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Butera is a town with a growing tourism industry and with many points of interest in and around the town, from religious buildings to the Necropolis, from the Castle of Falconara to the “Marina di Butera”. The route here from Gela is also very scenic.
Your visit can start with Butera castle. Some parts of the castle are now incorporated into newer structures, including some rooms with vaulted ceilings.
Of particular artistic value is the tower, in which a mullioned window is still visible and that contains several rooms with sculptural decorations - among them the Santapau coat of arms, consisting of a two-headed eagle taking a chain and a sword. The large castle courtyard, enclosed by walls, is now used as a public square.
During the excavations here at Butera three large underground tanks were found that contained fragments of pottery from the Middle Ages.
Starting to explore the town from the Piazza Duomo you can see the Mother Church of Saint Thomas. The church has a Latin cross form with a dome and vaulted ceiling, and ancient origins as evidenced by the central portal dating from 1195.
Inside the church there are various items of considerable value such as a Byzantine enamelled cross of the 6th century, while on the main altar are the 'Assumption of the Madonna" and “Santa Maria degli Angeli” by Filippo Paladino.
In the interior of the Church there are other paintings by unknown authors, representing the apostles, such as St. John and St. Luke the Evangelist. There is also a “Deposition from the Cross” by Rosario Tinnirello, a local 18th century painter.
Another church with interesting works of art in Butera is the Church of Saint Francis, the first construction of which dates to the Middle Ages.
In this church there is a work by F. Paladino, the 'Assumption of Mary", and works by local painter Rocco Martino ("St. Francis of Assisi” and "San Michele"). There is also a wooden cross with a Christ painting by Domenichino, who was, with the Carracci, a major Bolognese painter of the 17th century.
Some interesting artwork is also visible in the Church of San Rocco (Rocco is the patron saint of Butera), where you can see a dozen paintings by Domenico Provenzano (1736-1794), a painter who was active in the province of Agrigento.
The works of Paladino are a source of great pride for Butera. Although Paladino was a native of Florence he lived and worked in Sicily, where he gave the best of his artistic production. Paladino had a rather eventful and adventurous life.
After escaping from Milan on charges of having committed a crime, he fled to Rome where he enjoyed the protection of the Colonna family. This family sent him to one of their estates in Sicily, where he worked all his life.
He was a painter who draws inspiration from the Tuscan forms of Andrea del Sarto, with a strong taste for colour, working in Palermo, Vizzini, Mineo and Messina.
Other highlights in and near Butera
For lovers of archaeology an obligatory stop is on the so-called Piano della Fiera to see the excavated site of a necropolis with finds ranging from the 9th to the 2nd century BC. The oldest record of Butera comes from four tombs in this necropolis. Among the objects found we should mention a bronze fibula with a winding arch, two decorated jugs and two vases with painted decoration.
Your cultural tour of Butera can perhaps finish with a trip to the Castle of Falconara, on the coastal road that connects Gela with Licata (Agrigento). The castle is almost half-way along the route, situated on a promontory overlooking the sea, and dates from the 14th century. Like many other castles built during the reign of Martin I, Falconara rose as a bastion against the Arab incursions: Gela was very vulnerable and subjected to looting in 1399.
The complaints of the Sicilian cities towards Martin I were pressing, and at first the Sovereign planned a naval rearmament, but it went too slowly. Therefore in 1405 Martin the Younger began the project for the construction of some "Turres.” The construction of these towers proceeded slowly, and not all that Martin the Younger had wanted were built.
The castle has belonged to the Chiaramonte-Bordonaro family since the 19th century and is open to the public for special occasions and weddings.
Time for a break...
Finally, along the route between Butera and the Castello di Falconara, we recommend a pause in a local restaurant, in order to taste the typical Sicilian cuisine and also local specialities such as the so-called "Muffolette" - loaves of bread and fennel seeds, baked and seasoned with olive oil, salt and pepper.
See also Butera history and etymology.
Where is Butera?
The town of Butera is found in south-west Sicily, a little inland from the coast and north-west of Gela.
You can find more local travel ideas in the Sicily guide.