Enna listen (Sicilian: Castrugiuvanni; Greek: Ἔννα; Latin: Henna and less frequently Haenna) is a city and comune located roughly at the center of Sicily, southern Italy, in the province of Enna, towering above the surrounding countryside. It has earned the nicknames "belvedere" (panoramic viewpoint) and "ombelico" (navel) of Sicily.
At 931 m (3,054 ft) above sea level, Enna is the highest Italian province capital. Until 1926 the town was known as Castrogiovanni.
Enna is situated near the center of the island; whence the Roman writer Cicero called it Mediterranea maxime, reporting that it was within a day's journey of the nearest point on all the three coasts. The peculiar situation of Enna is described by several ancient authors, and is indeed one of the most remarkable in Sicily. The ancient city was placed on the level summit of a gigantic hill, so lofty as almost to deserve to be called a mountain, and surrounded on all sides with precipitous cliffs almost wholly inaccessible, except in a very few spots which are easily defended, abundantly supplied with water which gushes from the face of the rocks on all sides, and having a fine plain or table land of about 5 km in circumference on the summit, it forms one of the most remarkable natural fortresses in the world.
Archaeological findings dating from the 14th century BC have proved the human presence in the area since Neolithic times. A settlement from before the 11th century BC, assigned by some to the Sicani, has been identified at the top of the hill; later it was a center of the Siculi. In historical times it became renowned in Sicily and Italy for the cult of the goddess Demeter (the Roman Ceres), whose grove in the neighborhood was known as the umbilicus Siciliae ("The navel of Sicily"). Ceres' temple in Henna was a famed site of worship.
The origin of the toponym Henna remains obscure.
Dionysius I of Syracuse seems to have fully appreciated Enna's importance, and repeatedly attempted to make himself master of the place; at first by aiding and encouraging Aeimnestus, a citizen of Enna, to seize on the sovereign power, and afterwards, failing in his object by this means, turning against him and assisting the Ennaeans to get rid of their despot. He did not however at this time accomplish his purpose, and it was not till a later period that, after repeated expeditions against the neighbouring Sicilian cities, Enna also was betrayed into his hands. In the time of Agathocles we find Enna for a time subject to that tyrant, but when the Agrigentines under Xenodicus began to proclaim the restoration of the other cities of Sicily to freedom, the Ennaeans were the first to join their standard, and opened their gates to Xenodicus, 309 BC. In the First Punic War Enna is repeatedly mentioned; it was taken first by the Carthaginians under Hamilcar, and subsequently recaptured by the Romans, but in both instances by treachery and not by force.
In the Second Punic War, while Marcellus was engaged in the siege of Syracuse (214 BC), Enna became the scene of a fearful massacre. The defection of several Sicilian towns from Rome had alarmed Pinarius the governor of Enna, lest the citizens of that place should follow their example; and in order to forestall the apprehended treachery, he with the Roman garrison fell upon the citizens when assembled in the theater, and put them all to the sword without distinction, after which he gave up the city to be plundered by his soldiers. Eighty years later Enna again became conspicuous as the headquarters of the First Servile War in Sicily (134 BC-132 BC), which first broke out there under the lead of Eunus, who made himself master in the first instance of Enna, which from its central position and great natural strength became the center of his operations, and the receptacle, of the plunder of Sicily. It was the last place that held out against the proconsul Rupilius, and was at length betrayed into his hands, its impregnable strength having defied all his efforts. According to Strabo, it suffered severely upon this occasion (which, indeed, could scarcely be otherwise), and regards this period as the commencement of its subsequent decline. Cicero, however, notices it repeatedly in a manner which seems to imply that it was still a flourishing municipal town: it had a fertile territory, well-adapted for the growth of cereal grains, and was diligently cultivated till it was rendered almost desolate by the exactions of Verres. From this time little is known about Enna: Strabo speaks of it as still inhabited, though by a small population, in his time: and the name appears in Pliny among the municipal towns of Sicily, as well as in Ptolemy and the Itineraries.
When the Roman Empire was divided in 395, Sicily became part of the Western Roman Empire. The noted senatorial family of the Nicomachi had estates in Sicily, and around 408 the politician and grammarian Nicomachus Flavianus worked on an edition of the first 10 books of Livy during a stay on his estate in Enna, as it is recorded in the subscriptions of the manuscripts of Livy.
After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, it continued to flourish throughout the Middle Ages as an important Byzantine stronghold. In 859, in the course of the Islamic conquest of Sicily, after several attempts and a long siege, the town was taken by Muslim troops who had to sneak in one by one through a sewer to breach the town's hardy defenses. The name for the city, 'Qas'r Ianni' (Fort of John), was a combination of "qas'r" (a corruption of the Latin "castrum", fort), and "Ianni", a corruption of "Henna". The name in the native dialect of Sicily remained Castro Janni (Castrogiovanni) until the renaming by order of Benito Mussolini in 1927. The Normans captured her in 1087. Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor and King of Sicily, established a summer residence here.
Enna had a prominent role in the Sicilian Vespers that lead to the Aragonese conquest of Sicily, and thenceforth enjoyed a short communal autonomy. King Frederick III of Sicily favored it and embellished the city; it however suffered a period of decay under the Spanish domination. It was restored as provincial capital in the 1920s. It has become a university city in 2002.
The neighborhood of Enna is celebrated in mythological story as the place whence Persephone (Latin: Proserpine) was carried off by Pluto. The exact spot assigned by local tradition as the scene of this event was a small lake surrounded by lofty and precipitous hills, about 8 km from Enna, the meadows on the banks of which abounded in flowers, while a cavern or grotto hard by was shown as that from which the infernal king suddenly emerged. This lake is called "Pergus" by Ovid and Claudian, but it is remarkable that neither Cicero nor Diodorus speaks of any lake in particular as the scene of the occurrence: the former however says, that around Enna were lacus lucique plurimi, et laetissimi flores omni tempore anni. Diodorus, on the contrary, describes the spot whence Persephone was carried off as a meadow abounding in flowers, especially odoriferous ones, to such a degree that it was impossible for hounds to follow their prey by the scent across this tract: he speaks of it as enclosed on all sides by steep cliffs, and having groves and marshes in the neighborhood, but makes no mention of a lake. The cavern however is alluded to by him as well as by Cicero, and would seem to point to a definite locality. At the present day there still remains a small lake in a basin-shaped hollow surrounded by great hills, and a cavern near it is still pointed out as that described by Cicero and Diodorus, but the flowers have in great measure disappeared, as well as the groves and woods which formerly surrounded the spot, and by the 19th century, the scene was described by travelers as bare and desolate.
The connection of this myth with Enna naturally led to (if it did not rather arise from) the peculiar worship of the two goddesses Ceres and Persephone in that city: and we learn from Cicero that there was a temple of Ceres of such great antiquity and sanctity that the Sicilians repaired thither with a feeling of religious awe, as if it were the goddess herself rather than her sanctuary that they were about to visit. Yet this did not preserve it from the sacrilegious hands of Verres, who carried off from there a bronze image of the deity herself, the most ancient as well as the most venerated in Sicily. No remains of this temple are now visible. It stood on the brink of the precipice, and was wholly carried away when great masses of rock collapsed at the edge of the cliff. Nor are there any other vestiges of antiquity still remaining at Enna. They were probably destroyed by the Saracens, who erected the castle and several other of the most prominent buildings of the modern city.
Ancient name Henna
Coins minted for Enna under the Roman dominion still exist, carrying the legend "MUN. (Municipium) HENNA". The aspirated form of the name confirms the authority of Cicero, all the best of whose manuscripts give that form. The most ancient Greek coin of the city also gives the name "ΗΕΝΝΑΙΟΝ". There is therefore little doubt that this form (Henna) of the ancient name is the more correct for its time, though Enna is the more usual.
University, culture and education
Enna is now an important center in archaeological and educational studies. The Kore University of Enna was officially founded in 2004.
The most important monuments of Enna are:
The Castello di Lombardìa (Lombardy Castle), perhaps the most important example of military architecture in Sicily. It was created in very old times by Sicanians, rebuilt by Frederick II of Sicily and restructured under Frederick II of Aragon. The castle, which bears this name because of the garrison of Lombard troops that defended it in Norman times, has an irregular layout which once comprised 20 towers: of the six remaining, the Torre Pisana is the best preserved one. It has Guelph merlons. The castle was divided into three different spaces separated by walls: the first courtyard is home to a renowned outdoor lyric theater in which high quality shows are performed; the second one houses a large green park, while in the third courtyard it is possible to see the vestiges of royal apartments, a bishop's chapel, medieval prisons and the Pisan Tower.
The Duomo (Cathedral), a noteworthy example of religious architecture in Sicily, built in the 14th century by queen Eleonora, Frederick III's wife, but largely renovated after the fire of 1446. The great Baroque facade, in yellow tufa-stone, is surmounted by a massive campanile with finely shaped decorative elements. The portal on the right side is from the 16th century, while the other is from the original 14th-century edifice. The interior has a nave with two aisles separated by massive Corinthian columns, and three apses. The stucco decoration is from the 16th and 17th centuries. Art works include a 15th-century crucifix panel painting, a canvas by Guglielmo Borremans, the presbytery paintings by Filippo Paladini (1613), a Baroque side portal. The cathedral's treasure is housed in the Alessi Museum, and has precious ornaments, the gold crown with diamonds "Crown of the Virgin," Byzantine icons, thousands of ancient coins and other collections.
Palazzo Varisano, housing the Regional Archaeological Museum of Enna, with material dating from the Copper Age to the 6th century AD coming from many archaeological areas in the Province of Enna.
Torre di Federico, an octagonal ancient tower which was allegedly a summer residence of Frederick II of Hohenstaufen. The two floors possess beautiful vaults. The aspect of the building is austere. It was part of a bigger complex, named Old castle and destroyed by Arabs, of which nowadays there remain some pieces of the old, imposing walls on the top of the green hill housing municipal gardens where the Tower rises.
The Campanile of the destroyed church of San Giovanni, features pointed arches with finely shaped archivolts, and a three light mullioned window with Catalan-style decorations.
The Municipal Library, located in the San Francesco building. The latter church has a noteworthy 15th century campanile and, in the interior, a fine painted Cross from the same century.
The church of San Tommaso is also of note for its 15th century belfry, with three orders. It has windows framed by an agile full-centered archivolt. The church contains a marble icon (1515) attributed to Giuliano Mancino and precious frescoes by Borremans.
The Janniscuru Gate is the only one preserved of the 7 old gates once located at the entrance of the town. It is a fine 17th century Roman arch, positioned in a charming natural setting under old steps in an area very rich in rock grottoes used as a necropolis thousands of years ago, just under the ancient, traditional quarter of Fundrisi.
Pergusa lake and archaeologic site
Lake Pergusa (Latin: Pergus lacus or Hennaeus lacus) is set between a group of mountains in the chain of Erei, and it is located 5 km from Enna. It is a vital place in the migratory current of lots of birds. In addition to birds, which are certainly the protagonists of the Pergusa nature reserve, here there are also interesting species of mammals, reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates.
Around the lake, there is the most important racing track of Southern Italy, the Autodromo di Pergusa, that hosted international competitions and events, such as Formula One, Formula 3000 and a [Ferrari Festival] with Michael Schumacher.
In the area of Pergusa lake we can also find an archaeological site, known as Cozzo Matrice, practically the rests of an old fortified village, where some imposing walls dating about 8000 BC, a sacred citadel, a rich necropolis and the remains of an ancient temple dedicated to Demeter, dating more than 2000 years ago.
The important forest and green area named Selva Pergusina (that means "Pergusa's Wood") surrounds a part of the Lake Pergusa Valley, evocating a scenographic panorama.
Pergusa is strongly linked to the myth of the Greek Persephone, Demeter's daughter, which was kidnapped here by Hades.
The Köppen Climate Classification subtype for this climate is "Csa" (Mediterranean Climate).
Mancomunidad de la Costa del Sol Occidental, Spain
This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Smith, William, ed. (1854–1857). "article name needed". Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography. London: John Murray.
(Italian) Enna official website
(Italian) "InfoEnna": news about Enna and province
(Italian) APT: Tourist Agency of Enna
(Italian) Enna: tourism, archaeology and nature
(Italian) Province of Enna official website