On the slopes of the Hyblaean mountains in a land full of carob-trees and striped with dry-stone walls Santa Croce Camerina is a site of very important archaeological settlements like Kamarina, Kaukana and the Casale S. Crucis di Rosacalambra. To the west of the territory of Santa Croce there is Punta Braccetto a beautiful seaside resort with a characteristic small harbour while to the East we find Cava Biddiemi. The position of Santa Croce, a few kilometres far from the sea, made this little town vulnerable to attacks. The sea which laps on 80 kilometres of Hyblaean coast, its weakness in the past, has become today its strength and a natural resource of this territory.

In the Prehistory

You can’t speak of the history of Santa Croce without mentioning the event which has conditioned the story of all the Hyblaean land: the foundation of Kamarina in 598 B.C. Before the foundation of Kamarina in the territory of Santa Croce there were only some fishermen’s and shepherd’s villages; people built their habitations near the sea. Archaeological researches in areas like Punta di Pietro, Branco Grande and Canalotti, have brought to light handmade articles and tools used in these villages dating back to the Bronze Age. The villages existed even after the foundation of Kamarina but they lived in the shadow of the great hegemony of the Greek-Syracusan colony always remaining small centres.

The archaic town

The ancient built-up area spread out on a top flattened hill, 60 m above the sea level. The town was in an area between two rivers: Ippari and Oanis which flew to the north and to the south of the hill. The lacus camarinensis, an ancient marsh fed by the waters of the Ippari river lapped on the North-East built-up area. Through recent excavations in different parts of the hill, some traces of the original urban agglomeration have been found. The walls, built with small stones, probably belong to the first houses of the archaic settlement with layers of Corinthian ceramics. Frequent excavations made by Paolo Orsi and the latest years researches carried out by Paola Pelagatti have brought to light the necropolis of Kamarina: more than two thousand archaic tombs which form one of the most important necropolis of ancient Sicily.
Eastern necropolis: Rifriscolaro – Diecisalme
(beginning – end of VI century b.c.).
Northern necropolis: Scoglitti ( half VI –V century
Southern necropolis: Passo Marinaro, Piombo, Cozzo Campisi, Randello (V- II century b.c.)

The classic town

The second phase of the life of the town, the classic age, is the period of greatest notoriety for Kamarina. The first forty years of the V century are restless: Thucydides speaks of Hippocrates rebuilding the town. Pindar writes verses on the multitude of houses. Aristarchus writes that to prepare the building material for the new town some mud was taken out from the Ippari river.

The Temple of Athena

The temple was built in the highest part of the hill, inside a sacred temenos which had already been traced out since the foundation of the town. The cult of the goddes Athena the protectress of female work was the most practised in Camarina. The cult of the river god Hypparis is also reproduced in coins.
After the Carthaginians fired the town and destroyed it, the town entered a new phase owing to Timoleonte "who enlarged the town after bringing some settlers to Camarina". This phase ended too when the Romans in 258 destroyed the town again. Findings from Camarina are kept in the Regional Archaeological Museum.

Archaeological sites

Survivors from Camarina settled in a new site in the hinterland, "Kaucana", where there are still numerous ruins; this site was renamed "Ras Caran" by the Arabs.
In the area of Mezzagnone a singular valuable structure still stands out: a three rooms Christian - Byzantine little church; the rooms communicate through little doors almost filled in. Some archaeologists think that they are baths fed by the waters of Fonte Paradiso; other scholars think this structure dates back to the Byzantine period or that it is a monument of the Roman Age. It is the only structure of the Byzantine age in South-East Sicily that is in a good state of preservation. The territory of Santa Croce is full of towers built in the Norman period.

The town centre

The Mother Church, originally consecrated to the Blessed Virgin and since 1900 to St. John the Baptist was built in the XIII century but it was later restructured and enlarged up to three naves. In the most ancient part of the church there is a funerary monument of the Marquis Battista Celestri dating back to the first years of the seventeenth century. In the lateral chapels we can find a copy of one of Caravaggio’s paintings: the "Madonna di Loreto" attributed to Pietro Novelli and a statue of St. Joseph by Salvatore Bagnasco.
St. Joseph’s day, celebrated on March 19th is a very characteristic feast with its typical tables laid with extraordinary sculptures of bread.