SANTA LUCIA DEL MELO

 

Santa Lucia nestles 215m a.s.l. in the north-western slopes of the Peloritani, in the province of Messina. The town totals nearly 5.300 inhabitants. It grew to the size of a hamlet around the 13th century, counting about a hundred families. Successively, it also accommodated some Jewish and Lombard colonies. A remarkable expansion was recorded in the 15th century; in the next century, its defensive walls were rebuilt.

The tour of the town includes several stops beginning with the many attractive buildings scattered throughout the town centre.

The Cathedral, of Norman origin, has a central doorway complete with a lunette bearing a Madonna among St. Agatha, St. Lucy and the Eternal Father. Above is the Royal Eagle, the symbol of the regal patronage. The church interior is divided into three naves and graced with monolithic columns. It is ornamented with numerous works of art such as a 1500ís panel depicting Saint Mark the Evangelist, a 1500ís marble statue representing Saint Lucy, two 1600ís canvas paintings depicting San Biagio, by Pietro Novelli, and Our Lady of the Assumption, and a 1700ís wooden Crucifix.

The next stop is the 1600ís Capuchin Convent with the adjoined church of the Immaculate Virgin. The church contains countless works of art such as a 1600ís wooden carved altar, a 1600ís painting depicting the Immaculate attended by St. Peter, St. Clare and St. Lucy, with an image of God above, and the 1600ís wooden statue representing St. Felix.

The Chiesa dellíAnnunziata, flanked by a bell-tower dating from the 15th century, is divided into three naves. It houses various works of art such as a 1400ís panel depicting the Madonna delle Grazie, a painting depicting the Presentazione al Tempio and a 1500ís Annunciation.

Among the minor churches is the Convent of the Padri del TerzíOrdine Regolare, complete with the Chiesa di Santa Maria del Gesý. Presently, only the cloister and the church are open to public; the latter contains a fine wooden Crucifix, a 1500ís baptismal font and a 1600ís canvas depicting the Baptism of Christ.

The 1400ís Church of Saint Nicholas is especially known for housing a 1500ís marble statue of the titular saint.

The Palazzo Vescovile (the Bishopís Palace) is an important stop too. Many pieces of art adorn its interior, such as a 1600ís marble low-relief in the staircase leading to the upper floor depicting Giobbe attended by his friends, a 1800ís marble statue representing the Madonna di Trapani, a 1500ís polyptych depicting Saint John the Baptist, Saint Francis of Paola and the Resurrected Christ, a 1500ís Byzantine panel depicting the Madonna of Creta.

Santa Lucia del Mela also accommodates an engaging Castle. It was designed as a fortification, with a round tower built, at Frederick IIís behest, by Arab workers and decorated with crenellations. Repeatedly left abandoned throughout the centuries, the castle retains the remnants of a pentagonal tower, a round tower housing a Library with various incunabula and 1500ís works, and a small 1300ís chapel that gives access to the Santuario della Madonna della Neve. The santuario contains precious works like a Antonello Gaginiís Madonna della Neve, two 1700ís statues depicting Santa Lucia and San Biagio, a painting representing the Death of St. Joseph.