Towering at 931 m above Sicily’s interior, Enna is an impressive sight in the centre of the island. It offers exceptional views of Mount Etna and the surrounding rolling plains. Enna is virtually unknown by tourists, a sleepy town that charms and prospers in a somehow old fashioned Sicilian way. The natural balcony on which it lies has earned it the nickname “Sicily's Belvedere". It’s height can definitely make it a lot cooler, so pack some warm clothes and expect blustery or misty conditions even in summer. Enna's medieval centre is remarkably well preserved, despite a series of invaders, and there is still much in town and in the surrounding area that has echoes of more traditional Sicilian life.
Enna wasn’t always this sleepy, as it has been of great strategic importance to anyone wishing to dominate Sicily in former times. Several ancient writers described the peculiar situation of Enna, and it is indeed one of the most remarkables in Sicily. The ancient city Henna was built on the level summit of a gigantic rocky hill, that is surrounded on all sides with almost inaccessible cliffs, except in a very few spots which are easily defended. Enna is supplied with water which gushes from the face of the rocks on all sides and forms one of the most remarkable natural fortresses in the world.
A visit to this little medieval town is well worth an effort. Not only for the vast vistas, but also for the striking castle and the Tower of Fredreck II and in particular at Easter for the Holy Week.
Enna is also home to the changing seasons. It was at the lake of Pergusa where Persephonet was abducted by Hades. According to legend, Persephone’s mother Demeter, the goddess of fertility and harvest, discovered that her beautiful daughter was missing and she refused to allow anything to grow. Starvation ensued, what caused Zeus to intervene. Demeter made a deal with Hades: Persephone could stay with him when nothing was growing, what meant three months in winter. When she stayed with her mother, harvest were plentiful and crops flourished, when she went back to the underworld to stay with Hades, infertility reigned – the seasons had been born. For the ancients, Persephone emerged at springtime, triggering a display of wild flowers which can still be admired all over Sicily.
Enna is not a huge tourist destination, but it is a charming little town with spectacular views, where you can experience the old Sicilian way of life.
Things to do and see in Enna
Castello di Lombardia di Enna
As you approach the town, you will see the impressive cliff-hanging Castello di Lombardia. Narrow, winding streets lead to the castle. It is a fine example of military architecture with solid rampart walls and towers, that was built by the Saracens, rebuilt by Emperoro Frederick II of Hohenstaufen and improved by KIng Frederick II of Aragon. It was divided into three spaces separated by walls. One courtyard houses a huge park, another is home to a renowned outdoor lyric theatre, in which high quality shows are performed, the third features a bishop’s chapel, mediaeval prisons, the Pisan Tower and the vestiges of royal apartments. From Torre Pisana are fantastic views over the surrounding region. On a clear day you can see to all three coasts.
Torre di Federico II di Enna
Above the lower part of the town stands a mighty octagonal tower of unknown purpose. It is marking the exact geometric centre of Sicily, thus the city’s nickname “Umbicilies Siciliae” (Navel of Sicily). The tower is closed to the public, but the surrounding park is open. This tower was the summer residence of the Frederick II of Hohenstaufen.
Piazza Vittorio Emanuele di Enna
If you head for Via Roma, it will lead you to Enna’s centre for shopping and the evening passeggiata – the main square Piazza Vittorio Emanuele. Attached to it is Piazza Crispi, from which you have breathtaking panoramas of the hillside and Mount Etna looming in the distance. The bronze fountain in the middle shows a reproduction of Bernini’s 17th century sculpture “The Rape of Persephone”.
Duomo di Enna
The Cathedral of Enna is a noteworthy example of religious architecture in Sicily, built in the 14th century by queen Eleonora, Frederick III's wife. It has been largely renovated after the fire of 1446. The great Baroque facade, in yellow tuff-stone, is surmounted by a massive clock tower with finely shaped decorative elements. The interior has a nave with two aisles separated by massive Corinthian columns, and three apses. If you want to visit, call in advance to make sure the cathedral is open.
Via Roma di Enna
The main street Via Roma features the 14th century cathedral with a Baroque façade and Gothic doors - unfortunately it is often closed, the church “San Francesco” with an impressive 16th century tower, a gallery of Enna’s painters and the Museo Civico Alessi.
Rocca di Cerere – The Rock of Demeter
The rock of Demeter is protruding out on one end of Enna, next to the castle. The spot offers great views over the windswept Sicilian interior.
Palazzo Varisano – Regional Archaeological Museum Enna
Palazzo Varisano houses the Regional Archaeological Museum of Enna, featuring founds from the Copper Age to the 6th century AD, coming from the many archaeological areas in the province of Enna.
The only preserved of seven old gates once located at the town’s entrances. It is a wonderful 17th century Roman arch, which is positioned in a stunning and charming natural setting – rich in grottos, used as a necropolis thousands of years ago.
Lago di Pergusa – Pergusa Lake
The Natural Reserve Lago di Pergusa is located about 6 km from Enna. Its protagonists are definitely the many migratory birds, but you can find also many interesting species of reptiles, amphibians, invertebrates and mammals.
In the area of the lake there is the archeological site “Cozzo Matrice” with the rests of an ancient fortified village. Some imposing walls date back to 8000 BC, there are a big necropolis, the ruins of an ancient Demeter temple and a sacred citadel.
And there is the most important racing track of Southern Italy around the lake, the “Autodromo di Pergusa", that hosted international events and competitions, such as the Ferrari Festival, Formula One and Formula 3000.
Restaurants in Enna
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Accommodation in Enna
In Enna aren't as many accommodations as in other cities. However you will find a smattering of hotels and Bed & Breakfasts to choose from. If you plan to visit during a major motor sport action at the Autodromo di Pergusa or the Easter period, book well ahead.
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Shopping in Enna
The girls from My Destination Sicily only say three words: Sicilia Fashion Village!
Nearly all brands in one place - a cute litlle village that features also some cafes and snack bars.
Cosmetics, clothing, shoes!!!, handbags!!!, underwear, sport fashion, home ware - discounts up tp 70% all year round. And from all major cities weekly free shuttle service - in summer also from the main tourist resorts.
Prepare yourself for aching feet and spending a lot of money....and a great day!
See more at our Shopping page...
Events in Enna
One of Enna's key events is the sombre Settimana Santa at Easter. Unlike other parts of Europe where Easter is cause for celebration, the processions held here over Easter are silent. They begin on Palm Sunday and involve penitents dressed in white hoods leaving the church and marching to the Cathedral. They are supposed to represent various fraternities but one can’t help thinking of the dreaded Klu Klux Klan in the USA. The absolute silence of the affair is kind of eerie but also incredibly moving. The events culminate a week later on Easter Sunday. This is probably one of Sicily’s most interesting Easter events, along with those in Trapani and Caltanissetta.
How to get to Enna
From Palermo, Catania and Cefalù take the A19, from Syracuse , Messina, Taormina and Giardini-Naxos the A18/A19.
By Bus & Train
The Enna province has less tourist infrastructure and transport services than other regions in Sicily, however getting to/from Enna town itself is not difficult. The bus terminal is in the new town on Viale Diaz with SAIS Autolinee services to nearby towns and also Catania, Palermo and Piazza Armerina. The train station is in Enna Bassa at the base of the hill about four kilometres away. While the location is a little bit inconvenient a local bus does connect regularly to the medieval centre.