Sicily

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Regione Sicilia
Flag of Sicily
Capital Palermo
President Salvatore Cuffaro
(UDC-CdL)
Provinces Agrigento
Caltanissetta
Catania
Enna
Messina
Palermo
Ragusa
Syracuse
Trapani
Comuni 390
Area 25,708 km²
 - Ranked 1st (8.5 %)
Population (2006 est.)
 - Total

 - Ranked
 - Density


5,017,212
4th (8.5 %)
195/km²
Italy Regions Sicily Map.png
Map highlighting the location of Sicilia in Italy


Sicily is an autonomous region of Italy and the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, with an area of 9,926 square miles (25,708 sq km) and 5 million inhabitants.

For much of its existence, Sicily has stood at a crossroads of international turmoil and power ploys while stronger nations used the island as a base from which to launch or expand their sovereignty. The Sicilian people often suffered as a result of the numerous wars and conquests which were a part of these international struggles.

Yet its position as a crossroads also had its benefits, as seen in the great works of art, music, and even cuisine which resulted as a blending of the various peoples who settled this land.


Contents

Geography

Sicily, the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, is an autonomous region of Italy. It is directly adjacent to the region of Calabria via the Strait of Messina to the east. The Greeks knew Sicily as Trinacria, which refers to its triangular shape.

The Aeolian Islands to the north are administratively a part of Sicily, as are the Aegadian Islands and Pantelleria Island to the west, Ustica Island to the northwest, and the Pelagian Islands to the southwest.

Sicily has been noted for two millennia as a grain-producing territory. However, natural vegetation has been greatly compromised by human influence. Oranges and other fruits grow on the coast, while the interior produces olives, wine, and other agricultural products. The mines of the Enna and Caltanissetta districts became a leading sulfur-producing areas in the nineteenth century. However, sulfur production has declined since the 1950s.

NASA orbital photograph of Sicily

The only wide valley in this otherwise mountainous land is the fertile Plain of Catania on the eastern side. Forests occupy four percent of the territory. There are ample springs and underground water sources in this area. The climate of Sicily is subtropical and Mediterranean. Annual precipitation on the plains is 16–24 inches (400–600 mm), and in the mountains 47–55 inches (1,200–1,400 mm).

Mount Etna

Mount Etna

Mount Etna is an active volcano on the east coast of Sicily, close to Messina and Catania. It is the largest active volcano in Europe, currently standing about 10,910 feet (3,326 m) high. It is the highest mountain in Italy south of the Alps, and covers an area of 460 square miles. This makes it by far the largest of the three active volcanoes in Italy, being nearly three times the height of the next largest, Mount Vesuvius.

Mount Etna is one of the most active volcanoes in the world and is in an almost constant state of eruption. Although it can occasionally be very destructive, it is not generally regarded as being particularly dangerous, and thousands of people live on its slopes and in the surrounding areas. The fertile volcanic soils support extensive agriculture, with vineyards and orchards spread across the lower slopes of the mountain and the broad Plain of Catania to the south.

Towns and Cities

Sicily's principal cities include the regional capital Palermo, and provincial capitals Catania, Messina, Syracuse (Siracusa in Italian), Trapani, Enna, Caltanissetta, Agrigento, and Ragusa. Other Sicilian towns include Acireale, Taormina, Giardini Naxos, Piazza Armerina, Bagheria, Partinico, Carini, Alcamo, Vittoria, Caltagirone, Cefalù, Bronte, Marsala, Corleone, Castellammare del Golfo, Calatafimi, Gela, Termini Imerese, Francavilla di Sicilia, Ferla, and Abacaenum (now Tripi).

History

Sicily's earliest inhabitants were the Elymians who may have originated near the Aegean Sea. Later settlers included the Sicani, whose origins may have been from Iberia, and the Siculi or Sicels, who were related to people from southern Italy, such as the Italoi of Calabria, the Oenotrians, Chones, and Leuterni (or Leutarni), the Opicans, and the Ausones.

Phoenicians/Carthaginians, Greeks, and Romans

Greek temple at Selinunte dedicated to Hera, built in the fifth century B.C.E.

Sicily was colonized by Phoenicians, Punic settlers from Carthage, and by Greeks, beginning in the eighth century B.C.E.. The most important colony was established at Syracuse in 733 B.C.E. Other important Greek colonies included Gela founded in 688 B.C.E., Agrigento, in 580 B.C.E. Selinunte, Himera, and Zancle or Messene (modern-day Messina) founded in 756 B.C.E. These city–states played an important role in classical Greek civilization and came to be known as Magna Graecia. Both Empedocles and Archimedes originated in Sicily. Greece also played a role in Sicilian politics; Athens initiated the disastrous Sicilian Expedition during the Peloponnesian War.

The Greeks experienced conflict with the Punic trading communities, who dealt with Carthage on the African mainland and who had their own colonies on Sicily. Palermo, known as Zis or Sis (or "Panormos" to the Greeks) was originally a Carthaginian city which had been established in the eighth century B.C.E.. Hundreds of Phoenician and Carthaginian gravesites were found in the Palermo necropolis, south of the Norman palace where the kings once enjoyed a vast park. Greek influence existed primarily in the eastern areas of Sicily; Lilybaeum, in the far west, was not thoroughly Hellenized. In the First and Second Sicilian Wars, Carthage was in control of all but the eastern part of Sicily, which Syracuse dominated. In 415 B.C.E., in an effort to re-exert its trading power, Athens launched the Sicilian Expedition by attacking Sicily and breaking its seven year truce with Syracuse. As a result, the Peloponnesian War resumed.

In the third century B.C.E. Messanan Crisis, the Roman Republic intervened in Sicilian affairs, which led to the First Punic War between Rome and Carthage. Once the war was completed in 242 B.C.E., Rome occupied the entire country of Sicily. In 210 B.C.E. Sicily became Rome's first non-Italian province.

The Carthaginians' initial success during the Second Punic War encouraged many Sicilian cities to revolt. Rome sent troops to quash the rebellions; during a battle in the siege of Syracuse, Archimedes was killed. For a short time Carthage held power over portions of Sicily. However, eventually the Sicilians rallied and ousted Carthaginian forces, killing so many of their sympathizers in 210 B.C.E. that the Roman consul M. Valerian proclaimed to the Roman Senate that "no Carthaginian remains in Sicily."

For the next six centuries, Sicily remained a province of the Roman Empire, and its grain fields, which provided the principal food supply for Rome, were its chief significance. The empire did not attempt to Romanize this region, which remained primarily Greek. At this time in Sicily's history the most notable event was Verres infamous government, which Cicero strongly criticized. In 70 B.C.E. Gaius Verres escaped to avoid a trial by Cicero.

Around 200 C.E. Christianity began to develop in Sicily, and along with it, martyrdom occurred. By 313 C.E. Emperor Constantine ceased the prohibition of Christianity, and it developed quickly in the following two centuries.

Byzantines

In 440 C.E. Sicily fell to the Vandal King Geiseric. A few decades later, it came into Ostrogothic hands, where it remained until it was conquered by the Byzantine general Belisarius in 535. In 550 the Ostrogothic King Totila drove down the Italian peninsula and plundered and conquered Sicily. Totila was defeated and killed by the Byzantine general, Narses, in 552.

In 535, Emperor Justinian I made Sicily a Byzantine province, and for the second time in Sicilian history, the Greek language became a familiar sound across the island. As the power of the Byzantine Empire waned, Sicily was invaded by the Arabs in 652 C.E. However, this was a short lived invasion and the Arabs left soon after.

For a brief period during Byzantine rule (662–668), Syracuse was the imperial capital until Constans II was assassinated. Sicily was then ruled by the Byzantine Empire until the Muslim Arab conquest of 827–902. It is reported in contemporary accounts that Sicilians spoke Greek or Italo-Greek dialects until at least the tenth century, and in some regions for several more centuries.

Arab Control from Tunisia and Egypt

The island of Pantelleria was captured by Arabs in the year 700. Trading arrangements were made between Sicily and Arab merchants, who established themselves in Sicilian ports.

Following an 827 failed Sicilian coup attempt against an unpopular Byzantine governor, Euphemius, a wealthy landowner, declared himself Emperor and invited the Aghlabid Emir of Tunisia to assist him. The response was a fleet of one hundred ships and en thousand troops under the command of Asad ibn al-Furat, which consisted largely of Arab Berbers from North Africa and Spain. After resistance at Siracusa, the Muslims gained a foothold in Mazara del Vallo. Palermo fell after a long siege in 831, but Siracusa held out until 878.

From 842 to 859 the Arabs captured Messina, Modica, Ragusa, and Enna. In 902, Taormina, the last Byzantine stronghold, also fell to the Arabs and by 965 all of Sicily was under Arab control. during which time Palermo became one of the largest cities in the world.

Emirate of Sicily

The Cathedral of Palermo.

In succession, Sicily was ruled by the Sunni Aghlabid dynasty in Tunisia and the Shiite Fatimids in Egypt. The Byzantines took advantage of temporary discord to occupy the eastern end of the island for several years. After suppressing a revolt the Fatimid caliph appointed Hassan al-Kalbi (948–964) as Emir of Sicily. He successfully managed to control the Byzantines and founded the Kalbid dynasty.

Raids into southern Italy continued under the Kalbids into the eleventh century, and in 982 a German army under Otto II was defeated near Crotone in Calabria. With Emir Yusuf al-Kalbi (990–998), a period of steady decline began. Under al-Akhal (1017–1037) the dynastic conflict intensified, with factions within the ruling family allying themselves variously with Byzantium and the Zirids. By the time of Emir Hasan as-Samsam (1040–1053) the island had fragmented into several small fiefdoms.

As a virtually independent emirate, Sicily played a privileged role as bridge between Africa and Europe. Trade flourished and taxes were low. The tolerant regime allowed subjects to abide by their own laws. Christians freely converted to Islam and there were soon hundreds of mosques in Palermo alone.

The Arabs initiated land reforms which in turn increased productivity and encouraged the growth of smallholdings, a dent to the dominance of the landed estates. The Arabs further improved irrigation systems. The suburb of Al-Khalisa (Kalsa) contained the Sultan's palace, baths, a mosque, government offices, and a private prison.

In addition to Andalusian and other Arabs, Sicily also had a population of Berbers, Africans, Persians, Greeks, Jews, Slavs, and Lombards. Western Sicily particularly prospered with Berbers settling in the Agrigento area coupled with Bedouin, Syrians, and Egyptian Arabs in Palermo.

Muslim rule in Sicily slowly came to an end following an invitation by the Emirs of Catania and Siracusa for a Norman invasion. The Normans, under Count Roger de Hauteville (Altavilla), attacked Sicily in 1061 beginning a 30 year struggle against the Arabs. In 1068, de Hauteville and his men defeated the Arabs at Misilmeri. The most crucial battle was the siege of Palermo in 1072, and the conquest of Sicily was completed by 1091 with the defeat of the last Emir in Noto.

Arab-Norman Period

Sicily became a kingdom in 1130, and was established as one of the wealthiest states in Europe. According to historian John Julius Norwich, Palermo became wealthier under the Normans than England during that age. A century later, however, the Norman Hauteville dynasty ended, and the south German or (Swabian) Hohenstaufen dynasty commenced its rule in 1194, with Palermo as its principal seat of governance beginning in 1220. Unfortunately, the Crusades instigated local Christian-Muslim conflicts and in 1224, Frederick II, grandson of Roger II, removed the remaining Arabs from Sicily.

Aragonese Control

In 1266, as a result of the conflict between the ruling Hohenstaufen family and the Papacy, Charles I, who was also the Duke of Anjou, attained control of the island. He only visited Sicily once, and replaced the landowners with French supporters and Sicilian administrators with French officials. Although the governing staffs were excellent traders and efficient rulers, they disregarded Sicilian customs and disdained the inhabitants.

Charles I was an unpopular ruler who was primarily interested in using Sicily as a base to expand his trade and power in the Mediterranean. Leaders of other nations, including Byzantine King Michael and Peter of Aragon whose wife, Constance, was a Hohenstaufen, were enemies of Charles and planned his overthrow.

Tired of French taxation and control, the native Sicilians conducted their own revolt, the Sicilian Vespers, on March 30, 1282. The populace gathered to celebrate Vespers on Easter Monday in Palermo, and French soldiers, whom the people tried to ignore, joined their group. Conflict arose when a French sergeant grabbed a married Sicilian woman, and her husband responded by stabbing him to death. The French retaliated to defend their fellow soldier. Many Sicilian locals immediately fought the French troops while others sent messages throughout the rest of Palermo, evoking a popular revolt in the town. The uprising spread throughout the island, and mass slaughter of Frenchmen occurred. Later the people requested assistance from King Peter and King Michael.

The Pope attempted, without success, to persuade the people to resume Angevin rule, and King Charles attempted to re-conquer the island. However, King Peter confronted the French sovereign, and the people proclaimed Peter III of Aragon as their new ruler. The War of the Sicilian Vespers lasted until the peace of Caltabellotta in 1302. The king's relatives ruled Sicily as an independent kingdom until 1409; after that time, the island was governed as part of the Crown of Aragon.

Spanish Control

In 1479 Sicily fell under the control of Spain. The island experienced difficult periods of rule by the crown of Savoy from 1713 to 1720 and then the Austrian Habsburgs gave way to union with the Bourbon-ruled kingdom of Naples as the kingdom of the Two Sicilies.

Sicily in the Middle Ages experienced diseases and natural disasters along with political problems. The nation suffered a ferocious outbreak of plague in 1656. Also known as Black Plague, this disease was first introduced to Europe via Sicily when an Italian ship with infected crew members returning from trade in China docked in Messina in 1347.

In 1693, the eastern and southern sections of the island were ravaged by a strong earthquake. The tremor claimed over sixty thousand victims and demolished the towns in the districts of Siracusa, Ragusa, and Catania. A tsunami immediately ensued along the Ionian coasts of Sicily and the Messina Strait.

Major revolutionary movements occurred in 1820 and 1848 against Bourbon denial of constitutional government. The Sicilian revolution of 1848 resulted in a 16 month period of independence from the Bourbons whose armed forces regained control of the island on May 15, 1849.

In late 1852 Prince Emanuele Realmuto had set up power in North Central Sicily. Highly educated, the prince established a political system set to bring Sicily's economy to the highest levels in all of Italy. The Prince's life, however, was shortened by assassination in 1857. To this day some of his work is still present in the Italian parliament.

Italian Unification

Map of the Allied landings in Sicily on July 10, 1943

Under the rallying cry of Italian unification, Guiseppe Garibaldi led troops in the invasion of Sicily, adjoining it to the other Italian regions in 1860. In 1866, Palermo revolted against Italy. Under the leadership of Raffaele Cadorna, the Italian navy responded to this protest by bombing the city, executing the civilian insurgents, and repossessing the island.

Between 1860 and 1871 over one hundred thousand Sicilians and southern Italian unionists were executed under a brutal campaign by King Victor Emanuel II, who proclaimed himself "King of Italy." The citizens were subjected to ferocious military repression, including martial law, and imprisonment of tens of thousands. Villages were destroyed, and many were deported. As a result the Sicilian economy collapsed and people emigrated in unprecedented numbers. In 1894 labor forces rebelled through the radical Fasci Siciliani only to be suppressed again by martial law.

Sicily gained independence in 1946, and the people benefited from the partial Italian land reform of 1950–1962 as well as special funding from the Cassa per il Mezzogiorno, the Italian government's indemnification fund for the south which the government offered from 1950 through 1984.

Mafia

Sicily was the birthplace of the well-known Mafia, an organized crime operation common in Italy and the United States.

The Mafia is a hierarchically structured criminal society that arose in Sicily during the Middle Ages as a means of providing protection from the various foreign conquerors of the island. It consisted of many small private armies (mafie) that were hired by absentee landlords to protect their properties. Eventually, during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, these armies organized and consolidated their power and turned on the landowners, employing extortion methods in order to continue their protective services.

The Fascist regime of Benito Mussolini nearly succeeded in eliminating the Mafia via imprisonment. However, following the Second World War, the American forces released many of the mafiosi, who quickly revived their operations.

The United States used the Italian connection of the American Mafiosi during the invasion of Italy and Sicily in 1943. Lucky Luciano and other members who had been imprisoned during this time in the U.S. provided information for U.S. military intelligence, who used their influence in Sicily to ease the way for advancing American troops.

In the U.S. the name Cosa Nostra (meaning "our affair") was adopted in the 1960s. Most cities where syndicated crime operates have only one "family," but in New York City, there have been five rival families: Gambino, Genovese, Lucchese, Colombo, and Bonanno.

Most Americans, especially outside of the largest cities, are familiar with the Mafia only through its glamorized depiction in the movie "The Godfather," which portrays a detailed example of Sicily and Sicilian mafia traditions.

Government

The provinces of Sicily

Sicily, together with the islands of Egadi, Lipari, Pelagie, and Panteleria, forms an autonomous region of Italy. There are five special regions of Italy that derive their system of governance from special statutes adopted through constitutional laws. The other four autonomous regions besides Sicily are Sardinia, Trentino–Alto Adige, Friuli–Venezia Giulia, and Valle d'Aosta.

Italy provides certain officials who have responsibilities within the local governments. These include:

  • A Government Commissioner, whose function is to supervise the administrative functions performed by the state and coordinate them with those performed by the region.
  • A Prefect, who is responsible for enforcing the orders of the central government.
  • A Questore, who is the provincial chief of the state-run police.


Flag

Sicily's historical banner since 1282 became its official regional flag in January 2000. Its design is divided diagonally yellow over red, with the trinacria, or three points, symbol in the center. The Trinacria is most likely a solar symbol, although most recently it represents the island's three points. The head shown on the Sicilian Trinacria is Medusa's face. Other areas, such as the Isle of Man also use the "Trinacria" as their flag.

Economy

Sicily, which is the most densely populated island in the Mediterranean Sea, has an economy that is largely underdeveloped.

Its industrialization is based upon oil-refining and chemical industries. Large quantities of sulfur and natural gas are produced. They also have industries involved in salt extraction, wine making, textile production, food processing, and ship building.

Sicily's agricultural products include olives, almonds, barley, wheat, corn, citrus fruits, wine grapes, and cotton. Cattle, mules, donkeys, and sheep are also raised.

Demographics

Palermo is the regional capital of Sicily

People

The position of Sicily as a stepping stone in the center of the Mediterranean Basin has lent it strategic importance throughout history, resulting in an endless procession of settlers and conquerors. Sicilians are therefore a diverse people with a great variety of ethnic and physical influx.

It has been suggested that a genetic boundary divides Sicily into two regions, reflecting the distribution of Siculi and Greek settlements in the east, and Sicani/Elymi, Phoenician/Arab and Norman settlements in the west.

Sicily, however diverse it may be genetically, retains many characteristics of more rural regions bred of its isolation and distance from mainland Italy. There is, therefore a distinctive "Sicilian character."


Language

Many Sicilians are bilingual in both Italian and Sicilian, which is a unique Romance language and not a derivative of Italian, although it is thought by some to be an Italian dialect. It is a blend of Greek, Latin, Aragonese, Arabic, Longobardic and Norman-French, reflecting its rich history and expressing the influence of the many types of peoples who previously settled the island.

The Sicilian language was an early influence in the development of the first Italian standard, although its use remained confined to the intellectual elite. This was a literary language in Sicily created under the auspices of Frederick II and his court of notaries, or Magna Curia. Its linguistic and poetic heritage was later assimilated into the Florentine by Dante Alighieri, the father of modern Italian who, in his De Vulgari Eloquentia claims that "In effect this vernacular seems to deserve a higher praise than the others, since all the poetry written by Italians can be called Sicilian." It was in Sicilian that the first sonnet was written, whose invention is attributed to Giacomo da Lentini.

By the seventeenth century, however, the Sicilian language was mostly spoken by the working classes; the Italian royalty preferred Tuscan, the Savoys utilized Piedmontese, and the Bourbons of Naples primarily spoke Neopolitan.

Sicilian dialects are also spoken in the southern and central sections of the Italian regions of Calabria (Calabrese) and Puglia (Salentino) and had a significant influence on the Maltese Language. Malta was a part of the Kingdom of Sicily, in its various forms, until the late eighteenth century. With the predominance of Italian spoken in schools and the media, Sicilian is no longer the first language of many Sicilians. Indeed, in urban centers in particular, one is more likely to hear standard Italian spoken rather than Sicilian, especially among the young. However, the language remains important in the study of name origins, and therefore in history and genealogy.

Society and Culture

Sicily's population is approximately 5 million, and there are an additional 10 million people of Sicilian descent around the world, mostly in the United States, Argentina, Canada, Australia, and other European Union countries. The island today, like all of western Europe, is home to growing communities of immigrants, including Tunisians, Moroccans, Nigerians, Indians, Romanians, Russians, Chinese and Gypsies from the Balkans.

Cuisine

The cuisine of Sicily shows traces of all the cultures that established themselves on the island over the last two millennia. Much of the island's cuisine encourages the use of fresh vegetables such as eggplant, bell peppers, and tomatoes, as well as fish.

The cuisine in Palermo, capital of Sicily and headquarters of the emir during the Arab domination, exhibits the classic signs of Arab influence in its dishes, for example, the use of mint, raisins, fried preparations, and pine nuts.

In Catania, located on the east coast, initially settled by Greek colonists, fish, olives, broad beans and fresh vegetables are preferred.

In Trapani, the extreme western corner of the island, the North African influence comes to the fore with dishes featuring couscous.

The list of well known Sicilian dishes includes arancini (a form of deep fried rice croquettes), Pasta alla Norma (a specialty of Catania), caponata, pani ca meusa (Palermo) and couscous al pesce (Trapani). Sweets are another specialty; examples include: frutta martorana, pignolata, buccellato, cannolo siciliano, granita, and cassata siciliana.

Arts

Landscape with temple ruins on Sicily, Jacob Philipp Hackert, 1778

Sicily is famous for its art and is the birthplace of many poets and writers. In the early thirteenth century, the Sicilian School inspired later Italian poetry and created the first Italian standard. The most famous artists from Sicily include Luigi Pirandello, Giovanni Verga, Salvatore Quasimodo, and Gesualdo Bufalino.

Other Sicilian artists include the composers Sigismondo d'India, Girolamo Arrigo, Salvatore Sciarrino, Giovanni Sollima, Alessandro Scarlatti, Vincenzo Bellini, Giovanni Pacini, Francesco Paolo Frontini, Alfredo Sangiorgi, Aldo Clementi, and Roberto Carnevale.

Noto, Ragusa, and particularly Acireale contain some of Italy's best examples of Baroque architecture, carved in the local red sandstone. Caltagirone is renowned for its decorative ceramics. Palermo is also a major center of Italian opera. Its Teatro Massimo is the largest opera house in Italy and the third largest in the world.

Antonello da Messina, who lived in the fifteenth century C.E., was an outstanding Sicilian painter and a great European master of his time. His famous paintings include the Portrait of an Unknown Seaman in the Cefalù Mandralisca Museum, the Three Saints, and the splendid Annunzíata in the Palermo Gallery, the San Gregorio polyptych in the Messina Museum, and the Annunciation in the Palazzo Bellomo Museum in Syracuse.

Noteworthy sculptors included Domenico Gagini, who established a workshop that produced great sculptors for several generations, including Antonello Gagini and his sons.

Sicily is home to two prominent folk art traditions, both of which draw heavily on the island's Norman influence. A Sicilian wood cart, or Carretto Siciliano, is painted with intricate decorations of scenes from the Norman romantic poems, including The Song of Roland. These same stories are shared in traditional puppet theatres which feature handmade wooden marionettes, especially in Acireale, the home town of most Sicilian puppets.

Sicily's ancient pottery and rare works of art contain some of the greatest sources of archeological masterpieces in the world. They exemplify the beautiful blending of two hundred years of Graeco-Sicel, Roman, and Byzantine culture. The mosaic pieces, a contribution of Byzantine art, are particularly attractive.

The Catholic Church contributed to maintaining art through its "papal legates." Hauteville dynasty members constructed the first Latin cathedrals, which include the churches of Messina, Lipari, Cefalù, Monreale, Catania, Mazara, and Agrigento. In these, the Latin spacious style from central Italy and northern Europe combined with the Maghreb decorations, narrative Byzantine mosaics, and Apulian Romanesque sculpture.

Architecture

Many cities in Sicily have beautiful examples of architecture that include ruins of aquaducts, Roman patrician villas, temples in Segesta, Selinunte, and Agrigento, and decorations on ancient buildings. Their pottery and rare works of art generally consist of two hundred years of Graeco-Sicel, Roman, and Byzantine culture and are outstanding among ancient archaeological treasures.

Fortresses such as the Castle of Euryalus in Syracuse and the archaeological sites of Agriengento, Heraclea, Minoa, Himera, Seguesta, and Selinunte give evidence to Sicily's vast development at a time in the Middle Ages when most other western European countries' arts and sciences were much less developed.

Royalty exerted much influence in architecture. Roger II built the Cefalù Cathedral in which he wanted to be buried. In 1132 he ordered the construction of his Royal Palace in Palermo, which included his own "Palantine Chapel,” a magnificient example of Sicilian medieval art which was dedicated to St. Peter.

Religious leaders, too, contributed to the expansion of Sicilian architecture. Bishop Gualtiero reconstructed much of the old Palermo Cathedral and expanded it to become the greatest cathedral in medieval Sicily.

Architecture took a different turn by the first half of the seventh century C.E. when Mannerism became popular. Examples of this style include the Quattro Canti (Giulio Lasso), Porta Felice (Pietro Novelli), the churches of Olivella and San Domenico, the old Shipyard (Mariano Smiriglio), the church of the Teatini (Giacomo Besio), the Town Hall in Syracuse (G. Vermexio), the Benedectine Monastery in Catania (V. De Franchis), the College and Church of the Jesuits in Trapani (N. Masuccio), the Church of the Salvatore, and Giacomo Amato’s (1643–1732) Church of the Pietà and Santa Téresa alla Kalsa. The Church of the Annunziata dei Teatini in Messina Baroque, (Guaríno Guarini) implemented the Baroque style, which was simplified in Palermo through the works of Paolo Amato (1634–1714).

Music

Sicily has an almost unparalleled history of cultural diversity. The music of Sicily today mirrors that diversity: from the island's great presence as part of Magna Grecia 2,500 years ago through various historical incarnations as past of the Roman Empire, then an Arab stronghold, then an integral part of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, and, finally, as region of the modern nation state of Italy.

Sicily's historical connections lie not just with mainland Italy, but also the ancient Greeks and more recent Arab occupiers. The result has been a diverse and unique fusion of musical elements on the island. American musicologist Alan Lomax made some historic recordings of Sicilian traditional music in the twentieth century, including lullabies, dance music, festival music, epic storytelling, and religious music.

Sicily is also home to a great variety of Christian music, including a cappella devotional songs from Montedoro and many brass bands like Banda Ionica, who play songs from a diverse repertoire. Harvest songs and work songs are also indigenous to the agricultural island, known as "Italy's granary." Sicilian flute music, called friscaletto, is also popular among traditionalist Sicilians, as are Messina's male choirs.

References

  • Migliorini, Bruno. Storia Della Lingua Italiana. Biblioteca Universale Sansoni, 34. Firenze: Sansoni Editore. 1992. ISBN 8838313431
  • Shapiro, Marianne, and Alighieri, Dante. De Vulgari Eloquentia: Dante's Book of Exile. Lincoln: University of Nebraska. 1990. ISBN 0803242115
  • Segre, Cesare, and Ossola, Carlo. Antologia Della Poesia Italiana. Torino: Einaudi. 1999. ISBN 8806160389 Retrieved July 9, 2007; ISBN 8806153412

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