Nicosia rises in the center of the Val Demone on four high hills (Cappuccini, Monte Oliveto, Roccapalta e Castello) covered with pinewoods, on the southern slope of the Nebrodi mountain group.
The present settlement rose first under the castle, in an inaccessible position, then in the later Middle Ages started to spread downhill into the valley.
The town has very ancient origins and a long history, since it was founded by the Greeks, then occupied by the Romans, destroyed by the barbarians but reconstructed under the Normans, who favored the immigration of families from Lombardy and Piedmont, which explains why the local dialect contains many Piedmontese and Lombard words.
Altitude: 720 m a.s.l
-- Population: about 15,000 inhabitants
-- Zip/postal code: 94014 -- Phone Area Code: 0935
What to see
- The ruins of the Norman castle, offering a wonderful view of the Monti Nebrodi and the Aetna to the east, the Monte Altesina and the Madonie chain to the west, Monte La Guardia and Rocca Cannone to the south
- The 14th-century cathedral of San Nicola di Bari, with a richly decorated portal, a massive belltower with triple- and double-lancet windows, hosting a 17th-century Crucifixion by Friar Umile from Petralia. The majestic pulpit to the right is a Gagini marble work by (1566). But probably the most remarkable element is the wooden painted ceiling, (see E. Lungaro, "Iconografia del Tetto Ligneo della Cattedrale di Nicosia") covering over 300 square meters, and made probably by many artists at different times, with geometrical motifs, landscape scenes, portraits, medallions with illuminated letters scenes from everyday life, mythological and sacred figures.
- The church of Santa Maria Maggiore with a grandiose marble altarpiece by Antonello Gagini. Originally built in the 12th century, it collapsed in a landslide in 1757, along with over 400 houses, and the reconstruction took over a century.
- The ruins of the Norman castle, rising at 814 m of altitude on the Monte San Giorgio, with an imposing bridge with pointed arches.
In the place there were three towns, Erbita, Engio and Imachara, and though the exact position of the three centers has not yet been identified, the findings of Greek and Roman coins all around the castle is a proof of their existence. The name, most probably connected to San Nicola, whose worship is very common among Greek communities, points towards a Greek origin, possibly under the Byzantine domination of Sicily.
Where to stay
, Emilia Romagna
, Friuli Venezia Giulia
, Puglia (Apulia)
, Sicily, Tuscany
, Trentino - Alto Adige
, Valle d'Aosta