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Aidone, Province of Enna, Sicily region, Italy

This small agricultural village 35 km (22 miles) from Enna, situated on a relief in the Monti Erei, has ancient origins.

It is known as "the balcony of Sicily" since from its height it is possible to enjoy the view of Mount Aetna, the Nebrodi chain, the Catania plain, and as far as Syracuse and the Ionian Sea. In the countryside around Aidone there are ancient fine farmhouses (the masserie) and since the discovery of sulphur in 1805 there has been a remarkable development of the sulphur mining sector (the sulphur mine is called solfatara).

Info

Altitude: 840 m a.s.l -- Population: about 6,000 inhabitants -- Zip/postal code: 94010 -- Phone Area Code: 0935 -- Patron Saint: San Giuseppe celebrated on 19 march

What to see

  • The 11th-century Parish Church of San Lorenzo, built by the Normans, and greatly damaged in the 1693 earthquake, after which it was renovated and enriched with works of art from the destroyed church of Santa Caterina.
  • The 10th century Castello di Pietratagliata in contrada Gresti, on a high arenaria rock, probably an Arab sighting tower.
  • The ruins of the ancient city of Morgantina, in the locality of Sessa Orlando, 2 km from Aidone. The site consists of a two-kilometre long ridge running southwest–northeast, known as Serra Orlando, and a neighboring hill at the northeast called Cittadella. Morgantina was inhabited in several periods. The earliest major settlement was made at Cittadella and lasted from about 1000/900 to about 450 BCE. The other major settlement was located on Serra Orlando, and existed from about 450 BCE to about 50 CE. Morgantina has been the subject of archaeological investigation since the early 20th century.

    Morgantina has been the principal site of American research on classical Sicily. In 1955, a major project was begun by Princeton University, under the supervision of Professors Erik Sjöqvist and Richard Stillwell. The excavations on the (at that time unidentified) town were intended to serve as training for graduate students in Princeton's Department of Art and Archaeology. Special mention should also be made of Sweden's King Gustav VI Adolf, who came to Morgantina on several occasions in the 1950's at the invitation of Sjöqvist, his former secretary, to work at the site.

    In the mid-1960's, Princeton graduate student Hubert L. Allen was hired by the University of Illinois, which then began to co-sponsor the Morgantina project. Allen continued to lead the project until the 1970's. The excavations had produced vast amounts of artifacts and data, but as yet there was no final publication. In 1978, Malcolm Bell III, professor of classical art and archaeology at the University of Virginia, took over the project with the goal of publishing the Morgantina material. In 1990, Carla Antonaccio of Wesleyan University, herself a Princeton graduate, assumed responsibility for publishing the post-7th century BCE settlement on Cittadella. Since that time, both Virginia and Wesleyan, along with many other American and Italian institutions, have sent scholars and students to conduct research.

    The site's archives are currently housed at the Department of Art and Archaeology at Princeton University, though some materials also exist at the University of Illinois.



Province of Enna

History

The name of the town comes from the Arab Ay-ndun meaning "higher water spring". The town was founded, probably on a previous Arab settlement by the Normans who came to Sicily under the leadership of Roger of Altavilla to fight the Arabs.

Aidone is mentioned in 1150 in the "libro di Re Ruggero", and was at the time populated by the Lombards, who had fought in the Norman army. In the following century Aidone passed through many different dominions: the Swabians, Aragonese, Castillans, and finally the Bourbons (1700 – 1860).

Where to stay

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