Caltagirone, a town with a population of 39,000 people, is located at an altitude of 611 m in the area of the Erei Mountains, in central Sicily. Its very ancient origin is witnessed by numismatic and artistic remains and documents that show it was one of the several Sicel or Greek-Sicel cities. In the area surrounding the city Greek and Sicel coins were found, too. In the Archaeological Museum in Syracuse, the Municipal Museums and the Ceramics Museum in Caltagirone there are also various beautiful ceramic and metal items.
Among the many religious events, baroque and popular feasts celebrated in Caltagirone, “La Scala Infiorata” is particularly fascinating. It takes place on the last Sunday in May and is characterized by a wonderful flower composition – made up of vases placed along the 142 steps of the staircase leading to the Church of St Mary of the Mount – to celebrate the Madonna of Condomini.
On 31st May there is a long procession, called “Rusedda”, with the typical “carri siciliani” (old donkey carts) and decorated tractors. On 25th July, the celebrations of St Jacob, the Patron Saint, which represent the most important religious event in the town, include a solemn mass, a procession and a traditional parade of people dressed in 18th century clothes. This symbolizes the arrival of the Norman Count Ruggero in Caltagirone, which was an important event for the history of the whole Island because it meant the end of the Arab domination and the beginning of the Norman one.
Particularly beautiful is the Scala Illuminata (lighted stairs) event: on 24th and 25th July, about 4,000 small oil-lamps wrapped in colored paper are placed along the staircase leading to the Church of St Mary of the Mount – following a layout that changes every year – and they lighted all together. At Christmas Caltagirone is full of stands and shops selling ceramic and terracotta nativity scenes and mangers – both modern and ancient but all handmade.