THE PREHISTORY

 

The territory on which the two towns of Cammarata and S. Giovanni Gemini rise is almost completely unexplored, but the numerous caves found there have offered unequivocal evidence of human life dating back to the Stone Age. The caves, especially in the area of ​​Pizzillo, have never been completely and systematically explored, but from the news obtained, especially from the most recent explorations, it is certainly possible to affirm that they were inhabited during the epipalaolitic period. This is confirmed by the lithic finds and the certainly datable artefacts of the period. Furthermore, there were "numerous shards of clay, embossed or embossed and painted ceramic". Some explorations of the Pizzillo caves were made in the 1960s, 1961, 1962 by the Speleological Group «Akragas» with satisfactory results under the historical and archaeological profile. One of the most interesting caves is that of Acqua Fitusa, explored in September 1931 by dr. Eduardo Coffari, by lawyers Francesco Carta and Giovanni Longo and Mr. Giovanni Amormino di Vito, who left us a detailed report. Mons. Domenico De Gregorio - Cammarese historian - in the volume «Cammarata» writes that «The scientific exploration of the cave has begun thanks to the Italian Institute of Prehistory and Protohistory and the Superintendent of the Antiquities of Agrigento» and by the scholars « A. Palma di Cesuola, P. Gambassini and G. Bianchini in the month of April 1969, 1970, 1971. The material found was numerous, exceeding three thousand pieces, and very interesting for the material and pearl shape: of the bulins and the scrapers, truncations, beaks, spikes, back blades, rafts. "" Regarding the chronology, from the coal samples found in the gray layer of the excavation, immediately above the base rock and subjected to analysis at the C 14 laboratory in Florence for the gray layer, we can see that they are placed, with a approximation of 330 years or so, at 13760 years ago ». "Other interesting caves are found in our territory such as those of the Fosse district, which were also inhabited in prehistoric times, the Red Rocks of the Montagnola, which are of marine origin, and, down again, the Cave of the Old 'Ntantara and that dei Ladroni, also called the Fridda ".

THE ANCIENT PERIOD

In the Greek and Roman period in our territory there must have been one or more settlements and a lasting form of life. In fact "along the Platani, and especially in the area between Ganzeria and Salina, have been found ruins of ancient buildings, shards of pots from the Roman era, and in the one where today the railway station is located, during the excavations for the planting works, various ancient objects from the Roman era were found. So also in Casabella, at the Tumarrano, in Chiano d'Amata, we found ancient coins, traces of houses, pottery of pots and in Casabella a mosaic floor ». "Unfortunately, - says Domenico De Gregorio - until the time of the Normans it is impossible to write or even attempt, at the current state of studies, a history of our territory due to the lack of secure news sent by historians. From the Christian era we have the testimony offered to us by some tombs of the Tumarrano and others to arcosolium on the east side of a sandstone rock in the locality of Casa Bella ». Our territory was also certainly inhabited during the Byzantine period and before the conquest of the Arabs, as shown by various indications and especially by the document of 1176, which reconciles the dispute between the inhabitants of Karsa and Tumarrano.

[FONTE: LIBRO CAMMARATA SAN GIOVANNI GEMINI I COMUNI DELLA MONTAGNA-SALVATORE PANEPINTO] 

THE ORIGINS OF CAMMARATA

 

The lack of ancient documents and the silence of the writers do not allow us to know the era of the foundation of Cammarata. Several historians, however, have formulated hypotheses in an attempt to reconstruct its origins. They attribute to Cammarata an Arab origin the ab. Amico, F. Tardia, A. Airoldi, F. Ferrara, L. Calcara Egizio, G. Bonanno and R. Gregorio; instead, they believe that it was established during the Norman period C. Pasca, G. Di Marzo and IVI. Amari. "Or, apart from the above-mentioned opinions, almost all without evidence," wrote Gaetano Di Giovanni, rosi. Castelterminese scholarly engineer, - of course he is that the first time you see the name Cammarata appear in a document published by can. Pasca, having the date of the same year in which the death of Count Ruggiero occurred, that is of 1101 ". "And I incline to believe ... that today's Cammarata municipality does not derive its origin from an age prior to the Muslim; since, being certain its existence in the Norman epoch, it is probable that it has persisted to the Christian conquest ". Monsignor Domenico De Gregorio does not agree with the hypothesis mentioned above, because in the volume "Cammarata" he writes: "If we can put forward a hypothesis, we believe that the village of Cammarata, at least in its fundamental nucleus, precedes Norman domination and also Arab ". The first historical documents on Cammarata date back, in fact, to the Norman period, when its territory it was granted by Count Ruggero D'Altavilla to his consanguine Lucia, which is called "Domina or Dominàtrix Cameratae". It had to receive the feudal investiture of the territory and the castle at the beginning of the twelfth century; later the son Adam was associated.

FROM ORIGINS TO 200° 

 

There are no "historical documents or archaeological data" that allow us to know what was the oldest district of Cammarata. Likewise there are not many writers who have attempted a reconstruction and that are sources for us to be able to advance hypotheses. Domenico De Gregorio, the most reliable source, as he writes in the volume «Cammarata»: «The core of the current square, ahead S. Sebastiano

[The church of S. Sebastiano should be very old. It is dedicated to the Madonna dell'Itria. In 1985, during the restoration work, the foundations of an earlier building were found. Are they the remains of an ancient Byzantine church that stood in the primitive nucleus of the town? The cult of St. Sebastian was introduced there towards the end of the century. XV and the beginning of the following. In the church there are remarkable statues of S. Sebastiano and S. Rocco and of the Madonna della Scalilla, the picture of the Purgatory, of S. Gregorio and of the Madonna dell'Itria of the sec. XVIII ».

In ancient documents, it is called "touch" (that is, part, piece) "old" and, probably, the name was used to indicate the oldest part of the country, as also confirms the other name with which the same place is called: "Vico" (also followed, sometimes, by the same old adjective). According to the Tirrito was also called "citazza" perhaps corruption of the Latin "civitas" ». In the Arab period, around the ninth century, the Gianguarna district had to be formed, because in the place where today stands the church of St. James was once an ancient Arab mosque.Mons. De Gregorio, in fact, confirms this: "Gianguarna was the other district of ancient origin, perhaps also Arab or early Norman times. The name could mean: source of Guarna (ain = source) ». In a subsequent period, another "inhabited center, or at least a certain nucleus of houses that later disappeared, because the area is landslides", had to be created after the Gianguarna, "in the area around the current edicule dedicated to S. Cataldo, who gave the name to the district ». This hypothesis is corroborated by the news that "S. Gerlando (died 1100)" vi "had the church of S. Cataldo built".

"The church of S. Cataldo was among the oldest in Cammarata because, as it is derived from a document preserved in the Archives of the Bishop's Curia of Agrigento, it was founded by St. Gerlando. But already in the visit of 1540 it was described as "ruined and naked". In 1594 in S. Cataldo was the convent of S. Francesco (Conventual Minor?) And demanded a legacy founded by Gaspare Gaziano. The cross-section of the chapter, which was its owner and had officiated it, had to restore it because it is still remembered in a document of 1629. But later it completely ruined »

The houses and the church were demolished due to the continuous landslides to which the area is subject, the "inhabitants had to build new houses further upstream", in a more secure and stable place identified with the one where the Church of the Annunciation stands with the adjacent convent . Meanwhile from the square "the houses, more and more numerous, leaned against the mountain and clung to the foot of the castle as if to have protection. And the manor, from above, acts of an ancient parent, watched over them with paternal understanding. " Thus, "perhaps at the beginning of the Norman domination", the primitive nucleus of the square began to grow and "another district developed ... under the castle, extending to the south-east up to the Scalilla". During the thirteenth century, a group of houses arose between the old quarters of the square and Gianguarna, which soon increased. Ivi, the first years of the fourteenth century, we think, the matrix had to be built

The matrix had to be built in the early years of the '300. "It was dedicated to St. Nicholas of Bari, stood in the area of ​​the current church and was preceded by a land on which grew cypress trees, perhaps, as was the ancient use, among the burials placed in front of the church." In 1624 a fire destroyed the matrix, whose reconstruction was completed only in 1701. It is a church with three naves, divided by five columns in the shape of a pillar on each side; it is long mt. 52.30, wide mt. 17 and high mt. 24. The presbytery is long mt. 15.30 and wide mt. 8.30. The array, rich in works of art, preserves the ancient organ of the sixteenth century, the monumental pulpit of 1776, the Banco dei Giurati of the '700, the Risen Christ of Antonio La Bella, a Deposition of the late' 500, the marble Cona by Andrea Mancino, the Bramante Niche in pure gold, the statues of the Madonna dei Miracoli and of S. Nicola.

Meanwhile, however, in the first half of the thirteenth century, the churches of S. Biagio had been built, «Antiquissima aedes »(ancient church) the Pirro called that of S. Biagio, named in a document of 1219. Probably in this period or shortly afterwards the Carmelites who lived there remained until the end of the century. XV or at the beginning of. XVI, when they passed in S. Giovanni ». The church was closed to worship in 1980, after the death of the sac. don Vincenzo Pollina. In the church are preserved the paintings of S. Filippo Neri del Reni and of the Holy Family and of the Nativity by Pietro D'Asaro, the Crucifix and the statues of S. Biagio and S. Lucia.

Under the square, and of S. Maria di Gesù, «The first church of S. Maria was built by the" dominatrix "Lucia di Cammarata before 1141». Because in the century XVIII the church and the convent threatened ruin, after 1759 it was begun their construction in the hill of Casazza. They had to be completed towards the end of the century. The church, with a nave, is large mt. 8, high mt. 14.20 and long mt. 27. In it there are interesting works such as the statues of the Madonna Bianca del Gaggini, of S. Francesco, S. Antonio, S. Pasquale del Bagnasco, of the Madonna di Cacciapensieri and of - S. Giuseppe and the paintings of S. Francesco and S Diego. in the district of S. Lucia. The architects Antonino Barone and Giuseppe Giarratana do not agree with the hypothesis of Msgr. De Gregorio, in fact in the thesis "Problems of the territory of Cammarata connected to the history of the county" write: "The Gianguarna district, almost certainly the oldest ..., falls within the sphere of influence of the Church of the Annunciation ("In ancient times the church was dedicated to the Madonna of the Sick, but, even before the visit of 1540, it was called the Annunziata.It had a bell tower with two bells, on the initiative of the rector Salvatore Salvatore Pollina, from 1947 to 1949, a new bell tower was built on which a clock was then placed. "The church, today, is preceded by an atrium with ogival arch and has the Crucifix (of the seventeenth century), the seventeenth-century wooden group of the Annunziata, the canvas della Maddalena perhaps by Reni and a painting by Fra Fedele da S. Biagio.,)

and of the adjoining convent of which the perimeter walls are still visible ". Then they indicate in a panel, where the urban development of Cammarata is reconstructed, as the second residential nucleus, the district downstream of the ancient "Strata della Carrozza" and between the square, the castle and the matrix. Among the hypotheses mentioned above and partly conflicting, we believe that those expressed by Msgr. Domenico De Gregorio, both for the seriousness of those who advances and because they appear the most likely. In fact we are inclined to believe that the primitive nucleus of the town has risen around the "square", even if, as some ruins attest, a more ancient and fortified farmhouse had to be further upstream. The Gianguarna district, although ancient, had to be built later, probably in the Arabic period, because, as was reported above, in the place where the church of St. James is located was once a mosque. In fact the area was called, with the name of Arab origin, "rabbato" or "rabbatello". Cammarata had '', 0k in the days of Lucia, and especially in the years immediately following, ... an increase in population caused by many factors, as the struggles against the Muslims around 1250 - when the numerous Arab farmhouses of the Cammarese countryside were depopulated -, the attraction of a strategic position as strong as the rock on which the town was built, the security guaranteed by the power of Lucia and of the successor Adam, around their fortified castle, a phenomenon common to many other countries of Sicily, the comforts offered by a large cohabitation of citizens and, we can also add, the need to find an airy place far from the malarious and landslide places that the deforestation of vast areas was beginning to make dangerous ". This hypothesis is supported by Edrisi, who in" The book of King Roger "describes Cammarata during Lucia's dominion : "Qammaratah, big farmhouse, has territory of extensive borders, with many fields to sow, has a castle of high site, strong and defensive, gardens and gardens and plenty of fruit".

CHIESA ANNUNZIATA

THE CASTLE

To date we do not know documents that can testify about the origins of the castle, for which unknown the period in which it had to be built appears and the lord who ordered its construction. The first acts in which the castle is read date back to 1100 and refer to Lucia's dominion. «In the first documents on Cammarata, Lucia's donations, the" castellum Cameratae "is named as the title of the town; It is therefore to be considered that if there had not been a castle, the name would have no sense. Therefore it is not illogical to assume that, since those times, at least, there existed, even for the position of the highest place at the military fortifications, a fortified castle with around a country of which Lucia was the "dominatrix" ». Barone and Giarratana in the thesis «Problems of the Territory of Cammarata» state: «It seems reasonable to suppose that the castle is coeval or slightly after the rise of the village itself, bearing in mind that the castle's initial raison d'être in general its main function is to protect the underlying property, its economy, its interests and thus guarantee its existence and development ". In fact "the castle ... dominates the village and can be thought to have arisen after the inhabited center". Francesco Caruso, on the other hand, writes that the castle is older than the town: "Castrum antiquius oppido admirabili conditum artificio". According to the Pasca the castle was "built by Bartolomeo di Aragona in 1384" while the Tirrito "believed it was made by Ottobono de Aurea, around 1340". The assumptions of the Pasca and the Tirrito must be understood not as foundations "from scratch", but as vast renovations and extensions of the original nucleus until reaching the complex current configuration. Rodo Santoro - a scholar of Sicilian castles - states: "The castle was born from a small farmhouse with a tower and fortified walls. Later this nucleus will accentuate its castle character with progressive enlargements and reinforcements in the volume of the defensive elements, while the housing nucleus will be moved lower down on the orographically underlying site to constitute the so-called "Terra", the feudal village. The latter, for defensive reasons, will also be surrounded by a wall, but must always remain detached from the castle. From the twelfth to the fourteenth century the primitive fortification on the rocky crest will progress architecturally until it reaches the size of a large castle with four towers ».

"In the castle - writes Msgr. De Gregorio - long lived the lords of Cammarata ... Of it we see an image, which was at the beginning of 1600, in the framework of St. Ignatius and St. Francis Xavier in the Mother Church: it is a quadrangular building with four towers and is surrounded by crenellated walls and defense works. It is isolated from the other buildings of the village and dominates from the hill on which it stands, in a truly strategic position, difficult to take because it is protected to the north-east by the overhanging rock on which it rests and to the east and south and west by the other fortifications » . The earthquake of 1537, the negligence of the weather and the lack of resistance of the land over time have produced serious damage to the castle of which the western part has collapsed and two of the towers. «Of these, - write Barone and Giarratana - only two are still visible today; One can only see a few ruins on which it is clearly legible the ancient noble coat of arms of Palizzi who received the fief of Cammarata by Frederick II in the year 1302. The second is instead better preserved and long used as a jail term ; the noble coat of arms of the Moncada family is clearly visible on the outside. From the examination of the remaining ruins it is possible to establish that the plan of the plan is substantially rectangular; on the longer sides, the west side measures 50 meters, while the east side is 52 meters long. The south side measures 38 meters; on this side you can see the ruins of one of the two remaining towers, from which it is deduced that its shape was circular. The north side, finally, is strengthened by the other tower, also of circular shape, whose radius is 3.50, with a wall thickness of 2.20 meters ». "After the end of feudalism between the municipality and the Paternò heirs" a long dispute arose. Only "in 1838 the castle was occupied by the municipality. Vincenzo Collari later bought it ", who gave it to Don Giuseppe Longo, from whom he passed" to the Salesians, Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, to establish an orphanage ".

[FONTE: ISTITUTO BIBBLIOGRAFICO SICILIANO, PAESI DI SICILIA , CAMMARATA 1965]

art in the churches of Cammarata

THE 3° THENTURY AND THE 4° THENTURY

During the fourteenth century the village of Cammarata developed "up to Porta Guagliarda ... where, as he says same name, stood one of the gates of the village. The edifice of the Madonna della Porta is also testified, according to the widespread custom - as many monuments in ancient cities attest - to place near the most important doors the image of the Virgin, "Ianua coeli", for protection and defense. The natural line of the fortifications of the town and, probably, at least in certain parts, of the walls, descended to the south, along the natural depression - a real torrent, in winter - that reached the Cozzo della Vucciria and then ended with another door that was between San Domenico and S. Biagio. In ancient documents, until the beginning of the century XVII, we speak of the district of Porta Guagliarda "or of the lavinaro" ». "The district of S. Vito probably arose later, between the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, because at the beginning of the sixteenth century it is remembered as existing and supplied with a church".

The ancient church of S. Vito, prior to the 16th century, was small and had six altars. The current - for the style and for the news found in some documents - can be considered built between the second half of the sixteenth century and the first of the seventeenth. The church has a basilica plan with five pillars on each side and a chapel between the two apsidal chapels. It preserves notable works such as the ancient organ (from the 1700s), the artistic choir, the wooden Crucifix (from the 17th century), the statues of St. Vito (from the 17th century), St. Peter's and St. Paul's the quadroni of the Holy Virgin and of God the Father and the paintings of S. Placido, S. Eligio and S. Liborio. In the sacristy there is a carved wooden wardrobe, adorned with putti and friezes and surmounted by a small edifice with the statuette of S. Vito.

An index of the commercial importance of Cammarata, which due to the strong increase had assumed the appearance of a country, was the establishment of a hospital  (The hospital, near the church of S. Antonio (today S. Domenico), existed since the XIV century. "Since the building had collapsed," the hospital was refounded by the priests of Cammarata on 6 January 1493 ". beginning of the 19th century, because of the unsafe building, the sick were transported to the monastery of the Annunciation, first, and in a building facing the matrix, then in 1937, following the legacies of the brothers Luigi and Salvatore Longo, the hospital was transferred to the premises of Via L. Longo and in 1984, for sanitary reasons, in a new building in the district of S. Lucia.),lexistence of a Jewish community and the construction of the churches of S. Domenico («The church of S. Domenico was built by the Dominicans instead of the one dedicated to S. Antonio that had been granted to them in -1509, with the hospice, for convent use. "In 1913 a fire destroyed the apse and the roof. The reconstruction, begun in 1929, was completed in 1934. The church preserves the quadroni of S. Giacinto, of S. Vincenzo, of S. Domenico, of the Rosary, of S. Agostino, of the Madonna del Ro), of Santa Domenica (The church of Santa Domenica had to be built around the middle of the fifteenth century, because in a document it is remembered as "Ecclesia di S. Domenica in the land in which est confratria" .The church, after the suppression of ecclesiastical properties of 1866 , it was deprived of the convent that was transformed into the town hall, where the statutes of Mary Help of Christians, of St. Philip of Agira, of the Immaculate (18th century) and the paintings of the Adoration of the Magi and of St. Gaetano are kept. In the altar of the Crucifix there is a silver tabernacle and a silver foil frontal.) And of St. James and St. John the Evangelist (This church, according to tradition, stands on an ancient Arab mosque; what is probable because St. James was considered the protector of Christians against the Moors, but the present church is not the old one - but it must have been nearby - because in 1576 it was already destroyed. " rebuilt the church of S. Giovanni Evangelista, i Confreres of St. James asked and obtained from the Bishop to transfer their confraternity to it. The church remained open to worship until the Second World War.)."Only in 1312, - writes Msgr. De Gregorio by a decree of Frederick II of Sicily, they were forced to live in the ghetto that then became the commercial district. With this decree of July 23, the king prescribed that the Jews would gather in a secluded place outside the city walls and therefore, probably since then, gathered in Cammarata in the area below S. Maria, in the ground between the garden of St. Agostino and S. Vito, which, even today, sometimes, still, is called the Jewish quarter. Here their synagogue and their cemetery should have risen. With the affirmation of the Spaniards, tolerance towards the Jews diminished until Ferdinand the Catholic, on March 31, 1492, signed the decree of expulsion of the Jews from all his dominions. " (7) At the end of the fifteenth century Cammarata, due to the massive immigration of "new inhabitants", had seen the population increase considerably. In fact, the inhabitants, who according to V. Amico towards the mid-sixteenth century were 8,092, had exceeded the number of 7,000.

DISEGNO MATRICE DI CAMMARATA
mappatura di cammarata

THE ANCIENT PORTAL OF THE MATRICE (1930)

cammaraa antico pospetto matrie

ANNUNZIATA CHURCH

cammarata chiesadell'annunziata

ROAD CARROZZA (TODAY VIA ROMA)

cammarata strata carrozza oggi via roma

THE CHURCH OF S. SEBASTIANO AND S DOMENICO

PANORAMIC OF SAN VITO CHURCH

S- DOMENICA (BADIA ) CHURCH

cammarata chiese san sebastiano e san domenico
cammarata monastero e chiesa di santa domenica a batia

On this page we have collected more details on the history of Cammarata taken from the Sicilian countries book of the Sicilian bibbliographical Institute, printed on May 15, 1965 we hope to have done something pleasant. Contribute too if you have other details

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