STEFANO DI CAMASTRA
Stefano di Camastra is well-known for its hand-painted ceramics
as shows the myriad of small shops lined along its streets, offering
pots, vases, plates and ceramic trinkets to suit every requirement.
Among its major buildings, a special mention goes to Palazzo Sergio,
once the Duke’s Palace, now accomodating the Museo della Ceramica.
Pride of place in the museum, is given to Lorenzini’s Andare
(departing) on the right of the entrance, depicting a group of fince
warriors gradually sinking into the ground. Several rooms in the
building have conserved their original tiled floors, frescoed ceilings
and 1700’s furnishings. Out of town (beyond the Istituto per
la Ceramica), is the Cimitero Vecchio, a cemetery that was used
for two years only, between 1878 and 1880, containing a number of
graves ornamented with maiolica.
DAY IN THE NEBRODI MOUNTAINS Approx. 182km – allow
recommended itinerary follows a fairly long and wonderfully panoramic
route stretching inland forming a roughly square circuit at the
heart of the Nebrodi mountains, which, along with Madonie, form
part of the Sicilian Appennines. In order to ensure that the natural
scenery and the indigenous species it harbours are effectively preserved
intact, a large area of this territory has been designated a National
circuit may also be undertaken from Sant’Agata Militello,
although it is worth doing it in an anti-clockwise direction so
as to enjoy the best view of Mount Etna, notably those from Lago
Ancipa. The road from Santo Stefano to Mistretta provides beautiful
views over the valley.
– Located at 950m a.s.l., Mistretta is a small town comprised
of a collection of stone houses grouped around the ruins of a feudal
castle, from where you can enjoy a dramatic landscape. The Chiesa
di San Giovanni is one of its most interesting buildings. Built
around 1530, it is graced with an elegant double stairway and a
bell-tower with a pair of openings at the top. The 1500’s
Chiesa Madre, dedicated to St. Lucy, lacks its second bell-tower
(the left side being incomplete). The one on the right has two fine
two-light windows. Partly remodelled in the 1600’s, the church
retains a fine marble doorway on its right side. Inside, a chapel
dedicated to the Virgin shelters a Madonna of the Miracles attributed
to Giorgio da Milano; a larger side chpel honouring St. Lucy contains
a fine altarpiece by Antonello Gagini with statues of St. Lucy,
St. Peter and St. Paul (dated 1552). Behind the altar, are 1700’s
choirstalls and a fine 1700’s organ. At the top of the town
stands the Renaissance Church of St. Catherine.
on 7 and 8 September, the town celebrates its festival for the Madonna
della Luce, she being borne aloft in solemn procession, escorted
by two giants representing Mythia and Kronos (the legendary founders
of Mistretta). At one time, an ugly, deformed dwarf – ‘u
figghiu fi gesanti – also took part in the procession, but
this was discontinued because, it is said, he frightened the young
women in early stages of pregnancy.
of the most interesting excursions on foot into the Nebrodi mountains
set out from Mistretta. From the S 117 to the fork signposted right
for Nicosia and left for the S 120 to Cerami. Turn left and continue
on to Cerami; the road goes straight on for Troina, or forks left
for Lago Ancipa.
– Troina’s medieval citadel perched high above the city’s
rooftops shelters the town’s main church; unfortunately, only
the bell-tower survives from the original Norman building (11th
century), built in blocks of sandstone spanning the road. From Troina,
return towards Cerami and turn right for Lago Ancipa.
Ancipa – This man-made lake, formed when the great
San Teodoro dam (120m) was built nestles amidst a glorious landscape.
The road that skirts the lake leads on to Cesarò. Although
narrow and badly rutted in places, it winds its way through a beautiful
scenery of woods and open valleys with breath-taking view of Etna
– The town is overshadowed by the volcano. Just off town,
follow the signs for Cristo sul Monte from where a beautiful but
haunting view extends across to Etna. The road twists and turns
up to the narrow pass Portella Femmina Morta e della Miraglia, amidst
a landscape marked by extensive beach woods. From the Portella pass,
an unmetalled road leads up to the summit of Monte Soro, the tallest
peak in the Nebrodi Mountains rising up to 1847m. Continue along
the scenic road to San Fratello.
Fratello – This town, founded by Lombard settlers
and partly destroyed by a landslide in the 18th century, is linked
by name to the Sanfratellani, a fine horse breed, that may be easily
spotted on the edge of town. The Convento di San Francesco preserves
a 1500’s cloister with fragments of frescoes. North of town,
by the cemetery, a track leads to a Norman Church dedicated to Saints
Alfio, Filadelfio and Cirino, dating from the 11th-12th century.
A wonderful view extends from the area behind the church. From San
Fratello, go back towards the coast; turn right for Sant’Agata
di Militello – It is a town of relative recent origin,
grown along the seafront with access to a long stretch of beach.
Its main buildings, the Castello dei Principi Gallego and the adjacent
Chiesa dell’Addolorata (18th century), are both located on
Piazza Crispi. The town has a small natural history museum dedicated
to the inland mountain region, the Museo Etnoantropologico dei Nebrodi
(soon to open in via Cosenza).
Sant’Agata, it is possible to make fine excursions inland
throughout the Nebrodi or along the coast. Follow the coastal road
towards Santo Stefano di Camastra. After 16.5km a road is signposted
left for Caronia (4km inland), a little town where is one of the
tourist information centres for the Nebrodi National Park.