Enna, Sicily; a historic hilltop town with breathtaking views

Photo of Enna in North Sicily

Visit Enna

Enna is one of the few tourist attractions in Sicily which are not located along its coastline. Enna is located right in the center of the island, and is also a provincial capital.

Enna is popular for the breathtaking views it provides due to its hilltop location, and is one of the highest points in the island with an elevation of nearly 1000 metres.

Explore Enna

From Enna you can get fabulous views over the surrounding countryside and one of the best places for views is at the 'Rock of Ceres', an ancient site of worship.

Enna is as rich in history as the rest of the Sicily, and offers plenty of ancient Greek and cultural attractions. Among the most dominant structures in Enna, the Cathedral takes a central position. It is a work of the Baroque Architecture and was built in the 14th century and features elaborate architectural and artistic adornments which were carried out at different times over the centuries.

Treasures from the cathedral can be seen in the Alessi museum and include a gold crown studded with diamonds.

Enna cathedral

Another dominant landmark of Enna is the Lombardy Castle. The castle has the most important military architecture in Sicily and is one of the largest medieval castles in Italy. It was built by Sicanians, rebuilt by the King Frederick II and further developed by King Frederick III. It is called the Lombardy castle because it was defended by Lombardy troops in Norman times.

The castle is irregular in build but impressive, and its towers are an integrated part of modern Enna. Six towers remain of the original twenty.

Another important building in Enna is the Palazzo Varisano which is home to the Regional Archaeological Museum of Enna. The museum houses some of the oldest artifacts found in the Enna province.

The Torre di Federico,  the tower which is rumored to have been the summer residence of Frederick II has very attractive vaults

The Church of San Tommaso, the campanile of the destroyed church of San Giovanni, the Municipal Library of the town in the San Fransesco building and the Janniscuru Gate are also important attractions.

Enna

Enna is a very religious town and its residents are known for their fervour in religious rites and ceremonies. The procession for the Easter celebrations in Enna is famous throughout Sicily. The festival begins on Palm Sunday and lasts till the Good Friday.

Another important procession is the 'Madonna della Visitazione' procession in July. The Madonna is the patron saint of Enna and at 7 am 101 gunshots are fired . The procession involves carrying a statue of the Madonna through the streets. This is a spectacular sight as the statue and its casket is covered in gold and precious stones. During the rest of the year the statue is kept in the cathedral.

Short history of Enna

Enna sits on a flat plateau at the top of a tall hill whose sides are steep cliffs making it very easy to defend. It also has a constant supply of fresh water. Its strong position made it very attractive as a defensive stronghold and led to it having a very turbulent history.

There is evidence that people have lived at Enna since Neolithic times. It has been occupied by Greeks and Romans and with the fall of the Roman Empire became a Byzantine stronghold. Each time Enna was overthrown throughout history it was almost always through treachery rather than force. However during the Islamic conquest of Sicily Enna endured a long sieze and eventually the Arabs managed to sneak into the sewers and overcome the city.

The Normans captured Enna in 1087 and King Frederick II, King of Sicily established a summer residence here in the Torre di Federico, 'Frederick Tower'. Later on Enna was prominent in the 'Sicilian Vespers' when the French were thrown out of Sicily and King Peter III of Aragon became king. His son King Frederick III became King of Sicily and Enna prospered at this time.

Enna is now a university town and the regional capital.

Places to visit nearby

Lake Pergusa is the only natural lake in the central part of Italy and so attracts a lot of birds. It is an important stop on the migration routes to Africa and so is popular with bird watchers.

Piazza Armerina is one of Sicily's most important historic sites. Its Villa Romane del Casale has lots of fabulous Roman mosaics.

Nearby Sperlinga is classified as one of the most beautiful villages of Sicily and like Enna is surrounded by beautiful views.

See also:

Map of Enna and places nearby

Enna places to visit