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ancora di Sicilia - in inglese

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A horse carriage in Palermo
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The Turkish steps in the Agrigento province
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The sea
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At sunset
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The tribes in the early dayes

Sicily is a fertile island located at peak of the boot of Italy. Drawings in caves in the mountain Monte Pellegrino at Palermo confirm human settlements since the Palæolithic age. It was the people Sicani who had origins in present Libya. According to geologists it is likely that the western Sicily in the Glacial Age was connected to Africa by an isthmus and that is probably how the new-comers arrived. However, in 1000 BC the Sicani people were almost distinct by the Cartesians. Later or perhaps even at the same time as the Sicani were present the eastern part of sicily became populated by the siculi tribe coming from the European continent. As the years went by the Sicani was mixed and absorbed into siculis and only the name Siculi remained.
Because of politic circumstances in the Middle East and new-founded Greece between the end of the 9th century BC and the beginning of the 8th century BC people from theese countries were looking for new possibilities and Sicily was an attractive destination. One of the oldest Greek settlements dated 734 BC is found by Naxos south of Taormina in the eastern part of Sicily. Then the Greeks established Siracusa (which for a period of 400 years was the most important town in Sicily), Gela and Catania. Since Agrigento was built by people from Gela. The Phoenicians also came along to the island but only for trading purposes. The Sicilians (Siculis) and the Greek new-comers lived side by side harmoniously and the Siculis soon noticed the advantage of the Greek political system and besides the Greek had brought new tecnology. All together it was of benefit for Sicily.
But this was on the eastern part of Sicily! Around the same time Cartesians settled on the north coast in Palermo, Solunto and Motya. The Cartesians came from North-Africa descendants of the Phoenicians which had origin in the eastern area of the Mediterrannian.
However, Sicily was not able to keep the Romans away and in 241 BC Siracusa was conquered as the beginning of the Roman dominion in Sicily. A remarkable heritage from the Romans is the Roman villa at Piazza Armerina close to the town Enna. The villa has been buried under mud for 700 years until it was excavated in the 1950's. It looks like it has been a hunting lodge belonging to a Roman nobleman; a sensationel building with floors in beautiful and colourful mosaic which you can see today.
The Romans ruled in Sicily until the fall of The Roman Empire in 410 AC. The Romans were conquered by the Visigots, a German tribe - also named the Barberians who ravaged in Sicily for around 100 years until the Byzantine general Belisarius invaded the island in 535. Even the Romans had had the dominion in Sicily for 600 years the presence of the Hellenic culture and language had not been overruled and the population took in well the Byzantines. In 663 Siracusa even for a short period of time became the capitol of the Byzantine Empire. But in the longer run Constantinoble didn't pay much attention to Sicily and pirates from Nord-Africa ravaged along the coasts.
The Arabs took interest in Sicily and established trade stations in the habours and in 827 they conquered the whole island. A Byzantine general had rebelled against his ruler and encouraged the Tunic Aghlabid Emir to invasion of Sicily. 10.000 Saracens (a common name for Arabs, Berberians and Spanish Muslims) arrrived in Mazara del Vallo south of Marsala on the west coast of Sicily. 4 years later Palermo was conquered but not until 965 the whole island was under Saracen dominion. Palermo became the capitol and for Sicily the presence of the Saracens gave the island a boom and properous times. The Saracens showed tolerance to the not-muslim population. They establish farming and brought with tem new crops such as lemon-, orange-, bitter-orange- and mandarin-trees, linnen, sugar canes, cotton, silk, melon and date-palms. Also extraction of salt became organized. Today there are plants at Marsala as one location. Sicily and especially Palermo became a cosmopolitan and important centre for trade and culture.
Around 1000 AC the Saracens lost interest for Sicily. The successors of the Aghlabid-family had found better oppertunities in Egypt. The defence of the island was down or more or less not existing which was used by the Normans from the north of Europe. The Hauteville-brothers had for a period of time been very active and visible i the south of Italy and the younger brother, Ruggero (or Robert) arrived in Sicily as the vassal for the Pope. Ruggero arrived in Messina in 1061 as count of Sicily and in 1091 the whole island was under dominion of this county of Ruggero I. Ruggero died in 1101. His son, Ruggero II was crowned as the first Norman king of Sicily. Ruggero II was a very intelligent and carismatic souvereign and Sicily and Palermo developed in a positive way socially and economicly under his regency. Ruggero was wise and used the best men he could get - also from other cultures: Saracens, Greeks and Jewish. All official documents were written in 3 languages: Arabic, Greek and latin and there was room for all kind of religions. Also in the building sector architecture from other culture besides Norman were acknowledged which we have the possibility to see also at present times.
Another carismatic souvereign was Frederic II of the Hohenstauff-family, king of Siciliy from 1198 to 1250. Palermo became a centre for art, literarure, philosophy and medical matters and the whole island experienced a golden and prosperous period. The successor of Frederic, the son Manfred was not a grand ruler like the father and Sicily went into decline. Barons and foreign monarchs claimed rights in the island and in 1266 the Pope gav the title of king to Charles of Anjou, a brother to the French king Louis IX. Now France had to kingdoms in Italy: Naples and Sicily and Charles was the souvereign of both.
The Sicilians were not pleased by the French dominion and in 1282 the "Vesperi Siciliani", rebelled. The Spanish king Peter of Aragon had through marrige to a daughter of the previous Norman king Manfred a right to the throne. However, he passed the kingdom of Sicily to a younger brother, Frederic II, who was crowned in 1296. To be able to keep the dominion Frederic was dependend of the goodwill of the barons who wanted to obtain the feudalism. Despite ongoing disputes between the Spanish house Aragon and the French house Anjou who had obtained the dominion in Naples, The Spanish kept the kingdom in Sicily now rules by a Spanish viceroy as the island became a part of Spain and not an independent kingdom. The Spanish dominion lasted for 400 years and from 1442 Sicily was ruled together with Naples.
After the Spanish presence Austria had the dominion for a short period of time and then England as well. I 1735 The Spanish returned with a prince of the Bourbon-family. He became king Charles III of Spain and was the souvereign in Sicily as well until 1860 where Garibaldi united Sicily with the new state Italy.

In this way there has been many different cultures and foreign population represented in Sicily and the Sicilians are a blend of it all. But with a slendid result!! The Sicilians are gentle and approchable people who work hard and are proud of their island. Come along and pay Sicily a visit!!

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A lake at Avola in the Siracusa province
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Farmland next to Petralia
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Pizza Canna in the Madonie mountains
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In the countryside
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Castelbuono
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The almond trees make flowers in February
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Parco delle Madonie
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From Marzamemi, a village further south along the seaside of Siracusa
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Salt mill in the Trapani province
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Olives
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Also the mimosa trees make flowers in February
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The golden eagle

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