The City and the Institute

Caltanissetta, a town in the centre of Sicily, is located 568 meters above sea level (the sixth-highest provincial capital in Italy), dominated by Mount San Giuliano and overlooking the Valley of the Salso River.

The town’s name derives from the Arabic Q’al’at Nissa, which means “Women’s Castle”. A small Sicano village, built-in Sabucina; of ancient origin, even pre-Greek or certainly Sican, located in Mount Gebel Habib (“the happy mountain”), underwent the different dominations alternated on the island over the centuries.

In 123 B.C. The Romans conquered Caltanissetta under the consul Lucius Petilius, who founded a colony named “Petiliana” after him; later, around 831 A.D., the Arabs came, and they added the prefix Q’al’at (castle)to the original name from which Qalat-an-Nissa, the castle of women.

In 1087, the Normans occupied the city; it became the possession of Grand Count Ruggero, who turned it into a feud for various members of his family. He built the Romanesque abbey of Santo Spirito, around a rock village and a Basilian convent built on the remains of a farm of Roman origin.

Later during the Aragonese domain, Caltanissetta became a county and was granted a fief to Corrado Lancia, appointed count by Federico III.

The Moncada of Paternò ruled from 1407, until the suppression of the feudal system in Sicily in 1812. Right at the Court of Moncada, the Sicilian Polyphonic School (Vinci, Martoretta etc.) developed.

In 1816, in the middle of the Bourbon period, Caltanissetta became the provincial capital, thanks to the mediation of the jurist Mauro Tumminelli.

For this reason, the Caltanissetta people refused to participate in the separatist riots of Palermo in 1820, and the city had to suffer looting by some armed gangs, formed by galleys and former prisoners, led by Salvatore Galletti, prince of San Cataldo, who devastated the Grazia district. He joined the revolutionary and independence movements of 1848-1849, led by Ruggero Settimo, which ended in Caltanissetta, where the capitulation of the revolutionaries was signed. Garibaldi and his Thousand arrived in Caltanissetta on July 2, 1860, and returned on August 10.

Like the whole of Sicily in the same year, Caltanissetta was subjoined to the Kingdom of Italy.

After the Unification of Italy, the town was affected by a tremendous economic boom due mainly to intense mining activity. Since 1838, the roads connected Caltanissetta to Piazza Armerina, Barrafranca and Canicattì. Gas lighting came in 1867, along with the railway in 1878, and the first cinema was opened thanks to the arrival of electricity in 1914.

During World War II, Caltanissetta suffered several bombings during which 351 civilians lost their lives; immediately after the war, Caltanissetta began to heal. In the 1950s, the Cathedral destroyed by the bombing of the American Air Force in 1943 started to be restored.

In the 50s and 60s, with the approval of a new town plan, the city experienced a remarkable urban expansion, which led to the birth of new neighbourhoods and new communication arteries.

In the early ’70s, the sulfur extraction sector disappeared: the sector’s irreversible crisis reached the point of no return, and so the last nissene “solfatare nissene” (sulfur mines) were also closed.

To meet the increasingly pressing demands of musical culture coming from the different local realities during the early 1970s, the Provincial Administration of Caltanissetta decides to start a cultural path by establishing a Musical Institute, named after the Sicilian musician “V. Bellini”, activating 5 Schools (Violin, Cello, Piano, Flute, Singing and Guitar) and the related Complementary Courses; and after the first few years it is converted into a conservatory according to D.P.R. n 639 of the 19/10/1979-

And so, the “Vincenzo Bellini” Musical Institute begins a process that is continually growing. During the 1980s, new schools were established which regularly obtain the conversion.

With Law 508/99 of the Reform of Italian Musical Education, the Institute begins a gradual transformation process, fully compliant with all the ministerial standards.

Is entirely part of the AFAM (High Artistic Musical Training) Institution of the Ministry of University and Research. It represents a benchmark institution for academic musical education within the territory.

Today, the “Vincenzo Bellini” Musical Institute of Caltanissetta is a public institution that carries out musical education and training, artistic production and research.

Many music masters have directed the institute over the years: Pietro Costanza (1973-1982), Raffaele Vinci (1982-2003) Angelo Licalsi (2003-2005).

Following the Reform Law 508/99 and the adoption of the Statute of Autonomy under Legislative Decree 132/2003 approved by the Directorate General Miur Afam by Decree no. 499 of 02/12/2005, M° Angelo Licalsi (three years 2005-2008 and 2008-2011) and M° Gaetano Buttigè (three years 2011-2014) have held the position of Director with the appointment of the Minister of Education, University and Research. M° Angelo Licalsi holds the position his re-election for three years 2014-2017 and 2017 current-

The Institute is located in Corso Umberto, 84, in the old town, in a complex built in 1588 at the behest of Luisa and Francesco Moncada, formerly the Jesuit Convent.

The teaching activities are carried out in 24 classrooms. The complex includes:

  • a Chapel of about 80 seats
  • an Auditorium of about 100 seats
  • a Conference room with about 50 chairs