Considered by many to be the “Sistine Chaple of Sicily,” the Chiesa di San Domenico in Castelvetrano in western Sicily is an unspoiled spectacle. Originally built in the 1470s, artist Antonio Ferraro da Giuliana and his sons spent three years from 1577-1580 creating the stucco scene above the altar titled “Albero di Jesse,” or the Tree of Jesse. Jesse, or Isai in the Old Testament, was the father of King David. The detailed, three-dimensional stucco scene depicts the 12 kings that are Jesse’s successors, leading up to the Madonna: the apex surrounded by angels.
In 1968, the Belice Valley of Sicily, where Castelvetrano is located, suffered a series of powerful high magnitude earthquakes. As a result, this church was heavily damaged and closed for safety reasons. It remained shuttered for 40 years; however, in 2009, the Province of Trapani finally obtained funding to restore it, and after five years of work, in February 2014, it reopened to the public with the aim of sharing its decorative details and masterpieces. A site in Sicily that truly must be seen in person, if you are looking for something extraordinary and off-the-beaten-path, this is it!