is a city of nearly 16,000 inhabitants at 200 m a.s.l. especially
renowned for its citrus-groves.
Eremo di Santa Febronia, a cave-basilica going back to the 6th-7th
century AD, is a major attraction for tourists. Dedicated to the
city’s patron saint, it contains beautiful frescoes dedicated
to the Christ Pantocrator, the Martyrdom of Santa Febronia, the
Original Sin and a 1300’s Christ between the Virgin Mary and
mountains – Eremo di Santa Febronia. Follow the SS 5385 from
Palagonia towards Catania; take the right fork signposted for Contrada
Croce; 4.5km further on, as the road curves to the right, look out
for a track on the left barricaded by a metal barrier. The hermitage
is a 15min walk up the track. This evocative place is named after
Santa Febronia, known locally as “a Santuzza”, her relics
brought here each year in a great procession from neighboring Palagonia.
The small retreat, carved out of the rock, is of Byzantine origin.
Inside, the apse contains a fine, albeit damaged, fresco of Christ
flanked by the Virgin and an angel.
Palagonia – 15km North-East,
it is believed to have been an important political and religious
town at the time of the Sikels. According to local legend, it was
from the bubbling sulphurous waters of the Laghetto di Naftia that
their gods, the Palici, were born and it is to them that they dedicated
the temple, built on the edge of the lake. The small lake is barely
visible today, since masked by its natural gas that is industrially
The area saw the Norman rise. The
Count Roger ceded the land and the entire area to the Bishop of
Syracuse. Since 1407, it belonged to Giacomo Gravina; his family
ruling it throughout the centuries.