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Visit Chiaramonte Gulfi
The hilltop town of Chiaramonte Gulfi has faced considerable challenges over the centuries - most notably the terrible earthquake that struck this part of Sicily in 1693 - but is still well preserved and today you can appreciate the typical medieval town centre, characterized by its steep staircases.
Explore Chiaramonte Gulfi: tourism and travel guide
Start your visit with a stroll around the heart of the old town, which is a pleasant centre with a few cafes and open squares and some ancient cobbled streets. You will quickly notice that the town has several churches of artistic merit and historical interest so that is where we suggest you start your tour.
Cathedral Church of Chiaramonte Gulfi
In the Old Town of Chiaramonte Gulfi the Cathedral Church of Santa Maria La Nova was first built in the mid-15th century in the Gothic style and then rebuilt in Baroque style at the turn of the 17th century. The façade is divided into various orders of the classic style (Ionic and Corinthian) while the bell tower dates from the early 20th century.
The interior of the church has three naves, with the Chapel of SS. Sacramento and the altar in polychrome marble being of particular interest. There are also some interesting paintings by Gaetano Mercurio (1730-1790), such as one depicting the "Holy Family", the "Nativity of Mary" in the main altar and the portrait of "St. Francis of Paola." There are also works by local artists of the 18th-19th centuries.
Among the other religious buildings to visit we must mention the Church of the Savior, because of the portal (attributed to the school of the Gagini) and a statue of the Redeemer by Giacomo Mancino (16th century) inside the church.
Also interesting, the Church of St. John the Baptist, the patron saint of the town, has three naves and was rebuilt after the earthquake of 1693. The stucco works are by Giuseppe Gianforma (18th century), while another work is attributed to Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528). A 14th century wooden statue of St. John the Baptist is by an unknown artist.
The church of Saint John the Baptist is rich in symbols. As Chiavola Birnbaum pointed out, the church is not devoted to Christ as Jesus, but to Jesus Christ as "saviour". Hence according to local tradition the church honours Saint John the Baptist as precursor to Christ, perhaps suggesting a relationship with the ancient prophetic Sybils.
Outside the church is the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Grace. This building has a single nave and dates from the 16th century. In the interior in a chapel is a marble statue of the Virgin Mary by Luca Maldotto from Messina (17th century).
You can conclude your tour of the religious monuments with a visit to the Convent of Saint Mary of Jesus of the Franciscan order and dating from 1200. It contains some stuccoes thought to be by Giacomo Serpotta (1656-1732), a crucifix by Fra’ Umile da Petralia, and the chapel of SS. Sacramento by Benedetto Cultraro (18th century) with a painting of the "Deposition," by Mattia Preti (1613-1699). The chapel also contains the statue of the Virgin, by Giacomo Mancino.
Other highlights in Chiaramonte Gulfi
In the area of Chiaramonte Gulfi called Santa Margherita there are some caves in which frescoes of Byzantine origin have been discovered, depicting the crucifixion of Christ.
Art galleries and museums
While in Chiaramonte Gulfi we suggest you visit the 'Pinacoteca' (art gallery) of Giovanni De Vita (1906-1990) in the Giovanni de Vita Gallery in Montesano Palace, which houses many works of this local artist, with gouaches, watercolors and oil paintings such as the landscape painting depicting “Il Faro” [The Lighthouse] and some portraits, such as “Il ritratto di sua sorella” (The Portrait of his sister).
The town also has several museums covering a wide range of subjects, such as the Museo del Ricamo [Embroidery Museum], Museo Ornitologico [Ornithological Museum], Museo dei Cimeli storico-militari [Museum of historical and military memorabilia], the Casa Museo Liberty [House of Liberty Museum], the Museo di Arte Sacra [Museum of Sacred Art], and the Museo degli Strumenti Etnico musicali [Museum of Ethnic Musical Instruments].
Chiaramonte Gulfi is an agricultural town with typical traditions, as you can see in another interesting museum called the Museo dell’Olio [Oil Museum], which contains examples of very old tools used for pressing olives and in the manufacture of olive oil.
We should also mention that the town is famous not only for the local olive oil but also for its meat, which produces some very fine salami such as the famous "supprissata".
See also history of Chiaramonte Gulfi
Where is Chiaramonte Gulfi?
Map of Chiaramonte Gulfi and places to visit
Places to visit near Chiaramonte Gulfi
See more places nearby in the Sicily guide