Croce Camerina nestles on a plain in the southern reaches of the
Iblean mountains. It is a nice and peaceful place a few kilometres
from the shore. Its administrative area comprises the fine seaside
resorts of Casuzze, Kaukana and Punta Braccetto.
Croce Camerina is a city of both historical and artistical value.
It was the site of such ancient settlements as Kamarina, Kaukana,
Casale di Santa Croce and others. The earliest records date back
to the Bronze Age, referring to a site known as Facies Castellucciana.
came to life in 598 BC as an outpost for Syracuse, in an area bathed
by the Hipparis and Oanis rivers (to-day’s Ippari and Rifriscolaro).
Soon it enjoyed economic prosperity, annexing a number of neighboring
towns and even rising against Syracuse, that would take fifty years
(in 553 b.C.) to re-establish its rule. Over the following three
centuries, periods of prosperity and decline alternated until it
fell, in 258 BC, after a long siege, to Romans who would plunder
and raze it. The few survivors took refuge in Punta Secca (a coastal
area between Punta Braccetto and Casuzze), where they would establish
the settlement of Kaukanæ. Specimens of the Christian age
were found at this area, such as sepulchral rooms and graves in
the Pirrera district, necropolises and a sanctuary along the Mirio
district. The sanctuary houses several frescoes, notably that of
Sant’Elena with the Holy Cross, that would give its name to
the city (Santa Croce is Italian for “Holy Cross”).
A period of decline followed, during which the territory was abandoned
as far as the Arab occupation, which did not leave here any remarkable
sources maintain that Kaukana changed its name to Rosacambra and
that in the 12th century it was ceded, along with the hamlet of
S. Croce and neighboring lands, to the old monastery of Benedictin
fathers of Scicli who later rented them to notables of Scicli and
Ragusa. In 1450 they were rented, first temporarily, soon permanently,
to Don Pietro Celestri, a nobleman from Modica, under whom it would
soon flourish. Upon Don Pietro Celestri’s death, in 1494,
the hamlet newly declined to be abandoned because of repeated raids
by pirates from the close undefended coast.
Celestris, Lords and Marquises of S. Croce, regained their power
in the 16th century, decisively contributing to the economical growth
and development of the town. The erection of two towers in the strategic
area of Capo Scaramia, at Pietro V Celestri’s behest, would
finally put an end to the pirates’ raids. In 1812, the feudal
system abolished, S. Croce Camerina became an autonomous city.
Croce Camerina is primarily an agricultural city. Outstanding is
the hothouse cultivation of early fruits, today the city’s
main product. Floriculture and breeding have also remarkably developed
over the last decades. Flowers, exported to all Italy, are celebrated
and promoted through an annual festival, held on patron saint San
13th century’s Chiesa Madre was restored in the early 18th
century following the 1693 earthquake that provoked heavy damages
in all Santa Croce. Inside, it contains an old reconstruction of
Caravaggio’s Madonna del Loreto and a statue of San Giuseppe.
Right beside the church stands the Liberty Palazzo Pece. An interesting
building, known as ‘U Vagnu, dating from between the 4th and
the 6th century, is located in the Mezzagnone district. The area
of Kaukana, between Punta Secca and Casuzze, is home to an archaeological
park, recently established. The archaeological and historic importance
of this area, along with the establishment of accommodation facilities,
has brought about a remarkable growth of the tourism influx.
ruins of Kamarina are located by the shore, too. This ancient city
was founded in 598 BC by the Greek-Syracusans, then destroyed by
themselves in 553 BC; the Romans plundered it in 258 BC. The town
lay on three hills, of which the Cammarana’s was the most
important. The ruins comprise sections of the city walls, remains
of Hellenistic houses including the House of the Altar – so
called because a major altar was recovered at the earth of the excavation
– the House of the inscription and the Merchant’s house,
where objects and tools were found out. Then, there are remains
of the walls of Athenaion, the Temple of Athena, dating from the
5th century BC, and the necropolises of Passo Marinaro and Randello.
Most finds were collected and exhibited in the archaeological museums
of Ragusa and Siracusa. An antique-shop was recently opened in Cammarana,
collecting all the remaining material. The recovery allowed archaeologists
to reconstruct the urban plan of the ancient city, said to be among
the best of the day.
Castello di Donnafugata
Marina di Modica
Marina di Ragusa