• A Melting Pot of Different Cultures

    Sicily is really a big Island, the largest of the Mediterranean Islands and Italy’s largest region. It is full of history and, each part of it, of extremely architectonic-cultural-historic interest. Simply, describing Sicily – as for many other places – is hard, quite impossible because of its history and of the different cultures existing there. Over the years Sicily has seen many dominations, which have left their heavy traces on the island: Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Normans, Svevians, Angevins, Aragones, Spaniards, Austrians, to mention a few

    The Greeks landed on the Sicilian East coast (VIII century B.C.), where they built colonies such as Catania, Siracusa, Gela and Agrigento. Then the Roman came and subjected the Greek (during the famous Phoenician Wars – 600-265 B.C.) and Sicily became an important province of the Roman Empire, both politically and economically

    When the Barbarian invasion hit Western Europe, Sicily experienced a great change. This period started in 440 and it ended in 535. The Vandal domination subjected Sicily until 476. Then the island passed into the Gothics’ hand

    Later on the Byzantine expeditionary force conquered Sicily. The process of “Byzantinization” started: men of culture prospered in Sicily, such as the popes Agatone, Leone, Sergio and Giorgio of Syracuse

    In 827 the Muslim landed in Mazara del Vallo. In 831 the city of Palermo fell, in 865 Siracusa fell too, and shortly the all Island. Palermo was the center of everything and it became the new capital in place of Siracusa. Palermo, with its three hundred mosques, was in direct competition with the big cities, both in the East and in the West. A real “Arabization” started and it changed the island in a way that clearly shows up today

    Then the Normans made out of Sicily a Westem country again. They linked politics to culture, art, literature and science. The wedding of Costanza of Altavilla with Enrico VI of Svevia, son of King Federico I Barbarossa, allowed Enrico’s descent in Sicily and his coronation at Palermo. But the Svevian Period (1194‐1250) had its great protagonist in Federico Il, who was the son of Costanza and Enrico. Sicily became the base of his diplomacy, though he often stayed in Naples because he was engaged in the fighting against the Northern Italy’s cities. When he died (1250), the Southern kingdom was governed by Conrado IV and after by his successor Manfredi. This period made the jurisprudence, the Latin literature, the experimental sciences and the vernacular poetry improve

    The Angevin domination was not welcomed by Sicilians, unable to adapt to the new lords’ arrogance. The Vespro’s Revolution, broken out in Palermo in 1282, led to the escape of Angevins from the island and the begin of the Aragonese domination. In the meanwhile, the great Spain of the Catholic kings was ascending to its splendor, and a period of great geographical and scientific discovers was starting. Several events happened in Sicily in those years and in 1535 Carlo V of Spain visited the island and entered Palermo in triumph. In the 17th century the economic situation in the Spanish Sicily got worse, because the famines made the countries deserted and the hunger spread in all big towns. In 1647 a revolt blew up in Palermo

    According to Utrecht’s treaty (1713), Sicily was given to Vittorio An’iedeo Il duke of Savoia. After the Savoia, the Austrians continued Sicily’s exploitation. Filippo V of Spain appointed Carlo III as the king of the Two Sicilies (Palermo and Naples). Sicily hoped that the new king could solve its numerous problems. Carlo III, with a clever reforming politics, tiled to relieve his people from their condition of extreme poverty

    In 1759 Domenico Caracciolo made some reforms against the aristocracy’s privileges and later suppressed the notorious Inquisition’s Court. But Sicilian were pressuring for autonomy, asking the detachment of Sicily from Naples, with the English support. Sicily was supposed to be given a Constitution based on the English model. But the approval of his Constitution was denied by Ferdinando, and as a consequence the malcontent of the people started showing up in the phenomenon of the penetration in Sicily of the so-called Carboneria, a secret congregation of revolutionary people

    The risings of ‘20 were repressed by the military forces and the restoration of absolutism brought an intensification of Carbonari’s action. The risings of ‘48 spreaded throughout Sicily. A temporary government was established and even an army was created, in order to face the Borboni invaders. Garibaldi’s expedition in 1860, with the landing at Marsala, the victory at Calatalimi, the entry into Palermo and the consequent liberation of the whole island, was a magic moment for the hopes of the Sicilians

    Since then the history of the island has been part of the wider history of Italy. After the Second World War and after the proclamation of the Italian Republic, in 1947 Sicily fulfilled its aspirations of partial independence: still a part of Italy. Sicily was granted with a regional autonomy on the basis of a special Statute. The alternation, sometimes co-presence, of the major political forces operating in the Mediterranean area has animated Sicily’s history, creating for the island a unique and multifaceted development and interchange of civilization, which nowadays characterizes its society, culture, art and.. food

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