Discovering the ancient tradition of ceramics in Sicily – Road.Travel

Discovering the ancient tradition of ceramics in Sicily

Road Trip Route. WHL UNESCO site, Traditional craftsmanship, Uncommon destinations, Ceramics workshops and experiences .

Welcome in Sicily! I'm Giovanni Mallia and I will be your guide through the villages where the handicraft of ceramic production has ancient traditions! We will discover the ceramic tradition in Santo Stefano di Camastra, Sciacca and Caltagirone, the most famous in Sicily and abroad! I'm sure you'll be delighted by the incredible figures and colors, with which our artisans are able to create inimitable works, according to a tradition that is truly millenary in Sicily! You must know, in fact, that ceramics have been produced in Sicily since prehistoric times, but majolica as we know it was an "invention" due to the Arabs and then to the potters' workshops between 1100 and 1200. It is not a coincidence that the name itself, majolica, derives from Mallorca, the Spanish island where glazed ceramic was produced. This tradition then, in the Middle Ages, spread everywhere and among the most valuable productions there are also the Sicilian ones! And I want to share with you the beauty of this peculiar Sicilian tradition! *Credits: This tour was made by Giovanni Mallia, as a multimedia tourist and storytelling project for the "Laboratory of formal technical writing (storytelling and gamification)", under the coordination of Prof. Elisa Bonacini, within the ITS 2-years COURSE "Higher Technician for the management of tourist accommodation facilities and cultural activities", 2019-2021, founded by the ITS Archimede Foundation at the CUMO Eastern Mediterranean University Consortium, in Noto (Syracuse).*

💥 Try for Free, Arts and Creativity, Unique Locations, Active Leisure. From: Catania

ITS Fondazione Archimede Turism&Culture. Travel Expert.

Travel Itinerary and Road Trip Route

Day 1: Welcome to Sicily!

On the 1st day you will taste in all senses the "Sicilianity" of Catania, the city where you're landed, and then drive to Patti, the first destination of the ceramic tour.

Catania Fontanarossa Airport (CTA) (Aeroporto di Catania Fontanarossa)

Welcome in Sicily, to the Catania Airport! Please, keep your luggage and go to rent your car, a wonderful trip around the island is waiting for you!

Catania

Founded in 729 BC from the Calcidyan colonists of the nearby [Naxos](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naxos_(Sicily)), the city of [Catania](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catania) boasts a thousand-year history. Its various dominations are testified by its stratified artistic, architectural and cultural heritage. It the past was so important, that under the Aragonese dynasty Catania was the capital of the [Kingdom of Sicily](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kingdom_of_Sicily), and since 1434 at the behest of King Alfonso V it is the seat of the oldest university on the island. In the course of its history it has been repeatedly affected by volcanic eruptions (the most impressive, in historical times, is that of [1669](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1669_eruption_of_Mount_Etna), which is testified by a beautiful fresco painting in the [Cathedral](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catania_Cathedral), which you can see in a [gigapixel image](https://www.antoninodelpopolo.it/affresco-cattedrale-catania/)) and by earthquakes (the most catastrophic mentioned were those of [1169](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1169_Sicily_earthquake) and [1693](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1693_Sicily_earthquake)). The baroque of its historic center was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, together with that of seven municipalities in the Val di Noto (Caltagirone, Militello in Val di Catania, Modica, Noto, Palazzolo Acreide, Ragusa and Scicli), in 2002 .

Pasticceria Savia

In a greedy and refined city like Catania, Pasticceria Savia embodies the glories of sweetness, including inviting cannoli and colorful cassata, almond pastries and the explosion of colors of marzipan. As usual in the city, for more than a century, from coffee to aperitifs, from arancini to pastries, depending on the time and the schedule, the Pasticceria Savia is the favorite destination for young and old employees and managers in the break lunch. It was founded in 1897 by Angelo and Elisabetta Savia in the area formerly called Piano di Nicosia. For the few who do not know, the Pasticceria Savia is located at the corner between Via Etnea and Via Umberto, in what the very famous writer [Federico de Roberto](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federico_De_Roberto) baptized with the prestigious name of "Salotto di Catania". In that illustrious corner, the confectionery tradition that finds its strengths in the excellent quality of raw materials, in the masterful professionalism and courtesy of its staff and in the packaging of always fresh and fragrant products. Finally, this pasticceria is a "must" for you and, on my opinion, one hour here is necessary before you continue your journey.

Villa Bellini

After your break, seated to the Pasticceria Savia tables, cross Via Etnea and walk for a little in the Villa Bellini, the biggest public garden in Catania, and one of the places that the people of Catania love most to spend some time relaxing, for a walk with the children or the dog, or where doing some sport! Its beautiful staircase and its music patios still recall the glories of the 1800s and 1900s, when Catania was a small capital of industry and culture!

Patti

Welcome to your very first stop of this tour! [Patti](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patti,_Sicily), which is located in the center of the homonymous gulf that goes from Capo Milazzo to Capo Calavà. The city is the seat of the diocese of Patti, one of the oldest in Sicily, but the origin and history of Patti are closely linked to the ancient Greco-Roman city of [Tindari](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tindari), one of the most important archaeological and devotional sites in Sicily. A large historic center perched around two hills, close to the Cathedral (which is very famous because here is the sepulcher of [Adelasia del Vasto](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adelaide_del_Vasto), wife of the Norman King Roger I), on the highest hill, and to that of the Holy Family, once the Aragonese castle seat of the Capitania. The historic center is also dominated by the bishop's palace, the seminary and other historic buildings. It slopes down towards the coast until it reaches its seaside village called Marina di Patti, completely integrated into the urban fabric, where an important [Roman villa](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Villa_Romana_di_Patti) decorated with mosaics was found. Over the centuries, the city suffered a lot of damage due to destruction by conquerors and pirates and due to the several earthquakes that affected eastern Sicily.

MACC - Museo d'Arte e Ceramica Contemporanea "Umberto Caleca"

The Macc "Umberto Caleca" is located near the tourism building. Rossana Giacalone Caleca is the curator of Macc, a museum founded in 2007 in collaboration with the Regional Tourism Department and the Municipality of Patti. Rossana Caleca has promoted and set up numerous events related to the relationship between ceramics and contemporary art.

Ceramiche Siciliane Ruggeri Outlet

Here ceramics recall Sicily through the various decorations depicting pistachios, olives, oranges, prickly pears. The intent is to give you small works of art, all hand made and painted, as a result of creativity and a good solution for you to keep a piece of Sicily, wherever you are.

Speedy Cafe’

Have a fast dinner here! Here you can order a great pizza and drink a delicious coffee.

Patti Marina

.... and after dinner, a relaxing walk along the seafront of Marina di Patti, wonderful, with boutiques, bars, restaurants, ice cream parlors and a bank!

Day 2: Santo Stefano di Camastra ...and drive to Sciacca!

On the 2nd day we will move to discover another important location as far as ceramics are concerned,Santo Stefano di Camastra, and in the afternoon we will leave for Sciacca where the tour will acquire an ever greater consistency regarding the contents of the tour.

Santo Stefano di Camastra

Welcome to [Santo Stefano di Camastra](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santo_Stefano_di_Camastra), a little town with some thousands of inhabitants but with a great ceramic tradition!

Belvedere Santo Stefano Di Camastra

Here you can take fantastic pictures and selfies t share with your friends!

Energia Mediterranea - Fiumara d'arte

I suggest to discover some of the land artworks which are part of the [Fiumara d'Arte](http://www.ateliersulmare.com/en/fiumara_en/storia_fiumara_en.html): an open-air museum consisting of a series of eleven works by contemporary artists located along the banks of the Tusa river (today only with a torrential character), which flows into the Tyrrhenian coast of Sicily near Castel di Tusa, a hamlet of municipality of Tusa, and which in ancient times flowed between the [Nebrodi mountains](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nebrodi) with a path of twenty-one kilometers, up to the ancient città di [Halaesa](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halaesa). Here is the sculpture named [Energia Mediterranea](http://www.ateliersulmare.com/en/fiumara_en/opere_en/energia-mediterranea_en.html), a blue wave connected with the blue Mediterranean Sea.

38° Parallelo - Piramide - Fiumara d'arte

The imposing [Pyramid](http://www.ateliersulmare.com/en/fiumara_en/opere_en/parallelo_en.html) owes its name, "38 ° Parallel", to its location on a hill in the territory of Motta d'Affermo overlooking the sea and the Aeolian Islands and in the background the archaeological excavations of the ancient city of Halaesa.

Monumento Per Un Poeta Morto - Fiumara d'arte

The work, entitled [Monument for a dead poet](http://www.ateliersulmare.com/en/fiumara_en/opere_en/monumento-poeta_en.html), dates back to 1989 and was created by the sculptor Tano Festa. The sculpture, 18 meters high, is located on the seafront of Villa Margi, part of the village of Reitano, and was renamed by the locals Window on the sea: don't you think it's a perfect name for this artwork?

Da Filippo Piazza Statione

Have a stop here, where you can have a great traditional lunch!

Palazzo Armao

Armao Palace is one of those types of buildings that housed the principal's residence within the same production structure. In the second half of the 19th century, the Armao ceramic factory became one of the most important. It was during this period of greatest splendor, within the majolica clay production, that the Armao family expanded the factory, deciding to incorporate their home within the same structure, adding a second floor to the lower body. Thus was born Palazzo Armao, in a simple nineteenth-century style. The period of greatest splendor lasted until the first decades of the 1900s, during which the Palazzo underwent new interventions: it was enriched with new preciousness, including the sumptuous pictorial decorations on the vaults of some rooms on the first floor, which today represent a faithful example of the inventive and coloristic talent of the [Liberty style](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liberty_style) at the beginning of the last century. The majolica floors of excellent workmanship, dating to the end of the 19th century, adorn the halls of the Palace. Incredible is the ornamental frieze of the main façade of the Palace (ribbon re-arrangement formed by 116 majolica tiles in length and 4 in height), which shows a series of lions in pairs, facing, raised or rampant, alternating with a simple ornamentation of plant racemes and a real catalog of Greek vases, which constitute 10 different types in shape and decoration. Subsequently, after the Second World War, with the decline of clay production, the consequent sale of the business by the Armao family and their transfer to Palermo, the building had a structural decay and finally was bought by the municipal administration. Today the restored Palazzo is the seat of the municipal library.

Sciacca

Welcome to [Sciacca](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sciacca), one of the most beautiful cities on the south cost of Sicily, full of beauties and history! The history of the town starts from the Arab period and the subsequent medieval times. During the centuries, became one of the most important land, owned by rich families, always fighting: the Luna and Perollo families, who where the protagonist of the very famous "case of Sciacca" This is a piece of Sicilian history which could recall modern telenovelas! If you want to discover some of the architectural beauties of the city, here is a suggested izi.TRAVEL audioguide on the Churches of the city! Sciacca is very famous for many things: the thermal sulfurous bath, the ceramic, the coral production and, last but not least, its Carnival! If you want to have an experience in a potter's workshop, by trying to shape clay and creating your own ceramic object, the [Ecomuseo Diffuso di Sciacca](https://www.museodiffusosciacca.it) will be able to suggest the right experience for you!

Ristorante Italia

Sciacca is also the queen of fresh fish, so it is difficult to be disappointed if you want to taste it. Here is a restaurant strictly recommended, if you want to have a great food experience here!

Day 3: Conquered by the ceramics of Sciacca ... ready for those of Caltagirone!

On the 3rd day we will begin to grasp the differences in colors especially between the ceramics seen so far and the magnificent Sciacca ceramics, until in the evening you begin to set off towards Caltagirone, the most important destination of your ceramic tour, as you can see.

Castello Incantato

I suggest you to take your car, before going in the centre of Sciacca, and start with the discovering of two places in different locations. The first one is the "Enchanted Castle", a real rock-show created by the inventiveness of man and nature, where, in addition to the olive and almond trees, the carved and chiseled heads rise in the rock, carved by Filippo Bentivegna, known as “Filippu di li testi”, or Filippo of heads (and you will understand why this nickname!) a true artist with an immense creative capacity, one of the greatest exponents of [art brut or outsider art](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Outsider_art).

Museo del Carnevale

The second place where I suggest to go with your car, is in the opposite side of the town As I told you, Sciacca is famous in the world also for its incredible Carnival! The Museum of the Sciacca Carnival offers a captivating journey through history, not only of a festival, but also of a truly enjoyable experience for both young and old. Inaugurated in 2010, it preserves beautiful testimonies of the Sciacca Carnival, amongst which a collection of about 100 historical ceramic models, reproduced miniatures of Parade Floats that took part in previous editions of the festival. A photo gallery at the entrance displays attractive freeze-frame images of the Carnival. This is followed by some historical costumes, the exhibition of the Parade Float miniatures, papier-mâché reconstructions of typical Sicilian wine and gastronomic products and a particular section dedicated to local pottery. Finally, if you want to have a Carnival experience by creating your own masks, the [Ecomuseo Diffuso di Sciacca](https://www.museodiffusosciacca.it) will be able to suggest the right experience for you!

Piazza Noceto

I suggest to reach Piazza Noceto by car, after having visited the Carnival Museum, to have a look at one of the enjoyable squares of Sciacca ...

Porto San Paolo

It's time for lunch! This is another restaurant not to be missed, a delight for the taste ...

Piazza Angelo Scandaliato

And now it's time to discover the center of the town! Leave your car and have a good walk! Here you can enjoy a breathtaking view; great way to start your city tour! As I told you at the beginning, yesterday, if you want to discover some of the architectural beauties of the city, here is a suggested izi.TRAVEL audioguide on the Churches of the city!

Museo Scaglione Sciacca

The "Francesco Scaglione" House Museum testifies a 19th-century "setting" museum, a typical private collection, as rich individuals were used to during the 18th and 19th centuries in Europe. Born in Sciacca in 1859 to a middle-class family, Francesco Scaglione lived between Sciacca, Palermo and Rome, where he died in 1938. Passionate collector and art lover, he was Honorary Inspector of the Ancient and Fine Arts of Agrigento. The seat of the Museum is the home of the Scaglione family, bequeathed in 1969 to the Municipality of Sciacca. The building is located in the historic center, next to the Duomo, in the place where the Church of Santo Stefano, demolished in the 16th century, once stood. On the first floor, the largest representative area overlooks a small internal garden, while the private areas overlooks the square. All the rooms are covered with vaults almost always painted in tempera, and the floors still retain some interesting 19th-century majolica. Rooms 1° - 5° reconstruct the original context, respecting the decoration and furnishings of the 19th-century apartment: representative rooms furnished with Sicilian handcrafted furniture and adorned with paintings, objects and knick-knacks, vintage photographs and family portraits. Rooms 6° - 9° display the riches and precious collections. In addition, numerous paintings are distributed throughout the rooms in chronological order.

Prodotti Tipici d’Autore

Clearly Sciacca is not just ceramic, but there are other typical local products ... If you want, you can also book 1-hour experience in making or decorating ceramic, in a potter's workshop: ask [Ecomuseo Diffuso di Sciacca](https://www.museodiffusosciacca.it), they will be able to suggest the right ceramic experience for you!

Villa Comunale

If instead you prefer to have a bit of relax, here is the right place, just in front of the sea and the beautiful harbor, before leaving Sciacca and driving to Caltagirone!

Caltagirone

Welcome to [Caltagirone](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caltagirone), the city of ceramics, famous in the world! Historically it has been named with the titles *Urbs Gratissima* (in Latin a welcome, well-liked city) and Queen of the [Erean Mountains](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erean_Mountains). Historically known for the peculiar and traditional production of ceramics, today it is an important agricultural and tourist center, with its own industrial development area, as well as one of the largest urban centers in the Sicilian hinterland. The historic center, characterized by the late Baroque style, built after the [1693 earthquake](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1693_Sicily_earthquake), was awarded the title of World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2002. You will see tomorrow its beautiful urban landscape, made of many churches and buildings in the Baroque style, embellished with polychrome ceramic inserts. Caltagirone will appear as a sort of ceramics open-air museum!

Trattoria Anima e Core

Before resting, after a busy day, we need a restaurant that can meet the expectations of our guests ...

Day 4: The amazing Caltagirone ceramics!

Here we are, starting the most important day of our tour, the 4th ! The visit and study of the most admired ceramics, obviously not only in Sicily and not only in my opinion. It will also be the busiest day of the tour, so .... let's discover Caltagirone!

Scalinata di Santa Maria del Monte

The Staircase of Santa Maria del Monte (in Sicilian A Scala dâ Matrìci) was built in 1606 in order to connect the ancient part of Caltagirone to the new city built in the upper part. The staircase, over 130 meters long, is flanked by buildings with balconies and is today one of the identifying monuments of the city, to the point of being its emblem outside. It's well decorated by incredible beautiful ceramics panels and I suggest you to go up, step by step!

Palazzo Ceramico

The Museum of Contemporary Ceramics is located in the 18th-century Palazzo Reburdone, at the foot of the Staircase of Santa Maria del Monte, in the heart of the historic center of Caltagirone. Through an interesting collaboration relationship with the private sector, it was possible for the Municipality of Caltagirone to establish an important exhibition of Caltagirone, made of Sicilian and national ceramics, starting from the historic editions of the Biennial of Ceramics (since 1970s), but also thanks for purchases and donations. The Museum thus testifies and let people know the research in the ceramic field, from tradition to innovation, from the design side to unique pieces of art. Although the main part of the exhibition remains permanently on display, the collections often change and themed exhibitions are organized, following the various declinations of the versatile and articulated world of ceramic craftsmanship. The Museum occupies the second floor of the Reburdone Palace, a noble baroque palace.

Galleria Luigi Sturzo

The primitive building was the seat of the Calatino Senate whose construction was begun in 1483 and completed the following year. The author is unknown, but Giandomenico Gagini (1569) and his son Antonuzzo (1583) contributed to its embellishment in the second half of the 16th century. Following the subsequent transformations and catastrophic natural events, only a few but significant fragments remain, preserved in the Civic Museum at the Bourbon Prison. In 1584 the Palermitan silversmiths Agostino and Giuseppe Sarzana provided the bronze door of the Ark of the "Privileges" of the city, which is now also exhibited again in the Civic Museum. In 1589 the Neapolitan Scipione Di Guido carved a sumptuous coffered roof. The [1693 earthquake](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1693_Sicily_earthquake) significantly damaged the building, which slowly fell into disrepair until in 1823 it was transformed into a theater, by the local architect Salvatore Marino. Marino's work is currently identifiable in the façade, with the exception of the modifications to the entrance staircase and the opening of two side doors flanking the first, carried out in 1950. Marino's project remained incomplete, it was decided to entrust its completion to the architect Di Stefano from Catania, but also the latter's project was not realized. In 1863 the architect Giuseppe Di Bartolo from Palermo architecturally arranged the side elevations of the Theater, as they are visible today. In the first twenty years of the 1900s, the architect Salvatore Fragapane created the beautiful rear elevation. In the 1950s the building was completely modified inside giving rise to the so-called [Luigi Sturzo](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luigi_Sturzo) Gallery, dedicating it to the very famous politician, who was born in Caltagirone. It is owned by the Municipality and is used as a gallery with exhibition spaces, a municipal tourist offices, and, finally, hosts a bar.

Piazza Umberto I

In the square are grouped the cathedral of San Giuliano characterized by a beautiful turquoise majolica dome, as well as the former court, Corte Capitaniale, a fine example of a civil building (1601) built by Antonuzzo and Giandomenico Gagini, from the [Gagini family of sculptors](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gagini_family). The church of Gesù and the church of Santa Chiara (whose façade is attributed to [Rosario Gagliardi](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosario_Gagliardi), the famous architect who rebuilt many monuments between Ragusa and Noto) also have a fine Baroque style. After this walk...let's have a good lunch!

Ristorante Coria

Do you smell this perfume? It's coming from the kitchen of the Coria Restaurant. With their reinterpretation of classic traditional recipes, the two chefs Domenico Colonnetta and Francesco Patti are the soul of the project. Inspired by Giuseppe Coria's "bible of Sicilian cuisine", Profumi di Sicilia, the restaurant is located in the quaint old town of Caltagirone, soon becoming a reference point for the island's smell and flavors lovers. After your lunch, take your car, for the last tour in Caltagirone!

Museo della Ceramica

The Caltagirone Regional Ceramics Museum exhibits many topologies of ceramics made in Sicily starting from prehistoric times to the recent maiolica production. Perhaps you don't know that this museum, together with the one of Faenza, it is the most important in Italy for the documentation of ceramic art. The Museum exhibits a vast collection of ceramics, about 2,500 artifacts, which provide the visitor with a broad vision of the history of ceramic art from the fourth millennium BC. at the contemporary age.

Villa Comunale Caltagirone

At this point, you can have a little nice "digestive and relaxing" walk in the Public Gardens!

Villa Patti

The Museum of the Caltagironesi and Sicilian Historic Villas is housed in the rooms of the aristocratic Villa Patti, reopened to the public after the recent restorations. This Villa is an example of the romantic and refined life that was led in all the system of villas and parks here in the district of Santa Maria di Gesù, since the 16th century. The ancient building of Villa Patti was renovated by the architect Gian Battista Nicastro in the second half of the 19th century with a facade in Venetian neo-Gothic style, with an extraordinary scenographic effect. The Museum exhibits paintings, design drawings, engravings, photos, books, majolica and terracotta pieces to tell the holiday life of Sicilian aristocratic families, in particular here in Caltagirone. Have a look at the opening hours, because normally the museum closes at 6.30 p.m., but it is closed in some afternoons.

Tondo Vecchio

If you want, before leaving Sicily, to taste again some good food from Italian cuisine, the Tondo Vecchio pizzeria is your choice! I suggest to try the exotic pizza, antipasto or tagliatelle. If you are hungry, come here for their unrivaled tiramisu and semifreddo. A great restaurant to end your fantastic tour in Sicily! Finally...your flight is waiting for you!