Artistic tile wall featuring a sun, Italian words and flowery patterns

Tile wall (Kristen Thoennes)

Across Europe, you will find towns specializing in pottery going back hundreds or thousands of years. Sicily has its very own pottery town to rival Bolesławiec, Nove and Soufflenheim. Let’s explore Caltagirone!

Where is it?

Caltagirone is roughly 45 minutes to an hour west of Sigonella and Catania. Driving in Sicily is a new level of adventure, but this will be the best way to get there.

Face made of clasy

Clay face (Kristen Thoennes)

Interesting Sites

Start your visit strolling around a local park with a great view of Mt Etna. Search for Passeggiata alla Villa to snag directions.

In the center of town is the famous Caltagirone staircase. Each level is decorated with beautiful ceramic tiles with designs from the area. Climb up for a little cardio boost. There are stores along the way if you need to stop for a breather and shopping.

Outside stairs in Caltagirone, Italy

Outside stairs (Kristen Thoennes)

You will find pottery shops galore around the town! There are many popular designs from Sicily including the Sicilian or Moor’s heads, pinecones and colorful floral and fruit motifs. There are some fascinating theories about the origin of the Sicilian heads. If you love stories of passion, betrayal, jealousy and revenge, then you’ll want to learn more and shop owners love to tell the story.

If you are picking out gifts or something to remember your time in Caltagirone, I recommend taking home a Sicilian pinecone. You will see these all over Sicily adorning entryways, on facades of buildings and in gardens. You can find a variety of sizes and colors, even magnets and ornaments. They symbolize health, good luck and prosperity.

Man working on clay project

Man working on clay project (Kristen Thoennes)

Pottery making experience

When I visited Caltagirone, I booked a fantastic pottery experience! Our group of four people was given a demonstration by a master potter. It made for a great day-time date with my husband. We saw how they shape pieces, how they glaze them and were told about the firing process. Afterward, we were able to get our hands dirty and make two pieces—a small pot using the coiling method and a face mask. If you fly into Sicily, don’t worry! The shop will glaze and fire your piece and can mail it anywhere in Europe. Learn more about this experience and sign-up here.

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