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Sutera is a Municipality of Arabian origins and lies at the feet of the Mountain San Paolino. Part of its historic-architectonic inheritance is the Chiesa Madre (the main Church), which was edified in the 18th century in a late baroque style in three naves; the Chiesa del Carmine (Church of the Carmine), built in 1934 on a previous plant of 1185, in whose inside is warded a marble aspersorium of the 16th century; the Chiesa di Sant’Agata (the Saint Agatha Church), realized in the 15th century, which opens itself upon a wide staircase, that antecedes an inside with three naves, with trimming vaults; the Chiesa di Santa Maria degli Agonizzanti (the Church of Saint Mary of the Moribunds), of the 17th century.
Suggestive to the visitors’ eyes is the Sanctuary of Saint Paolino, founded at the mountain top, above the ruins of an ancient castle of 1370, that keeps the memorabilia of Saint Paolino and those of Saint Onofrio, nearby which a small convent of the 18th century is erected. Not very far from the town centre there is the archeological site of the Raffo district and the ethno-anthropological museum that wards typical tools of the agricultural civilization that are able to recompose a very detailed overall picture.
Sutera is a town rich in traditions and craftsmanship and thanks to the its Arabian origins it also keeps an historic centre of particular interest that represents a very appreciated touristic destination. Worth of note is the living nativity scene that is organized each year during Christmas time in the Rabato quarter and that attracts thousands of visitors.
This little city obtained the acknowledgment of the Orange Flag assigned to those Municipalities of the hinterland by the Italian Touring Club as excellent touristic area and it also obtained the acknowledgement and the certification of Italy’s most beautiful boroughs.
Little hinterland town of Caltanissetta’s province, the toponym Montedoro alludes to the richness of the territory due to the presence of numerous sulphur-mines, sulphur that in Sicily was compared to gold for centuries.
The constitution of the present city centre doesn’t put down its roots in very remote times but it goes back to the 17th century and precisely to the year 1636, when the nobleman Lord Don Diego Aragona Tagliavia Cortez obtained the licentia populandi, to populate the manor Balatazza.
Afterwards, in the 18th century, the manor’s administration passed to the hands of the Pignatelli Family, which ruled until the beginnings of the 19th century, that’s to say until the year 1812, the year when in Sicily were abolished all feudal rights.
Among the historic-architectonic witness of the past centuries culture, that constitute its artistic patrimony, it is worthy to be mentioned the Chiesa Madre (Main Church), realized in 1644 and restored during the 18th century, and where are warded valuable paintings and considerable artworks as a battledore with a baroque profile, a marble baptistery and a wonderful apsis.
Montedoro’s attractions are the abandoned sulphur-mines and its astronomic observatory.
Mussomeli, Municipality in the province of Caltanissetta, put its roots in the ancient pre-Hellenic period, at Sicans and Siculians times. Some thousands years later the lands of Mussomeli were inhabited by Romans that chose them because they were, during wars – for the geographic position at Sicily’s centre – a place of connection between the centre of Sicily and the coasts. It was possessed by the Normans and then by the Suabians and the Angevins under which it knew a particular urbanistic and architectonic development.
In the historic centre there are notable noble dwellings as Palazzo Trabia, Palazzo Langela, Palazzo Minneci and Palazzo Sgadari (the last one used a san archeological museum). There is also the civic tower, built by the Lanza family in 1533.
Countless are the churches built in the course of the centuries, among which we find the Chiesa Madre of San Ludovico and the Sanctuary dedicated to Holy Mary of Miracles, patroness of the town, that is worshipped the 8th and the 15th September of every year. Also remembering the Church of Saint Margaret of the 14th century with the adjacent cloister, the Parrocchia of San Giovanni Battista and the churches of Santa Maria, Sant’Enrico, Maria SS. del Carmelo, Cristo Re, the Clock Tower, the Church of the Mountains, found in 1500, the Church of San Antonio of the 15th century. Worth of note is also the fountain “Indovina”.
Mussomeli’s monument of most attraction and interest is certainly the Castle “Manfredonico Chiaramontano”, of gothic-roman style placed about 800 meters, which is among Sicily’s fortified buildings the most preserved, and with its articulated millstone it dominates the whole valley below, placed in a strategic position from where it dominates the underlying territory.
At its inside we find the Chapel, of intense mystical atmospheres, the Hall called of the Barons, with its portals of estimable Chiaramontano Style, the “Cammara di li tri Donni” (the room of the three women), with its delicate textures and its extremely curate furnishings which clearly reflects female taste. Also interesting are the Halls with cross vaults, the Halls with ogee arches, the undergrounds where, according to popular voices, were warded wonderful reassures and where happened mysterious vicissitudes. In the undergrounds there are the armory hall, grooves and prisons.
Municipality of the Agrigentinean coast, Realmonte is nowadays known all over the world as the town of the “Scala dei turchi”, a marne rocky wall (a sedimentary rock of limy and clayey nature) that rises sheer on the sea.
It became through time a tourist attraction both for the extraordinariness of the cliff, of the white colour, and the particular ondulation and irregular staircase shape, and for the following popularity gained by the televisual transposition of novels written by Andrea Camilleri, with the starring role of the commissary Montalbano.
The degrading brims with layers confer them a very suggestive aspect, stressed, in its turn, by the strong chromatic contrasts, if we think about the light blue of the sea and the sky opposed to the rock’s blinding white.
The name “Scala dei turchi” derives from the past pirate incursions of the Saracens, Arabian people, and, for convention, Turkish; Turkish pirates, in fact, found refuge in this area less beaten by winds then a more secure landing place.
The Municipality of Realmonte started the iter for the site’s acknowledgement among the UNESCO goods (humanity heritage), a sit already is Agrigento’s Temple Valley, from which it’s less than 10 km far.
Santo Stefano di Quisquina is found in the Majestic and pleasant Magazzolo valley. It arises 732 meters upon the sea level and is 73km far from Agrigento. The territory, rich of water and fertile lands, underwent different dominations and civilizations (Sicans, Muslim, Norman, Austrian and Spanish ones), but the first certain data go back to the 1729 when the town was dedicated to Saint Stephan, probably because the area is crowned by mountains, from the Greek “STEFANOS” which means crown.
You have to visit the beautiful buildings of the 18th century and in particular the Chiesa Madre of the XVI century dedicated to Saint Nicola of Bari, which wards a wood incised Crucifix, the Church of the Sanctuary of Saint Rosalia, placed in a pleasant place, rich in vegetation and situated between the mountains “Cammarata” and “of the Roses”. Famous are the urban architectures as the baronial palace of the Ventimiglia of the year 1745 and the divine fountain with four basins of the 18th century, placed in piazza Castello.
Authentic pearl of the territory is without doubt the Hermitage of S. Rosalia to the Quisquina immerged in the very beautiful forest of secular oaks, destination of pilgrimages and visitors. The cult of Santa Rosalia had origins in 1624 at the finding of the cave and of the epigraph which witnessed the presence in hermitage of the Saint.
The building complex got gradually developed at the mountain forming a building ensemble which are an admirable example of architecture integrated into the natural environment; inside there are frescoes, canvases, holy furnishings, a rich archive, and above all an altar in polychromatic marbles and built in a mosaic style.
Nearby the ashram there is the suggestive cave where Saint Rosalia lived for twelve years.
Aragona, little town of Agrigento’s hinterland, was fonde by the Lord Don Baldassare III Naselli.
Monuments of the town’s interest are Palace Naselli, built at the beginning of the 18th century and enriched with the frescoes of Borremans., the Church of SS. Rosario built in 1689, the Main Church, tracing back to 1606, the Convent of the “Cappuccini” of 1692, the Church of the Carmelo, realized in 1813, the Crypt of the Rosario Church (1689), the Church of the Purgatory (17th century), the Rotulo Palace of the 18th century.
But the best known and singular attractive of Aragona is constituted, without doubts, by the reserve of the “Macalube”. The maccalube are important emissions of natural gas that have origines after the diapirism. The reserve’s area of most interest is the hill of the “little vulcans”, a bleak area, with a colour that goes from the whitish to the dark grey, populated by a series of mud “vulcanelli” (little vulcans), about a meter tall.
The “vulcanelli are the result of a rare geological phenomenon defined sedimentary volcanism. The phenomenon is bound to the presence of clayey ground floor little consistent, interjected by saltish water levels, that overhang methane gas bubbles put under a determined pressure. The gas, through the discontinuità of the ground, appears on the surface, dragging with it clay sediments and water, that result in a cone of mud, whose top is completely similar to a volcanic crater.
The phenomenon sometimes assumes an explosive character, with the expulsion of clayey material mixed to gas and water, thrown at a remarkable height. During the rainy season the creation of little ponds favours the amphibia reproduction and the presence of an abbundant population of reptiles. The Reserve is, moreover, a hunting territory of some species of raptors and a rest area for birds during their migration period.
Porto Empedocle, is a typical seaside town, enriched by different historical and cultural places that interleave with the local morphological beauties, as for example its beaches that extend themselves for almost 3 Km, giving birth to one of the most beautiful Mediterranean shorelines.
Porto Empedocle is also the birthplace of illustrious writers as Luigi Pirandello and the most current Andrea Camilleri.
Porto Empedocle’s history is bound, regarding its far origins, to the history of the near Agrigento, of which once it was the “Caricatore” (Loader), inhabited by a little group of fishermen and narrow between the sea and the overlying hills. Already from 1130 under the first Norman king Roger II it had a remarkable importance for the commercial traffic that took place there. Afterwards Frederick I of Sicily, with interventions upon the docking, improved its conditions until they reached an out-and-out development in 1400, when it was recognized among Sicily’s best dockings.
In 1554 the Spanish vice king Don Giovanni Vega, commanded by Charles V, let rebuild an old watchtower for the defense of the borough from the attacks of the Saracen pirates; the involved tower is the present tower called Carlo V, symbol and historic memory of the town.
Around 1830 the dock began assuming a remarkable importance for the sulphur export so many merchants coming from different places, but above all from the near Agrigento, moved there contributing giving birth to a true inhabited centre endowed with churches, palaces, deposits, caffés etc.
By now what before was called “Marina di Girgenti” (harbor of Agrigento) and then “Molo di Girgenti” (dock of Agrigento) set out to obtain the allowed independence, after a series of whirligigs, in 1851 by king Ferdinand II. Afterwards, following Italy’s unity, with the decree of 4th January 1863 assumed the present denomination of Porto Empedocle.
Palma di Montechiaro rises upon a hill on the coastal strip, little far from the chief town Agrigento. The presence of numerous Sicans tombs shows that in this territory, since ancient times, there were human settlements, whose inhabitants were devoted to agriculture and sheep-farming.
The town of Palma was founded the 3rd May, 1637 in the barony of Montechiaro, by the twin brothers Carlo, Baron Tomasi, and Giulio. But the effective author of the foundation was a mighty uncle of the twins, Mario Tomasi de Caro, Captain of the Holy Office of the Inquisition of Licata, and governor of the same town, from where also came Carlo and Giulio Tomasi, after having obtained the 16th January, 1637 the “licentia populandi” by king Philipp IV of Spain.
The town rises upon a rocky hill from where it dominates the underlying valley, which extends itself until the sea. The historical monuments of the second ducal palace (1659), the very beautiful Chiesa Madre (1666) at the top of a large staircase and the Monastery of the Benedettine (1637), the town’s first building, stand out in the foreground, clearly visible from the expressway that crosses the valley.
The ducal palace was built after that the first one was incorporated into the Monastery of the Benedettine (1653-1659 ). It shows a simple and compact exterior with two large facades, one side towards the sea and the other one towards Orient, joined to the main floor level from a corner balcony.
The building is characterized by an extension of painted wooden coffered ceilings that cover the eight halls of the first floor and run along two parallel bands, one towards the sea and the other one towards the hill.
Characterizing are the ceilings of the army hall, those of the equestrian and religious military orders, those entirely dedicated to the Order of Saint James of the Sword, to which the duke Giulio was aggregated, those with the ducal emblem of the Tomasi, quartered with the emblems of the Caro, La Restia, Traina and finally the angular hall that contained the weapons of the Tomasi with the rampant leopard on the profile of the three tops’ mountain. Here you find the most magnificient decoration with the most deeply carved lacunars and white, red and gold painted.
Among different “Chiaramontani” castles in Sicily, that of Palma is the only one built on a rocky Cliffside overlooking the sea. Realized in 1353 it was, for its strategic position, of great importance in the history of the fight against the pirates. Left to degradation for a long time, only a few years ago it received restoration works It’s worth of mention that inside the chapel is warded a statue of the Holy Mother that the Caputo attributes to Antonello Gagini.
The palace of the Scolopi, which contains today the municipal offices, is certainly one of the most beautiful of the late-baroque assets. Placed against the Palace is the Church of the Holy Family, with which it constitutes a unique architectural ensemble.
Built between 1653 and 1659, the monastery of the Benedettine incorporated the first ducal Palace. It is found on a semi-circular and impervious staircase, in a square square with streets that cross each other in the place that once was signed by the column with the cross.
It was opened the 12th June, 1659. The monastery has a simple aspect with windows without decorations. On the internal court yard, indeed, there are overlooking windows decorated in baroque style. Indoors, the parlor has barrel vaults from where it is possible to accede to a garden rich in trees, where is placed a sculpture of the Saint Benedict Holy Mother. The nuns ward, moreover, Our Lady of the “Colomba Rosata” (pink pigeon). Even today it is one of the few cloistered monasteries in Sicily, whose access is prohibited to almost everybody.
Among all Palma’s Churches that wich has more importance is the Main Church (Chiesa Madre), that, placed on the top of a wide staircase, represents one of the most significative artworks of the Sicilian Baroque.
City of ancient origins, Naro is affected by the Greek, Roman, Byzantine and Arabian influence.
The town, during the Arabian period, was amplified and fortified, but in 1086 it was conquered by Ruggero, the Norman. With the Suabians, it was appointed parliamentary town and called “Fulgentissima” (brilliantly radiant) by Frederick II of Swabia, who assigned it such title counting it among the 23 Royals or Parlamentaries of the Reign of Sicily.
Every state property town of the reign was put at the head of a comarca, subdivision that was maintained until 1793, when the “comarche” were substituted by the districts and Naro’s territory was disjointed and included into the district of Girgenti (Agrigento).
The “comarca” of Naro included the present territories of Canicattì, Sommatino, Delia, Camastra, Grotte, Racalmuto, Castrofilippo and Campobello di Licata.
In 1263 the town was provided with a fortified town walls and on the walls were originally opened six doors: the Door of the Phoenix, the Door of Saint George and the Golden Door (or Old Door) on the north versant, the Girgenti Door and the Door of the “Annunziata” (the Announced one) on the meridional versant, the Door of Saint Augustine on the west side. A seventh door was opened on the south-eastern side in 1377: the Door of Licata.
At the beginning of the 14th century it was a golden age for the town, under the castellany of Pietro Lancia and the political relevance of the town grew at the point that king Frederick III of Aragona promulgates from Naro’s castle the 21 chapter for the good government of the town in 1309 (in 1324 according to some historians).
Afterwards it will follow a period of economic decadence caused by half century internal fights, decadence that will be surmounted starting from the year 1366, when the town passes into the hands of Matteo Chiaramonte and so it will start an intense cultural and artistic period during which is built the Church of Saint Catherine, is defined the Oratory of Saint Barbara, the Castle is amplified and the “Matrice” is probably restored and enlarged, which at the end of the century obtains by the king Martin the Young the title of Cathedral.
Naro is very rich in history, as it is witnessed by monuments and artworks that it hosts.
In Naro’s territory, moreover, is found the lake Saint John, that is few kilometers distant from the city centre and has hosted canoeing tournaments at European and International level.
Of Medieval period are the Castle of the Chiaramonte (monument of national interest), the Ancient Norman Cathedral, the Golden Door, the Saint Catherine Church, the Palace “Malfitano Giacchetto”.
In Baroque style are the Church of SS. Salvatore, Church of Saint Niccolò of Bari, The Mother Church and the former Jesuit college, the Church of Saint Augustine, the church and the former cloister of Saint Francis, the Church of Saint Calogero.
The most ancient human witnesses in the territory of Favara are traced back to the late bronze age (about 2400-1990 BC). In historic époque the territory of Favara was interested by the Greek domination, of which remain signs in Contrada Caltafaraci, where should emerge a fortification. The Muslim domination period is witnessed by the resettlement in Contrada Saraceno and by the permanence of numerous toponyms of Arabian matrix, among which the same toponym of Favara, which derives from the Arabian fawwāra, that means “fount”. During the Norman period were built many country houses, among which the Chiaramonte Castle. During the 15th century, Favara underwent a severe demographic crisis in particular between 1439 and 1464. The population grew up again from 1478 to 1497. Thanks to the De Marinis family, Favara reached during the 16th century a wide demographic development.
Among the places of the town’s interest, beyond the numerous palaces and churches of the 16th and 17th centuries, above all stand out the Chiaramontano Castle, built in 1270, that overlooks the beautiful Square Cavour, and the very beautiful Cathedral.
The city of Agrigento disposes itself at the top of two pleasant hills, the Girgenti hill, on the west side, and the “Rupe Atenea”(the Atenea Cliff), on the east side, once separated by a valley created artificially by the philosopher Empedocle to permit the healthy air to circulate in the underlying town, which was affected by malaria.
The topping works, began in 1860, created an irregular open space surrounded by public and governmental buildings that are traced back to the end of the 19th century and the beginnings of the 20th century: the Palace of the Province and of the Prefecture; the Police headquarters, the headquarters of the Post; the further Palace Gil; the INAIL Palace; the Palace of the “Genio Civile”; the “Caserma dei Carabinieri” (police station), the Railway Station, the Bank of Italy.
On the east side, from the “Porta di Ponte”, we enter Atenea Street (ancient main street). The city’s main street, long and tortuous, it articulates itself from the beginning of the historic centre and ending in Square of the Municipality. More and more on the east side, the district of the “Rabato”, seriously damaged by the landfall of July 1966.
On the west side, next to the Church of Saint Calogero, starts a long avenue full of trees, the “Viale della Vittoria” (Victory Avenue), commonly called “la passeggiata” (the walk). Started in 1848, to assure work for the city’s unemployed people, it has determined a urban expansion, outside the ancient medieval town walls, towards east, until lapping the Rupe Atenea. On the right side, the Bonfiglio Villa with the Monument to the Fallen (1923), a Mario Rutelli artwork. From the avenue you can enjoy a magnificent view towards the underlying “Valle dei Templi” (Temples’ Valley) and the Mediterranean Sea.
In the second after war period, the city of Agrigento knew a disordered urban development that interested the western scope of the hill and the “under gas” district, immediately downstream the of the historical centre and the railway station, with the building of anonymous skyscrapers that have occulted the most part of its beautiful view. The disastrous landslide of the 19th July, 1966 marked Agrigento’s recent history, damaging ancient districts and leaving 7.500 inhabitants homeless. The need to give a home to all those people who remained without brought to the birth of many satellite districts, some kilometers from the city centre away.
One of the classical greek culture most representative archeological sites, included in 1998 by the UNESCO into the list of the Mankind World Heritage.
On a rocky ridge, that delimitates at south the upland where the classical village stood, still emerge the rests of the doric temples, of incertain attribution: from east to west, the temples of Hera or Giunone Lacinia, the majestic temple of the Concordia, one of the best preserved in the world, the temples of Eracle (Hercules), Olympic Zeus (Giove), Castor and Pollux (the Dioscuri) and Hephaistos (Volcano).
Further down, the plain of Saint Gregory crossed by the river Akragas, at whose outfall was the harbor of the ancient town.
Near the river, the temple dedicated to the God of Medicine, Asclepius. The ancient Akragas , in the 5th century BC, was a flourishing cultural centre: homeland of the pre-Socratic philosopher Empedocles, attended by Pindarus and Simonides. In Roman times, the town was visited by Cicero looking for proofs of the rapacity and misappropriations of the pro-consul Verres and described by Virgil in his Aeneid.
From the Middle Ages until the present day, the vestiges, the multiple views, the vegetation, the colours and the echoes of the lost civilizations have recalled and inspired many philosophers, writers, poets and painters, like Ludovico Ariosto, Goethe, Maupassant, Alexandre Dumas, Anatole France, Murilo Mendes, Lawrence Durrell, Francesco Lojacono, Nicolas de Stael, Salvatore Quasimodo, Luigi Pirandello.
Historical, naturalistic and landscaping goods of very great importance, the garden of the Kolimbethra, little valley situated in the heart of the “Valle dei Templi” of Agrigento, it is an authentic archeological and agricultural jewel of the “Valle dei Templi”, come to light after decades of neglect.
It’s an extraordinary garden for the magnificence of nature that finds here the maximum expression of its goodness and for the richness of the archeological findings, that still come to light.
A real paradise on earth.
The garden has been entrusted to the FAI in free concession by the Sicilian Region for a period of 25 years. In 2012 it arrived among the 10 finalists of the competition “Italy’s most beautiful park”.