MILITELLO IN VAL DI CATANIA

Militello in Val di Catania is a "comune" (municipality) in the province of Catania in the Italian region Sicily, located about 48 km southwest of Catania. Together with other cities of the Val di Noto, Militello has been inscribed in 2002 in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites List.

Situated among the hills of the Iblei mountains, Militello in Val di Catania is outstanding for the conspicuous production of citrus fruits, olives, figs, grapes, fruit, and excellent Indian figs, that can be tasted during the annual Sagra della mostarda e del ficodindia (mustard and Indian fig festival) held in the month of October.

Owed much of its past prosperity to Giovanna of Austria (1573-1630) Carlo V s grand-daughter and wife to Francesco Branciforte a woman with a strong predilection for sophisticated culture and taste for beautiful things. Thanks to her, Militello became an aristocratic court entering its heyday. The streets of the old town are lined by beautiful secular and religious buildings. Its main artistical attractions include churches and palaces.

The municipality counts 8.000 inhabitants, its surface measures 6.124 hectares, and its population density counts 155 inhabitants per square kilometre. It rises over an internal hilly area, 413 meters above the sea-level.

The name Militello derives from the ancient Latin term Militum Tellus, that means "Terra dei soldati" (land of the soldiers), because the town was founded in 214 B.C. by the Romans, as a military fort to prepare the siege of Siracusa. It was home of the Byzantines, thus of the Arabs. Approximately in 1300, it was acquired by the Barresi family, and as of the XVI century, it belonged to the noble Branciforte family, until feudality was abolished. In 1693, it was devastated by the earthquake, thus experiencing a slow reconstruction.   

Among the town's noteworthy citizens, there was the famous historic Vincenzo Natale (1781-1855) scholar of  Greek Sicily's history, the pedagogist Giuseppe Musumeci Ristagno (1868-1954), and the politician and jurist Salvatore Majorana (1825-1897), notorious University professor and minister, as well as grandfather of scientist and atomic physicist Ettore Majorana (1906-1938).

The Town Hall is located in Piazza Municipio, 14 - Zip Code 95043 - tel. 095.7941.111/fax. 095.656.056

 

 

 

The ruins of the Branciforti castle (retaining a round tower and sections of walls), pass through the town gate Porta della Terra and reach the piazza beyond. At the centre of what was the castle courtyard sits a fountain called Fontana della Ninfa Zizza, built in 1607 to commemorate the opening of the first city aqueduct, sponsored by Branciforte. Pass back through the Gate and turn immediately left for the Chiesa dei Santissimi Angeli Custodi, with a wonderful majolica floor, laid with tiles of Caltagirone (1785).

 

 

Tourism

 

The oil-mill trattoria U Trappitu, at 125 Via Principe Branciforti conserves its very own olive-press, dated 1927. Carefully converted, the building retains its original character, with a furniture that produces an attractive atmosphere. Tel. 095.811.447

Restaurant ϋ Pacha,at 247/G Via Umberto, tel. 095.811.237

Restaurant Formula Uno, at 43 Via Donna Giovanna D'Austria, tel.

Restaurant La capannina, at 43 Viale Regina Margherita, tel. 339.6943.056

 

The citys sweet specialties are the cassatelline, made with ground almonds, chocolate and cinnamon; the mastrazzuoli, Christmas titbits made with almonds, cinnamon and vermouth; the mostarda, concocted from semolina or wine must, boiled with prickly-pear extract (available around the second or third Sunday in October, for the Mostarda festival).