Home of the Sicilian ceramics
Caltagirone is one of the most visited towns in Val di Noto for its valuable artistic heritage. Home of the Sicilian ceramics, this town is rich in shops selling handcrafted objects, such as the typical Sicilian “teste di moro” (Moorish heads), which have now become a symbol of the island.
You can also find colourful items of everyday use, such as coffee cups, bowls, fruit bowls, little souvenirs and precious sculptures of shepherds for the nativity scene. Caltagirone can be reached by car or by bus from Catania and is located near the other towns of Val di Noto, like Syracuse, Noto and Ragusa.
It is certainly a must-see destination for those who decide to go on holiday in the south east of Sicily.
Located on the Erean Mountains in the Val di Noto, 70 km from Catania, it is one of the most populated towns in the province of Catania. Caltagirone is about an hour’s drive from Catania and Ragusa and an hour and a half from Syracuse and Noto.
Its origins date back to prehistory, but the height of Caltagirone’s splendor was during the dominations of Greeks, Arabs, Byzantines and Normans, who made the town a stronghold.
It boasts an exceptional historic and architectonic heritage, thanks to which it has been listed among the UNESCO World Heritage sites of Val di Noto.
Nowadays Caltagirone is famous for the production of the traditional ceramics and terracotta, whose works are very valuable and refined. They include objects of everyday use and statues representing daily life scenes. Its millennial history saw artisans and artists who managed to shape this humble raw material to create original artworks. Besides creating items of everyday use, the majolica from Caltagirone was used to decorate churches and palaces.
An extraordinary example of this use is represented by the facade of the church of San Pietro, whose aspect in Gothic style is decorated with colourful majolica. Also the facade of the Museo della Ceramica is decorated with majolica. This museum preserves about 2.500 exhibits ranging from the 4th millennium BC to the contemporary age.
The staircase of Santa Maria del Monte is certainly one of the most beautiful works with majolica. It consists of 142 steps whose rises are covered by colourful majolica representing different decorative motifs. Every year, at the end of May, the event of the “Scala Infiorata” takes place: the steps of the staircase of Santa Maria del Monte are decorated with hundreds of flowers forming a huge drawing. Moreover, during the feast of San Giacomo, patron saint of Caltagirone, the stairs are decorated with illuminations that are lit in the evenings of 24th and 25th July. They give birth to an enormous and suggestive fire drawing.
The Baroque of Caltagirone
Embellished by ceramics, the baroque of Caltagirone finds its main examples in the panoramic viewpoint Tondo Vecchio, in the street via Discesa del Collegio, in the theaters and in the churches of SS. Salvatore and S. Domenico
Caltagirone is also known for the rich productions of handcrafted nativity scenes, made in terracotta or in various materials, many of which are collected in the exhibitions of the Museo dei Presepi Tradizionali. During Christmas time an exhibition takes place including all the best nativity scenes made with majolica or in simple terracotta, showing great accuracy in the details and in the representation of daily life scenes of the Sicilian tradition.
Caltagirone is part of the UNESCO World Heritage list from 2002.