Vizzini is a city with a rich architectural heritage in the countryside of south-eastern Sicily (west of Syracuse).
Although we focus mostly on the churches of Vizzini since they offer the most architectural and artistic interest, be sure to also see the other monuments such as the town hall and the tanneries...
Start your visit to Vizzini at one of the most important religious buildings, the Mother Church of St. Gregory the Great, the patron saint of the city. The church incorporates several architectural styles, from the Gothic-Catalan portal to the late-Baroque style main facade.
The church interior has three naves with octagonal columns and arches. It also contains some paintings by Filippo Paladino (1544-1614) and a baptistery dating back to the beginning of the 17th century. The chapel is of late-Baroque style, while the ceiling of the aisle was sculpted by Natale Bonajuto in the 18th century.
Basilica of Saint Vito
Cllose to here is the Basilica of Saint Vito, of neoclassic style and which is also called the "Golden Church" because of its rich gilding. In the interior are an altar of Antonello Gagini’s School (1478-1536), a carved wooden crucifix, a statue (15th century) carved in wood, depicting S. Michael the Archangel.
Church of the Saints Annunziata
The church of the SS. Annunziata is attached to an ancient monastery that already existed at the time of the pilgrimage of Saint Anthony of Padua (1195-1231) in 1225. This monastery was destroyed in the earthquake of 1693, then rebuilt and connected to the existing church of Saint Catherine, which was later dedicated to the “SS. Annunziata”.
Inside, note particularly the Baroque frescoes. In the cloister you can still see the well of the convent and the bases of the columns as well as a cave called “St. Antonio”, where we can see the remains of an ancient polychrome ceramic flooring.
Other Vizzini churches and religious monuments
In the Church of Saint Agata there is a large 18th century altarpiece by G. Bonino depicting the martyrdom of the saint to whom the church is dedicated, a crucifix and the Byzantine-style chapel of the Sacrament of Baroque style. The church also currently holds a triptych of the 15th century, depicting the "Madonna and Child" and other holy figures.
The Church of Saint Helen, better known as "Holy Madonna of the Hazard," contains within it the cave in which was found a 5th century painting of the Madonna. It is said that in this church St. Gregory the Great celebrated Mass, and for this reason it is now a pilgrimage site.
The church and convent of Saint Mary of Jesus was founded in 1469 by the Franciscans. Inside stands a work of the so-called "White Lady", attributed to Gagini.
The Basilica of Saint John was rebuilt in Baroque style in the late 18th century. St. John's Basilica is located near the old church of St. Barbara, attached to the convent of the Capuchin Fathers. The church was enriched by stucco decorations, as well as valuable works: the altar is carved with a "Deposition", attributed to F. Paladino.
The church of Saint Teresa was once dedicated to the souls of Purgatory, which then became Saint Mary of the Consolation.
Civic and non-religious buildings
The Town hall is among the architectural works of particular merit in Vizzini. Note the inscription SPQB ("Senatus populusque Bidiniensis" [The Senate and People of Vizzini]) which tells us out that Vizzini had a senate and was governed by its own laws.
Built in a composite style around 1800 there are also some important aristocratic palaces such as the Cafici, Catalani, and Trao Palaces. Of particular interest is the home of the family of Giovanni Verga and the other buildings along the Via Roma.
A special feature of Vizzini is the so-called "Cunziria" (Tannery). This tannery is very ancient, dating from Roman times. This tannery process was fairly complex and took a month and also needed large amounts of water - hence it developed in an area very rich in springs.
The area around the tannery was also called the “valley of the mills” and even today we can admire two of them still in fair condition.