Enna rises in the centre of Sicily, at an altitude of almost 1.000 metres. The city was called Urbs Inexpugnabilis by the Romans, on account of its impregnability. It has also been called the ‘belly bottom’ of Sicily, because of its central geographical position in the island, and Belvedere of Sicilia, for the panoramic views it offers in various directions. During the three preceding millennia, it has been the virtually unconquerable fortress of Sicanians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Normans, Suevians and Aragonese.
At the beginning of the century, the Cathedral and its original flight of steps were illuminated by four majestic cast iron lamp posts, each crowned by a top with five lanterns. Following a later rearrangement of the flight of steps, the lamp posts were subdivided between the principal and side entrances.
This typology of lamp post is typically Sicilian. Similar exemplars illumined Via della Libertà in Palermo and differed only in the tops which, in the place of brackets with lanterns, were crowned by a swan-neck or a gantry with spheres.
The four lamp posts have now been restored by Neri SpA. The first intervention consisted of separating the various elements of which each lamp post was composed: - firstly, the plinth of the first column, decorated by four magnificent lions’ heads; - secondly, the second column, decorated and enveloped by leaves; - lastly, the capital that supported the four brackets and the central lantern.
After more than a hundred years, the surfaces showed considerable deterioration and rusting. In order to restore it to its original state, each element was carefully sandblasted, revealing the beauty of the various decorations.
This brought to light the damage suffered by the cast iron, which in some cases proved to have snapped. The original design was reinstated, where necessary, by welding the damaged pieces. With the use of turning techniques, support surfaces were also created for each element, enabling the new assembly.
During sandblasting of the single parts, it emerged that one of the plinths had a surface lacking in material, due to a defect in the original casting. The decorative band adorned with ovules was also incomplete – two of them were missing. It was necessary, therefore, to introduce new metallic material to obtain a homogenous surface and reconstruct the original décor.
The capital and the top proved no longer able to support the weight of the four brackets. It was necessary, therefore, to reconstruct new patterns from which to cast four new capitals and tops identical to the originals, but with increased dimensions and thickness. For each model the internal part, the so-called core, which creates the hollow centre during casting, was constructed in wood.
The patterns and the corresponding cores made new castings possible in the foundry. A manual job calling for great care and precision.
The castings obtained as described proved perfect.
The same thing happened for the brackets. In the originals, the electric cable passed externally, a solution no longer permitted by regulations. A pattern was therefore created for the casting of new brackets equipped with an internal tube for the passage of the electric cable. We then proceeded to assemble the four arms of the new capital.
Lastly, each cast iron element was protected with epoxy zing primer applied by immersion, in order to preserve also the inner parts of each casting.
Before the final painting, all surfaces were finished by hand to obtain aesthetic homogeneity.
Finally, after a second and third layer of undercoat, the lamp posts were sprayed with Grigio Neri paint.