Today we will visit a site cloaked in mythology, La Rocca di Cerere (Rock of Ceres) in Sicily. It is a beautiful place in the centre of Sicily, near the city of Enna. Historical news and archaeological investigations confirm that here area was located the most important sanctuary dedicated to Demeter in Greek times, and then to Cerere during Roman times.
It was a place dedicated to the worship of Demeter – the mythological goddess of harvest and fertility (for Romans known as Ceres). Historians speculate that an “earlier” incarnation of Demeter was already worshipped here by native Sicilian people – Sicans.
Despite of the fact that today the Rock of Ceres is just a bare rocky outcrop, it is still worth to climb it given amazing views opening from its top on the Dittaino Valley and the “sister”- city of Calascibetta “sitting” on the hilltop of the nearby mountain. You can also admire the beautiful and enormous volcano Etna, the Castle of Lombardia and on a limestone wall, it is possible to appreciate the image excavated in the rocky surface.
The cult of Demeter is related to other mythological events that apparently took place near Enna. Once upon a time Persephone, daughter of Demeter, was gathering flowers at the banks of the Lake Pergusa in company of nymphs. She didn’t know that Hades secretly observed her “dancing with flowers”. Hades madly fell in love charmed by Persephone’s beauty and grace. Hades emerged from Pergusa’s waters and kidnaped Persephone. But as a real gentleman, he proposed marriage and position of a queen in his Underground Kingdom.
Thanks to Zeus’ support, Demeter managed to make a deal with Hades allowing Persephone to enjoy half of the time each year in the World of Sun. So, ancient inhabitants of Enna attributed the beginning of the spring season to the emergence of Persephone from the Underworld.