SCIACCA and the THERMAL TOURISM The Regional District of Agrigento is pleased to present the territory through this pamphlet which will enable you to get first information. You can also ask for the pocket guide to get to know better the Province. The Tourism Councillor Carmelo Pace
The Provincial Council President Prof. Eugenio Dâ€™Orsi
The foundation of Sciacca, holiday town known not only for its natural beauty and its excellent climate throughout the year, but mainly for the beneficial effects of its thermal waters, can be dated between the VI and V c. a.C., by the Selinuntini. Archaeological studies showed that the caves of the nearby Mount Kronio were inhabited since the neolithic period until the Copper Age . Thermal centre since ancient times, those of Sciacca are the oldest thermal baths used for therapeutic purposes particularly popular among the Romans, who called them the "Therme Selinuntinae" or "Aquae Larodes" or even ’’Aquae Labodes’’. The tradition says that the inventor of the Sciacca Thermal Baths was Dedalo, the ingenious architect, inventor and sculptor who indicated the place where to dig the rock of Mount Kronio. From the crack created it was possible to collect the hot steam coming out from underground with puffs up to 42 degrees and in this way receiving the benefits. The Greeks, the Carthaginians and the Romans, who on Mount Kronio celebrated rites in honor of Saturn, were recommended by their own doctors to take care of themselves with the waters of the Thermae Selinuntinae that were recognized even more beneficial than those of the City.
Today the house of vaporous vents for the treatment of antrumtherapy is a modern building that from the outside does not give the imagine of its millennial history. The story of Sciacca and the thermal baths is, however, linked to the figure of a black-skinned monk named Calogero, who arrived in the V century a.C. and soon earned the reputation as a saint. He managed to drive out the pagan priests from Mount Kronio and, with an intense apostolic work, led people to christianity by reproposing the therapeutic use of vaporous vents. In 840 in Sciacca, as throughout the south coast of Sicily, started the arabian domination, whose presence left traces other than just the name Ash-shaqqah (derives from the crack). Other traces are found in the urban fabric, with a variety in structure, especially in some areas as the Rabato, where we find the typical intricate and tortuous path of arabic cities. It was remarkable the subsequent development of the city by the Normans arrival and by Count Roger I, who, in 1072, made it the centre of a county. From the XV century until the mid XVI century Sciacca enjoyed a further development and its economic expansion, based on the traffic of goods and the strategic control of the Channel of Sicily, made it one of the richest and most powerful cities in Sicily. Even Sciacca, as many cities of Sicily, lived a period of decline until the early 1800 and when in 1870 some coral reefs were discovered, the city had a new economic revival.
This event along with the prevailing activities of the thermal baths,that over the years continued to increase the performance of the beneficial qualities of water, took a strategic role for the local economy. In 1800 this led to the achievement of the construction of the first thermal buildings in the Valley of the baths, while between 1928 and 1938 the new SPA was built, inside a park in Art Nouveau style, and it was called the most beautiful architectural achievement of the twentieth century in Sciacca.
THE HISTORIC CENTRE The particularly distinctive old town of Sciacca, has basically three levels: a low part, the sea area with a fishing port, a median part, which is the historic centre, and a higher part, nearby, which is beyond the sixteenth century city wall, where the new quarters are. To visit the historical centre we recommend to leave your car at the entrance of the city near Piazza Friscia opposide to the Villa Comunale or near Viale delle Terme and take the Corso Vittorio Emanuele, (on the left of Piazza Friscia). Here you can immediately see the Palace Tagliavia St. James and further ahead Palace Arone Tagliavia, two old building erected in 1400 and restored in 1800. From Piazza Friscia, you can see the side of the Palace Tagliavia St. James, particularly rich of neo-gothic artistic decorations, while the southern facade is in empire style divided by a long balcony and a crenellated terrace. Not far away stands the Duomo.
Sciacca Thermal Palace
It was built at the beginning of the XII century and dedicated to St. Mary Magdalene, and was rebuilt in 1656 in classic baroque style by the architect Michele Blasco from Sciacca. Formed by a nave and two aisles, inside you can admire the central vault frescoes painted by Tommaso Rossi depicting the apocalypse vision and life scenes of Mary Magdalene. On the altar is the statue of the Madonna del Soccorso, patron saint of the city, and a valuable font, both dated back to 1500. The external front of the right tower, strangely uncomplete, is quite elegant and is embellished with marble statues made by Antonio and Domenico Gaggini, depicting Mary Magdalene with the apostles Peter and Paul.
Maria SS. del Soccorso Basilica, Sciacca Cathedral
On the left side of the Duomo an elegant nineteenth century building houses the Museum Scaglione, Francesco Scaglione's home, a representative of the sicilian agrarian educated middle class, a lover of arts and letters. Within its rooms, which were those of everyday family life, are preserved valuable collections of paintings, engravings, sculptures, majolics, porcelains, archaeological finds, coins, corals and Sicilian craft furniture. All these objects witness this man's passion dedicated in searching and collecting the elegance and the ’’beauty’’. Going a little further you reach Piazza Scandaliato, landmark of the city centre. A large terrace from where you can see a beautiful landscape edged by the blue african sea. Adjacent to the square there is the church with the ex Convent of St. Domenico, erected in 1532 by Tommaso Fazello and partly rebuilt in 1793, while on the opposite side of Piazza Scandaliato there is the ex Jesuit College, an ancient and elegant monument whose foundation was laid the 13th of June 1613. Between 1640 and 1645 the building was enhanced by a large internal cloister with arch columns and a stone parapet that borders the large terrace. Today this is the site of the Town Hall. Further down Corso Vittorio Emanuele and turning towards Via Incisa on the right side you can see the Tower of Pardo and the fifteenth century Perollo Palace in late-gothic style.