Sicily has numerous castles built during its history and in particular during the Middle Ages. These ancient structures often keep fascinating events, noble families in league with each other, but above all fascinating legends, ancient but still alive in local popular beliefs. We have chosen the 10 most beautiful castles and we tell each other its legend.
The Castle of Carini and the ghost of the baroness. The castle, a fortress with annexed fortified village, probably dates back to the twelfth century, and was built by the first Norman feudal lord Rodolfo Bonello. In 1403 King Martin the young man granted him to the Catalan councilor Ubertino la Grua whose daughter Ilaria married Gilberto Talamanca: in these years the castle was transformed from a Norman-Swabian military building into the residence of great feudal lords while under the thrust of a flourishing economy, due to baronial entrepreneurship, the city expanded beyond the walls of the medieval village
In this castle an atrocious tragedy of passion, betrayal and death was consummated that remained alive for centuries in the memory of the people. The real protagonists are Don Cesare Lanza and his daughter Laura, who as a teenager was given in marriage to Don Vincenzo La Grua, Baron of Carini. The girl bored by her husband’s many commitments managed to fascinate a scion of the Barbagallo, Ludovico, young and handsome, and in turn was fascinated by it. Love was born between the two and the passion that lasted several years broke out, but that the terrible Don Cesare Lanza discovered, surprised the lovers, pierced his daughter with the dagger and had Ludovico killed by his henchmen. A crime of honor: a father who kills his adulterous daughter to clean the casatole’s honor with blood.
“Comu si persi sta bella Signora!
Stidda lucenti, com’appi sta fini?
Povira barunissa di Carini!
O gran manu di Diu, ca tantu pisi,
cala, manu di Diu, fatti palisi!”
Castello a Mare of Palermo
Near the Cala, in the La Loggia district, north of the port of Palermo. It was the most important defensive bulwark of the port of Palermo until the twentieth century. The Castle at Sea of Palermo, mentioned for the first time in the “Liber de regno Siciliae” by Ugone Falcando (1154). Castello a Mare was the favorite residence of Emperor Federico II for his stays in the city. Over the centuries it has been the protagonist of bloody battles and the theater of insurrectional revolts, from the battles between Savoiardi and Spaniards in 1718 up to the Second World War..
Milazzo is home to the largest castle in Sicily. Built in the 21st century, Swabians, Aragonese, Spaniards, Austrians and Bourbons have inhabited it. From 1880 to 1959 it was also used as a prison.
A great mystery surrounds this castle. The ghost of a woman who was buried alive within the walls of the Tower of the Island because discovered in the company of her beloved soldier.
A mysterious scarab is the sign of mystery
The Norman Castle of Erice is also called “of Venus”, because its history has in the divinity associated with fertility the center and the origin. On the site where the fortress stands today there was in fact a place of worship dedicated to Potnia, goddess of fertility worshiped by the ancient pre-Roman population of the Elimi, who lived in western Sicily. Here it is said to be buried Erix (hence the name Erice), son of an Argonaut and Aphrodite, killed in a boxing challenge by Hercules. According to Virgil, in these parts Aeneas, also son of Aphrodite-Venus, before reaching the fatal Lazio buried his father Anchises.
The fortress dates back to the fifteenth century and was built to control the territory from any Turkish invasions that between 1500 and 1700 broke into most of the Mediterranean.
The Tower, since ancient times, was the breeding ground of Falconi, hence it was called “della Falconara”.
The particularity of the place, in addition to being able to access and visit the Castle, is the presence of a particular and rare plant, or the flowering prickly pear with round palms.
Many legends told about this castle. The most engaging is undoubtedly that linked to the ghost Don Guiscardo de la Portes, son of a Spanish merchant. A husband of the beautiful Esmeralda, he left for Sicily with the army of King Martin I to quell the revolt by Andrea Chiaramonte. So he left his beautiful wife waiting for a child. Eager to see the Castle of Manfreda (ancient name of Mussomeli), the soldier left the city of Palermo in the heart of Sicily.
During his journey, however, he was attacked by the soldiers of Don Martinez, a man in love with the beautiful Esmeralda, whom she refused. Wanting to avenge for the wrong immediately, he ordered the death of his rival. Wounded seriously, Guiscardo cursed God. Shortly afterwards, he realized he had left his body and, unable to walk the road to Paradise because of the injuries he had spoken before his death, he was condemned to wander the earth for a thousand years.
Mussomeli is a Sicilian town of ten thousand inhabitants in the province of Caltanissetta. However, his prestige grew with Manfredi, an exponent of the powerful Chiaramonte family. Having become the lord of Mussomeli, around 1374 he ordered the construction of the Castle
Donnafugata Castle in Ragusa
Nestled among the carob trees and surrounded by an immense park the castle is a rare example in the Iblei of construction of late romantic taste. Made by the Baron Corrado Arezzo, an influential figure in the politics of the province. The not well defined style of the structure is due to the particular taste of its owner, who loved to surprise the visitor with his jokes as in the stone labyrinth from which to exit will not be at all easy. Made famous by the novel “The Gattopardo” by Tomasi di Lampedusa, film set of the film “I Vicerè” , “The Tale of Tales” by Matteo Garrone, the Castello dii Donnafugata is the home of the Boss Sinagra in the fiction of Montalbano. The mystery of the labyrinth of the castle where you lose sight of yourself without realizing .
Maniace Castle of Siracusa
Isola d’Ortigia (Syracuse).
The Castle of Frederick II in Syracuse, later called Maniace, was built between 1232 and 1240.
For almost the entire fifteenth century the Castle is a prison. In 1448, after a splendid banquet held in the halls of the Castle, Captain Giovanni Ventimiglia had all the guests killed, accused of treason.
The name of Castello Maniace derives from Giorgio Maniace, a Byzantine general who in 1038 reconquered the city from the Arabs for a short period and brought two Hellenistic bronze rams as a gift.
Castello Normanno of Aci Castello
The castle, built with lava stone from Mount Etna, stands on a promontory of lava rock overlooking the sea. The castle can only be accessed from the square, through a masonry staircase. At the center of the fortress is the «donjon», the quadrangular tower, the hub of the manor. The legend of a poor hunter has traveled centuries of history, coming one day to hunt in the vicinity of the castle, mistakenly killed a magpie owned by the governor of the castle, a cruel man. He had the hunter arrested and had him segregated in the castle prisons, where he remained 13 years old. One day, after the arrival of Duke Massa, owner of the castle, the hunter composed a song in his honor; when he heard it, the duke wanted to know him and, appraising the sad story, immediately ordered that he be released from prison.
Castello Ursino Catania
The Ursino castle of Catania was built by Frederick II of Swabia in the 13th century. The manor had a certain visibility during the Sicilian Vespers, as the seat of the parliament and, later, the residence of the Aragonese sovereigns including Frederick III. All those who work there have no doubt that in the castle the spirits of the dead prisoners are trapped within the walls and especially at night the corridors and rooms teem with abnormal movements of objects and whispers. On the walls of the rooms of imprisonment the graffiti, the writings and the signs of the condemned are still visible
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