From Casalvecchio Siculo, perched 420 meters s.l.m., on the slopes of Mount St. Elias, you can admire a view that embraces a landscape from the Strait of Messina to the Calabrian coast and from Mount Etna to Savoca. Looking to the village, the precious medieval village, the narrow streets intersecting themselves between Spanish and Arab architectures are marvellous.
The origins of the village are very ancient, in the Byzantine era it was called “Palachorion” (palaion-korion), “old farnhouse”, as it is written in an Aragonese document of 1351, later called in latin “Rus Vetus”. Under the Arabian domination it was called “Calatabieth”, and finally Casalvecchio Siculo. From XI to XVIII century Casalvecchio was under the jurisdiction of the nearby Savoca, from which it took independence in 1795.
The Main church dedicated to St. Onofrio, whose cult goes back to the times of Ruggero II, was rebuilt in the XVII century, transversely set to the medieval structure. The façade is Baroque, the main portal stands for its columns, the original Baroque floor is composed of multi-coloured marble with geometric design and the wooden coffered ceiling with caryatids is very precious.
Inside there are:
- a font, made in 1686 – the date it’s inscribed on it ;
- various marble altars of the XVII and XVII centuries,;
- the painting of the Adorazione dei Magi by Gaspare Camarda (1626);
- a sixteenth-century wooden statue of Sant’Onofrio.
A second statue of St. Onofrio is in the nearby parish museum, made of silver by the goldsmith Giuseppe Aricò from Messina in 1745.
Saint Nicolò church is probably one of the oldest churches in the area, it can be dated back to the fifteenth century, unfortunately restored in modern times. It houses a painting of San Nicholas of wood from the school of Antonello, and a sixteenth-century statue of Saint Antonio of Padua.
Saint Peter and Paul d’Agrò
In the valley of the river Agro, just outside the village, it stands the amazing church of Saints Peter and Paul d’Agrò, a miracle of religious architecture in Norman style, unique in the world art history. The original building dates back to 560 A.D., while the present structure was dated back to 1117; the church was commissioned by the Roger II, requested by the monk Gerasimos who became its first abbot. It was then finally restored in 1172 by the master builder Gherardo Franco, as is written on an inscription engraved on the lintel of the main portal.
The church is the harmonious result of the mixture of different architectural styles linked over time:
- Byzantine style, evident in the polychrome design of the elements and in the capitals;
- Arab style, visible in the two domes and in arches that support the domes;
- the Norman one, recognizable in the plan with three naves and in the towers near the entrance.
The walls are characterized by the turnover of bands made of brick, sandstone, limestone and lava stone, decorated with pilasters and arcades that cross along the perimeter.
What to visit in Casalvecchio
- Saint Peter and Paul d’Agrò
- Main church
- Santissima Annunziata Church
- San Teodoro Martyr Church
- San Nicolò Church