Calatafimi is a town of just over 8,000 located in the Trapani province, in a hilly, and mainly, farming area.
It began life in the Arab epoch growing around a Byzantine fortification known as Kalt-al-Fimi, standing for Eufemio’s Castle. In the 14th century it was under the rule of the Aragon souvereigns who restructured the ancient castle and built the defensive walls. Successively, it was part of the feudal dominions of the Counts of Modica, under whom it saw a considerable demographic and urban growth – continued in the following centuries – marked by the construction of new quarters and the settlement in town of various Ordini Mendicanti.
The area was the scene of an important historical event, 1860’s Garibaldi troops’ victory over the Bourbons, now commemorated by the Monumento-Ossario in the Colle Pianto Romano.
Thanks to the area’s high fertile grounds, agriculture is here still the leading industry. The Museo Etnoantropologico pays homage to the field through beautifully detailed reconstructions of rural homes and artisan’s workshops that provide a fascinating overview of the rural daily life.
The town’s Chiesa Madre, dedicated to San Silvestro, was erected in the 12th century and subsequently enlarged. Its interior is divided into three naves and is ornamented with various works of art among which a marble polyptych representing the Madonna and Child with Saints stands out; several shallow-reliefs complete the work with scenes of the Passion and the Resurrection. A mention goes to the Chiesa of San Michele with a fine 1500’s holy-water font and a 1400’s wooden Crucifix; Santa Caterina, laid out on an elliptical plan with a single nave, preserving a fine tryptich dedicated to the Madonna and Saints; the Santissimo Crocifisso with lovely frescoes and stuccoes by Mercurio and Norrito.
Every five years, in the beginning of May, a procession dedicated to the Holy Crucifix takes place. This event goes as back as 1728, when the city craftsmen disobeyed orders of Vice-King Caracciolo by refusing to bear arms and organizing themselves into confraternites and associations. Supported by the clergy they would continue to practice their own customs. During the celebration, the craftsmen in their elegant old-fashion clothes process with the gun on shoulder. The several corporations may be distinguished by their floats, notably the Massari (farmers) process on a float decorated with bread.