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Caronia is a medieval hill town standing below a Norman castle near the coast of north-eastern Sicily, .
The structure of the medieval town is clearly visible even today in the old town of Caronia which, in spite of the inevitable modernization over the centuries, still retains the original layout in some small alleys and narrow winding streets.
The ramparts of the ancient fortifications originally enclosed the small village, which was entered through gates, one of which is still visible in the so-called “Arco Saraceno”, south of the town. It was largely rebuilt and dates back to pre-Norman times.
Churches in Caronia
The heart of the medieval city was formed by the buildings that stood around the Main Church, presumably dating from the same period as the Norman castle and dedicated to St. Nicholas of Bari (12th century). The church, with a single nave, stands out for its paintings representing "San Francesco di Paola" and the "Sacred Family", dating from the 18th century.
Among the other churches in Caronia is the Church of St. Blaise, the patron saint of Caronia, in which there is a statue of Saint Peter and a "Deposition" by Domenico Ferrandini (18th century).
The oldest church of the town is the Church of Madonna Annunziata, built in the 12th century by Queen Constance of Hauteville (1154-1198), mother of Frederick II of Swabia (1194-1250), who lived through a shipwreck.
The Church of St. Francis dates from the second half of the 16th century and it is characterized by a strict and simple style, in perfect agreement with its founders, the Capuchin friars of the “Confraternita dell’ Assunzione” [Confraternity of St. Mary of the Assumption].
The most important monument in Caronia is the Norman castle. This fortress is one of the most remarkable examples of Norman architecture in Sicily. The present castle was built in the years when Roger I (1031-1101) and Roger II (1095-1154) ruled. The building, placed in the walls of the fortified complex, was probably used by the court as a summer residence, and equipped with all amenities.
On both sides of the walls is a square tower, while the eastern front has a large entry portal with a double arched lintel, offset to the north of the facade. The ground floor was meant for storage while the upper floor was the real home, characterized by a lounge with a strong Islamic inspiration. Upstairs, the main hall is covered by a trough vault and nearby there are two rooms, one of rectangular shape, covered by a trough vault and one with a groin vault.
North-east of the castle there is a chapel dating from the 12th century and divided into three naves with pointed arches. According to studies by Wolfgang Krönig, in the walls of the castle and in parts of the passages, bricks of a large size have been used, presumably from the Roman period. Under the floor, there is a rectangular room with barrel vault or a cistern where rain water flowed from the roof.
Caronia and surrounding region
Caronia is the most forested small town in the Nebrodes Natural Park, and as well as beaches the town offers visitors who appreciate nature a habitat of great attraction, with a significant amount of plants. Nearby, toward the “Acqua dei Vitelli”, e “Contrada Moglia”, there is the wood of the Tassita, in which we found many species of fungus.
Mushrooms and meat...
Among other things, just in the Nebrodes Natural Park and especially in autumn, there is a fair called "Porcelli e Porcini”, celebrating meat dishes with mushrooms.
In the restaurants in and near Caronia you can taste some typical dishes of outstanding quality, such as the homemade “tagliatelle” with chickpeas, “risotto” with mushrooms, fried dried salted cod, and the so-called “Sfinci”, sweets fried and served with sweet “ricotta.”
You can find more local travel ideas in the Sicily guide.