Caltagirone is set 611 meters above sea level atop the Monti Erei which extend from central Sicily towards the south-west, joining with the Iblei mountains. Its ancient origins are substantiated by archeological finds, as well as numismatic and artistic documents which attest to its being a Sican, Sicilian or Greek-Sicilian city. Greek and Sicilian coins have been discovered in the territory, in addition to rich ceramic and metal materials which are housed in the Archeological Museum in Siracuse, the City Museum and the Ceramic Museum of Caltagirone.
Early human presence in the area is also corroborated by the monumental evidence of the prehistoric necropolises of Rocca, Montagna, Salvatorello, Pille and the Sicilian-Greek inhabitants of S. Mauro, Altobrado, Piano Casazze and others…
Many religious and non-religious events which take place within the city highlight its Baroque and scenic characteristics. We would like to point out one in particular: “La Scala Infiorata” (The Ladder adorned with Flowers), which is prepared on the second-last Sunday in May and consists of a large picture created with flowering pots along the 142 steps of the Scala di S. Maria del Monte (Ladder of S. Mary of the Mount) in honor of the Madonna di Condomini which is celebrated on May 31st with the “Rusedda”: a procession composed of decorated Sicilian wagons and tractors.
The Festival of the town’s Patron, Saint James, takes place on the 25th of July and is the town’s most important religious festival, with a solemn mass, a procession and a historical parade of the City Senate clothed in eighteenth-century garb. There is the historical Reenactment of the entry of Count Roger the Norman into Caltagirone, which commemorates an incisive moment in the history of the Island and the City tied with the end of Arab domination and the advent of Norman supremacy.
The Illuminated Ladder takes place on the 24th and 25th of July when approximately 4,000 cylinders of colored paper with oil lamps are placed along the Scala di S. Maria del Monte, the city’s symbol, in a pattern which changes every year. When the lamps are lit at night they form a carpet of flickering lights. At Christmastime, when Caltagirone become the “city of the nativity scene”, ceramic nativity scenes are displayed in stores and there are exhibitions of terracotta nativity scenes, some of which are modern and others dating back to the great masters of the past.