UNESCO World Heritage Site
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 is famous for its ceramic production which is a millennium old tradition here. This is also one of the most important ceramic production centers of Sicily renowned in the entire Mediterranean. The name of the town itself is believed to derive from the Arabiс word meaning ‘The Castle of vases’.
The ceramic tradition can be seen in every part of the town, not only in its numerous shops ceiling ceramics but also throughout the city’s architecture, balustrades, vases and other decorative ceramic features.
Santa Maria del Monte stairs
The most famous landmark of the city is the magnificent stairs called Santa Maria del Monte located in the center of town. The stairs are named after the Mother Church of Santa Maria Del Monte which is a former seat of the religious authority. The stairs were built in 1606 to connect the old part of the area with the newer one. On the each side of them lie the two old quarters of San Giorgio and San Giacomo. Santa Maria del Monte consists of 142 steps covered with colourful glazed ceramics. The lower steps show older ceramics while the newer ones are located in the higher part of the stairs.
The motives of the ornaments on the ceramics alternate between a row of tiles with a floral or organic pattern, a row of geometric patterns and a row of figurative decorative patterns.
The stairs are celebrated three times a year and during the celebration they are lighted with 4000 candle lights which are definitely worth to be seen. At Christmas Santa Maria del Monte stairs are decorated with cyclamen laid out to form different ornaments.