Sanctuary of Piazza Vecchia in Piazza Armerina

The Sanctuary of Piazza Vecchia in Piazza Armerina is a place where history and legend intertwine.
It owes its name to the fact that, according to tradition, the old square, Plutia, must have been located in this place, before it was destroyed by William I in 1161. Also according to tradition, it is believed that in this place there was a cenobium of Basilian monks who survived the Saracen rule and received from Roger an image of the Madonna. Image that was buried under the rubble of the square destroyed by Ruggero and rediscovered in 1348.
The date of construction of the church is not known, but the current building of the church and the adjoining convent are certainly later than the date of 1348.
The church has a sort of lateral vestibule which forms the entrance to the building. The interior, with a single nave with an apse, is believed to have been obtained from an older three-apse church of which some traces remain. Inside the church are three altars adorned with bas-reliefs representing the Eternal Father, an Evangelist, the Angel of the Annunciation, and the Ecce Homo probably attributed to Domenico Gagini.
Every year still today, on the occasion of the feast of Maria SS di Piazza Vecchia, the sacred icon, which is a copy of the one kept in the cathedral, is carried in procession from Piazza Vecchia up to the Church of the Guardian Angels and brought back on May 3, the day in which a great festival is celebrated which takes on the connotation of a popular spring festival.

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