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Casa Cifali

  • Writer's pictureMassimo

Enna: The Town of Cerere

There is a tall, flat meadow full of flowers so fragrant the hunting dogs would lose the scent they were tracking, and rich in water. It looks like it is in the middle of the island, and therefore by some is called the navel of Sicily. So goes some historical and literary passages of Diodorus Siculo. Unfortunately, today little remains of the verses that Diodorus mentioned in his stories.

Just 149km from Taormina on a plateau 931 meters above sea level Enna stands, known for being the highest provincial capital in Italy. Here we are at the center of Sicily. The city was called Urbs Inexpugnabilis by the Romans for its impregnability. It was a stronghold for the Sicilians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Normans, Svevi and Aragoneses.

Its strategic position allowed its inhabitants to have a very broad view of the surrounding area. This presence remains evident in the rock of Ceres, a rocky outcropping on which stood the sanctuary of Demeter. Mount Enna, although isolated, offers 5 water springs: one was incorporated into Villa Farina, another springs from the rock between the steps of Via Canalicchio. Water gushes from the rock also in the southern wall of the Castello di Lombardia. This abundance of water sources helped Enna’s inhabitants resist long sieges during the time of the Romans and the Arabs.

The city is full of churches and there are picturesque stairways through the narrow alleys, winding from the center to the lower districts. In one of the busiest areas of the city are located the Tower and the Villa di Federico II, and the Church of Santa Maria Jesus in Monte Salvo with the obelisk that indicates the geographical center of Sicily.

In Enna there is a small plateau where stands the Castle of Lombardia, one of the most important castles of Sicily and also well preserved. The imposing fortress was originally built by the Sicani then passing from hand to hand to various dominations. During the Svevian domination it was restored by inserting as many as 20 towers, making a monumental fortress. Subsequently, it was the residence of Frederick III of Aragon. Here the Sicilian parliament also met numerous times. Today only six of the twenty tours remain. The most important are those adorned with battlements.

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