Mistretta is a town of about 6,000 inhabitants in the province of Messina, set about 900m a.s.l. The town’s economy is mainly concerned with farming, stone and craft activities, the last boasting a remarkable blacksmith tradition that contributed to embellishing many buildings.
The town has grown on what was the site of the ancient Amestratus, a city of presumed Phoenician origin, where a temple has been erected in honour of the goddess Astarte.
Mistretta saw a remarkable expansion in the Middle Ages, with the development of a few settlements around its ancient castle, reinforced by the Normans. Thanks to its important role in the Sicilian Vespers War, it was granted the royal status. state property/was granted special “royal” status complete with privileges that included the right to administrate its own civil and penal justice system.
Mistretta visitors may enjoy many engaging buildings. The Chiesa Madre, dedicated to Saint Lucy, was restructured around 1630, albeit the original structure is of earlier date, as show several architectonic elements like the 1300’s doorway. The façade is graced with a Baroque portal enriched with carved stone decorations and flanked by two bell-towers. On the right side of the church, is a 1400’s portal complete with a lunette, that bears a Madonna and two Saints high-relief; another portal, dating from the 17th century, graces the left side. Divided into a nave and aisles, it contains very interesting works of art. Among these is an altar-piece by Antonello Gagini with statues representing a marble altarpiece St. Lucy, St. Peter and St. Paul, a 1600’s wooden organ, 1700’s marble reliefs depicting the Last Supper the Feet Washing, and a statue of the Resurrected Christ.
The Chiesa di San Sebastiano has a fine façade with a stucco statue depicting the titular saint containing a Baroque wooden litter.
The Chiesa di Santa Caterina is also worth-visiting. Built during Renaissance, it houses a prized 1500’s marble altar-piece containing three statues – one of them depicting the titular saint – and reliefs depicting the Annunciation and scenes from the saint life. On the exterior, the façade is graced with a fine bell-tower with two-light windows.
The Chiesa di San Francesco is especially known for housing 1500’s and 1600’s paintings, among which is a Madonna degli Angeli, the Sacra Famiglia and the Cristo alla Colonna.
Mistretta has a number of interesting secular buildings. Among them are the 1600’s Palazzo Scaduto – its façade having a rich doorway flanked by anthropomorfic figures and graced with an elegant balcony –, the Palazzo Russo, the 1800’s Palazzo Salomone and Palazzo Di Salvo – its windows surmounted with lunettes bearing high-reliefs depicting the arts.