Piazza Armerina
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Nestled among the thick extensive forests, in the Erei mountains, in the heart of Sicily at an altitude of about 700 meters, is Piazza Armerina. Its enchanted lands have remained fertile through the course of its long history under the Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Normans, Swabians, Angevins and Aragonese. Today travelers from all over the world continue to come visit Villa Romana del Casale, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and are also surprised by many other things to discover and admire. Only Norman domination is known with certainty in the history of the place where Piazza is currently located, although some numismatic findings suggest the Greeks settled the area. In the 11th century the Normans built a citadel west of the city on the ruins of a majestic, ancient Roman dwelling which was called “palatia”, and that came from those who were called “Platia”. King William I of Sicily had set fire to and destroyed the city in 1161 in order to punish a rebellion led by Ruggero Sclavus, who had murdered the Arab population. It was then rebuilt on higher ground, on Armerino Hill, by William II in 1163 and repopulated with people from the northern “Lombard” areas. Even today, the town is known to be part of the so-called “Lombard municipalities” of Sicily, whose dialect (belonging to the group called “Gallo-Italic of Sicily”) has little to do with the indigenous languages and much to do with those northern regions of Piedmont especially the areas of Montferrat. The first eastward expansion was followed by one to the southeast and in the mid-14th century was protected by the longest wall, of which the Porta Castellina remains today. During the 500s and 600s urbanization increased; construction of the main church began and strengthened the religious presence in the city with the arrival of the Jesuits, Theatiner and Benedictine and the establishment of the Seminary of Higher Studies.
You can dive back into the past by simply walking along the streets of the city center and getting lost in the alleys of the old medieval quarters of Castilian and Monte. On the north side of Piazza Garibaldi, separated by Via Cavour, is the baroque church of San Rocco with a large portal in finely carved tuff that overlooks the city. A short distance away is the 17th century Bishop’s Palace, now the seat of the Diocesan Museum, one of the city’s main attractions. You can recognize the long baroque facade of Palazzo Trigona (18th century) to the right of the cathedral, which houses the City and Territory Museum. Along Via Monte, in a few dozen meters, is the northern wing of the 17th century Convent of the Trinity, home to the Municipal Art Gallery, which houses the Enthroned Madonna, an early 15th century fresco from the Franciscan Monastery of St. Mary of Jesus. Heading south you will soon reach the Aragonese castle (14th century).
Castles, walls, churches and palaces a few steps away, mark the path of travellers who may find themselves involved in the many festivals and cultural events offered by the city. First, is the Norman Palio that takes place in summer (between August 12 and 14), in the beautiful setting of the historical center; reminiscent of Piazza Armerina in all of its medieval splendor, with its music, ladies, horsemen and battles.
  Click to listen highlighted text! Nestled among the thick extensive forests, in the Erei mountains, in the heart of Sicily at an altitude of about 700 meters, is Piazza Armerina. Its enchanted lands have remained fertile through the course of its long history under the Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Normans, Swabians, Angevins and Aragonese. Today travelers from all over the world continue to come visit Villa Romana del Casale, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and are also surprised by many other things to discover and admire. Only Norman domination is known with certainty in the history of the place where Piazza is currently located, although some numismatic findings suggest the Greeks settled the area. In the 11th century the Normans built a citadel west of the city on the ruins of a majestic, ancient Roman dwelling which was called “palatia”, and that came from those who were called “Platia”. King William I of Sicily had set fire to and destroyed the city in 1161 in order to punish a rebellion led by Ruggero Sclavus, who had murdered the Arab population. It was then rebuilt on higher ground, on Armerino Hill, by William II in 1163 and repopulated with people from the northern “Lombard” areas. Even today, the town is known to be part of the so-called “Lombard municipalities” of Sicily, whose dialect (belonging to the group called “Gallo-Italic of Sicily”) has little to do with the indigenous languages and much to do with those northern regions of Piedmont especially the areas of Montferrat. The first eastward expansion was followed by one to the southeast and in the mid-14th century was protected by the longest wall, of which the Porta Castellina remains today. During the 500s and 600s urbanization increased; construction of the main church began and strengthened the religious presence in the city with the arrival of the Jesuits, Theatiner and Benedictine and the establishment of the Seminary of Higher Studies. You can dive back into the past by simply walking along the streets of the city center and getting lost in the alleys of the old medieval quarters of Castilian and Monte. On the north side of Piazza Garibaldi, separated by Via Cavour, is the baroque church of San Rocco with a large portal in finely carved tuff that overlooks the city. A short distance away is the 17th century Bishop’s Palace, now the seat of the Diocesan Museum, one of the city’s main attractions. You can recognize the long baroque facade of Palazzo Trigona (18th century) to the right of the cathedral, which houses the City and Territory Museum. Along Via Monte, in a few dozen meters, is the northern wing of the 17th century Convent of the Trinity, home to the Municipal Art Gallery, which houses the Enthroned Madonna, an early 15th century fresco from the Franciscan Monastery of St. Mary of Jesus. Heading south you will soon reach the Aragonese castle (14th century). Castles, walls, churches and palaces a few steps away, mark the path of travellers who may find themselves involved in the many festivals and cultural events offered by the city. First, is the Norman Palio that takes place in summer (between August 12 and 14), in the beautiful setting of the historical center; reminiscent of Piazza Armerina in all of its medieval splendor, with its music, ladies, horsemen and battles.

 

 


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