is a city nearly 600m a.s.l. in proximity to the springs of the
Dirillo River (or Acate river). It is located in the Iblean Mountains,
notably between the Castello, Maddalena and Calvario hills. Numerous
grottos in its environs, much of them today barely visible, seem
to attest to prehistoric settlements.
earliest documented record on Vizzini goes back to the Greek time,
while the modern city was founded in the Middle Ages around a noble
castle. A remarkable urban growth was recorded in the Colle Calvario
area in the early 15th century.
city has plenty of religious and secular interesting buildings,
notably in its historical side, and is renowned for being the hometown
of Giovanni Verga’s family, one of the most outstanding Italian
writers. Highly damaged by the 1693 earthquake, it has a largely
Baroque structure, resulted from the post-quake reconstruction.
old town centre clusters around piazza Umberto I, onto which look
Palazzo Verga and the Town Hall. Next to the latter is the Salita
Marineo, a long flight of steps with beautiful maiolica decorations.
Completed in 1996, it recalls the Scala Maria del Monte’s
in Caltagirone. The Gothic-Catalan portal of the Mother Church is
the only remain of the city before the earthquake. Among the Baroque
buildings, emerges the fine façades of St. Sebastian’s
Madre – Dedicated to San Gregorio, it is the major religious
building in town. It combines several different styles. Its Gothic-Catalan
portal of the 15th century is particularly worth-mentioning. It
has an octagonal plan divided into three naves with ogival arches.
The wooden ceiling was designed by a member of the Bonaiuto family.
Inside are various pieces of the figurative arts, such as two paintings
by Filippo Paladini dating from the early 1600’s depicting
the Martyrdom of San Lorenzo and the Madonna della Mercede.
di San Vito – Near the Mother Church is the Basilica di San
Vito or Holy Spirit Church. It has a late-Baroque style with Renaissance
traits; inside, are a fine wooden carved Crucifix, a chapel richly
decorated with neoclassical stuccoes and a precious reliquary.
di Sant’Agata – Initially dedicated to St. Peter, the
church of Sant’Agatha was erected in the 14th century and
rebuilt in the 18th century. Inside, are a fine altarpiece representing
the Martyrdom of the titular saint and a Baroque chapel dedicated
to the Holy Sacrement.
di San Giovanni Evangelista – According to some sources, the
church of St. John the Evangelist lies on what were the temples
of Bacchus (Dionysus in Greek mythology) and Minerva (Athena). The
church is divided into three naves and decorated with stuccoes by
monuments and the city surroundings – Among Vizzini’s
minor churches and buildings are the Chiesa della Santissima Annunziata,
or Santa Lucia, ornamented with Baroque vault frescoes depicting
the Saints, the church of Sant’Elena – also known as
Chiesa della Madonna Santissima del Pericolo – with an internal
grotto where is a 1400’s precious painting of the Virgin,
and the 1400’s small church of Santa Maria del Gesù.
is the place where Verga set some of his most celebrated tales,
among which were La Lupa (the Cunziria quarter appearing in some
scenes of the film adaptation by Gabriele Lavia), the Cavalleria
Rusticana (that Mascagni made into its most celebrated opera) and
the novel Mastro Don Gesualdo. The visitors can directly experience
the places mentioned in his works and visit the tavern where Turiddo
challenges Alfio to a duel, the Chiesa di Santa Teresa, where, in
the Opera, women go to pray, the homes of ‘Gna Lola and Santuzza,
and the Cunziria, the tanners’ quarter, where the two men
eventually fight, the church and palazzi appearing in Mastro Don
better experience Verga’s places it
is advisable to read his tales before the visit; for a guided visit
contact the Pro Loco (at 8, Via Lombardia; ph. 0933/965905).
hunger sets in - “A Cunziria” restaurant, in the district
of the same name, is a farmhouse situated within natural grottos,
once used as dwellings, then stables and, now, restaurant. The place
has retained its rural atmosphere which is even enriched with a
traditional and cosy furniture.