10km/6mi south of Enna (SS 561) at an altitude of 667m/2,188ft lies the oval-shaped Lago di Pergusa. Situated between two mountain slopes covered with eucalyptus trees, it is 1km/0.5mi wide, 2.2km/1mi long and 4.6m/15ft deep. According to the myth: Persephone (in Latin, Proserpina) was seized here by Hades, while she was plucking flowers, and taken down into the underworld. Her mother Demeter (Ceres) caused the land to wither and thereby extracted the concession that her daughter could return to earth in spring and summer. Out of this legend developed one of the great vegetation and mystery cults of ancient times. The motor-racing track running round the lake has banished the charm of this legend.
The little farming town of Calascibetta (7,000 inhabitants) lies 7km/4mi to the north of Enna at an altitude of 691m/2,267ft. As the existence of several necropolises testify, the place was already inhabited by Sikels as long ago as the 11th century B.C. In 841 the Arabs founded a town there, which they named Kalat Scibet, as a base for their siege of Enna. The Norman King Roger I also besieged Enna from here in 1087. Only the bell-tower of the Church of San Pietro, which now stands there, is actually a part of his original fortress. This Chiesa Madre dates from the 14th century and in its treasures possesses a bible in Gothic handwriting from the same century.
About 300 Sikel graves from the eighth-seventh centuries B.C. can be seen at Realmesi (about 5km/3mi northwest of Calascibetta in the direction of Petralía).
The Monti Erei occupy the center and southwest of Sicily. They consist of tertiary limestones, marls and clays. In a number of areas there are deposits of sulfur and rock salt. In Monte di Cammarata the mountains reach a height of 1,579m/5,180ft.
In the vicinity of the Piazza Armerina are other excavations of the ancient city of Morgantina, with a Greek theater, extensive Agora and remains of a shrine and of the town walls, 10km/6mi long.
CommunicationsSS 191 Piazza Armerina-Caltanissetta, about 18km/11mi beyond Piazza Armerina, take a turning off to the south, another 2km/1mi to Barrafranca.LocationBarrafranca is situated in the middle of the Erei Mountains, between the rivers of Tardara and Braemi. It is assumed to be the ancient Hibla Heraia, Galeota or Galatina, which later was to become the Roman Callonania. Barrafranca has a thriving agricultural industry (grapes, olives, almonds and hazelnuts) and the appropriate mechanization for the further processing of the above mentioned products.In addition to the regular attractions visitors may also want to see a painting by Mattia Preti in the Chiesa dell'Itria (second altar on the left), while in the churches of Purgatorio, Sant'Alessandro and Santa Maria delle Grazie there are further works of art by Vaccaro and Pietro d'Asaro.
Of Barrafranca's medieval fortifications only the ruins of the tower are still to be seen.
In the Chiesa Madre in Barrafranca, which was built on the site of a previous building, there are stucco decorations and wall paintings, including the "Santa Maria della Purificazione" of Filippo Paladino (1544- 1614), who lived in Sicily from 1601.
LocationLeonforte lies 13km/8mi northeast of Enna (on the SS 121). The small town was founded in the 17th century by the Prince Nicolò Placido Branciforte, and this explains the Baroque character of many of its buildings.
Apart from "La Matricia", the Church of the mother of San Giovanni Battista and the Branciforte Palace of 1620, the Granfontana should be mentioned. This monumental cattle trough was built on the edge of the town in 1651 on the initiative of the town's founder. Under a wall of arcades, on which rest several boldly designed gables, the water pours out of 24 ducts into the bowl - "a magnificent example of an artistic solution to a practical problem in the Sicilian Baroque style"(Krånig).
LocationThis little country town lies in the interior of Sicily, to the east of Leonforte, overlooking the valley of the Salso. To the east of the town the Salso is dammed, thereby forming the Lago de Pozzilo.HistoryIn olden times the Sikel town of Agyrion was situated here. At the beginning of the fourth century B.C. the town had 20,000 inhabitants and was under the control of Agyris, the most powerful tyrant after Dionysios of Siracuse, with whom he was allied. In 339 B.C. the tyrant Appolloniades was expelled by Timoleon of Siracuse, who settled 10,000 Greeks here. At this time an enormous amount of building took place. The town's shrine of Heracles is world-famous. For this information we have to thank the historian Diodorus Siculus, who was born in Agyrion during the first century B.C. and lived in Alexandria and Rome. His history of the universe, which was written in Greek and is for the greater part preserved, extends from the beginnings of the world to the Roman conquest of Britain in 54 B.C.; his work is the most significant source of the ancient history of Sicily.Agira is characterized by a throng of picturesque narrow stepped alleys. The main features of the town are the various Baroque churches and palaces from the 17th/18th centuries, among them the Chiesa San Salvatore in the Piazza Roma in the center of the town. The castle, which dominates the town, dates back to the Arab period and was taken over by the Normans when they drove out the Arabs.
Map of Enna Attractions