Caltagirone, the capital of Sicilian majolicaCaltagirone ("Caltagiruni" in Sicilian dialect) is nicknamed the Queen of Mount Erei. Located in the centre of the eastern part of the Province of Catania, its fame derives from the production, both ancient and modern, of the most refined, hand-painted Sicilian ceramics. For more than two thousand years Caltagirone was a stronghold in this part of Sicily for the Byzantine, Arab and Norman empires who controlled the plains of Gela and Catania from this position. Its historic centre is rich in churches, palaces and 18th century villas but the monument which really makes this place famous is the majolica staircase which has become a symbol of the city. The municipality is located in the Val di Noto which is classified as a UNESCO world heritage site. In the city's gracious and welcoming historic centre there are numerous shops selling ceramics and majolica; some only specialise in the sale of souvenirs to tourists but others display examples of true majolica ware, hand-made by Sicilian craftsmen, both new and antique. These hand-painted works include dinner services, bowls, vases and objects of various kinds, however, the famous Heads of Caltagirone representing historical and mythical figures, such as Saracen and Moorish warriors, are truly outstanding. Garden tables decorated with lava stone cut in various shapes and sizes are also very popular.
Caltagirone is located only 40 minutes from Catania and is near to Piazza Armerina.