The hill town of Santa Lucia del Mela, known as Mankarru in ancient times, is located in the Province of Messina and only a short drive from Milazzo. Although the town’s exact origins are unknown, it was ruled by many conquerors. On our walking tour, the diverse landscape of Santa Lucia del Mela will provide us with magnificent views of the lush forests of the mountains in one direction and beautiful views of the Aeolian Islands in another. We will visit the hilltop castle, built in the mid-800s by the Arabs for defense and later renovated by Swabian and Aragonese rulers. Next to the castle we will tour the Santa Lucia del Mela Cathedral (if open), built in 1094 by Norman Count Roger I. After conquering the town, he changed its name to Santa Lucia and built a church to fulfill his vow for his conquest. (The del Mela - of the Apple - was added in the mid-1800s to distinguish the town from other communities with the same name.) Once the town even had a large, prosperous Giudecca, a Jewish community until the Jewish people were expelled by the Aragonese rulers in 1493. During the Renaissance, Santa Lucia del Mela became a important center of learning. Of course, we will be sure to stop at a local pasticceria (pastry shop) to sample some of the town's famous nougats, marzipan, and almond cookies. If time permits, we will also visit other important churches in the Centro Storico (Historic Center).