Comprehensive Look at Sicily

Song: Mazurka variata (A varied mazurka) 

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   Sicily is one of nineteen regions of Italy, with a semiautonomous government. Sicily is divided into nine provinces: Agrigento,Caltsanissetta, Catania, Enna, Messina, Ragusa, Siracusa, Trapani and Palermo which is the capital. Sicily has many ports, but only three are the main ones: Palermo, Messina and Catania. The mountainous chains of Sicily (the Peloritani and the Madonie) are a continuation of the Appennini chain of Italy. This makes one think that at one time Sicily and Italy were physically united.


Sicilian Cart

The Sicilian horse drawn cart


   Sicily is bathed by the Ionian sea to the East, the Tirrenian sea to the North and the Mare di Sicilia to the South. These three seas are one in what is called Mediterrenean Sea, which means "Sea between lands". Sicily has an area of about 10,000.00 sq. Miles and a population of about 5,000,000.00 people. A quarter of the population works in agriculture, while the rest of it is in retail, civil service and service occupations. Sicily produces citrus, wheat, vegetables, olives and grapes for table and wine. The Sicilian industries produce fertilizers, sulfur, chemicals, ships, pharmaceuticals, crude and refined petroleum and processed foods. The economy of the coastal cities is regulated more by the fishing industry.

   Sicily has an ancient history of which we start distinguishing the first sparks at about 3,000.00 years ago. Of the first people of Sicily we see first the Elymi (ancestors of the Etruski of Tuscany), the Sicany (from the Ligury region) and the Siculi (from the Lazio region). From very early on, Sicily was visited by many people, who made many settlement in the island. The Phoenician first who founded Panormus, then the Greeks who called Sicily Trinacria and established many settlements, and later the Carthagenians. 

   In time the city of Syracuse became a great power and the tyrant Hiero II occupied most of Sicily, including the powers of Agrigento, Gela, Himera, Catania and Messina. Around 350 BC the Romans, called by the Mamertines of Messina, intervened in Sicily against Syracuse and Carthage, precipitating the first Punic war that lasted 23 years. With the Romans winning over the Carthaginians, Rome occupied all of Sicily, and while Rome apparently left the Sicilians free to govern themselves, at the same time they levied such enormous taxes on all of the island, so much so, that it was said that Sicily was the bread basket of Rome.

   The Roman occupation lasted a long time and made Sicily the stage of the next two Punic wars. In the 5th century A.D. Sicily was occupied by the Vandals and later by the Goths (all people from the North), until it fell under the rule of the Byzantine Empire. In the ninth century the Muslim Arabs, which had been enlarging their empire on all the Mediterranean coastal countries, occupied Sicily and ruled the Island for about 250 years. The Moors, as later were called the Muslim Arabs, along with their ferocity, brought a great enrichment of literature, art, philosophy, etc., of which they left indelible marks in the great Island.

   In the eleventh century the Normans, in particular Roger II, drove out of Sicily first the Greeks and then the Arabs establishing the reign of Sicily and lower Italy. While Sicily was being economically exhausted by each occupation, under the Normans the Island flourished with the arts and commerce and it became the envy of all Europe, because the standard of living of the Sicilians surpassed by far that of the richest kingdom of the known world. From the Normans, at the end of their dynasty, with the marriage of Constance (Last heiress of the Normans) to the Holy Roman Emperor Henry VI, the power shifted to the Austrian dynasty of the Hohenstaufen. Fredrick II, son of Constance, a Holy Roman Emperor, like his grandfather Roger II, worked for the betterment of Sicily, making many administrative reforms. Under him Sicily reached the apogee of confort and prosperity, giving to sicily the name of Eden of Europe.

   After him the papacy put on that throne the Angevine Charls I Charls was so oppressive to cause the revolt that got to be known as The Sicilian Vespers (1282), after which the Sicilians chose as their ruler Peter III of Aragon,king o Spain. This divided the kingdom of the two Sicily, leaving the Angevin on the throne of Naples. Peter of Aragon gave Sicily almost total freedom. After him, with the unification of Spain and the advent of the Asburg Dynasty, Sicily went back to tyranny.

   In 1713 Sicily went to the house of Savoy for a few years and then back to the Hasburg dynasty. In 1734 Sicily and Naples were taken by the Spanish-Bourbon dynasty and with the advent to that throne of prince Charles, his son, Ferdinand I, became king of the two Sicily. In 1806 the French chased Ferdinand, who was ruling from Naples, to Sicily and after the Napoleonic wars, Ferdinand was able, once again, to be the ruler of the two Sicily. In 1860 Giuseppe Garibaldi with his legendary 1000 Red Shirts landed at Marsala, captured Sicily , which later became part of a united Italy. During World War II Sicily suffered the Nazi occupation. In 1943 with the landing of the allies at Syracuse, Sicily, precisely in the Catania country side, was again the theater of ferocious fighting, where more than 10,000 men, between Germans, Italians and allies troops lost their lives. So it was on July 10, 1943.

Informations and Photos about the City of Catania and all other Provinces on the sicilian Island in german language. CATANIA