The town of Randazzo is situated to the north-east of Sicily, just north of Mount Etna.
Apart from the attractions of the town itself Randazzo is also a popular departure point for visitors making an ascent of Etna, being the closest town to the summit.
Entering Randazzo through the walls of the medieval city, we can begin our tour of the ancient small town along Via Duca degli Abruzzi which passes the area of the convent of Benedictine nuns and leads to the Cathedral of Santa Maria.
According to tradition Randazzo Cathedral was founded before 1000 AD, although the current church dates from the first half of the 13th century. Built with blocks of lava stone, the Cathedral is an interesting example of the Gothic style of religious architecture.
Of the 13th century structure there still remain three apses which are surrounded by hanging arches resting on columns and capitals clearly inspired by the Floral Lombard style. A series of mullioned windows lighten the side of the cathedral, while on the main façade there is a pointed bell tower (a 19th century rebuild of the 13th century original).
The interior of the cathedral is divided into three naves and a transept in a Latin cross plan and was designed by Andrea Camalech (1514-1578), who masterminded the transformation of the church in the 16th century. Among the many paintings in Randazzo cathedral note in particular the Salvation of Randazzo by G. Alibrandi (1470-c.1523) with the view of Randazzo in the 16th century.
From the cathedral pass the Licari Palace then continue to see the facade of the Baroque church of Saint Nicholas, rebuilt on the site of a 14th century church - the apse crowned with battlements and arches is part of the original church. Inside take a look at the statue of San Nicola by Antonello Gagini (1478-1536) and a late Gothic baptismal font in red marble.
Continuing along Via Duca degli Abruzzi, the main street of the city, you reach the medieval quarter of San Martino and the Palazzo La Scala, the former summer residence of the monarchs, rebuilt after the earthquake of 1693. Just a little further is the 14th century 'Church of the Agony'.
Nearby, on a large open space on the left, stands the Church of San Martino, the façade of which was rebuilt during the first years of the 17th century, while the bell tower, with two orders of mullioned windows and a row of triple lancet windows surmounted by an octagonal spire, dates from the 14 century.
Inside the church, and clearly inspired by the Renaissance, there is a polyptych of the late 15th century representing “Madonna, Saint Lucia and Santa Maria” and attributed to Antonio di Saliba (born circa 1466-died circa 1535), while the “Madonna delle Grazie” is by Antonello Gagini.
Continuing towards the Porta Aragonese you can see more examples of architecture from medieval times, such as the Rumbolo Palace and the house of the Lanza.
Also in Randazzo is the Swabian castle, which is today home to the Paul Vagliasindi Archaeological Museum based around a collection started by Paolo Vagliasindi (1838-1913), and then increased following a discovery of a Greek necropolis dating back to the 5th century BC, which includes a collection of coins. The most important exhibit is the so-called "oinochoe Vagliasindi", a vase in black and red figures on which is portrayed the legend of Phineus, vexed by the Harpies and freed by the Argonauts.
Other museums in Randazzo include the Museum of Natural Science with a collection of almost 400 different bird species. The collection also includes fossils, minerals, and sea fauna, and one room exhibits some examples of exotic fauna.
The Museum of Sicilian puppets holds a collection of puppets representing characters from the "Chanson de Roland." This museum is also inside the Swabian castle.
Randazzo is famous for its handicrafts and for its fine wines, ideal to accompany local dishes such as baked noodles with mushrooms, mushroom soup, the filet “all’alpina”, and some typical regional courses prepared with mushrooms and pistachio.
See also history of Randazzo.
Places to visit nearby
For nature lovers we recommend a visit to the area of the Alcantara river park which has a tourist nature circuit and is home to various species of birds and aquatic animals.
Of course many visitors come to Randazzo for its proximity to, and great views of, Mount Etna. It is possible to drive to the cable car to go up Mount Etna or to organise a tour. Nearby is the hill-top village of Montalbano Elicona which is one of Sicily's "most beautiful villages".
You can find more local travel ideas in the Sicily guide.