Caltanissetta (Sicily)

Travelling the network

Caltanissetta (Sicily)


Caltanissetta is an Italian town in the province of the same name on the island of Sicily. It has a population of around 60,000 and occupies an area of 416 km². At 60 km from the Sicilian capital, Palermo, Caltanissetta is renowned for its history, folklore and cuisine and is one of Sicily’s historic towns.

It is very difficult to pinpoint when Caltanissetta was founded, given the successive occupations that the area experienced throughout its history.

Its outstanding location, close to the Mediterranean Sea, and fertile lands have brought the town prosperity but also greed and persistent conflict over its possession.

Many settler groups left their marks on the town, including the Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Normans, Suebi, Aragonese and Castilians. In this regard, the town is still uncovering its extensive past through ongoing archaeological excavations, which have shed a little more light on its history.


Today, we understand that the city’s greatest period of demographic and economic growth was due to the now defunct sulphur mines, which are part of this region’s natural and historic heritage.

Nearing the border with Agrigento, the countryside still shows signs of the ancient mines with wells and galleries that shape the mountainous landscape.

Arid, yellow hills sweep across this area, but in spring, the landscape changes to lush green.

The gentle relief gradually flattens nearing the short stretch of coast, where the San Leone River spills out into the sea. Olive and orange groves and vineyards brighten up the area and merge with the blue of the sea.

North Caltanissetta offers a stark contrast with mountains, hills and long gorges and has become the ideal place for hazelnut orchards, vineyards and olive groves.


Holy Week has a special meaning for the people of Caltanissetta and is considered one of the most important celebrations on Sicily. During the night of Maundy Thursday, a crowd of faithful and penitents flood the streets of the city to watch the procession pass by.

Life-size sculptures decorated with gold commemorating scenes from the Passion and Death of Jesus Christ are mournfully paraded through the town’s streets.

In the early hours of Good Friday, events start and finish in Garibaldi square, resembling the night of darkness during which Jesus Christ was arrested and sentenced to death.

The route is somewhat demanding and encompasses the narrowest of streets and alleyways in the historic quarter.

Another of the main events takes place on the night of Good Friday: the procession of the Black Christ, featuring a large-scale gold baldacchino with a crucifix carved in dark wood, hence the figure’s name.

The ornate float is carried by groups of men who chant mournful hymns for the duration of the procession. This is one of the most representative moments during Caltanissetta’s Holy Week.