all the inhabitants of the neighbourhood, who, not to be outdone, made imitations of the Moor's head in terracotta.
    And to this day on Sicilian balconies you can admire the "Heads of Moro", sometimes called "Turk's heads", although now they exist in different versions, representing three of the subsequent empires which ruled over Sicily, the Byzantines, the Arabs and Normans.
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  • Day82

    Logos or mythos?

    January 17, 2019 in Italy ⋅ 🌧 10 °C

    The Triseklion is the symbol of the Isle of Man as we all know, but Sicily has its own logo, a female version called the Trinacria.

    Apparently, 3 nymphs danced around the world gathering the best fruit, stones and soil, which they then threw into the sea to create Sicily. That is why the island has three corners.

    Alternatively, it represents a head of a Gorgon, whose hair is entwined serpents with ears of wheat, and from which three bent legs branch off with its feet pointing in the same direction. There were three sisters: Medusa (the most important one and guardian of the underworld), and the two daughters of the sea gods Forco and Ceto, Euryale and Steno. They represented perversion in its three forms: Medusa was the intellectual, Euryale the sexual and Steno the moral perversion.
    The ears of wheat, introduced by the Romans, symbolize the land abundance and fertility and the rank of “breadbasket” of the Roman Empire.
    The position of the three legs, feet pointing in the same direction, suggests a rotational motion. Hence it has been suggested that the Triscele represented the sun (or the weather god Baal) or the moon with scythes instead of legs. In Sicily, this symbol represents the three promontories of the island: Capo Peloro (Punta del Faro, Messina: North-East), Capo Passero (Siracusa: South), Capo Lilibeo (or Capo Boeo, Marsala: West). This particular reference is found in the greek word triskeles and connects to the geographic meaning: treis (three) and akra (promontory). In Latin too, triquetra (three vertices).

    Or, there was a boy who could swim underwater for long periods of time and was put to the test by King Frederick II. Eventually, the boy discovered that Sicily was held up by three columns and one was about to break. The boy, Colapesce, then decided to hold the broken column on his own. Every time there is an earthquake, it is attributed to the boy being so tired from holding up the island.

    Obviously it really came from a Manxman in the employ of the Normans but who am I to spoil a good story or three.

    The flag of the Region of Sicily has incorporated the Triscele at it's centre since April 3, 1282 during the time of the Sicilian Vespers. It symbolises the unity of Sicily in expelling the Angevins / Charles I. The colour red is the color of the Municipality of Palermo and yellow the one of Corleone, at that time, the largest agricultural capital of Sicily.

    PS The Spartan warriors used to carve a white bent leg in their shields as a symbol of strength!
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  • Day82

    Caltagirone, Sicily

    January 17, 2019 in Italy ⋅ 🌧 9 °C

    Caltagirone, a UNESCO world heritage site, is one of the eight towns of south-eastern Sicily known as the baroque towns of the Val di Noto, which were almost entirely destroyed and rebuilt after the earthquake of 1693 in which about 100 thousand people died.
    Its main claim to fame is for ceramic production; a millenium old tradition making the town one of the most important ceramic production centers of Sicily, renowned in the entire Mediterranean so they say.
    Nobody wants to live in the old part of town and it is gradually spilling down into the new developments. Can't say I blame them. Access to most buildings is by foot or donkey; no damp proof courses; small, dark rooms; and UNESCO inspired legislation which makes any alteration to the fabric of the houses difficult if not impossible.
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  • Day82

    Caltagirone views

    January 17, 2019 in Italy ⋅ 🌧 9 °C

    Another taste of town
    + The Taking of the Bell of Altavilla to Caltagirone, (Polychrome maiolica mosaic in the square of Santa Maria del Monte.)
    + The bank and the church, not quite joined at the hip
    + Ceramics everywhere
    + Little piazza with no name
    + Horse. "Good government and liberty. 1283" Haven't found the explanation yet!
    + Unexpected interior of the former Theater Garibaldi, today known as Sturzo Gallery
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You might also know this place by the following names:

Piazza Innocenzo Marcinnò, Piazza Innocenzo Marcinno

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