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Cammarata -San Giovanni Gemini

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The origin of San Giovanni Gemini

Cesare Pasca in the book "Historical and statistical outline of the municipalities of S. Giovanni and Camerata" about the origin of the town writes: "The municipality of San Giovanni originated in 1451 from Count Federico Abatellis who was the first to build a building on that afterwards, thanks to the privilege of the Emperor Charles V, it was recognized among the universities.  San Giovanni, there was a group of houses without a juridical physiognomy called «nova habitationi.  There are many hypotheses on the reasons that led to the formation of this new house.  by Francesco Caruso and preserved in the Municipal Library of Palermo we read: "The population of Camerata grew so much that, unable the site to be able to - form other buildings, the inhabitants of that started the building above the floor, ... that from the first church took the name of San Giovanni.

DM Smith in the volume «History of medieval and modern Sicily» writes: «The foundation of new villages gave the barons prestige and at the same time the illusion of real power. The social rank of the magnates was largely assessed by the extent of their territories and the number of cities in which they had the power of life and death ... The founding of a village with more than eighty families generally involved a seat in the Baronial Chamber to parliament, or an additional vote if its owner already possessed this privilege ».

  "In fact, Frederick I Abatellis, count of Cammarata, from 1451 had the privilege of building new lands (ius aedificandi), but only later, and precisely on March 3, 1507, was the" licentia populandi "granted. In those decades, the village began to form spontaneously on the plain of S. Giovanni. Yet "we think that the proximity of the large land of Cammarata prevented the formation of the new municipality at the time, so much so that to give it life a second privilege had to be obtained of Emperor Charles V, in order to recognize him among the universities of the kingdom, that is, among the baronial communes of the time ».

  "In 1511      the small group of inhabitants did not have to be numerous: they rose to 50 and therefore could not offer the numerical consistency necessary to create a new university ».

Another very _likely explanation is given by Fr. Salvatore La Pilusa who quotes  a handwritten booklet in possession of the sac. Carmelo Di Marco from Cammarata: San Giovanni Giovanni originated following the landslide that occurred in the northern part of Cammarata. When the frog happened, the inhabitants presented themselves to Lord Abatellis to get the necessary help; he gave them full license to go to the wood, the place where San Giovanni stands, to clear out where they liked, to cut trees and everything needed to build the temporary huts (haystacks), until the new houses were built ».

It should be 1537 the year in which, due to an earthquake, the hill where the castle of Cammarata rises, damaging the neighboring houses and the manor itself. If, as we think, this is the date of the landslide in 1537 and therefore of the swarming of cammaratesi towards the new site, it is clear why in the pastoral visit of 1540 St. John is called "nova habitationi". there was the church of San Giovanni and some houses, now, after immigration following the landslide, it had acquired the numerical consistency and appearance of a new town.

  The date of 1537 can be reconciled with those of 1451 and 1507, as Frederick I Abatellis, Count of Cammarata, in 1451, had the privilege and right to build new lands (ius aedificandi) from the king and in 1507 the faculty of populate them (licentia populandi),


San Giovanni Gemini

From its origins to today

From the origins to today

June 9, 1587  (1st division of the territory of Cammarata and S. Giovanni 1587. Die nono lanuarii Decimae - quintae Ind. 1587.Quia utilitas Ill.mi Domini D. Haerculis De Branciforti Comitis  Cameratae et Domini Terrae Sancti Joannis eius territoría intelligantur et sint separated a praedicta terra Cameratae eiusque territory     et jurisdictione tam in causis civilibus quam in criminalibus; ideo, et jurisdictione tam in causis civilibus quam in criminalibus; ideo, vi praesentis actus, fuit provisum et mandatum, per dictum Dominum Comitem, quod diet terra Sancti Joannis eiusque territorum  intelligatur et sit separatum a dicta terra Cameratae eiusque praedicto Territory et jurisdictione facta, Ill.mus Dominus Comes declaravit et declarat quod Diet terra eiusque Territorum habeat et teneatur pro terra et Territory separatis a Diet Terra Cameratae eiusque supra dicto Territory et quod supradictum Territoryum dictae terrae S .. Joannis intelligatur et sit ut dicitur: the liver from Mancuso, the liver from Pizzillo, the liver from Minaxhia, the liver from Ledera et cuso, the liver from Pizzillo, the liver from Minaxhia, the liver from Ledera and  quod jurisdictiones et auctoritates officialium dictae terrae S. Joannis • eiusque territori tantummodo extendarit et extendi debeant  praedicta terra S. Joannis eiusque supradictum lingueum ut dicitur  up to the stream that falls from S. Maria di Gesù and ends up sinu allu fundacu di Galiuni di jusu; tirannu sinu to the vineyard of the Magnificu Francisco Lo Scrudatu, which goes to the Giuri and nesci to the vineyard that was of lu nobili Simuni Valuni jusu.Et quod dicti officiales terrae S. Joannis non possint se immisceri et cognoscere causas civiles et criminales dictae terrae Cameratae, ne etiam officiales Cameratae possint cognoscere causas civiles et criminales dictae terrae S. Joannis et unusquisque maneat in iure  his sub poena unciarum quinquaginta pro quolibet controversial  erario curiae applicandarum. Inde de mandate Ill.mi Domini Comitis factus praedictus actus ad futuram rei memoriam pro servitio Omnipotentis Dei suae Cattolicae Majestatis et praedicti Ill.mi Domini Comitis Unde.

Ex Actis Curiae Capitanialis huius terrae Cameratae - per copiam factam ab Archivo per me Joseph de Minneci archivarum.

1st division of the territory of Carnmarata and S. Giovanni 1587. 9 January, Indizione 15a 1587.

Because the interest of the illustrious Lord D. Ercole Branciforti, Count of Cammarata and Lord of the land of S. Giovanni, is what  the territories of S. Giovanni are understood and separated from the territory  of the land of Cammarata and from the jurisdiction of the same, both in civil and criminal cases, for this reason, in the force of this deed, it was provided and ordered, for said Mr. Conte, that the said land of S. Giovanni and its territory were intends and is separated from the land and territory of Cammarata and its jurisdiction.  The Mr. Conte declared and declares that said land and territory  the feuds are and are kept separate from the aforementioned territory and land of Cammarata and the territory of said land of S. Giovanni  following: Mancuso fief, Pizzillo fief, Minaga fief, Ledera fief and that the jurisdiction and authority of the officials of the land of  S. Giovanni and its territory must extend only up to  stream that descends from S. Maria di Gesù and ends up to the warehouse of Galiuni di below advancing up to the vineyard of Magnifico Francesco Lo Scrudato, which continues up to the Juri and exits  to the vineyard that belonged to the Noble Simone Valuni from below.

Said officers of S. Giovanni cannot mix and know the civil and criminal causes of the land of Cammarata, and those of Cammarata must not know those of S. Giovanni and everyone  remain in his right under penalty of fifty onze for each offender to be paid to the treasury of the curia.

Done the aforementioned deed by order of the illustrious Mr. Conte to perennial  remembrance for the worship of the Almighty. God of His Catholic Majesty and service of the Signor Conte. From the acts of the Capitaniale Curia of this land of Cammarata.) "Duke Ercole Branciforti divided the territory of San Giovanni from that of Cammarata". On November 10 of the same year, «S. Giovanni was erected into a duchy and Ercole was its first duke, thus obtaining a dignity and a superior place in the Sicilian parliament and in the noble hierarchy of the time. The same year he introduced the first archpriest, Girolamo V anni, to the bishop, who was appointed on 21 June 1588.

  Thus San Giovanni began his autonomous life as a city and state and as a parish ».

From its origins to the seventeenth century

On the constitution of the town of San Giovanni, Caruso writes: «The population of Camerata grew so much

that, unable the site to be able to form other buildings, the inhabitants of that started the factory above the floor ... It was there in these times built a church under the title of the glorious St. John the Baptist "de jure patronatus" of the Counts of Camerata and by license obtained from Msgr. d. Pietro d'Aragona and Tagliavia, bishop of Girgenti ». The priest dr. Giovanni Antonio Palumbo, speaking of the diocese of Girgenti, says that there is a town called "S. Giovanni .. for having been built under the auspices of the Saint". From the aforementioned historical descriptions, from the information provided by Msgr. Domenico De Gregorio and from the ancient name of some streets we learn that the first urban nucleus of S. Giovanni was established near the church  (In a document of 1511 the church of S. Giovanni is mentioned     Battista as built - by Count Federico Abatellis ». (D. De Gregorio: "Historical information on S. Giovanni Gemini"). In 1558 it was sold to the Carmelite fathers, who named it after the Virgin Mary of Carmine and founded the convent next to it. An oratory was built for the Confraternity of S. Giovanni Battista and later transformed into a church. Following the landslide of 1760, the church suffered serious damage and was closed.   It was restored in the years 1879-1880 by the sac. don Domenico Guanà. It preserves the statues of the Madonna del Carmine (of the '700), of S. Rita and S. Elia, three paintings by prof. Giovanni Philippone and the picture of the Holy Family by Pietro D'Asaro.)

from which it took its name and along the Largo Nazareno. This thesis is supported by Fr. Salvatore La Pilusa, who in the volume "S. Giovanni Gemini: his history" writes: "The first houses that were built in our country are

the whole group, in a rectangular shape, between via Gibraltar, via Grecia and Largo Nazareno. The first street was therefore the Largo Nazareno formed between the Chiesuola and the aforementioned houses ».

«Largo Nazareno, indicated in some documents as" Public Square ", became from the beginning the heart of social life, the center of business, the place of parties and meetings. In the center was one  marble fountain, round, with the statue of a child above it, where people went to draw water  water according to your needs. At both ends were the largest churches in the country: that of S. Giovanni Battista and the matrix. The first church built on the edge of the plain, facing the built-up area of Cammarata watched over by the Castle, the second, built at the top of a stairway of squared stone basules and facing east ». The first years of his formation, and for the above reasons, S. Giovanni had a rather limited development. Only after the landslide of 1537, and particularly in the last thirty years of the century, as a result of the more substantial immigration of Cammaratesi, did it begin to register a certain consistency. In fact, the small rural village which, in 1511, had "50 inhabitants", in 1595, after the division of the territory and the first separate census from that of Cammarata, turned out to have "200 houses and 500 inhabitants".

In 1588, meanwhile, the increased population and the need for a larger church had convinced the first Aciprete don. Girolamo Vanni to begin the construction of the matrix.  (The construction of the matrix was begun in 1588 by the first archpriest Don Girolamo Vanni. It was made accessible, in part, in 1619, under the archpriesthood of Don Francesco Giambruno. The date of 1708 which can be read on the architrave of the main door should indicate the year in which the temple was completed and the portal built.

The body of Don Michele Martorana was buried in the chapel of St. John the Baptist in 1930. The matrix, dedicated to St. John the Baptist, is a building with a Latin cross and basilica plan, with three naves, with twelve pillars and 14 side chapels. It is long, from the door to the apse, mt. 30.70, 18.12 meters wide and high in the dome mt. 22.10.

In the matrix there is the beautiful crucifix of Jesus Nazàreno by friar Ella - blessed in 1649); the statues of Christ, the Madonna della Provvidenza, the Addolorata, the Immaculate Conception and St. Joseph; the urn (of the '700), the pulpit (of the artisan Carmelo Lupo), two paintings by prof. Giovanni Philippone, the paintings of the Crucifix, of S. Anna (by maestro Francesco Riina - 1647), of the Viaticum Procession and of numerous ardipreti; the artistic nativity scene of the chapel of St. Joseph (1908).)

Caruso- writes that «having delivered the bulls of the" Jus Patronatus ", with the faculty of being able to build and erect a new church ...

permission of the duke, adjacent to the church, of a holding of houses with gardens for the successor parish priests to live there (deed in nr. Paolo Cardella at '25 January 2 ind. 1619) so that the primary church of S. Giovanni remained for pp. Carmelites with the title of NS del Carmine, the second for the brotherhood of the Saint and the third of S. Giovanni Battista for the mother church ».

At the end of the century. XVI, the primitive inhabited area of S. Giovanni was delimited by the building matrix to the south and by the church of S. Giovanni Battista to the north. Upstream the last houses must have reached via Socrate (now Corso Umberto I), while to the east to via Orefici and Nicolas. Meanwhile, between 1572 and 1578, the Capuchin convent had been built in a distant and isolated place downstream, by the will of Count Don Ercole Branciforti and with the collaboration of the clergy, gentlemen and many citizens.  (The convent, with the church, of the Capuchins was built between 1572  and 1578 by the will of the count Don Ercole Branciforti. It was restored and renovated several times in the 17th and 18th centuries. In 1866, following the suppression of ecclesiastical property, the Capuchins left the convent; they returned there on May 14, 1944, on the initiative of Fra Francesco Manetta.  Naro the mortal remains Servant of God p. Girolamo Caruso from Cammarata. The church, with a single nave, preserves the beautiful wooden case that rises in the center of the main altar (from 1762), five broad bricks by p. Fedele da S. Biagio (from the 1700s) and an interesting wooden Crucifix (from the 1700s). In the sacristy there is a wooden wardrobe with elegant twisted columns, surmounted by a niche with a statuette of the Immaculate Conception, and two kneelers on the wall of which relics of saints are exposed under glass. by Antonio Barcellona - 1756).

The seventeenth century

S. Giovanni, in the seventeenth century, recorded a slow but continuous expansion in the first half and rapid in the last decades. The construction of numerous houses required abundant manpower, so many peasants and laborers became unskilled workers and masons. The countless job opportunities helped to alleviate unemployment and resolve periodic crises. The town experienced a modest expansion upstream, where the Socrate, Urbino and Bella Genova streets had to be created.  The most significant increase took place in the direction of the Capuchin convent and along Corso Toledo, "a wide street paved with small stones" in which numerous parallel "narrow streets" converged. two hundred steps and was surrounded by gardens, vineyards and some isolated building. Downstream, delimited by high stone walls, the vast "garden" for the use of the Capuchins, rich in fruits and wheat, extended. Next to it, at the edge of the floor, there was a vast building, low and incomplete in appearance, which had remained abandoned for some time. Higher than the convent, and a hundred paces away from it, a bare and deserted church, dedicated to S. Margherita. A path, somewhat poorly reduced because it was crossed by peasants and animals in their slow daily movement, connected the convent to the town, and for it the friars went to the begging. In winter, the life of the friars was not easy: they were exposed to hunger, cold and bad weather in the con-wind, which was not always well sheltered, and had to walk a muddy road barefoot. The inhabitants, also from Cammarata, devoted to St. Francis, themselves brought alms to the Capuchins and alleviated their hunger ».  By means of notes provided by Msgr. Domenico De Gregorio and some documents preserved in the parish archive, we learn about the extension of the town and the construction of important works. The first years of the seventeenth century the church of S. Margherita had to be built  (Up to now, no documents on the origins of the church of S. Margherita are known. Father S. La Pilusa in the volume "S. Giovanni Gemini: its history" states that "until 1890, near the former Convent Cappuccini and precisely behind the houses of the late Mr. Gaspare Martorana, in the place outside the town, there was a small church dedicated to the Virgin and Martyr St. Margaret; a small church with an altar, small and with its income. According to some, Mass was celebrated there up to un 80 anni adietrol "), in the district" 'Ncapu Cuozzu "(Sopra il Cozzo), by some wealthy families, and the construction of the large building has begun that tradition has handed down to us with the name of" u palazzu " (the palace)  (It is a construction '- writes De Gregorio - which remained only on the ground floor; but large and well ordered in the square-plan design. Certainly Castiglione was unable to finish it and then by the heirs ".  it had to be sold to the Paternò family. «In 1790, - writes the Tirrito - a Paternò prince» founded there «a sumptuous Casino, extinguished with the death of the founder». (Luigi Tirrito: "On the city and municipalities of the Comarca di Castronovo di Sicilia",  The palace, "partly ruined because it was abandoned", was later sold. During the 19th and 20th centuries it was transformed by the various owners into straw beds and stables), very close to the Capuchin convent, thanks to the abbot Antonino Castiglione. In the second half of the century the "Palazzo dei don Cuoli" or the Alessi were built (completed in 1703)  (It was a vast building with an austere façade - says Prof. Giovanni Philippone - but embellished by several balconies with artistically worked rails and by a portal enriched with floral decorations, in bas-relief and with an architrave on which one could read the following inscription: "Alexorum opes decor et deliciae)  and the church of Purgatory,  (The church “had to be built in the second half of the century  XVII, and, in the beginning, it was also called, as revealed by various documents, of S. Lucia or del Purgatorio ». (D. De Gregorio: «Historical information on S. Giovanni Gemini», manuscript). In fact, from some notes we learn that in 1700 it was visited by can. Brugnone and in 1737 the Confraternity of San Pasquale was founded there  Baylon. The church of S. Lucia e Purgatorio has a single nave and from 28  October 1979 has the perpetual adoration of Jesus Eucharist.It preserves the pictures of the souls in Purgatory and the Addolorata, the gold laminated tabernacle with a silver door and the statues of S. Pasquale, S. Calogero and S. Antonio di Padua.

(News provided by Msgr. Francesco La Placa). later named after S. Lucia, probably on the initiative of the same family. The population of San Giovanni which, throughout the 1500s and the first half of the 1600s, had registered a modest, albeit constant, increase in the last decades of the century increased rapidly. In fact the inhabitants went from 50 in 1511 to 500 in 1595 and to 3011 in 1728.

San Giovanni Gemini mapping

In this section  we have collected other details on the history of Cammarata  taken from the book Countries of Sicily of the Sicilian Bibliographic Institute, printed  May 15, 1965. We hope to have done something pleasant.
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