Inhabited since prehistoric times, Piazza Armerina became an important Norman settlement in the 11th Century and flourished during Roman times. We will begin a few miles outside the centro storico (historic center) at Villa Romana del Casale, a UNESCO World Heritage Site believed to be a 4th Century hunting lodge of the Roman emperor Maximian. It is one of the most impressive sites in Sicily. The villa contains some of the best-preserved floor mosaics in the world, praised by archaeologists because they are in situ, which refers to artifacts that have not been moved from their original locations. One highlight is always the mosaic of the 10 “Bikini Girls” playing sports.
After lunch, we will return to the medieval centro storico (historic center), where we will see many examples of Norman or Gothic architecture on our walk. Our first stop will be a tour of the impressive Baroque Cattedrale di Maria Santissima delle Vittorie (Maria of the Victories - if open), renovated in the 17th and 18th Centuries on the foundation of the a former church. Next door we will view the Palazzo Trigona, the home of the wealthy family who commissioned the cathedral.