Aidone and Morgantina
Aidone and Morgantina, the heart of ancestral SicilyThe eleventh-century Saracen village of Aidone rises high on a hill of the Erei Mountains. In Aidone, nicknamed the “Balcony of Sicily” for its elevated position, you breathe pure and fresh air and will enjoy the enchanting views that open up in all directions: from Mount Etna to the Nebrodi Mountains, from the plain of Catania to the Ionian Sea up until Syracuse. The important archaeological site of Morgantina is situated close to Aidone. Several significant remains have been found of the Hellenistic city: several public buildings, mostly around the Agorà square (Gymnasium), the Prytaneion (where the sacred fire was held and common sacrifices were made), the Ekklesiasterion (used for public assemblies), the double "Shrine of Agorà", the public granary, the "Great Furnace", the Theatre, the Roman slaughterhouse and important private residences richly decorated with mosaic floors and frescoed walls. The numerous finds from the excavations are preserved in the Museum of Aidone, which also exhibits the famous Hellenistic silver from the 3rd century BC returned to Sicily after they were exhibited for a number of years at the Metropolitan Museum of Art of New York. Nature seems to have indulged herself in the creation of the most diverse elements around Aidone: bountiful forests, very green hills, golden valleys, fertile plains and waterways give this landscape unique colours and smells. This small village of ancient origins lies within one of the most fascinating cultural and nature districts in central Sicily. In its territory well-preserved old manor farms can be found, as well as the significant archaeological site of the Morgantina and a few medieval jewels: on a hillock over a stream lies the small elegant Church of S. Marco, dating back to 1140 and, on a giant rock, the Castle of Pietratagliata or Gresti. The castle is perched on a rock spur overhanging the Gresti stream valley. In extreme isolation, these ruins fit in beautifully with the surrounding environment enabling history and environment to unite in an almost perfect marriage, a really unique one in the whole of Sicily. The etymology of the term Aidone goes back to the word Ay-ndun that in the Arab language means “superior waters spring.” Aidone was very much loved by the Arabs for its abundance of water that still characterises it today, but only with the Normans did the village acquire a certain independent territorial dignity by becoming a Lombard town that was strategically and politically important. Dating back to the Norman period are the Churches of Santa Maria la Cava or del Piano as well as the Church of Sant’Antonio Abate. A few traces in the ruins from the “Castellaccio” belong to the Aragonese period that is located in one of the highest points of the city.