Caltagirone is a little town perched on the top of Erei Mounts. It dates back to very ancient times, as it is proved by many prehistoric necropolises found in the area. Its history has always been linked to pottery production. The name is due to the Arabs, who conquered the town and named it"Qal'at-al-jarar"/ Kalat al Ghiran"Castle of jars",for the flourishing production of pottery craftworks. It appears that Arabs introduced new working and decoration techniques and so enhanced the industry that had been flourishing since the prehistoric age, as it is proved by many artifacts contained both in the local “Museo della Ceramica” and in “Museo Paolo Orsi” in Syracuse. The typical style of Caltagirone pottery has always been recognized and appreciated all over the world. Caltagirone pottery, both classic and modern style, is the flagship of Italian craftwork.
Caltagirone houses important architectural pieces of art: from rich palaces in the historic center to the Borbonic prison, from the uncountable churches, such asCathedral of St. Julian, church of “San Pietro”, of San Francesco di Paola, to San Francesco bridge and staircase of Santa Maria del Monte, masterpiece realized by local ceramics masters, real symbol of the town.
Caltagirone shows its baroque and scenic aspect during many religious as well asnon-religious festivals, among which we recommend:
- The Scala Flower Festival is held yearly on the third Sunday of May and consists of a big colorful draw of potted flowers over 142 steps of the Staircase of Santa Maria del Monte. The festival is a tribute to “Madonna di Condomini“, Our Lady of Condomini, whose celebration, named “a Rusedda, is held on 31 May when adorned Sicilian carts and tractors parade along the streets.
- The celebration of the patron Saint James, on 25 July, is the most important religious festival and it is celebrated with a solemn Mass. It includes a parade and a historical procession of the civic senate wearing costumes from the eighteenth century.
- The historical commemoration of the entrance of Count Roger the Norman, that recalls a decisiveevent for the history of the Island and the town. It isconnected to the end of Arab domination and the beginning of the Norman one.
- The Illuminated Staircase, held on 24 and 25 july, when about 4000 colored paper oil lamps are lit in the dark like a carpet of shimmering light.
- At Christmas time, Caltagirone becomes “ the town of the crib”. Modern and old terra-cotta cribs from masters of the past are on display in shops and exhibitions.