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Palagonia is a city of nearly 16,000 inhabitants at 200 m a.s.l. especially renowned for its citrus-groves.
The Eremo di Santa Febronia, a cave-basilica going back to the 6th-7th century AD, is a major attraction for tourists. Dedicated to the city’s patron saint, it contains beautiful frescoes dedicated to the Christ Pantocrator, the Martyrdom of Santa Febronia, the Original Sin and a 1300’s Christ between the Virgin Mary and an Angel.
Erei mountains – Eremo di Santa Febronia. Follow the SS 5385 from Palagonia towards Catania; take the right fork signposted for Contrada Croce; 4.5km further on, as the road curves to the right, look out for a track on the left barricaded by a metal barrier. The hermitage is a 15min walk up the track. This evocative place is named after Santa Febronia, known locally as “a Santuzza”, her relics brought here each year in a great procession from neighboring Palagonia. The small retreat, carved out of the rock, is of Byzantine origin. Inside, the apse contains a fine, albeit damaged, fresco of Christ flanked by the Virgin and an angel.
Palagonia – 15km North-East, it is believed to have been an important political and religious town at the time of the Sikels. According to local legend, it was from the bubbling sulphurous waters of the Laghetto di Naftia that their gods, the Palici, were born and it is to them that they dedicated the temple, built on the edge of the lake. The small lake is barely visible today, since masked by its natural gas that is industrially exploited.
The area saw the Norman rise. The Count Roger ceded the land and the entire area to the Bishop of Syracuse. Since 1407, it belonged to Giacomo Gravina; his family ruling it throughout the centuries.