Centuripe is an ancient town in eastern Sicily with a history that goes back to at least the 5th century BC. The town is spread out across the ridges of several hills so the town has a 'starfish' shape - or if viewed from the air, the shape of a man with outstretched arms and legs.
The town has avoided mass tourism but visitors can still find several notable highlights including the parts of the original defensive walls that still surround the town, several churches, an interesting archaeological museum and views across to Mount Etna which is only about 20 kilometres from here.
Your visit to Centuripe can begin at the 17th century Church of the Immaculate Conception. The church has undergone several renovations over the centuries and now has a facade on three levels, the last of which contains the clock and bells. Inside there are three naves and the interior is richly decorated with stucco, twisted columns and floral elements. Each side nave contains a series of marble altars and paintings, and the baptismal font is on the left.
Close to here you can also visit the Church of the SS. Purgatorio, the ancient Mother Church of Centuripe. This church was also established in the 17th century and is now used for exhibitions and cultural events.
The picturesque staircase of St. Joseph behind the main church leads to a chapel that is richly decorated with stucco, twisted columns, cherubs and paintings with colourful stories from the Bible, and on the main altar you can see “the passion of St Joseph”, by an unknown 19th century artist.
Near this church is the Archaeological Museum of Centuripe, divided into various sections that explain the city's history in terms of its human settlement. The section devoted to the history of the city is divided into several sections covering the phases of life in Centuripe from prehistory to late antiquity, while another section is devoted to artefacts uncovered during excavations, and another to local cemeteries.
In front of here is the 19th century Church of the SS. Crucifix, with a simple gabled façade and a bell tower covered with multicolored ceramic tiles. In nearby Piazza Lanuvio, named in memory of the twinning between Centuripe and Lanuvio, there is a modern Town Hall built next to the 17th-18th century Church of St. Augustine.
Among the other religious buildings of interest in Centuripe and its immediate surroundings are the Church of San Nicholas; the Church of the Annunciation, built in the 18th century in a panoramic position on a hill overlooking the entire valley; and the Calvary church, built on the rock of the same name.
In Centuripe old town you can also see the imposing Castle of Conradin, which is actually the remains of a large Roman mausoleum.
Battle of Centuripe
The town also has the misfortune to have a battle named after it. As German defeats began to grow in the Second World War and the Allied Forces made progress across Sicily, ther Germans decided to establish a stronghold. Because of its inaccessible position they chose Centuripe, which they heavily fortified.
The Battle of Centuripe was a period of heavy fighting in the streets of the town from the 2-4 August 1943 before the Germans lost and retreated. This defeat was quite quickly followed by defeats elsewhere across Sicily and the total withdrawal of the Germans from the island.
See also history of Centuripe
Other points of interest in Centuripe
While you are visiting Centuripe you should take the opportunity to try the typical gastronomic products. We give a special mention to the so-called 'Bersagliere', a type of biscuit covered with chocolate and produced from a recipe dating back to 1943 during the Second World War. By way of comparison you can also try the 'Cookies 24 hours', that are the traditional biscuits of Centuripe.
Centuripe has also been known since ancient times for its pottery, a production that continues today with artistic ceramics and pottery that faithfully reproduce vases, statues and theatrical masks from the archaic period until the Middle Ages.
Where is Centuripe?
You can find more local travel ideas in the Sicily guide.