The tour starts from the central Piazza Umberto which overlooks the Town Hall, rigorous eighteenth-century building in neoclassical style and the Church of St Leo, dedicated to Pope Leo II. From here the tour continues along Via Roma until you reach Piazza Dante where the facade of San Domenico’s Church is majestically raised, in white stone and sandstone, with the original decoration in diamond-pointed ashlar that is typical of the “plateresco” style seen in Sicily but originated in Catalonia.
Continuing on Via Roma, you reach the Chiesa Madre or Chiesa di San Lorenzo, the oldest church in the city that houses a parish museum of sacred art. The church is located near the “Castellaccio” (located in via Castello), a medieval castle whose remains stand on an unpenetrable hill and from which you can enjoy a landscape of immense beauty. Returning towards Via Roma, you are now on Via Erbitea which winds along the neighborhood of S. Giacomo, the oldest neighborhood in the city. It is made up of maze-like streets, alleys, small houses and the small churches of Saint Anthony and Madonna delle Grazie. The neighborhood, which is nestled on a mountain, is quite steep and travelling along you will reach the road (Provinciale 288) that will lead you directly to the archaeological site of Morgantina. Going back up to the neighborhood, you will be in Piazza Umberto and then continue to Piazza Cordova called “u Chian” (the floor), or otherwise known as the meeting point for the elders of the area. In this square you can admire not only the Adelasia Tower, originally a defense tower of the city, but also the church of S. Maria la Cava which is also a sanctuary dedicated to Saint Philip the Apostle, within which there is a simulacrum of the venerated saint. Every May 1st, thousands of pilgrims come on foot, from various neighboring municipalities, to fulfill their vows.
Walking through the streets of the center, you can not only buy souvenirs, pottery or Sicilian items, which are hand-made by skilled local artisans in their workshops (some shops are Bentornato Artigianato or Ceramiche a modo mio), but also have the possibility to see the artisans, enameling and decorating their artistic ceramics.
After a short break, we head towards Via F.lli Palermo up to Piazza Vittorio Veneto, where you can admire a remarkable monument dedicated to the heroes of World War I, and also Via Sant’Anna that leads to the square of Sant’Anna’s church. Do not miss the walk to the Municipal Gardens from where you can enjoy a magnificent view. After passing the tree-lined walkways of the Municipal Gardens, you reach “Torres Truppia” overlooking the Convent of the Capuchins with the adjoining Church dedicated to St. Francis, precious site of the Archaeological Museum (Tel: 0935 87037). It is suggested contacting the Pro Loco of Aidone (Via Mazzini 1- firstname.lastname@example.org – Tel: 333 1791293) to verify any hourly changes. The Regional Archaeological Museum of Aidone is located in the magnificent building of the former convent of the Capuchins with the adjoining church of St. Francis, a seventeenth-century complex that since 1984 houses the artifacts of Morgantina to best narrate its story from the Bronze Age to that of the Roman Republican one.
The Museum has become popular for its international intrigue regarding the precious relics stolen by grave robbers and illegally bought by well-known American museums. Between 2009 and Spring of 2011, after a long dispute, many relics/artifacts were brought back to Italy. Among them were: the two acroliths of the archaic Greek Era (presumably depicting the Goddesses Demeter and Kore), the treasure of Eupolemo (a set of sixteen silver pieces used for both rituals and setting the table dating back to the Hellenistic Era), and finally the majestic marble and limestone statue (height 7 feet/3 inches) called the Goddess of Morgantina (V century B.C.) of excellent workmanship (the vestments, the face) probably designed to be placed on a pedestal. Among the most important artifacts that returned “home” (2016), was the beautiful Head of Hades, in polychrome terracotta from the Hellenistic Era, stolen decades ago and exhibited in an American museum. Thanks to the intuition of archaeologists Serena Raffiotta and Lucia Ferruzza and to intense diplomatic activity, it is now possible to admire the Head of Hades with its unique terracotta beard curls, inside the Museum of Aidone.
After visiting the Museum, it is recommended to stay at one of the excellent hotels, so that you can dedicate the following day to one of the many activities offered or visit the archaeological area of Morgantina (Contrada Morgantina. Tel: 093587955), a city better than many other archaeological areas, that is able to show even the most inexperienced tourists, how in ancient times, they could create urban spaces. Here, between the emotion of your arrival and the intuition of a unique, out-of-the-ordinary landscape, these will accompany the tourist for as long as he decides to stop in Morgantina, a city that history still keeps alive and understandable. Thanks to illustrative material, panels, maps and captions, as you enter, the urban layout is clearly legible.
The last part of the tour may end with a visit to two excellent local farms: the cheese farm Centro Form that produces the tasty “Piacentinu Ennesse” and Agrikore that produces saffron, mushrooms, hazelnuts and almonds. Both farms welcome external visitors to unveil their ancient secrets on their production, still the driving force in the local economy and known on a national level. Furthermore, we inform you that at various area shops you can find bottles of excellent olive oil produced from the best companies located in the territory of the District (to mention a few: Tenuta Arena, Casamandolio e Azienda Trovato).
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