Montalbano Elicona, Messina, Sicily, Italy
© Antonino Bartuccio/SOPA Collection/Offset by Shutterstoc
In Sicily, history is everywhere
Today we're in Montalbano Elicona on the island of Sicily. The town is known for the very old castle at the crest of the hill, as well as the quaint medieval village below. It's no wonder that Montalbano Elicona has been called one of the most beautiful towns in all of Italy. The castle itself was built in the early 13th century by medieval power broker Frederick II of Swabia. He wore many hats, including King of Sicily, Holy Roman Emperor, and—as far-fetched as it sounds—King of Jerusalem, a title he claimed after conquering that city during the Sixth Crusade. The castle was originally designed as a fortress, but it also served as a summer residence for Frederick and rulers who followed him.
Surrounding the castle are several other interesting historical sites, including the 14th-century Church of St. Catherine, known for its Romanesque facade as well as its mix of other elements from Catalan and Renaissance architectural styles. Also of note is the nearby Argimusco plateau, where an array of large oblong rocks, including one that is said to resemble an eagle, have long prompted speculation that they were placed there by members of a prehistoric island culture. However, scientists now believe that these so-called megaliths of Argimusco, sometimes referred to as the Stonehenge of Sicily, are actually of natural origin, and the unique boulder shapes are simply the result of centuries of wind erosion.