Viaggio in Italia: Sicily

Viaggio in Italia: Sicily banner


Tour of Sicilian Craftsmanship

Artemest is proud to present the seventh stop in its ultimate insider’s guide to Italy: Sicily. Beautiful and mysterious, this Italian region is the largest island in the Mediterranean, characterized by its distinctive personality forged over time and history. Discover the wonders of Sicily, from the looming Mount Etna to the sparkling blue waters, hilltop villages and art cities of the island.

Also known as the Island of the Sun, Sicily is one of the most shining gems of the Mediterranean Sea. Only 3 km of water separates the island from the Italian mainland, but its history has contributed to forge the unique culture of its inhabitants. Because of its strategic location, Sicily has a curious history and some of the western world’s greatest civilizations have left their mark in it: Greek temples, Arabic street plans, stunning Norman cathedrals and flamboyant Spanish baroque palaces create a unique mingling of cultures and make the island a place of rare beauty andmysterious charm.

Catania and Caltagirone

Nestled into the foothills of Mount Etna, Catania is one of the most important cities of Sicily, characterized by a unique charm and brimming with beautiful historical buildings, Baroque churches and a sparkling atmosphere, the town is full of life and culture. From the frenzy of the street markets, exuding Mediterranean flavors and colors that firmly speaks of the south, to the characteristic bars and restaurants, every corner of Catania is a full immersion in the Sicilian culture.

The historic center is dotted with unique baroque masterpieces, centered around the majestic Piazza del Duomo, a beautiful squared overlooked by the elaborate Cathedral of Sant’Agata. This part of the city contains in its streets an inestimable heritage of historic architecture and, at the same time, an interesting cluster of little backstreets to explore, with peeling paint and rusting ironwork giving them a feeling of historic grandeur. Here in these alleys, you can find many small workshops where the Sycilian culture lies in the hands of the local artisans. In the city center visit Orografie shop, where Giorgia and Vincenzo reinterprets the traditional craftsmanship to create a unique collection of contemporary furniture and Stefania Boemi’s laboratory where the artisan creates modern versions of typical Sicilian ceramics. Catania is also the city of Ornythos design philosophy, rooted in the synergy between music and architecture.

Catania has been ruled by the Greeks, Romans, Byzantines and Spanish over the years and you can still see some authentic examples of these historical occupations, such as its Amphitheatre in Piazza Stesicoro. Keep walking and get lost in the small streets to experience the visit of a lava rock Greek Theater to really feel the charm of ancient times. All around the city center find space many other workshops, where the typical Sicilian ceramic is worked: find to Ceramiche De Simone and Ceramica Micale colorful objects inspired to the local tradition or go to AP Ceramiche to discover modern versions of the typical Sicilian heads and to Romano’s laboratory for traditional ceramic tiles.

The characteristic village of Caltagirone is nestled in the natural landscape of central Sicily, surrounded by thriving plants and olive trees in the sand-colored earth. This is the cradle of the ancient tradition of ceramic working. Here dozens of master artisans pass down this artistic heritage, dating back to the old times where the clay has meant a living for the people of Caltagirone. Still today this place is the center of an exuberant ceramic tradition, characterized by a bold design, strong color palettes inspired by the land that hosts the town.

Today, Caltagirone is the center of an uncomplicated, exuberant ceramics tradition. The designs are bold and brash, with a palette dominated by blues, greens and yellows and big, bold designs. This pottery exudes a sense of warmth and cheer that feel as if they could only exist on Sicily. Wandering around the small hamlet stop at Ceramiche Verus, Alessi Ceramiche and Nicola Tomaselli’s workshops to explore the world of traditional clay working or discover a more creative and modern approach at Crita Ceramiche and Alessandro Iudici’s shops. Today ceramics are made all over Sicily and sold everywhere in the world, but Caltagirone represents, with its stunning seventeenth-century ceramic staircase – Scala di Santa Maria del Monte – the authentic origin of this incredible art. The distinctive Caltagirone style is fully visible into Ninefifty and Studio Le Nid tiles, characterized by original patterns and eccentric colors.

Discover Sicilian Craftsmanship

Palermo and Messina

Palermo is the capital of Sicily, a buzzing Mediterranean center with a long and curious history. As in the rest of the region, many different cultures have influenced its past, creating an intriguing fusion of traditions, costumes and architectural styles. Arriving in Palermo you can really savor the artistic delights that abound at every corner, marvels with distant origins referring to Arab-Norman architecture. On your way to the city visit experience the mesmerizing beauty of the historic buildings, such as the stunning Cappella Palatina at Palazzo dei Normanni, and stop at the small craft shops: visit Freaklab, Patrizia Italiano and Bottega Farnese to explore the artistic side of Sicilian tradition or stop at Stefano Sanfilippo and Notempo’s workshops, where skilled artisans create excellent pieces of craftsmanship.

On your path to Messina stop at Cefalù to enjoy the crystal-clear waters of the sea and the stunning stretch of sandy beaches with the characteristic background of small houses, nestled along the shoreline. Known as the door of Sicily, because of its strategic location overlooking the Italian peninsula, the legend says that Messina was founded by Giants during Ancient Greek times. The city has a massive historical heritage ranging from ancient Greek ruins to splendid Roman monuments. Strolling through the historic area around Duomo you can really feel the scent of the sea and it is a pleasure to discover the stunning treasures of this city: from the Orion Fountain to the Norman Bell Tower that features the largest and most impressive mechanical and astronomical clock in the world. Messina is the hometown of some of the best ceramic masters of Italy, from Terrecotte del Sole to Crisodora, Lithea and Majolica.

From Messina reach the Aeolian Islands, the archipelago of the seven volcanic “sisters” to experience a real paradise on earth. Crystal clear waters, virgin nature, wild beaches, caves of incomparable beauty that earn them the title of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Agrigento and Trapani

Girgenti, the old city center of Agrigento is a fascinating stroll through 2500 years of history: a maze of narrow streets and monuments, courtyards and alleys designed in a typical Islamic layout. Two centuries of Arabian domination have also had a lasting influence on local dialect, names of people and places and even on local cooking. Some of the most interesting monuments are in the city center, such as the Lucchesiana Library, the Bishop’s Palace and the Church of Santa Maria del Greci, built on the foundations of a Greek temple. Agrigento sits in the hilly countryside on the southern coast of Sicily and is the house of Alessi Salotti, a furniture brand of expertly designed sofas made by Sicilian master artisans.

To fully appreciate Agrigento, a visit to the historic Valle dei Templi is an absolute must. This historical gem is an archeological site that features some of the most outstanding examples of Magna Graecia art and architecture, a magnificent place where you can really taste half thousand years of history and craftsmanship that will leave you in awe.

The history of Trapani is shrouded in the mystery of a myth: all began when a giant scythe fell off the back of a chariot. The chariot in question belonged to Demeter, who was roving around Sicily, desperately searching for her missing daughter, Persephone. She had no time to stop and pick it up, so it remained where it landed, forming a tongue of land on which the town of Trapani would subsequently be founded. Today, Trapani’s old town center, much of which has recently been restored, is well worth a visit and is an essential point of departure for the magnificent Egadi Islands, just a few miles off its coast. Nearby is the wine town of Marsala with its impressively restored old town center. In these lands, some of the best Italian artisans have their workshops. Ferrantelli Falegnameria established its artistic wood shop to follow his family tradition, Ceramiche Maior is in the country heart of the city province and Kimano is based in Custonaci and works on the reinterpretation of marble in new forms, functions and aesthetics. After your craftsmanship tour don’t miss the opportunity to visit the Riserva Naturale dello Zingaro, surrounded by the lush nature and spectacular views of the crystalline sea.

Ragusa and Siracusa

The city of Ragusa is known as the City of Two Souls. Among castles, baroque churches and gardens, the city is divided into the modern district – Ragusa Superiore – and the ancient one – Ragusa Ibla. This duality derives from the famous earthquake of 1693 and the following reconstruction works that divided it in the two districts, the second one built it on the ruins of the ancient city. Find here in the narrow streets of Ragusa the ceramic workshops of Artefice Atelier and Fucina by Peppino Lopez or go outside the city in Chiaramonte Gulfi and Modica – the beautiful home of Sicily’s best chocolate - to explore the craftsmanship world of Vito Salerno and Marie Maison.

Siracusa was the most important city of Magna Graecia, an ancient treasure filled with timeless charm. Many makeovers have taken place in the following ages by Romans, Africans and Normans, influencing everything from religious art and architecture to the distinctive local cooking style. Today the antique ruins of that ancient splendor are still visited and celebrated into the archaeological park and museum of the city. The main attraction is, no doubt, the historical center of Siracusa: Ortigia. This curious island is a maze of narrow streets, Baroque architecture and centuries-old palazzi offering the perfect frame for the spectacular sunset view over the Mediterranean from the city’s western promenade.

You can find the same Baroque charm in the beautiful city of Noto: elegant and characteristic, the historical center opens its doors at Porto Reale and stretches over Corso Vittorio Emanuele, a wide walkway flanked by iconic squares and Baroque churches. Find here Not.Ordinary and Tubo Luce workshops to explore one more time the artistic heritage of this land, rooted into history and nourished by the local culture.

​Explore some of the best destinations and retreats in Sardinia and add a touch of authentic Italian style to your travels. Crossing the island you can find elegant palaces, historical retreats and charming retreats surrounded by wild nature overlooking the sea.

Our Destinations Around Sicily

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