Placed on the eastern side of Sicily, is the second province chief town in Sicily with a population slight higher than the one of Enna. Together with Enna this city also shares a history made of underdeveloped economy and poverty, but at the same time, a long history rich in art, monuments and architectural beauties. I am speaking about Caltanissetta, the capital city of the namesake Sicilian province. The name of this city comes from an Arab, or rather, from a Saracen name: Nisa (women), later turned into Qal‘at al-Nisā (Fort of the Women), then italianized in Caltanissetta. Its habitants are called “Nisseni”.
Caltanisetta is less known than other Sicilian provinces, but I believe this is unfair because this city contains stunning and lovely wonders that every tourist should see during his travel into Sicily. To avoid misunderstandings, Caltanissetta was also visited, just as Palermo, by the famous writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Unlike other Sicilian cities, Caltanissetta does not keep Greek remains, because its early settlements belonged only to the Carthaginians in 406 BC. Over the following centuries, Caltanissetta was conquered by the Saracens that imposed their culture and habits in each palace and mosque they built. Caltanissetta was also ruled, for a short run, by the Spaniards and conquered by the Normans.
During the Middle Age and the Renaissance, the architectural style flourished thanks to the Catholic Church, in an age in which the worship for Saints grew remarkably. Caltanissetta, indeed, has many churches built in a different architectural style, not baroque as the other Sicilian cities, but typically Renaissance. Some buildings also keep an Arabic style, with intense games of bright colors and arabesques. Also the Medieval and Renaissance churches are made with intense colors and a blinding kaleidoscope of pictures and marble structures which serve to show awesome and endless spaces inside the same buildings.
In Caltanisetta, you can visit the following churches: The Cathedral of Saint Michael the Archangel, the patron of the city, The Cathedral of Santa Maria la Nova, The church of St. Agatha at College, The church of San Sebastiano, The church of San Domenico, The Bishop Palace (Palazzo Vescovile), The church of the Holy Cross (Santa Croce) (see the image).
Many of these churches were remodelled during the late XVIII century and the original style can have been altered. Caltanissetta is also the place of wonderful Medieval palaces and castles. Apart the stunning Palace Moncada, built during the dominance of the Spaniards, I want to mention: The Castle of Pietrarossa ( see the image above), the Castle of Falconara and the Abbey of the Holy Spirit. The Castle of Pietrarossa was built entirely with red stone. Destroyed after an earthquake, the two main towers are still visible today. The Castle of Falconara ( see the image below), is, instead, a Middle Age building placed in the little town of Butera, a city in the province of Caltanissetta.
This Castle is regarded as one the most ancient historical mansions in Sicily. Plunged in a silent plateau facing the south Sicilian coast, surrounded by a lush park of Mediterranean plants and scents, this Castle is absolutely to be visited during your vacation in Sicily. In Caltanissetta, you can also see the archaeological park built in the 6th century and placed on a hill used in the past to protect and defend the walls of Caltanissetta’s city. The park contains ancient pottery ruins. I’ll speak better about the remaining buildings in other posts.
Although Caltanissetta is a bit distant from the sea, it is considered as the highway toward the Sicilian beaches. In Caltanissetta, the coast extends for about 20 kilometers. The beaches belong to the city of Gela, the only town near the sea in the province of Caltanissetta. The beaches which are granted to tourists are only the ones in the western side of the coast, because the other beach towns have been polluted by the petrochemical plants in Gela.
Caltanissetta hotels and accommodations
Caltanissetta is not so frequented by tourists. However, in the entire province, there are really picturesque places wchich are worthy to be see a time in lifetime, at least. I advice you visit the places I described in this article and stay in likewise picturesque hotels and accommodations.