History and Art

Sicily and ‘a land rich in history and myth, ever since Tucididee Homer telling the Cyclops. A trip to Sicily is a journey through history. History of men and peoples, of dynasties and dominations that have succeeded for more than three thousand years on an island, nestled like a pearl in the deepest heart of the Mediterranean and ancestral.


The people oldest island is that of the Sicilian, originally earmarked in the east, until, from the second millennium BC, were not pushed towards the western part by the Sicilians, Indo-European people which is linked to the name of Sicily. The Greeks were the first to call the island Sikelia, from the name of its inhabitants, or Trinakria, because of its triangular shape. The same triangular shape inspired the name by which the Romans called the island: Triquetra. Even the symbol of Sicily, the Gorgon’s head surrounded by three legs bent at the knee, it would seem to refer to its shape. Or at least this is the meaning with which the symbol is being employed. It is in fact an ancient solar symbol of oriental matrix. No coincidence that Sicily is called always sunny island. The coastal areas were colonized first by the Phoenicians who founded Carthage at the same time, Palermo and Mozia and occupied the north-west of the island. The Greeks settled in areas south and east and founded Naxos, Syracuse, Messina, Catania, Agrigento and Selinunte. They were responsible for the introduction of vines and olive and the great splendor and economic prosperity that led to the construction of the temples of Agrigento, Selinunte and Syracuse. The struggles between Greeks and Carthaginians marked the entrance of the Romans in the island around the third century BC, who made it their province, stripping it of many works of art but also admirable leaving signs such as Villa del Casale, exceptional for the mosaics It situated near Piazza Armerina. In the ninth century A.D. Arabs landed at Mazara contending the region to the Byzantines and giving way to an extraordinary period of prosperity both in the economic, artistic and literal. Most notable in this period the channeling of water which gave way to the cultivation of citrus, mulberry, cotton and prickly pear.

In the eleventh centuryo A.D. the Arabs were defeated by the Normans, who were famous for their culture, largely assimilated by the previous rulers. The Kingdom of Sicily established the first Parliament in the world and was enriched with remarkable monuments: only in Palermo Cathedral, the Church of Martorana, St. John of the Hermits, Cuba, the Zisa, the Royal Palace with that jewel that is the Chapel Palatine and then the one in Monreale and Cefalu Cathedral. With successive rulers, Angevin, Aragonese and then Spanish, Sicily alternated with long periods of decadence of authentic splendor moments. Since the middle of 1700 becomes a possession Bourbon and this remains until the expedition of the Thousand in 1860 and the subsequent annexation to the Kingdom of Italy who then mark the history until being turned into Republic. Since 1946, Sicily is one of the five Italian regions with special status, with administrative autonomy and is divided into nine provinces of Agrigento, Caltanissetta, Catania, Enna, Messina, Palermo, Ragusa, Siracusa and Trapani. Layer upon layer each domination left on this earth precious traces of its passage. Traces that today make Sicily a lot more of an island: a continent. Or more than one, it is true that everyone was Sicilian, and Sicily has preserved a bit ‘of each, remaining for this one. Its economy, once predominantly agricultural, is increasingly turning to the industry, the service sector and especially tourism, real vocation of this magical land.

The Valley of the Temples  In Akragas origin, Roman Agrigentum, the work of Rhodian and Gela settlers dates back to around 580 BC and it places the city among the last settlements built by the Greeks in Sicily. You can admire the superb ruins of the Temple of Olympian Zeus, one of the greatest of Greek antiquity, and the Temple of Castor and Pollux, became the emblem of Agrigento. Going forward we find the Temple of Hercules, the oldest of the Akragas temples and then the Temple of Concordia, the best preserved of all Greek temples and one of the most perfect creations Doric architecture, built in the fifth century BC later converted into a Catholic church dedicated to St. George in the sixth century A.D., and finally the Temple of Juno on the top of a hill, majestic and solitary, the most fascinating and mysterious.

Segesta  It was the most important city of the Elimi, a mixed population of Sicani and Anatolyan to which were added later ionici.Ci of Greeks immigrants remains, as vestiges of its past splendor, the magnificent and lonely temple built outside the city walls, as admirable Doric, where is completely lacking any trace of the cell, that is, the innermost part of a temple, which he did to scholars believe that it is a pseudo-peristyle temple in the shape of greek temple, which served to give nobility to a place of worship open and provisional. It was the eternal enemy of Selinunte and this led, after many twists and turns to the two cities, the destruction of entrambe.Procedendo for ancient route will take you to the theater, large semi-circle carved into the bare rock with a diameter of 63 meters.

Selinunte  It founded by the inhabitants of Megara Hyblea in 628 BC and it was one of the Greek colonies the westernmost. Its name apparently derives the wild parsley that the Greeks showed how selinon, which amply covers this area of Sicily. The Eastern Temples are three and are referred to as the temple G, F, E: G temple dedicated to Juno, is the largest of Selinunte and the fourth for amplitude among all Greek architecture; Temple F is the one that has undergone major divestitures. Continuing along a small road climb to the Acropolis, a gentle hill to the south overlooking the sea, enclosed by imposing fortifications that defended the main gateway to the city. Here you can see, among others, the temples O and A that are the most recent of the Acropolis, and the C temple which instead is the oldest.

Le Cave di Cusa  Although not part of the archaeological area proper, the Cave from which Selinunte got their building materials are very interesting to visit, if only for the striking beauty of the archaeological park encompassing. Silvery olive trees as the eye surrounding the large column drums abandoned here for over two thousand years. Some still attached to the rock, others already ready to be transported to Selinunte, the imposing drums emanated something mysterious, linked to the secret of the temple construction.