Grammichele is a city of about 15,000 in Catania, Sicily. It was founded by refugees from the neighboring farming village of Occhiolà who survived a terrible earthquake in 1693. It is based on a concentric urban structure with a hexagonal perimeter, and divided into five quarters plus one where the Prince family originally resided.
As with much of Italian life, religion has played a significant role in the development of the town. The Mother Church – Dedicated to San Michele, it is one of the most beautiful buildings in town. The vault is ornamented with 1800’s stuccoes depicting the Twelve Apostles and Events of the Life of Jesus Christ. Other interesting stuccoes adorn the Chapel of the Holy Sacrament. The church contains precious works of art, such as two 1600’s paintings depicting San Nicola di Bari and the “Disputa di Santa Caterina”.
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Like so many towns on the Adriatic, Monopoli's history has been thoroughly influenced by its east-facing position and its fortified sea-front walls and castle tell many a story.
Parking in or around Piazza XX Settembre, location of a colourful street market, head east towards the cathedral. To find it just look upwards and you are sure to see its elegantly conceived bell tower thrusting into the sky. Built in 1693, the tower is over 60 metres high, completely dominating the town below.