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Comune di Calatafimi-Segesta
Calatafimi segesta.jpg
Coat of arms of Calatafimi-Segesta
Coat of arms
Calatafimi-Segesta is located in Italy
Location of Calatafimi-Segesta in Italy
Coordinates: 37°54′N 12°51′E / 37.900°N 12.850°E / 37.900; 12.850
Country Italy
Region Sicily Sicily
Province Trapani (TP)
Frazioni Sasi
 • Mayor Vito Sciortino
 • Total 154 km2 (59 sq mi)
Elevation 338 m (1,109 ft)
Population (2015)
 • Total 6.712
 • Density 0.044/km2 (0.11/sq mi)
Demonym(s) Calatafimesi
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 • Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Postal code 91013
Dialing code 0924
Patron saint Most Holy Crucifix and Madonna of Giubino
Saint day May 3rd
Website Official website

Calatafimi-Segesta (Sicilian: Calatafimi-Segesta) is a small town, more popularly known simply as Calatafimi, in the Province of Trapani, in Sicily, southern Italy.

The full name of the municipality was created in 1997 and is meant to highlight the presence within its territory of the 5th century B.C. Doric temple of Segesta, widely regarded as one of the most intact of its type. Adjoining the temple, on a nearby hilltop, there is a 2nd-century Roman amphitheater.


The town developed during the age of the Muslim emirate of Sicily, when it was known as Qal`at(a)fīmī ( قلعة فيمي ), referring to the defensive castle overlooking the town, now partially restored from ruins. One hypothesis for the castle's name derives it from "Castrum Phimes" - a stronghold protecting the territory of a Roman period nobleman mentioned by Cicero, Diocles Phimes. Another hypothesis derives it from "Castle of Euphemius", possibly referring to the 5th-century Byzantine patriarch by that name or, more likely, to the 9th-century Byzaantine commander, who brought Muslim troops to Sicily in 827, helping begin the Muslim conquest of Sicily.

Calatafimi's part of Sicily was one of the first to be occupied by the Aghlabids from Ifriqiya in their conquest of the island, and was one of the last centres of Islamic culture after the end of the Norman rule. The excavations near Segesta have revealed a 12th-century Islamic necropolis and mosque. There are also references to an Islamic-period town called Calathamet (Qal`at al-Hammah - قلعة الحمّة), on the border of the territories of Calatafimi and Castellammare del Golfo, possibly equating the modern Terme Segestane.

From 1336 until 1860, Calatafimi was a feudal territory under Habsburg and Spanish nobles, despite three attempts to regain an independent status (in 1399, 1412 and 1802).

It was on a hill near Calatafimi, called Pianto Romano, that, in 1860, Giuseppe Garibaldi and his Mille first encountered the troops of the Bourbons on a battlefield (see the Battle of Calatafimi).[1] This was the first significant battle for the Italian unification (or Risorgimento) and it was in this battle that Garibaldi was said to have uttered the famous battle cry: "Here we make Italy, or we die" (in Italian "Qui si fa l'Italia, o si muore"). A memorial, in the form of large stone obelisk containing an ossuary of the remains of those fallen in the battle, currently marks the hilltop.

In his later life, the 19th-century English novelist Samuel Butler made annual trips to Calatafimi,[1] and a street of the town was named after him. Summer theatres is held in the Roman amphitheatre at Segesta every other year. A new archaeological museum is being created that will show findings from the Segesta archaeological excavations.


In 1901 the population of Calatafimi was recorded as 11,426. Subsequent major emigrations due to poverty and unemployment kept the number from growing and, after 1950, the population began decreasing. Prior to 1900, the main destination was Tunisia, later it was the United States and Argentina.

After World War II, Canada and Australia became destinations, as did Germany and Great Britain and the major cities of the Italian mainland. On 31 December 2015 there were only 6,712 permanent residents, although the physical size of the town had grown, as families occupied larger residences. Following severe damage in the 1968 Belice Valley earthquake, a new section of town, Sasi, was built on former farmlands about 3 kilometres (1.9 mi) from the old town centre.

Main sights[edit]

Civil buildings and monuments[edit]

Among the civil buildings and monuments of historical interest you can visit:

The Doric temple of Segesta[edit]

Temple of Segesta

Built between 430-420 BCE, 61 metres long and 26 wide, it has 36 Doric columns which are of a "rough" finish as the temple has never been completed. It is also without a roof: scholars are in disagreement as to whether the temple was deliberately planned this way. (See more here)

The Amphitheatre[edit]

It is located on a hilltop and was built by the Greeks at about 400 B.C., It was discovered in the 19th century. They play classical comedies and tragedies in July and August.

The Greek sanctuary[edit]

Situated in contrada Mango, in the archaeological area of Segesta; there are the remains of an ancient sanctuary, dating back perhaps to the 6th century B.C. and built outside the town centre of Segesta.

Pianto Romano[edit]

Pianto Romano, the memorial of the battle of Calatafimi

The mausoleum of Pianto Romano: it is situated on a hill at few kilometres far from Calatafimi (southwest direction). In some documents, dating back to the early years of the 17th century, this countryside was called “Chianti di Rumanu” (the vineyard with young plants belonging to the Romano family), but today it known as “Pianto Romano”. On this hill, in memory of the famous battle between the Garibaldians and the Bourbon army, they built a Monument which keeps the mortal remains of the Garibaldian volunteers and the Bourbon soldiers who died on May 15, 1860 during the battle. in the battle . This Mausoleum, designed by the architect Enrico Basile, was inaugurated on May 15, 1892.

the Castle Eufemio[edit]

It is a typical example of Norman-Swabian architecture, built with a defensive scope. It is located on a hill dominating the town. There are written documents about it only since the middle of the 12th century when Edrisi, a traveller and geographer, describes it as “an ancient and primitive with a populated village”. In the middle of the 12th century it was one of the imperial castles used by Frederick II’s troops against the Muslim rebels. Later it was the castle of the feudatories of Calatafimi and of the governors who run it on behalf of the Crown for certain periods. In 1282, during the rebellion of the Sicilian Vespers, the Provençal feudatory Gugliemo Porcelet lived in it, but as he was loved by his subjects, the rebels spared his life and he was sent back to Provence together with his family. It was then a military garrison and a prison until 1868, when it was abandoned.

the municipal Theatre Felice Cavallotti[edit]

It is located opposite the ex convent of Saint Francis and was founded in 1881 on the iniziative of the famous Sir Nicolò Rindello, a patriot and painter. It is entitled to Felice Cavallotti (1842-1898), a literary man, journalist and deputy. It has two rows of boxes, the gallery and the stalls. They have restored it several times: it has been working until 1962, restored after the 1968 earthquake, and reopened in 2016.

Casa Garibaldi museum[edit]

It is located in via Marconi, near the Town Hall: it was the house of the parish priest Don Antonino Pampalone (1810-1866), a fervent liberal and deputy for Calatafimi at the Sicilian Parliament of 1848. On May 16, 1860 Garibaldi and four of his officers were given hospitality here and on the same day the General spoke, with the applause of the people of Calatafimi, about Italy’s unity from its balcony. In July1862 Garibaldi stayed in this house again and visited Pianto Romano: the site of the battle and the common grave, marked by a simple cross, with the mortal remains of the dead soldiers of both armies. From the balcony of the same house he spoke to Calatafimesis, and probably pronouncing, for the first time, the famous saying “Either Rome or death".

The Foundling Wheel (la ruota dei proietti)[edit]

If you go down the narrow via Ospedale from the large square of Santissimo Crocifisso, after a few steps, near a secondary door of Ospedale Civico, you will meet “the Foundling’s Wheel”. Once they abandoned here, to public assistance, the unwished new-born babies.

Religious Buildings[edit]

Calatafimi Segesta has about 30 churches in which there are several marble statues from the school of Antonello Gagini and different paintings. The most important are the following:

The Mother Church (Chiesa Madre)[edit]

The Mother Church or San Silvestro Papa (dedicated to Pope Sylvester, the saint), was restored at about 1500. Its origin dates back to the 12th century and is dedicated to Saint Sylvester the Pope, the oldest patron of Calatafimi who, according to the popular tradition, protected the town from the incursions of Muslims who rebelled against the imperial power. As the primitive urban nucleus enlarged and the population increased, the original building was amplified and modified several times between the XV and the 18th century because it was too small to hold the believers. Thanks to its width it was the place of popular assemblies, like the one in 1655 which led to the election of Maria Santissima di Giubino as the patroness of Calatafimi against the invasion of grasshoppers that were destroying crops.

The marble polyptych inside the Mother Church

The façade has no decorations. With a nave and two aisles separated by columns, the interior is in Renaissance style, though there are also simple Baroque elements. In the apse there is a marble polyptych, made by Bartolomeo Berrettaro and Giuliano Mancino in 1516. Moreover, the Church hosts a marble sarcophagus with the mortal remains of Giuliano Truglio, dating back to the 18th century.

The church of Santissimo Crocifisso[edit]

It was built to house the so-called Most Holy Crucifix (see Culture) at about 1700. This sanctuary, in a Baroque style with Neoclassical influences, is situated on the spot where once there was the small and ancient Church Saint Catherine of Alexandria. In the sacristy of that little Church, on 23th, 24 and 25 June 1657 an old wooden Crucifix worked a series of miraculous recoveries, whose authenticity is witnessed by the documents of that period and by the construction of the present sanctuary (from 1741 to 1759), which replaced the old little Church. The plan was carried out by Giovanni Biagio Amico, an architect from Trapani, and its building expenses were wholly borne by the people of Calatafimi. Further to the miracles of 1657, they started the solemn and characteristic feast of Santissimo Crocifisso, in which religious faith and very old traditions merged. So far it has been held for more than three centuries. The church has a longitudinal plan with one nave; there are three altars on each side. The high altar is closed by a classical aedicula with a curvilinear tympanum, harmoniously inserted in the group, made homogeneous by the stuccoes and gilt decorations on the walls. Inside the Church there are these works:

  • The marble bust of Nicolò Mazzara, made in 1882 by Domenico Costantino from Palermo;
  • The picture representing Saint Eligius and Saint Athanasius, with the Madonna and the infant Jesus Child with a circle of angels, made by Gaetano Mercurio in 1768;
  • The painting of Saint Catherine of Alessandria by Gaetano Mercurio;
  • The painting of the simulacrum of Madonna di Trapani, with Saint Nicholas and Saint Albert, with a circle of angels, realized by Domenico La Bruna from Trapani;
  • The painting of the Saints Crispino and Crispiniano, made by Gaetano Mercurio in 1767;
  • The frescoes on the vaults, in the nave and in the tribune, painted by Diego Norrito nel 1772;
  • The painting of the Heart of Jesus made by Gianbecchina in 1961;
  • Two paintings representing some scenes of the Old Testament, made by Gaetano Mercurio.

Chiesa di San Michele (Saint Michael's Church)[edit]

Once the devotion for Saint Michael was very deep at Calatafimi and his feast falling on May 8 was accompanied by "iorni quindici di franchezza di ogni gabella", that is people didn’t pay the duty on goods for 15 days. This Church, which originally was a property of the confraternity of Saint Michael Archangel,[6] kept the mortal remains of the blessed Arcangelo Placenza from Calatafimi for a certain period, then they were moved to Chiesa di Santa Maria di Gesù (Alcamo) in Alcamo. In 1596 the confraternity gave the Church to the Friars of the Third Order of Saint Francis who enlarged it and built their monastery next to the Church. As it suffered considerable damages owing to the 1968 Belice earthquake, the present timber- trussed roof is due to a subsequent restoration.[7] The interior of the church, with a nave and two aisles, is in neoclassical and baroque style with three portals.[6] Inside it there is a holy water stoup of the 16th century[6], a statue of Saint Michael Archangel dated 1490 and different stuccoes and paintings.[6]

Sanctuary of Maria Santissima di Giubino[edit]

It is located at about 2 kilometres from Calatafimi Segesta, on the northern side of the hill Tre Croci and is one of the most known Marian sanctuaries in Sicily. Its fame is linked to the memory of the Blessed Archangel Placenza from Calatafimi, who lived here for some time, and to the devotion to the Most Holy Mary of Giubino, patroness of this town.

Church of Saint Julian the martyr[edit]

It dominates piazza Francesco Cangemi and is very old; in 1619 it became a parish. The façade has a stained-glass window with holy motifs and the main door is framed by Corinthian square pilasters, surmounted by a triangular fronton. Inside the Church there are several wooden statues and paintings.

the church of Maria Santissima di Giubino (co-patroness of the town)[edit]

It was built in 1721 to house an allegedly miraculous marble-relief icon of the Madonna, which is brought to a country chapel during the summer. (A copy of the relief is housed in the Church of St. Joseph in Brooklyn, New York, giving testimony to the large emigrant community of Calatafimesi who lived in Brooklyn in the early 20th century). The Church of Maria Santissima di Giubino is dedicated to the patroness of the town. It has a single nave, with an elegant barrel vault decorated with frescoes and ornamental motifs. Inside it there are some important works: the painting with the Assumption, Our Lady with Angels and Saints dated 1617, the altar-piece of All Saints, an 18th-century wooden organ and a 15th-century marble alto-rilievo representing Madonna of Giubino with the Infant Jesus. In 1655 an invasion of grasshoppers was destroying all the crops in the countryside of Calatafimi: the people, assembled in a Church, decided that, after putting all the names of the saints who had an altar in town inside a ballot box, they would choose as a patron that one whose name had been drawn. After they invoked the Holy Ghost, it was chosen the name of Maria Santissima di Giubino by lots. The central part of the triptych with the image of the Virgin was soon taken out from the wall in the country church of Giubino and taken in procession: Calatafimi was free from grasshoppers. Maria Santissima di Giubino was elected patroness of the town (25 April 1655) and the bas-relief of the Virgin of Giubino was then placed on the high altar of the new Church,[6] designed by Giovanni Biagio Amico (the same planner of the Church of Santissimo Crocifisso) in 1721. In 1931 the triptych was recomposed in the town sanctuary and restored. There was a new restoration of the Church in 1978.

Ex convento di San Francesco di Assisi (Saint Francis' ex monastery)[edit]

It was founded by Giovan Giacomo Gullo, baron of Arcauso in 1543, and belonged to the Friars Minor Conventual. After the abolition of the monastery, the building was used as a public school. Today it is the seat of the picturesque and important Ethnic-Anthropological Museum and displays old work-tools, home objects and furniture. In this way it transmits the heritage, customs and memories of past generations, in a direct and effective way.

Other places of interest[edit]

  • Segesta archaeological area, including the doric temple, the amphitheatre and the sanctuary.Since the nineties, this area has enormously been revalued thanks to the numerous discoveries concerning the ruins of the ancient Elymian town and the remains of the medieval walls.
  • Angimbè's wood (where you can find cork oaks and holm-oaks.
  • Santa Maria's pine-wood.
  • Chiesa del Carmine
  • Chiesa di Mary Magdalene ( ex Church of Saint Augustine )
  • Church of the Virgin of Aid
  • Church of Saint Isidore Agricola
  • Church of Saint Roch
  • Church of the Most Holy Mary the Immaculate Conception
  • Church of Saint Vito
  • the Itinerary of lanes (Itinerario dei Vicoli): in the last decades some caractheristic places of the town centre of Calatafimi have been restored and intended to illustrate its history and traditions. On some walls you can see Garibaldi's deeds, the farmers' proverbs and the ceramic gaily-coloured butterflies or the holy water stoups.


Religious Events[edit]

These are the most important religious events at Calatafimi-Segesta:

  • the Most Holy Crucifix: it is held every 5–7 years from the 1st to the 3rd of May. It is a religious feast linked to an old wooden Crucifix, made by an unknown author, which operated several miracolous recoveries in 1657. In the same year the Crucifix, which was kept in the sacristy of the small Church of Saint Catherine of Alessandria, was carried in procession for the first time. As stated by Giuseppe Pitré, an ethnologist, the feast did not take place every year, but whenever they had enough money to organize it: every 10 years at first, every 5 years since 1800. The walkers-on, divided into classes, go by through the streets for three days and throw candy-coated almonds, cucciddati and flowers.

+Procession of the Most Holy Crucifix: on May 3 every year.

  • Corpus Domini: every year in the Church of San Michele they realize a carpet with coloured sawdust, coarse salt and chalk. The work, placed in the Church central navy, measures about 9 metres by 6. This tradition, born in the second postwar period, was interrupted from 1990 to 2007. Each year in front of the Church of Maria Addolorata (Our Lady of Sorrow) in Corso Garibaldi they carry out a “decking with flowers.” It is a long carpet (made with flowers) on which only the Holy Sacrament can pass on during the procession.
  • Procession of Our Lady of Assumption: on 15 August.
  • Procession of Madonna del Giubino: on the fourth Sunday of September.
  • The festivity in honour of the Blessed Child Mary: it is held every two years (from 5 to 8 September) in the small Church of Our Lady of Graces in contrada Affacciatura, near the town centre. This feast links faith and folklore and is rich in games and tradition.
  • Procession of the Immaculate (day and night): on 8 December.
  • The Living Crib: it is held in the characteristic small streets of the town centre, with concerts, parades and Christmas songs. You can see walkons in period costume, artisans’ workshops, farmers and old jobs. This manifestation is organized by the cultural Association “Calatafimi è…”

Other Events[edit]

  • The Garibaldians' day: on May 15.
  • Calatafimi Summer: from the end of July to the first decade of September.
  • Calatafimi Segesta Festival Dionisiache (at the Greek theatre of Segesta): from the end of June to the first decade of September.


Among the musical groups in Calatafimi there are:

  • The Associazione Culturale Musicale Calatafimi Segesta which was founded in 2006 thanks to the fusion among the Big Band Calatafimi-Segesta, operative for more than 10 years, and the old Banda Segesta, whose origins are dating back before 1900; so it is one of the oldest musical bands in Trapani province. Today there are about 70 people: the female presence being very high, about 80 per cent. There are several Maestros taking part in the association and that, through the basic musical school, have given impulse to its young members, enlarging the staff of the band in a few years. The repertory includes modern, folk, religious and bandistic pieces and they hold several concerts during summer and at Christmas time.
  • Gruppo Folkloristico Elimo: raised to an institutional group by the President of Republic Giorgio Napolitano on the commemorative celebrations for the Italian Unity, it was founded in 1984. There are about 50 people, with several young ones among them. The Artistic Director is signor Giuseppe Gatto; it has successfully taken part to the “Sagra of mandorlo in fiore” held in Agrigento on February 9, 2014 and Milan Expo in 2015.

Notable people from Calatafimi[edit]

The urn with the mortal remains of the Blessed Arcangelo Placenza from Calatafimi, kept inside Chiesa di Santa Maria di Gesù in Alcamo.


The economy of Calatafimi is primarily agricultural, the most important crops being citrus, grapes and olives.

See also[edit]



  • Wikisource-logo.svg Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Calatafimi". Encyclopædia Britannica. 4 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. 
  • Cataldo, Carlo (1982). Guida storico-artistica dei beni culturali di Alcamo, Calatafimi, Castellammare del golfo, Salemi, Vita. Alcamo: Sarograf.