In the lower part of the town

With its narrow alleys, squares and long thoroughfares
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Monastero della Santissima Annunziata

Going down via Teatro we come to the wide Piazza Indipendenza, once called Piazza Canali where, among the 18th century buildings the monumental façade of the Santissima Annunziata or the Ex monastero stands out. Currently the Matrice ausiliaria, originally this church was the chapel of the annexed Benedictine Monastery, whose structure is still imposing in the surrounding urban context. Construction work began in 1662, and during the 18th century, the work to complete it was carried out by the architect Stefano Ittar; the façade, in neoclassical style, was finished only in 1908 following a project of Carmelo Sciuto Patti dating back to 1866. The light-filled interior, dominated by the large Baroque elliptical dome decorated with white stucco plasterwork carried out in 1798, gives the visitor an airy sense of subtle mysticism. Here there are many works of art worthy of note. In the vestibule the 1579 Madonna dell’Itria takes pride of place, painted by the famous Sofonisba Anguissola of Cremona, when she resided in Paternò as the wife of don Fabrizio Moncada; there are lovely paintings above the four lateral altars: the Martyrdom of Santa Lucia of 1799, the Annunciation and the Coronation of the Virgin among the Saints, both dating back to the 17th century, and the Transito di San Benedetto, which was painted by the Paternese painter Giuseppe Milazzo in 1653 and recalls van Dyke’s Estasi di Sant’Agostino. The presbytery has a polychrome marble floor and an elegant altar and is dominated by a graceful dome decorated with a whirling design of stucco cherubs.

The Church of the ex monastery also guards remarkable objects of holy art: a precious series of liturgical vestments, silver objects and reliquaries still waiting to be put in a museum. The town library is housed in the annexed monastery dedicated to Giovan Battista Nicolosi, illustrious geographer, along with the Modern Art Gallery, that has put on shows (individual and collective) by important 20th century artists. On the corner to the north-west lies the graceful loggetta delle Benedettine.