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Although it is now an important regional town and port the historical center of Licata is quite compact and has many monasteries and churches that hold works of art of great artistic interest and are the highlight of your visit.
A visit to Licata can start from the Mother Church, completed in the early 16th century in the Renaissance style. The church has three naves with a transept, and was called "Santa Maria La Nuova", to distinguish it from the old Cathedral. The dome was painted by Raffaele Politi (1783-1870).
Among the paintings in the church, many are by Fra’ Felice da Sambuca (1733-1805). The altarpiece depicting the "Nativity of the Virgin and the Saints Peter and Paul and an Angel” is by an anonymous Flemish artist and dates from the first half of the 17th century. In the right chapel is a wooden Crucifix dating to the 15th century, the so-called "Black Crucifix"*.
* The “Black Crucifix” is a 15th century work by artists from Messina. It became black after the Turks sacked the town and burned the church - the crucifix itself was not burned but was blackened by the fire.
Another attractive church in Licata is the church of St. Francis, attached to the convent of the Conventual Franciscans with a façade designed by Giovanni Biagio Amico (1684-1754).
The interior of the church is a single nave with interesting works of art such as the painting of the “Immacolata” by Domenico Provenzano (1736-1794). Other important paintings representing "Sant'Antonio Abate" and "The Trinity and Saints" are by Filippo Paladini (1544-1614).
The Church of Sant'Angelo dates from the 17th century. Among the most valuable art works here note in particular the wrought iron railing dating back to the beginning of the 18th century, a painting of the "Holy Apostles Philip and James," by an anonymous artist of the seventeenth century and "The Pieta" by Gioacchino Martorana (1724-1782).
Other Licata highlights
Various Liberty style villas are concentrated on the mountain of Licata which were the residences of the nobles and bourgeois in the early 20th century. Among these are the very impressive “Villa Urso”, surrounded by a pinewood, and the “Villa Verderame” which lies on the northern side of the mountain.
Licata City Museum
It can also be very interesting to visit Licata City Museum, which holds many artefacts from excavations in the region discovered in recent decades.
The museum is divided into six sections, each with various collections from the Mountain of Licata, with archaeological finds from prehistoric times to the Hellenistic-Roman age (I sec. BC).
On the lower ground floor there are artifacts from different eras recovered in the sea of Licata, while other sections hold finds from the Casalicchio district dating from the Bronze (3rd millennium BC), Greek and Byzantine Age (from 6th century BC to 6th centuries AD). There are also many finds representing the so-called Culture of Thapsos*.
*In Sicily between 1400 and 1270 BC (the Middle Bronze Age), there were two prehistoric cultures in evidence; the smaller was located in the Aeolian Islands and called the “Culture of Milazzese”. The more important is the "Culture of Thapsos", so named from a site on the Magnisi peninsula on the coast near Syracuse.
For nature lovers, we recommend a visit to the Avifauna Observatory on the right bank of the river mouth; the Observatory is devoted to studying the natural habitat, to monitoring water quality and the coastal fauna and flora.
Limpiados Castle also deserves a visit while you are at Licata. It was built on top of a hill facing the sea, almost forming an island on all sides. In 827 the fortress fell into Muslim hands who then held it for more than two centuries. The castle, along with the town of Licata itself, was conquered by the Normans in 1086 and assumed a strategic importance for the region's defences.
The castle was largely rebuilt in the 13th century under Frederick II of Swabia, then badly damaged in 1553 when it was attacked and sacked by the Turkish pirate Dragut. The damages were repaired and two new bastions were also built, with further additions in 1509 and in 1610.
Other local highlights
Just outside the town there is the Castel Sant'Angelo, built in the mid-seventeenth century on Mount Eknomus.
Licata is also a seaside resort with sandy beaches, particularly to the east, while the west is dominated by cliffs and pebble beaches punctuated by small headlands, bays and natural caves.
After exploring the ancient history of Licata and enjoying the beaches it is customary (and recommended!) to also explore its traditional cuisine, with local products including ricotta, honey, almonds and wine, and local specialities including "Pasta with sardines", the “Spaghetti ccu’ l’ova di rizzi” (spaghetti with sea urchin) and the“Cacocciuli cini” (stuffed artichokes).
See also Licata history and etymology.
You can find more local travel ideas in the Sicily guide.