Scalinata di Santa Maria del Monte is a set of world-famous steps in Caltagirone. It was built in 1606 in order to connect the ancient part of Caltagirone to the new city built in the upper part. The staircase, over 130 meters long, is flanked by balcony buildings and is today one of the identifying monuments of the city.
In 1844, the staircase underwent modifications, among which the elimination of rest areas stands out, which results in a lower inclination.
Since 1954, the steps of Santa Maria del Monte have been entirely decorated with polychrome ceramic tiles, following the ancient local artisan tradition.
The figurative themes of the ceramics are floral or geometric, and represent the Arab, Norman, Angevin-Aragonese, Spanish, Renaissance, Baroque, eighteenth-century, nineteenth-century and contemporary styles.References:
The Castle of Gruyères is one of the most famous in Switzerland. It was built between 1270 and 1282, following the typical square plan of the fortifications in Savoy. It was the property of the Counts of Gruyères until the bankruptcy of the Count Michel in 1554. His creditors the cantons of Fribourg and Bern shared his earldom. From 1555 to 1798 the castle became residence to the bailiffs and then to the prefects sent by Fribourg.
In 1849 the castle was sold to the Bovy and Balland families, who used the castle as their summer residency and restored it. The castle was then bought back by the canton of Fribourg in 1938, made into a museum and opened to the public. Since 1993, a foundation ensures the conservation as well as the highlighting of the building and the art collection.
The castle is the home of three capes of the Order of the Golden Fleece. They were part of the war booty captured by the Swiss Confederates (which included troops from Gruyères) at the Battle of Morat against Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy in 1476. As Charles the Bold was celebrating the anniversary of his father's death, one of the capes is a black velvet sacerdotal vestment with Philip the Good's emblem sewn into it.
A collection of landscapes by 19th century artists Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Barthélemy Menn and others are on display in the castle.