Caltagirone (the queen of the Erei Mountains) is a city in the province of Catania, in the central Sicily. It is one of the cities of the Val di Noto protected by UNESCO for their late-Baroque style heritage. The place name derives from the Arab expression "qal'at-al-ganom" meaning castle of the genies (spirits believed to dwell in the surrounding caves).
Numerous findings from the Neolithic and the Early Bronze Age reveal that the territory was inhabited in prehistoric times.
The Arabs built here a castle which became an important military outpost due to its strategic position. The town flourished under the Normans and the Swabians and became a centre for the production of ceramics. The earthquake in 1693 necessitated a reconstruction that was the work of a number of skilful baroque architects, including Gagliardi, Marvuglia and Bonajuto.
Caltagirone is famous all around the word for the beauty and high quality of its ceramics.
The Cathedral, set in Piazza Umberto I, was realised during the Norman period and rebuilt at the beginning of the last century, with a beautiful liberty style façade.
Not too far from the Cathedral, there is the Corte Capitanale building, with portals and monumental windows realised by Antonuzzo and Giandomenico Gagini (XVI-XVII century).
Among the Baroque style churches of the city, we have to mention the Jesuit Church of Jesus (rich in art masterpieces, such as Christ's Nativity by Polidoro da Caravaggio and the Pietà by Filippo Paladino), the Church of San Giacomo and the Church of San Francesco from Assisi.
The Scala di Santa Maria del Monte, the famous long straight flight of steps, all decorated with coloured majolica, was realised in 1608 in order to join the upper and the lower parts of the town.
Finally we suggest to visit the Regional Museum of the Ceramics, founded in 1965.