From above Centuripe looks like the body of a man lying on a green hill with his arms and hands open. But the town shows its best side through its streets and viewpoints. Perched on an elevation of about 730 meters, Centuripe offers unique views over the surrounding river valleys (Simeto, Salso and Dittaino valleys), the Catania Plain and the solemn mass of Etna, which is why Garibaldi called it “the balcony of Sicily “.
As well as offering a unique perspective of the landscape Sicilian hinterland, Centuripe has numerous archaeological indicators of a long history characterized by many rulers.
The ruins of Bronze Age tombs tell us that the origins of Centuripe dates back to over 4,000 years ago, when Sicani inhabited Sicily. Founded by the Siculi, towards the 8th century BC, the town was soon Hellenized and from the fourth century. B.C. became part of Syracuse, even enjoying great prosperity during the Hellenistic period. However it was during the time of the Roman Empire that Centuripe saw its heyday, which is attested by the many impressive ruins, monuments and a rich complex of sculptures and numerous inscriptions.
Several factors suggest that in that in the 2nd century a local family came to console the son of one of the members of Emperor Hadrian’s entourage, who allowed Centuripe to establish a flourishing relationship with Rome.
The immense wealth of archaeological remains today bear witness to its past splendor, however, for the most part, they remain outside of the city, scattered throughout Italian museums in Catania, Syracuse, Palermo, Trapani, Naples, Rome and Milan, but also abroad in the museums of Paris, Berlin, London and New York. Among the most evocative finds remaining in Centuripe are the Augustali Roman Baths from the 1st-2nd century (a raised building which overlooked a colonnaded street), two Monumental tower tombs, the Customs (of which only the upper floor is visible) and the Corradino Castle. The ruins preserved in the Regional Archaeological Museum of Centuripe, which recently opened are also worth noting.
In medieval times Centuripe was destroyed by Federico II of Swabia in the 13th century AD, and re-founded three centuries later. The urban layout that remains today was designed for 16th century animal drawn viability with its quaint narrow streets.
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