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Trecastagni Town


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On 5 February 1641 King Philip IV gave a royal investiture to Domenico Di Giovanni and Giustiniani together with Viagrande territory (a group of houses, becoming a small town after Trecastagni and Pedara whose territory was part). We think the name comes from the old road going towards Messina, The abbot Vito Amico in his “ Topographic Dictionary about Sicily “ says the public and busy road to Messina crossed the most western villages, one of which is called Viagrande, and that along this road there were several and hospitable inns to give comfort to the travellers. The present town began to raise on the 1408 lava, while at about 1124 there were just some scant houses, part of the Aci Region and this is proved by this old inscription, put in a small ruined church: “ Anno salutis MCXXIV, tempore Rogeris, et Mauritii Episcopi Catnae, Habitatores Viagrandis sacellum hoc condiderunt S. Mariae Nuntiatae in Regno Acis” for the price of 30.000 scudos, as it is shown on the tables of the Protonotary Lieutenant’s Office (the towns around Catania were called “Casali“ of Catania, because they were considered propriety of the town since the Roman period ).

Under the Saracen rule before and then the Norman one, this privilege was restricted to the nearest which remained as a dominion under the direct control of the town. King Philip IV sold these hamlets ( Trecastagni, Viagrande, Pedara and others) with the right he could redeem himself; the afflicted Catanese Senate which considered lost its own defence and existence for this sale, presented a petition to the King showing the town paid an amount much more bigger than that imposing from the Parliament and consequently the damage to the right having from a long time on those territories, was a real violence.

He still remembered the loyalty of the town dwellers to the Aragonite Sovereigns and the services given in every occasion; he asked the repeal of the sale. The king held on the decision already taken; consequently the Senate was obliged to give the amount to the buyers. Convening in an extraordinary sitting he deliberated to levy a tax on the City, and after eleven years of sacrifices in 1652 he collected the necessary amount to the ransom of all the hamlets sold to Di Giovanni, Trigona and Massa’s families.

The famous jurist Earl Mario Cutelli, was the drafter of the legal demand, and the Bishop Gusio without thinking of uneasiness and charges, he went to Palermo to patronize the legitimate wish of the Catanese people. It seemed everything was definite in favour of the recurrent Senate and they already waited the Royal Precaution, when, in about two years, the King to the buyers who owned them attested the possession of the mention above hamlets. The Catanese Senate paid for such decision.

From then on Trecastagni assumed as a coat of arms the one of its Lordship, (this custom is called in heraldic language arm of power) that is "Scudo d'azzurro con spiga d'oro trattenuta da due leoni affrontati dallo stesso metallo, nutrita sopra una zolla naturale movente dalla punta. Corona di principe del sacro Romano Impero" (Blue shield with a gold ear kept by two lions in front of each other made by the same metal, sustained on a natural turf moving from the top. Prince Crown of the Holy Roman Empire).

The chronology of the Principi di Giovanni is short and just lasts fifty -nine years; Di Giovanni family extinguished because incorporated in Principi Alliata di Villafranca family, who had all his estates. Domenico I - besides the above-named titles, bought also the Pedara dominion (Territory near Trecastagni, somebody thinks the name comes from Epidarium, a town in the Peloponnese where some settlers were sent from or from the corruption of the Latin words Apud aram, alluding to some ruins being on Mount Etna not far from the crater generally known as the Philosophy Tower, considering them as Empedocle’s house, while Ferrara asserts they are the ruins of the altar dedicated to Etna Jupiter; others follow the idea of Pedara - as a rich land.

However these etymologies are to reject, because Pedara can’t boast an old and permanent origin, and this is recognized from his chronicler. The historical news dates back to 1100, because together to other territories it was assigned in prebend to the Bishop in Catania , but it was considered a bis territory just towards the 1600, when it took the aspect of a small town (sold to him from the Royal Court at the price of 12.500 scuds. He also bought Castronovo town, (35 state parliamentary Towns in Valle di Mazara, sold for agreement of the Lieutenant on 30 August 1639. It is one of the oldest in Sicily, rebuilt by the Normans in the same place where it was destroyed by the Saracen, and for this reason Pirri said: Castrum Novum sic dictum, quia licet antiquissimum fuerit, a Saracenis destructum , a Northmannis denuò restauratum fuerit.

It had the title of Fedellisima (Very Loyal) and it has as a shield a castle with Graziano and Solazzo eagle (Ansatone de Sua Fam. Di gres, 6F.142) and married Girolama Salvarezzo and had a son: Scipione II. - good and fond Prince, added new lustre to his family with the subjection of the Mirii and the dominion of the Gatta, Girgia and Cangemi territories; he married Anna Micichè and had: Domenico III who in consequence of his marriage with Isabella Mora and Cottone, added the Castrorao Princedom (In the church of the ex Convent PP Reformed of S. Francesco OF Assissi in Trecastagni, founded in 1660 by the people and by the generosity of the Prinicipi di Giovanni, there is an inscription on the Prince Domenico III’ s tomb, where it is clear that he didn’t arrive to rule of the hereditary Princedom, because he died before his father) at Buccheri; Anna Maria IV was born from this marriage. She was invested Princess of Trecastagni on 20 November 1700, she married Giuseppe Alliata and Colonna Prince of Villafranca (The Alliata family of Villafranca boasts Roman origins, this branch of the family came from Pisa and went in Sicily for the Visconti persecution against Filippo Alliata in 1330.

In 522 in Milan there is on the 14 January List of Martyrs, Saint Dazio Bishop, nominated first Count of Italy from the Emperor Anastasio; the Alliata had the command of the Candia Island from the time of the Emperor Constantine the Great, and had also the role of Viceroy. The first Prince of this dynasty was Francesco Palliate and Paruta, son of Giuseppe Baron of Villafranca and Fiammetta Duchess of Paruta, invested with a decree of King Filippo III on 14 August 1609, and executed on 24 October 1610.

From Vito Zappalà Nicolosi book
Translation by
Maria Silvestri

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