Mussomeli, a town of about 12,000 inhabitants (16,000 until recent times), is located near the heart of Sicily in the province of Caltanissetta, bordering on the provinces of Palermo and Agrigento. The town’s origins are lost in the mists of time; artifacts are extant from the 4th millennium B.C. Significant historical documents date from sometime in the 3rd century B.C. with the arrival of the Romans. Mussomeli, subsequently called in Latin “Mons Mellis” or “Mountain of Honey,” became an important center of wheat production for the far-flung markets of the Roman Empire.
The town stretches out on the slope of a steep hill, with broad, worn stone staircases of cobblestone streets climbing some six hundred feet to the pinnacle of the town. From there, one enjoys a splendid view of one the most beautiful landscapes of Sicily: to the east, the ridges of the Madonie mountains, and on a clear day snow-capped Mt. Etna; to the south, the verdant valley, carpeted with wheat fields and groves of olive, fig and prickly-pear trees.
Mussomeli is dotted with churches, chapels and oratories, with the Matrice (Mother Church) at its peak, overlooking the entire town. Religious feasts punctuate every month of the year, the most solemn being the Feast of Our Lady of Miracles.
The most renowned tourist attraction of Mussomeli is a 14thcentury castle, one mile from the town. Perched on a 260-foot- high rocky spur of naked rock, the castle-fortress was the scene of historic events involving local barons vying with foreign rulers for control of the island. Art critics consider the castle Sicily’s most striking example of medieval defensive architecture.