Caltagirone is one of the eight towns of south-eastern Sicily known as the baroque towns of the Val di Noto, which were almost entirely destroyed and rebuilt after the earthquake of 1693 and classified as a UNESCO world heritage site.The town of Caltagirone stands out for its unusual link between the pre- and post-1693 periods and for its ceramic production. Ceramic production in Caltagirone is a millenium old tradition making the town one of the most important ceramic production centers of Sicily, renowned in the entire Mediterranean. While the ceramic tradition dates to prehistorical times, the name of the town itself is believed to derive form the Arabic word qal’at-al-ghiran, meaning “Castle (or fortress) of vases”. The ceramic tradition is visible in every part of the town, not only in its numerous shops selling ceramics and maiolica, but also throughout the city’s architecture, balustrades, vases, and other decorative ceramic features enhancing the streets of the baroque town, the most famous landmark being the magnificent stairs, Santa Maria del Monte in the center of town. Built in 1606, the amazing stairs Santa Maria del Monte connect the old part of the town with the newer one. On either side of the stairs lie the two old quarters of San Giorgio and San Giacomo. The stairs consist of 142 steps, covered with colorful tin-glazed ceramics. The lower steps show older ceramics, while the newer ones are located in the higher part of the stairs.The stairs are celebrated three times a year; on July 24 and 25 they are lighted with 4000 canle lights at the occasion of the Feast of San Giacomo. Any trip to the gem of Caltagirone is sure to be filled with color and amazing memories!
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