Stairways to Heaven: Discover a Sicilian Town Bursting With Art and Expression

May 28, 2018 670

In the baroque town of  Caltagirone, Sicily, the main attraction is its ceramics industry. The name of the town derives from the Arabic word qal’at-al-ghiran, meaning Castle of Vases. There are ceramics everywhere you look: tile murals on buildings, as signs, and in the many ceramics shops just waiting for a savvy voyager to select a few special pieces to take back home.

But the tiles also adorn its stairways, the most majestic being the Scale di Santa Maria del Monte, built in 1608. Start to climb the 142 steps and you will be reading the town’s history, each step telling their stories on hand-painted ceramic tiles that clad each stair’s riser. There are many fantastic characters, battle scenes, landscapes and symbolic patterns. It’s a wonder to think that the staircase was rebuilt by the town after being destroyed by an earthquake in 1693 which destroyed most of the city. 

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