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Aidone is a small town situated in central-southern Sicily a lttle way north-east of Piazza Armerina. Like many towns in the region, the architecture in Aidone was very affected by the earthquake of 1693 and the subsequent baroque style rebuilding of many monuments in the town.
Your tour of Aidone
Among the religious buildings worthy of special mention in Aidone are the Church and Convent of St. Anne.
This church, originally dedicated to Santa Rosalia, dates back to the first half of the 17th century and is rich in paintings of religious subjects representing the 'Immacolata ", “San Pasquale Baylon”, and St. Francis of Paola.
The church has a simple and unadorned architectural style that contrasts with the baroque richness of the central altar, beautifully decorated with marble inlays in two colors, black and white.
Besides the paintings mentioned above, you can see a 16th century font by the school by Antonello Gagini (1478-1536), an inlaid cabinet (17th century) and a carved 17th century wooden crucifix by Brother Umile da Petraia which is very realistic.
Another interesting church in Piazza Umberto is the Church of San Leone, built in 1090 using megalithic blocks from the ruins of Morgantina. The church was dedicated to Pope Leo II (Roman Catholic Pope from August 682 to July 683), in the year of his proclamation as a saint.
According to tradition Pope leo II was a native of Aidone and raised and educated in a Benedictine monastery on the hill of the Citadel. The old temple was destroyed by an earthquake in 1693, and the reconstruction was in Baroque style.
In Piazza Dante it is the façade of San Domenico that stands out, embossed and with a diamond tip in the style known as 'plateresque' (a very ornate style of architecture of the 15th-16th century) and done in imitation of silverware (called 'plata in Spanish, from which the name "plateresque" comes), which spread from Catalonia to Sicily and southern Italy.
The church suffered a great deal of damage in the earthquake of 1693, and was reconstructed in Baroque style, as can be seen in the portal.
To get a sense of the history of Aidone we suggest you visit the museum, housed in the former Capuchin monastery and built in the early 17th century. You enter the museum from the church of San Francesco. The museum tells the history of Morgantina from the Bronze Age to the Roman Republic, with material from excavations conducted in the 1950s. The exhibition, in four halls, is chronological and thematic and accompanied by maps and information panels.
The first three rooms are devoted to the main stages of the site's history from prehistoric times to the first ancient city on the “Citadel”, while the fourth room exhibits materials that illustrate specific themes of urban life, such as crafts, trade, and religious life.
The Cathedral Church of St. Lorenzo, near the Castle, is probably the oldest of Aidone, but the present form dates from a reconstruction in the 18th century, which also occurred after the earthquake of 1693.
The façade was rebuilt using the oldest material, but the original gothic portal was recovered.
Among other notable churches in Aidone are the Church of Maria SS. Delle Grazie, which has a valuable 17th century painting depicting the procession of the "Holy Sicilian Virgins".
The church of Sant'Antonio Abate, according to tradition, was a mosque converted into a Christian church by the Normans, as evidenced by the pointed arch doorway in the wall to the south, now walled up, and small slits on the sides.
The latest restoration work in the church has uncovered a fresco, dated 1581 and showing the "Temptation of St. Anthony." On the left are represented scenes from the life of the saint, the temptations of the devil on the right.
Continuing through the town you arrive in front of the ruins of the medieval castle of Pietratagliata, situated on a cliff. The building probably dates back to the Arab-Norman period and acted as a lookout. The first historical documents about it date back to the 14th century.
Further along the ancient Via Erbitea you reach the ruins of 'Herbita', the city that scholars believed to be the ancient site of Aidone until it was identified instead as Morgantina.
In the Piazza Cordova the Adelasia Tower is now the bell tower of the annexed church of Santa Maria La Cava. Of the original Norman plan it retains the ogival portal and the inside of the vault.
This church has ancient origins, having been founded in the 12th century by Adelasia, grand-daughter of Count Ruggero d'Altavilla under the name “Santa Maria Lo Plano”.
Of the medieval plan the church has only kept the apse and the tower. The bronze door of the façade represents scenes from the life of St. Philip the Apostle, known as the "Black" because of the carved ebony statue, which is of uncertain age and style.
Finally, lovers of archaeology will want to visit the ancient Greek city of Morgantina at 2km from Aidone.
See also Aidone history and etymology.
You can find more local travel ideas in the Sicily guide.