Cammarata and San Giovanni Gemini
a mountain of excellence
Discover the heart of Sicily
united in faith
The devotion to Jesus of Nazareth is rooted in the heart and in the life of every Sangiovannese and Cammarese, involving also the inhabitants of the neighboring countries who often come on pilgrimage. This devotion is expressed in the invocation of help and in the request of particular graces that find their culminating moment in the "barefoot journey" and in gratitude for grace received with the moving procession of votive candles on the day of the feast.
Environment, and history
Ancient tracks and paths
There is still an ancient path that leads from Santa Lucia to finish in Contrada Caddeddi, the first refuge, interrupted only by the road, and then continue to the top of Monte Cammarata; An ancient mule track starts from the second shelter passing through Contrada Ledera going up to the "nivera del baglio", which was used in the 50s and 60s to transport ice for granitas in all the towns of the province; A trazzera starts from Stretto di Vacca, from the height of the present provincial swimming pool, enters the Sant'Onofrio wood, home of the small church dedicated to him, in front of the invisible and homonymous cave and leads to the wonderful reserve of Baron Coffari, where are the remains of the villa of the Branciforti, described minutely by the historian Caruso XVII - XVIII sec .; here you can see, hidden by the thick vegetation, large perimeter walls and abundant fragments of ceramics, scattered in the surrounding background. The fountains described by Caruso were fed by the springs of San Michele. The trazzera goes through a wood
formed mainly of downy oaks, oaks and holm oaks, and is rich in bird and land fauna. A naturalistic path starts from the Romeo junction, shortly after the second hut, goes down to Portella della Venere, where the remains of a Byzantine church of the same name V-VII dc are still visible, and goes up towards Monte Venere alias Monte Gemini, crossing it across the its length, to reach Portella dei Daini in the Gargiuffè district, from which, on clear days, the sea of Termini Imerese and part of the Trapani coast can be admired; looking towards Palermo the eye meets the bulk of Rocca Busanbra better known as Bosco Ficuzza. Another route starts from Serra Canale, crosses the north-west side of the mountain, reaches the "zotta da vecchia", a natural lake hidden by thick vegetation, which conveys the spring waters of the Cacagliommaro torrent. Higher up, another similar path starts from the first refuge, exiting in the Savochello's equipped area, to reach the bends in the Prussiano district, and admire the mythical "moonlight" fountain, surely named after an ancient pagan cult. It is said that the moon at certain times of the year, when it has reached a certain height, is perfectly reflected in the fountain and in history
these episodes occurred in particular phases of astronomical alignments, creating mysterious triangulations, with settlements located nearby.
There are numerous sites scattered throughout the Sangiovannese and Cammaratese territory, at the foot of the Monti Gemelli, Gemini Montes according to the quote by Pliny the Elder, who testify to the passage of ancient peoples, from the Sicans to the Greeks to the Romans, etc. let's try to identify some of them:
FILICI AREA: Roman necropolis
HIGH MOUNTAIN: very few remains of Byzantine churches Sant'Elia and Santa Venera
CONTRADA PRUSSIANO: scattered remains of ceramics dating back to various periods
CONTRADA MANCUSO: tombs in the rocks
CONTRADA GIARDINELLO: tombs in the rocks and traces of rural settlements
CONTRADA MELACO: tombs in the rocks
CONTRADA ROCCA BRUARO: caves of San Matteo
CONTRADA PUZZILLO: in addition to the caves of the Acqua Fitusa, traces of have been found
Paleolithic settlements, while on the Montagnola remains of a citadel have been found.
TUMARRANO VALLEY: settlements at Casalicchio from prehistoric and Roman times.
CONTRADA BUFFA: tombs and remains of Roman fountains
CONTRADA MONTAGNOLA DI PASQUALE: remains of ancient dwellings of Roman Byzantine churches
CONTRADA CASABEDDA: rural settlement of the Roman Hellenistic period
CONTRADA LA FITUSA: remains of ancient farmhouses and necropolis in the rocks
CONTRADA MONTONI PERCIATA: Paleolithic tombs in the rocks
CONTRADA SPARACIA: Paleolithic tombs
CONTRADA COZZO SUGHERO: prehistoric and Roman tombs
CONTRADA SAN MICHELE: remains of settlements of probable Punic origin.
CONTRADA FOSSI: natural cavities in history used as sepulchres.
La grotta del baglio
To get there you have to start from the second shelter, and follow the ancient mule track used to transport the ice blocks, coming from the "nivera", which supplied the towns of the province with ice. Along the climb the landscape is breathtaking, showing the deep valleys that surround the "Gemini" from distant countries, to the peaks of Etna, to the Madonie, to the Trapani coasts through the counters of the Cozzo tre Monaci, Chirumbo, Gallinica mountains etc. The landscape is rich in smells, oregano, thyme, valerian, and rich in traces of hares, foxes and wild boars that inhabit the areas. Going up this path you come across a large basin, a natural amphitheater that opens under a cliff, is what remains of the Nivera del Barone, of which Leonardo Sciascia speaks in one of his works; above it are the remains of a rectangular building, of first unknown use, but in recent history used, as a shelter, by shepherds. To the south west there are cracks in the rocky walls. Crossing a small canyon you arrive at the "Grotta del Baglio", whose entrance is inaccessible because it is obstructed by a large boulder, which hides another tunnel facing east. Both the legend and the story speak of the Grotta del Baglio: the Tirrito, the Caruso, the Cascini and the Fazzello. It is said that on Mount Cammarata, a few hundred meters from the top, there is a cave that is wedged into the mountain, and passing under the village, arrives at the base of the Tribico hill or Tribisco or Puzzillo, coming out at the Acqua Fitusa, probably connecting to the other caves of this site, where traces of Paleolithic settlements have been found, and remains of a citadel near the hill. But to date there are no official explorations. From the information gathered we know that the cave has an entrance inclined downwards, and through a tunnel reaches a square-shaped chamber, in whose walls the sign of the ancient Christians is engraved.
the acqua fitusa Caves
The Acqua Fitusa caves rise in the area between the districts of San Crispino, Puzzillo and Mangiapane. These districts are interesting for their geological peculiarities and for their archaeological aspect, where the caves are found, where numerous traces of life dating back to the Stone Age have been found. Numerous archaeological finds dating back to the Neolithic period and the Bronze Age have been found in the cave of Acqua Fitusa. Lithic and ceramic tools have been found, some of which are hand-painted, and which are on display in the archaeological museum of Agrigento. In the past, the cave has been explored by the Italian Institute of Prehistory and Protohistory, which, given the difficulties of access, has allowed a partial exploration, but sufficient to have a picture of the site.
The entrance to the cave, visible from the SS 189, consists of a hallway a few meters deep, where most of the material was found, while in the inner wall there is a small opening that leads into the cave itself. Beyond the fissure is the hallway about 50 meters wide and 20 meters high, from which several tunnels branch off, several of them passable, which lead into the depth of the mountain.
The central chamber has numerous formations of stalactites and stalagmites, which cover it from white to pink to black.
The cave, in the shape of a dome, was once populated by one of the largest colonies of bats in all of Sicily, which lived in aggregates in large clusters.
The caves are located near the Platani River, which is present in history with the name of the river Halycus, taking its name from the Greek and which means salty.
This characteristic derived from the salinity of some tributary streams, and in particular from the crossing of some areas, characterized by the geological series called "gessoso - solfifera". These areas, in the 1900s, were exploited by the salt and sulfur mines (those of Casteltermini are historic).
For a few millennia, history has seen the River Platani navigable, it is said, in fact, that in 250 a. C. the Carthaginian fleet hid there, to oppose the advance of the Roman fleet towards Africa.In the history of ancient Rome, we talk about an "ITINERARIUM ANTONINI
AUGUSTI ”, which connected Eastern Sicily with Western Sicily, the Palermo - Catania road axis, connected to the Palermo - Agrigento road axis, from the Tumarrano valley to the Torto river valley.
In these places the trade flourished, as well as agricultural products, including pottery, as can be seen from the etymology of the name Giarratana, attributed to a
district located between the two valleys.
The territories, included between these rivers, have witnessed ancient settlements, of
whose scanty traces are present almost everywhere. In the district of Casabedda, the excavations,
carried out by the Superintendency of Agrigento, they brought to light a cemetery area, and near it, the remains of a Roman farmhouse were discovered.
The villa, downstream of the necropolis, had a mosaic floor, typical of the
classical romanity, then covered for protective purposes. The works, due to insufficient funds, were not followed, and the material found, coins, pottery and funerary equipment was transferred, for cataloging and exhibition, to Palermo and Agrigento.
The existence of rural farmhouses in these places is testified by documents (diplomas) in Greek, translated into Latin in 1175, in which one speaks of border disputes, in
act between the hamlet of Kharsa, now a Garcia feud, and the hamlet of Tumarrano, and which document the testimonies that the inhabitants of the places were called to give.
The sources of acqua fitusa
There are two members of the Acqua Fitusa, and they spring from the rocky ridge, in the district of San Crispino, north of the Montagnola. The waters are characterized by the strong smell typical of sulphurous waters, which gave the name to the surrounding places.
The area in question is of considerable historical interest, as the thermal building, currently in ruins, was a renowned center for treatments in the last century.
In a 1887 report by Dr. Biancorosso, the places and popular traditions linked to the two springs were described, the spa complex that was created by the priest Don Bartolo Longo of cammarata, who at that time was the owner of those lands, was described the therapeutic qualities of the waters were described, defined sulfo-alkaline-judurate and the pathologies for which waters were indicated.
The therapeutic action was exercised on various pathological affections such as dermatoses,
rheumatism, scrofulous and rachitic affections and gynecological affections.
The baths and showers were made with warm water, in fact the baths were equipped with heating systems, depending on the type of disease the temperature of the water was varied, because the absorbent power of the skin increases with the increase in temperature. In 1930 the baths were closed.
The analysis of a water sample from the San Crispino spring, carried out at the Institute of Medical Pharmacology of the University of L'Aquila in 1989, shows that it is water: mineral-sulfur-sulfate-alkaline, which responds to a local action, related to diseases of the skin, the respiratory system otorinolaringoiatrico, of the digestive system and gynecological diseases, and to a general action related to diseases of the spare, osteoarticular and cardiovascular system.
The necropolis of "Rocca Cavallo"is a site, very extensive, upstream of the course of the Mancuso stream, between the districts Risalto, Ganzeria, Gallinica and Pizzo Mariano, between the former fiefdom Giardinello and the former fiefdom Ganzeria, near Casteltermini, where there is a rocky ridge, which due to its shape is called Rocca Cavallo.
These areas, by virtue of their elevated position, the fertility of the land and the presence of springs carrying abundant waters, are rich in testimonies of previous lives. This is demonstrated by the large amount of pottery that emerges from the fields, probably of Byzantine origin. The findings during occasional excavations, more or less deep, for the construction of farms present today, or during the processing of the fields, have brought to light objects of various kinds, testimonies of past history, now lost. Of these places historians, the Tirrito and Di Giovanni, have discussed so much without reaching certain conclusions. The Di Giovanni in "Historical information on Casteltermini" claims that in these places ALESA COMITE rose, whose name derives from the Greek ALS-OS, salt, and KOME, village, for the strong presence of rock salt, in the Salina district, on the banks of the Halycus (SALATO).
This would lead to juxtaposing (with a bit of imagination!?!) These elements to the "Statio Comitiana", a stop and horse change station, along the public road that connected Agrigento to Palermo, identifiable with the current Comitini (?). The walls of the Rocks called "Horse" are scattered with tombs carved into the stone, single and bisome, there are the remains of a fountain of probable Roman age, and a stairway carved into the rock, from parts of Pizzo Mariano one can see the remains of ancient houses, and in the vicinity of Casteltermi, in the Gallinica district, in Greek times Kallininike (victory) is thought to have settled there an Arab village. Despite the historical uncertainties, one thing is certain: our places have been the scene of the passage of the Sicans, the Greeks, the Romans, the Arabs and the Byzantines.
The historical consequence is that our civilization is the daughter of this history, sometimes confused, but rich in all the cultural aspects that the people who have visited us have left us.
Incorporated into the SICTI MOUNTAINS PARK Mount Cammarata and Mount Gemini, offer various possibilities for physical and recreational activities such as hiking, mountain biking, horse riding, quad bikes etc etc, in addition there are several specialized associations that can give you ideas ..