Caltagirone, The City of Ceramics
Caltagirone is one of the most important cities in the middle of Sicily and is built on three hills about 600 meters high. In the Middle Ages, the city was nicknamed Queen of the Mountains. Because of the excellent quality of the clay found in the area and the forests supplying enough wood for the kilns, this city has always been an important centre for pottery production. The name of the city is probably a derivative of the Arabic Mountain of the Vases. Those “vases” can still be found everywhere. Caltagirone is an eldorado for pottery lovers! Caltagirone has not only a beautiful pottery museum, which was opened in 1965 , but also has the famous “ceramic steps”. This 142-footed seventeenth-century Scala leads the believer from the city center to the higher church of Santa Maria del Monte. In the fifties of the twentieth century, when pottery production was also in a creative valley in Caltagirone, a new impulse was given by Antonio Ragona who proposed to decorate the vertical part of the steps with glazed tiles. These tiles were made in Caltagirone itself and decorated with decorations based on the age-old traditional pottery. To the top, you see literally the whole range of old motifs in the traditional colors pass you by: warring knights, slender sphinxes, elephants and camels, flowers, faces, geometric patterns, mice, monsters, dogs, fishes, ‘portraits’ of men and women ….. ….
The distance from Licata to Caltagirone is about 70 KM and it takes about 1.15 hrs to go there by car. When comning closer to Catania you can see Caltagirone lying high in the hills like many of the Sicilian towns. The drive back was home was amazing. We had a sunset which was stunning! We even stopped to make some pictures. The sky was turning from pink to orange to coral to red. Really amazing till it got dark!