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Caltabellotta, in the Agrigento district of western Sicily, is set on Mount "Kratas", to the south of the Sicanian Mountains in an almost impregnable position surrounded by three peaks: Monte Pellegrino, Monte Castello and the Gogala cliff. It is a beatiful location and views from here are stunning.
The original medieval town of Caltabellotta occupies the top of the mountain, while the successive expansions and modifications, dating from the 16th and 17th centuries, occupy the slopes below. The oldest part of town, called Terravecchia, is located around the Mother Church, dominated by the ruins of the fortress of Castelvecchio.
The cathedral was built by Count Roger in the Norman period after the victory over the Muslims, and has three naves supported by sturdy pillars; the main portal and the top part of the structure of the interior date from the 13th century. The church holds a few statues such as the "Madonna della Catena" by Giacomo Gagini (1517-1598) and the “Madonna and Child” by Fazio Gagini [1520-1567] (son of Antonello).
The highlight of the cathedral is the chapel of "Santa Maria della Catena" which is decorated with 16th century stucco and frescoes by Antonino Ferraro da Giuliana. Ferraro was one of the most important 16th century wood carvers and specialised in religious works with a strong realism.
To the left side of the church is the bell tower, consisting of a square tower, while to north of the church are the ruins of the so-called "Castelvecchio", of uncertain origin.
Other Caltabellotta monuments
Behind the Cathedral the remains of the castle are of Arab origin, probably dating from the second half of the 11th century and subsequently modified by the Normans.
It was in the castle of Caltabellota that in 1302 the famous Treaty of Caltabellotta was signed, between Frederick II of Aragon (1272-1337) and Charles of Valois (1270-1325), which ended the War of the Vespers.
Further down the hill the Church of Saint Augustine was built in the first half of the 14th century. It houses a large group of polychrome terracotta of the “Deposition” by Antonino Ferraro.
Your artistic journey can continue with a visit to the rocky Church of Santa Maria della Pietà, dating back to the Byzantine period, and the church of San Francesco, which belonged to the Capuchin monastery. Inside this church and worthy of mention is the altarpiece by Fra’ Felice da Sambuca (Gioacchino Viscosi, 1734-1805) depicting the “Madonna and Child.”
Also of particular note is the 16th century Carmine Church which houses a statue by Antonello Gagini (1478-1536) depicting the "Madonna delle Grazie," and a marble statue representing the "Mater Lactans", by Fazio Gagini.
Further up is the Hermitage of San Pellegrino which you can visit. The hermit, according to a local folk-tale, is considered to be the first Bishop of the ancient Triokala, then you reach a 17th century church dedicated to the same saint, carved into the rock, in the interior of which is a baroque style statue of the patron saint.
Caltabellotta is located in a natural habitat that has few comparisons and a very wide variety of landscapes, where we go from the citrus groves of the coast to the beautiful mountain areas often covered in almond trees.
Traditional cuisine of Caltabellotta
The local almonds are used for preparing dishes such as "froscia" a dish made with eggs, bread, grated cheese, cottage cheese, milk, fried asparagus , salt, pepper and other herbs.
In addition to the excellent bread seasoned with the typical olive oil of the area, we suggest you try one of the most traditional dishes of the area, called "Patate a sfinciuni", a small cake made with potatoes, eggs, bread crumbs and black pepper.
Places to visit nearby
A few kilometers from Caltabellotta is the village of St. Anna, founded in the 17th century by Francis Alliata, Prince of Villafranca, and probably the site of the ancient city of "Triokala".
See also Caltabellotta history and etymology.
You can find more local travel ideas in the Sicily guide.