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Introducing Enna

Italy's highest provincial capital, Enna stands above the hills and valleys of central Sicily. The town is a dramatic sight, seemingly impregnable atop a precipitous mountain. Inside you'll discover a calm working centre with a handsome medieval core and, cloud cover permitting, some fabulous views. There's not enough to warrant an extended stay but it is a great place to escape the tourist pack and enjoy some cool mountain air, particularly in summer when the sun bakes everything around to a yellow crisp.

The city has a long and varied history. In ancient times it was famous as the centre of a cult of Demeter, but its strategic position meant that it was often fought over, and successive waves of colonising forces conquered it, including the Carthaginians, Romans, Byzantines and Arabs. In 1087 the Normans wrested it from the Arabs and turned it into an important fortified town. Throughout much of its history, it remained an important agricultural centre, supplying far-flung places with grain, wheat, cotton and cane, a tradition that continues today, albeit on a far smaller scale.

The Museo Alessi houses the valuable contents of the cathedral's treasury. It was unfortunately closed in April 2007 due to a lack of funds, and locals and visitors are still eagerly awaiting its reopening – if it has reopened when you visit, check out the museum's collection, originally the property of Canon Giuseppe Alessi (1774–1837), who left it to his brother with the intention that he then donate it to the Church.

The town of Enna is split in two: the hilltop historic centre, Enna Alta, and the modern town, Enna Bassa, below. Everything of interest is up in Enna Alta.