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Introduction

Before we find out what to see in Caltanissetta, let’s start with a bit of History. It is a little-known city in the Sicilian hinterland with a climate that is not at all Mediterranean. The premises do not seem the best, instead the city has a lot to offer and tell.

The first inhabitants of this area were the Sicans, an ancient people of Sicily (19th century B.C.) who attributed it the name of Nyssa. The Greeks conquered it in the 7th century BC, and after the Second Punic War it passed to the Romans. With the subsequent Arab occupation around 846 AD, the city was fortified and the Arabic name Qal’at (“Castle”) was added, as it was protected by a fortress. The ancient name Nissa recalls the Arabic word nisa, meaning woman and it was therefore that the Arabs called it with the new name Qal’at al-nisa (“Castle of women”).

What to see in Caltanissetta: The panorama
AlessandroAM , CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
Caltanissetta
AlessandroAM , CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Things to do in Caltanissetta

Garibaldi Square

At the center of this beautiful square is the Fontana del Tritone and the Cathedral of Santa Maria La Nova, the Church of San Sebastiano and the Palazzo del Carmine overlook seat of the Town Hall.

The Triton Fountain it was sculpted by a Nyssian, Michele Tripisciano in 1890, while the basin was designed by Gaetano Averna. The statue is an anthropomorphic depiction of Triton, who in Greek mythology is the son of the sea god Poseidon. At the beginning it was located inside the Palazzo Carmine and in 1956 it was moved to the center of the square, replacing an old iron lamppost.

The Cathedral of Santa Maria La Nova it is dedicated to the patron saint of the city San Michele Arcangelo. It was built around 1600 and inside there are beautiful frescoes from the 1700s by Guglielmo Borremans, a Flemish painter.

The Church of San Sebastiano it has sixteenth-century origins but the facade is from the nineteenth century. It was built to thank San Sebastian for having freed the city from the plague.

The Palazzo del Carmine finally, it also has ancient origins, it was built around 1400 but underwent several changes until the nineteenth century.

Cathedral, Caltanissetta
Cathedral – Insider93 at Italian Wikipedia , CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
Cathedral, Caltanissetta
Inside the Cathedral Ian caffrey , CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Church of St. Agatha

The church with its characteristic reddish color dates back to the early 17th century and is dedicated to Sant’Agata. It overlooks Corso Umberto I, making it all very suggestive.

Church of Sant'Agata, Caltanissetta
AlessandroAM , CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Pietrarossa Castle

Pietrarossa Castle, Caltanissetta
OppidumNissenae , CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

The Pietrarossa castle, or rather the ruins of the castle, dominates the scene on Caltanissetta. It was precisely in its now disappeared rooms that the Sicilian barons proclaimed Frederick II of Aragon king. The castle was probably built by the Arabs and then rebuilt during the Norman period only to be destroyed by the earthquake of 1567 . To admire it up close, you can go to the church of S. Maria degli Angeli, also of Norman foundation, today totally restored.

Archaeological Museum

Archaeological Museum, Caltanissetta
Archaeological Museum – Source : Davide Mauro – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

The archaeological museum of Caltanissetta houses more than 5,000 artifacts from prehistoric times to late antiquity that come from the Nissen area. The most famous and fascinating find is the small temple of Sabucina , dating back to the sixth century BC

Temple of Sabucina, archaeological museum, Caltanissetta
Temple of Sabucina – OppidumNissenae , CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

It is a small temple that refers to Greek culture, but at the same time executed in a rough and unprofessional way. And it is precisely this feature that makes it so unique. It is a Greek-Sicilian product, the result of the encounter between two very different cultures. The least advanced of the indigenous inhabitants and the most advanced of the Greeks.

Abbey of the Holy Spirit

The abbey is of Norman origins and is not located in the center of Caltanissetta, but in a secluded place, among the olive and almond trees of the Nissen countryside . Very beautiful both outside and inside. Inside there is also a baptismal font much older than the abbey itself, it is in fact of Romanesque origin and carved out of a block of stone.

Abbey of Santo Spirito, Caltanissetta
AlessandroAM , CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
Abbey of Santo Spirito, Caltanissetta
Davide Mauro , CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Moncada Palace

T he Palazzo Moncada is a palace from the 1700s and houses the Michele Tripisciano museum , with works by the Nissen artist who also created the Triton Fountain located in Piazza Garibaldi. The palace remained unfinished (see left side in the photo), as the owner was expelled from the island after taking part in an anti-Spanish conspiracy.

Moncada Palace, Caltanissetta
Moncada Palace, Caltanissetta
Alessandro Miccichè , CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

St. Dominic Church

In the ancient part of the city, surrounded by ancient houses that create a very fascinating environment, is the church of San Domenico. It was founded in 1480 and then remodeled in the eighteenth century .

San Domenico Church, Caltanissetta

Strata ‘a foglia market in Caltanissetta

Along the Via Consultore Benintendi, the town market takes place every morning, except Sunday, where you can find many local products . It has a long tradition, in fact it was born as early as 1500 as a place used for the sale of vegetables from the fields , to which a tax was applied, called leaf, hence the name of the market.

Strata 'leaf market, Caltanissetta
OppidumNissenae , CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Interactive map of Caltanissetta – Points of interest in purple

To locate yourself once in the area, click on the enlarge symbol at the top right of the map.

What to see around Caltanissetta

Here you will find the most beautiful places to visit around Caltanissetta .

Typical dishes of Caltanissetta and surroundings

In Caltanissetta and its surroundings there is certainly no shortage of food and it is very tasty and genuine, in fact many products come directly from the surrounding countryside. I list you here what to eat in Caltanissetta and surroundings.

Here instead you find the typical Sicilian dishes in general.

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2 comments

  1. My grandfather was from Caltanissetta with the last name of Sorce
    I’ll be in Sicily in September and was wondering if and how I would find possible relatives
    Thanks
    Norma (Sorce) Fleck

    1. Hi Norma,

      I suggest you go to the historic center of Caltanissetta and ask the local elders. Generally this is the easiest way to get information.

      Good luck!

      Dario

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