English – Introduction

castello_caccamoCaccamo is a little town in the province of Palermo. It is about 40 kilometres to the East, and can be reached easily by the “A 19” Palermo-Catania highway. The date of the origin of the town is uncertain, yet it has clear remains of Arab architecture which, however, are not always visible, since they have merged with and been absorbed by later constructions. Caccamo is mentioned in documents as early as the XII-century and there are impressive architectural remains dating back to this period (the original nucleus of the Castel, the lower part of the bell Tower of the Cathedral, the left belfry of the “Chiesa della SS. Annunziata”, “Pizzarrone Tower”).
Of considerable value and remarkable both for their artistic and monumental importance are: the Castle – a massive fortress of Arab-Norman origin, enlarged in the course of the centuries under various powerful feudal families -; also the Mother Church (or Cathedral), a sumptuous baroque elaboration of 1666 on a previous Romanesque structure, richly decorated, inside, with works of Gagini, Novelli, Stomer, Cardillo, Laurana, Aloisio, Romano and Velasquez-; the “Chiesa dell’Annunziata” (1663), inside which exquisite lighting effects can be admired as they play upon the decorations, statues and stuccoes, many being works of Bartolomeo Sanseverino (XVIII-century, Serpotta’s school), and paintings of Gianbecchina-; lastly the “Chiesa di San Benedetto alla Badia” where the XVIII-century polychrome majolica floor, an important work by Nicolò Sarzana, must be seen.
The urban structure of the town is picturesque and unusual with some buildings clinging to, almost as they were emerging from the bare rock and with a network of medieval roads strewn here and there. There are also remarkable architectural remains and an exceptional number of churches which cannot be listed in detail. In the surrounding area the “Ponte Chiaramontano” (1307) presents a most uncommon “hump-backed” arch. span. At Caccamo, where many traditional customs coexist alongside characteristics of frantic moder life, it is possible to enjoy some gastronomical specialities which are the synthesis of a millenary agricultural civilization that has combined and regenerated the various historical phases of the zone (home-made “tagliatelle” with “frittella”, sausage, cheeses and sheep ricotta-cheese, “cannoli”, “sfinci” and Christmas cakes).
Whoever goes to Cacamo and only stops to see the castle does not know what they are missing. Caccamo “urbs generosissima”, is only 40 km from Palermo, includes more than thirty churches and has some really interesting architectural details as well as some curious ones. For example, you can see Italy’s narrowest lane at only 63cm, and panoramic glimpses of the bewitching countryside and rolling hills that surround the town, also the artificial lake created by the damming of the river San Leonardo with the Rosamarina dam. Caccamo has a very much still alive tradition for crafts and local dishes are full of the flavours of healthy fresh ingredients that are an expression of the simple country life of its people. The Cultural Association Sicilia e Dintorni offers a complete sightseeing excursion of Caccamo which allows you to not only see and enjoy its castle. Also included is the medievil quarter and surrounding districts, with experienced and knowledgable guides, including visits to local craftsmen and the tasting of local specialities.
“Sicily has more to offer than just its sea, the hinterland is beautiful and mountainous and here there is the possibility to discover, far away from the stress of life, delightful medievil centres like Caccamo. A visit to one of these towns is an intelligent way of spending the day, above all if you are accompanied by an association like ours which leaves no stone unturned, so as to make the visit as interesting as possible from a cultural point of view but at the same time pleasant, fun and perfectly organised”, says the president of the association, Gianni Aglialoro. Tourist who take advantage of the Sicilia e Dintorni experience are welcomed by a tasting of the local “pani cunzatu”, freshly baked unleavened bread rolls with olive oil, salt and pepper, origano and anchovies or tomatoes (truely rural flavours). The visit of Caccamo starts from the castle, one of the best preseved in Sicily, from there you walk through the narrow lanes of the old medievil centre to the Mother Church which dates back to the Norman Age, its interiors hold works of art by Gagini, Novelli, Laurana and Flemish Schools.
After a good lunch in one of the three local characteristic restaurants in town, our guests are taken to visit the church of San Benedetto alla Badia whose incredible 18th century majolic floor, made up of over ten thousand plychrome tiles should be visited bare-footed so as not to run the risk of damaging them. The church-meeting place of San Benedetto alla Badia, dating back to 1615, with only one nave is a truely harmonious compedium of nearly all the art forms. Before setting off, a period has been set aside for shopping and meeting some of the local craftsmen of wrought-iron and wood work. There are also exquisite pieces of pillow-lace, filet and crotchet made by the town’s women and some paintings on glass and fabric by young local artists.
We also recommend that you buy some of the excellant locally produced meat and cakes: there are the traditional Christmas cakes, bread, the “tarilli” for Carneval and dried sausage. To end trip there is a visit to the Museum of Collections of instruments, tools and utensils that are still in use today or from the past. This collection has been lovingly gathered together by a local farmer. The aim of the Sicilia e Dintorni Association is to promote, by rediscovering the old crafts, small centres like Caccamo where it is still possible to sit down to the tastes and flavours that in other places have disappeared, where its hilly landscape, lake and sparklinghly fresh air inspire long walks or treks on horseback, for an intelligent and alternative holiday.
Sicilia e Dintorni also organise school trips to Caccamo which are carefully prepared and for which an abundance of illustrative materials are supplied together with a slide-show during the initial stage of the visit. Proposals for excursions to Caccamo have been out lined to be given to headmasters, pupils and teachers all over Sicily, for Cral and after work associations, companies, tourist villages, religious organisations, travel agencies, scholars and ecologists. Sicilia e Dintorni suggest interesting treking, on foot or horseback, to discover Caccamo and its surrounding countryside and relaxing week-ends bathed in local traditions. The association is active every day of the year especially at the week-ends. For group or individual visits you can book by phoning: 0918121312 or your can go to the only souvenir shop in town which stands right in front of the castle.
Norman in origin, the castle of Caccamo dominates the valley of the San Leonardo river. In the 14th century the castle was the abode of the Chiaramonte family who enriched it with merlons (parts of the parapets between embrasures or door/window recesses) and ramparts, thereby giving the castle its typical medieval appearance. Guided tours are possible in three areas which are open to the public: the Weapons Hall with its valuable lacunar ceiling, the Hall of Conspiracies (put to use in 1160 against Guglielmo il Malo), as well as crenellated towers from which you can enjoy a wonderful view. The village which has developed around the castle comprises interesting churches with notable works of art. The Duomo, which is also Norman in origin, preserves sculptures and paintings of great value. In the same piazza you can find the Palazzo del Monte di Pietà. Not to be missed is the seventeenth century “chiesa salotto” (the “drawing -room” church) of the San Benedetto alla Badia which is noted for a glazed floor of great merit, being made up of ten thousand tiles in multi-coloured ceramics. The Cultural Association at Sicilia e Dintorni, which can be found at the entrance to the castle, does guided tours … >>>

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