History of Sicily

Pubblished on 26 October, 2015


Sicily has a history of many centuries and is rich in remnants many of which are unknown even to the Sicilians. The first settlements in Sicily date back to around 1500 BC with Sikelian immigration from North Africa, which settled near the river Gela. The Sicani were soon followed by the Sicilians who came from the Strait of Messina. From them derives the name of Sicily. The arrival of the Sicilians and their settlement on the east coast and south-east, pushed settlements Sikelian inland, north and in the northwestern part of the island. Agrigento – Vase of Dionysius. During the same period a third indigenous people, the Elimi, installed himself at the western end of Sicily, occupying the cities of Segesta and Erice. In the southeastern part the Greeks founded (VI-XIII century. AC) cities like Syracuse, Catania, Zancle (today’s Messina), Gela and Selinus and occupied city existing as Segesta. The Greek cities flourished and in turn founded other cities like Acragas (now Agrigento) and Imera. Their democratic governments were gradually replaced by tyrannical governments, particularly that of Phalaris in Agrigento and Gelo, Hiero I, and others at Syracuse.
Between 831 and 965 AD, Sicily was conquered by the Arabs, by which reached its heyday. The subsequent internal disagreements favored the conquest by the Normans, under which it was established the Kingdom of Sicily. Once passed under the rule of the Swabians, the Kingdom of Sicily was unified Empire of Frederick II, who, with the Melfi Constitutions of 1231, created a well-organized state. When Frederick II died in 1250, his successor Manfred was defeated and killed by the ruthless Charles of Anjou, whose allies the French occupied the island and established their hegemony which led to the popular uprising called the Sicilian Vespers. Finally, in 1302, the French gave way to the Aragonese. The aristocracy that settled during this reign has left magnificent palaces scattered throughout Sicily, as Sclafani Palace and Palazzo Chiaramonte in Palermo.
Ironically he wanted, the earthquake that devastated the south-eastern provinces in 1693 became the springboard for the most glorious period of Sicily, the Baroque. Cities such as Palermo, Catania, Siracusa, Ragusa, Noto, Comiso, Scicli and dozens of others were entirely rebuilt and returned to the splendor. After the Aragonese, Sicily passed for a short time under the hands of the Austrians, only to be saved in 1734 by the Bourbons of Spain, whose throne was actually located in Naples. Sicily remained in the hands of the Bourbons until 1860, when the unification came the Kingdom of Italy.
Heavily bombed during the Second World War, again shaken by another earthquake in 1968, Sicily remains what it has always been: a spectacular land of rugged mountains, golden wheat fields and rocky shores, inhabited by a people fiercely independent that puts passion in all he does.