The town is believed to stand on the site of the ancient Engynum.
The modern town was founded by Byzantine colonists in 6th century. It expanded under the Arab domination and later under that of the Normans, who settled numerous immigrants from Lombardy and Piedmont, giving rise to the Gallo-Sicilian dialect still spoken in the town and surrounds. King William II made Nicosia a royal city. It played an important strategic role, favoured by its position halfway between Palermo and Messina. It often gave hospitality to important figures, including Emperor Charles V.
In the early 19th century the Sicilian royal family of Milazzo settled here.
The Cathedral, built in 14th century over a pre-existing Norman edifice, is entitled to St. Nicholas. The façade has a noteworthy 15th century portal, while the interior houses a painting by Jusepe de Ribera. The campanile is from the 13th century.
Santa Maria Maggiore contains a 16th century holy water stoup, the throne of Charles V, a fine marble polyptych by Antonello Gagini.
Church of St. Benedict (14th century)
San Biagio has paintings by Giuseppe Velasquez and a triptych by Antonello Gagini.
The Church of the Carmine boasts an Annunciation by Antonello......