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About the Town of Sciacca, Sicily

Sciacca, Sicily, is a picturesque seaside town built on rocky heights that overlook the Mediterranean Sea on the south-western coast of the Sicily. The town of Sciacca is a 30-minute drive east from Selinunte and its temples and less than an hour's drive west from Agrigento. Sciacca is noted for its numerous artisan shops, which specialize in ceramic ware, its Thermal Spa complex and its fishing fleet.

Sciacca dates back to the Roman empire and was respected by everyone for its spas. The spas were part of daily life and were visited by both men and women. The spas were both social and curative. Above the city there are caves in Mount Kronio with steamy grottoes, which were also used in the treatment of ailments.

In 840 the village was renamed Ash-Shaqquh as a result of the Arab conquest and began a period of economic growth. The port and its loading equipment, constructed by the Romans, were restored. Sciacca became the principal Sicilian port for the export of Sicilian grain to North Africa, and the town's fishing industry thrived as well. The up and coming middle class occupied themselves with commerce and crafts and the town experienced a rapid urban increase. Urban development continued in the following centuries during Norman rule.

Sciacca was bequeathed by Count Roger I to his daughter, Juliet in 1101. She had Christian churches and monasteries erected in place of the mosques. A bloody feud spawned in Sciacca in 1400 between the Norman Perollo clan and the Catalan Lunas family and lasted for more than a century. The people of Sciacca have for a long time been most skillful in the crafting of ceramics. There was a period of great flourishing in the 16th and 17th centuries when important factories sprang up. Sciacca became a famous center of production, most notably for floor tiles of great artistic merit and was commissioned throughout Sicily to embellish churches and palaces.

Today Sciacca is best known for its ceramic shops, fishing fleet, famous Carnevale, thermal baths and beautiful beaches. The ceramic workshops still follow the oldest traditions in their production maintaining the forms and colors of their predecessors.

Yellow, green and blue overwhelm the shops with color and overflow onto the streets where craftsmen arrange multicolored vases, plates, cups and candlesticks. The fishing boat has been handed down in the same way that the craftsmen have handed down their trade. There are hundreds of fishing boats that moor in the port. It is also the fisherman that continue in the city's devotion to the Madonna del Soccorso. Twice per year on February 2 and August 15 the Madonna is celebrated. The "Carnevale" festival, considered to be Sicily's top "Mardi Gras" parade, is of course, held every year the last few days before the beginning of Lent. The people of Sciacca are proud and jealous of it and for months they prepare floats with music and dance.

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