Fiumefreddo di Sicilia
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||This article is written like a personal reflection or opinion essay that states the Wikipedia editor's particular feelings about a topic, rather than the opinions of experts. (December 2007)|
|Fiumefreddo di Sicilia|
|Comune di Fiumefreddo di Sicilia|
|Frazioni||Botteghelle, Castello, Diana, Torrerossa, Feudogrande, Civì, Vignagrande, Gona, Ponte Borea, Liberto|
|• Mayor||Marco Alosi from May 7, 2012|
|• Total||12 km2 (5 sq mi)|
|Elevation||62 m (203 ft)|
|• Density||800/km2 (2,100/sq mi)|
|Time zone||CET (UTC+1)|
|• Summer (DST)||CEST (UTC+2)|
|Patron saint||St. Joseph: May, 19th, Immaculate Conception of Mary: last Sunday of July|
Fiumefreddo di Sicilia (Sicilian: Ciumifriddu) is a comune on the coast of the Ionian Sea on the island of Sicily. It shares its borders with the municipalities of Calatabiano to the north, Mascali to the south and Piedimonte Etneo to the west.
The commune gets its name from the Fiumefreddo River which runs alongside the territory of the comune. The word "fiumefreddo" means literally "cold river", a reference to the fact that the river is fed by snow melts from Mount Etna. Fiumefreddo di Sicilia is near the major Etna tourist centres. The SS120 to Mt Etna and Randazzo start from there.
Il Castello degli Schiavi in Fiumefreddo di Sicilia is known for being in the Godfather trilogy as the house where many scenes were shot, one of the most famous being in The Godfather Part I when Apollonia was murdered.
- 1 Comune
- 2 History
- 3 Frazioni
- 4 Arts and monuments
- 5 Nature Reserve of the River Fiumefreddo
- 6 Literary references
- 7 Fiumefreddo in the 21st century
- 8 Sports
- 9 References
Fiumefreddo di Sicilia is situated in the Province of Catania and it was so named to distinguish it from Fiumefreddo Bruzio, in the Province of Cosenza. Currently the town has almost 10,000 inhabitants.
Fiumefreddo stands along the SS 114 and A18, both roads run from Catania to Messina. Fiumefreddo di Sicilia is in the heart of an important road and railway network, near Taormina and Acireale and not far from Catania and Messina. Its strategical position, has been enhanced by the opening of the motorway junction. This has reemphasised Fiumefreddo's role in the area. The most important part of Fiumefreddo stands along the SS 114, where, in the 1700s, the old shops of the Prince of Palagonia stood. Therefore this area maintains the name of Botteghelle, while other areas, such as Castello, Diana, Liberto, Torrerossa, Ponte Borea, Feudogrande, Vignagrande, Gona and Civì, were built at different periods.
Fiumefreddo is bounded by the Ionian Sea to the East, by Calatabiano to the North, by Piedimonte Etneo to the West and by Mascali to the South. Its municipal territory is mainly flat, especially along the coast, where there is the Marina di Cottone beach, which is subject to very intense summer tourism.
Fiumefreddo is so named after the river that runs through it, whose natural habitat, with its exceptionally cold water, has allowed the development of typical river flora and fauna. In order to protect this particular natural environment, the Sicilian Region, through a law D.A. n. 205185, has instituted a protected area, The Nature Reserve of The River Fiumefreddo.
On the western coast of Sicily, on the south of the river Alcantara, where the extremities of the slopes of Mount Etna spread out in plains and small hills, a little river rises from lava rocks, it flows towards the sea and for the exceptional coldness of its water is named Fiumefreddo, ("Cold River"). This river runs across a plain. Here Cluverio said Greeks founded Nasso. Although some historians had placed Naxos on Cape Schisò, ancient writers described the new town as set up between two rivers: the Onobola on the North and the Akesine on the South.
By identifying the first river with the Alcantara, the second is most likely Fiumefreddo. This theory has been borne out by Bochard, who found an etymological correspondence of the name Akesine to that of Fiumefreddo. The name of the ancient river may have been born indeed as a corruption of the word Akesine that probably derived from a Syriac word, "hassim', which means "cold river". This theory was so repeated that someone managed to see even the ancient Nasso and to describe its ruins next to the Torre Rossa (Red Tower).
Holm succeeded in discrediting this theory. He proved that Onobola is the torrent Sìrina; it flows down to the sea near Giardini railway station. He also established that the Akesine is Alcantara. Therefore the ancient Nasso was set again on Cape Schisò. But some historians did not give up on the idea of describing an old town next to the mouth of Fiumefreddo, so Carrera placed Callipoli, Nasso's colony. More accurate studies have placed this colony near Mascali, on the left side of the torrent Macchia.
It is likely that in 135 BCE, slaves led by Euno passed through this territory when, having revolting against the Romans, they were besieged by Rupilio consul at Taormina's Acropolis, and when, in 63 BCE, stirred up by Atenione, they were surrounded at Macella.
Later Sicily was conquered by the Normans who instituted a feudal system of government. Count Roger gave the enfeoffment of Fiumefireddo territory (with San Giovanni Church) to the Greek bishop Mannuges, who, after his death, gave it to Angeria, Bishop of Catania. This donation was confirmed by the bishop of Messina in 1106 and it is supported by documentary evidence in the Greek Diplomas contained in the Table that is kept in the Capitural Archives, in Catania’s main church.
During the twelfth century Catania's bishops succeeded Augerio in the Fiumefreddo Feud. After the Norman Kingdom of Sicily passed to the Swabians (the House of Hohenstaufen) and following a long struggle between Church and Empire during the reign of Frederick II (Fidiricu), the Bishop of Catania lost this territory. Immediately after the Sicilian Vespers of 1282, the Feud belonged to the Admiral Ruggero di Lauria. When Count Ruggero was charged with treason, Symon Fimmetta received this Feud, as in the census of Frederick III in 1296. It wasn't until the next century before Fiumefreddo Feud is mentioned again in Official Acts. In the census of Martin the younger (1408) the Feud appears as a Property of Zaccaria de Parisio: maybe the feud previously belonged to his brother Adario, whose inheritance was also desired by the Balsamo Family from Messina. This caused a quarrel between Balsamo and Zaccaria families. Eventually Zaccaria gave them two thirds of the property sought. After Parisio had taken control of the estate, his son Nicolò, also known as Vayro, succeeded in obtaining the Investiture by the Archbishop of Palermo in 1493. He was obliged to respect the Curia Rights and the Military Service. At that time there were still no residences but only a small castle built to signal dangers from the sea and from the neighbouring areas. Parisios maintained the Feud until the first half of the seventeenth century, but in 1666, they lost it and Francesco Maria Arezzo became the Lord of Fiumefreddo. At that time a little village was built around the castle.
In 1674, during the Revolution in Messina, the Arezzos supported the Lighthouse Town, and after the rebels were defeated, they lost the seigniory over Fiumefreddo. Felice Mancuso was then enfeoffed and he also obtained the election of Fiumefreddo in Barony. In 1726 Francesco Ferdinando Gravina, Prince of Palagonia and Baron of Calatabiano received the Investiture of the Barony of Fiumefreddo. During the time of Gravina the Church of San Giuseppe was built, which became the centre of the new built up area and some shops that were run in the Prince's interest were opened along the road. A little village was built on the southern area of the Barony and another one on the north, in the Diana area, where also was built the Church of San Vincenzo.
In 1801, Fiumefreddo had a population of 500 inhabitants, and the territory was therefore elevated to a commune. In 1813, after the abolition of vassalage, Fiumefreddo did not depend anymore on the Baron, apart from census to be paid, so the village began to prosper reaching 700 inhabitants in 1831. In 1848 a revolution against Spain arose in Palermo and it echoed even in Fiumefreddo where a certain Carrobello, backed up by other comrades blocked the coach of an Intendant who was passing through the village. He was threatening with the cry “Palermo and Santa Rosolia!". The unlucky person managed to run away only after he had denounced his rank and position.
In 1849, after the fall of Messina, Fiumefreddo was invaded by the King's troops. The chaplain Domenico Biondo told the Bourbon soldiers that he was going to Catania but he was threatened with death by a soldier because a priest had killed his brother. During the night of the 24 October 1852, King Ferdinando II passed through Fiumefreddo and stopped for few minutes at a fountain with a trough and near Morabito Palace. Here he received the delegation of the commune led by don Leonardo Puccio, who was the mayor at that time.
Along the confluence of two main roads that linked up Catania to Messina and the Etnean villages to the sea, first rose a tavern, then an inn and eventually some shops and "fondachi", places where it was possible to change horses: useful services for travellers facing a journey that in the eighteenth century seemed gruelling.
Shop workers found it convenient to build their houses near the places where they worked. Therefore Botteghelle originated from a group of stores but quickly the village expanded finding itself in the confluence of the two roads, fertile ground to establish trade and so attracting some immigration from the neighbouring villages. An immigration that in the following century noticeably increased when, as a result of thriving citrus plantations, the village offered jobs in the commercial work of lemons and in the manufacturing of citrus byproducts. Besides, many of these workers chose to move to the new centre so the village grew quite quickly. Botteghelle thus became the most important settlement in Fiumefreddo territory and the centre of the economic and cultural life. Putieddi (in Sicilian) became the name of the entire commune.
Situated 400 metres east of Botteghelle, Castello represents the oldest built up area of Fiumefreddo. Before the development of trade along the road from Catania to Messina, this area was the Centre of the new commune. In its church (nowadays lost but a new one was built in the same Piazza in the 1960s) was a pew that the Jury, the town councillors of the period had built to hear Mass. The name of this quarter comes from the tower or little castle built in 1500 to control the coast, The Gravinas made it a civil house but nowadays it is in ruins. Not very far from the old tower, on the east side, rises a baronial palace which dates back to 1700, a country residence for the Lords. The statues of two Moors appear at the windows of the loggia; a legend tells that the castle is named “The Castle of the Slaves" after these two Moors.
Situated to the north about 300 metres from Botteghelle. Diana rises around a small square, that is the entire built up area. The quarter is so named after the Diana Family, who received the income of the lands of San Vincenzo Hill. Here they built the Family Palace whose evident signs are the square and the family coat of arms (unfortunately stolen by unknown people) on the Portal of the little Church. The inhabitants of Diana are mainly employed in agriculture, while the inhabitants of Botteghelle are devoted to trade.
Almost a kilometre west of Botteghelle, before the crossroads to Piedimonte Etneo and Calatabiano, is the quarter of Torrerossa ("The red tower"). It consists of few groups of houses, hidden among the citrus plantations, but it is now nearly entirely uninhabited. The quarter is named after the ruin of an old red brick tower, dating back to Roman Times. It was a sepulchral monument that now stands among lemon trees and it is the symbol of the comune of Fiumefreddo. This symbol stands out on the green drape of the gonfalon.
Feudogrande is situated at about a kilometre west of Botteghelle, on the border with Piedimonte Etneo, where the terraced hills of the slopes of Mount Etna start, and which are rich in vineyards. The old quarter sits around a square and the recent Church of the Holy Child from Prague, is renowned for its wells of "Bufardo Torrerossa" water, whose springs were discovered by Francesco De Maria in 1875, as it is remembered in a memorial tablet. A rustic building was the place where the Town Hall was.
Civì & Borgo Valerio
More than two kilometres from Botteghelle, after Feudogrande, the small urban conglomeration of Civì has many citrus plantations. It was probably named after an ancient family who used to live here. In the neighbourhood, there is the small country village of Borgo Valerio, a nobiliary residence of the eighteenth century that now is a farm holiday centre.
Vignagrande is an industrial and commercial area, recently there has been an expansion in the construction of housing in the frazione.
On the border with the territory of Mascali, along the provincial road, to the east of Botteghelle is Gona. The name is a corruption of the Greek “Icona” which probably referring to a small chapel that was nearby.
One of the shops that the Prince of Palagonia had built was in Gona and the village grew from it. It was also named "Porta Sicura” (safety door) because people who were persecuted by the Justice could not be bothered there.
At the crossroad of the provincial road to Calatabiano, near the Bridge of Minissale there is Ponte Borea. The name comes from the closeness of the bridge and from the freshness of the air, that, because of the height (130 m.) and the not very dense population, is always purer and fresher than in other areas. The word Borea comes from the dialect "voria" that recalls the chilliness of the air just stirred by the wind.
The quarter is expanding close to the small square next to the Church of “Our Lady of the Grace", (where there is a valuable painting Our Lady of the Grace of Maratta) and until the motorway junction, on the bounder line to the comune of Piedimonte Etneo and Calatabiano. In Ponte Borea there are some typical Etnean country buildings.
Towards Giardini Naxos, after Diana, there is the residential zone of Liberto.
Arts and monuments
Filippo Torrisi Statue, S. Vincenzo Ferreri Church & the Corvaja Palace
Coming from Giardini-Naxos and Calatabiano along the provincial road that leads from Messina to Catania, there is the quarter of Diana. In the square, recently restored by the Town Authority, there is the statue of Filippo Torrisi, a philanthropic doctor who lived between the seventeenth and the eighteenth century.
A small church dedicated to St. Vincenzo Ferreri and, on the west side, the Corvaja Palace, open on the square: they are significant samples of the rural island architecture, built at the end of the eighteenth century over previous buildings. It consists of the lord's residence, the chapel, the stores, a large yard and the servants' area, over which stands an old battlement tower. It probably dates back to Federick II, who gave it a farm fortress aspect. The church of St. Vincenzo was built to do the Family Diana's wishes at the end of the seventeenth century and it has over the gate the Family's emblem. Inside the church there is the tomb of a boy belonging to the same family.
Castle of the Slaves
From the small Diana's square, after Via Badalà, there is a road that leads to the sea, Via Marina. Until a century ago it had the name of “Via Mulinelli” because there were many water mills along the road. On its route, after about a kilometre, there is one of the jewels of rural Sicilian baroque in the seventeenth century: Il Castello degli Schiavi (the Castle of the Slaves).
The entrance to the castle is an iron gate, mounted in an arch of lava stone closed by a mascaron that is surmounted by a shell, a common element in the best Catanese Baroque of that period. The arch rests on two false brackets that seem to support two lavic sides of the portal which alternates plain rectangles to others having an atypical pyramid on the vertex. The side walls rest on false bases. The large open space has a well in the centre and citruses, bougainvilleas and palm trees by the sides. By the side of this court there are storehouses and old stables. On the west side, after the entrance gate, there is the guardian's house.
On the top of the building there is a large arcade. It is possible to see it from the countryside, placed on point of junction of the facets of the sloping roof. On the opening of the arcade there are two Moors. The façade of the parade is slight oblique in comparison to the road. The castle has two floors: the ground floor is a store while the first floor is the owner's residence. The ground floor has a large central door, bordered with lava stone and with an oil lamp. By the sides of the entrance there are two dark windows also edged with lava stone.
The first floor has a central balcony with a half bulging rail and three lamps Four double brackets prop up the balcony whose door is surmounted by a lava stone frame with mascarones. By the sides, symmetrically to the small windows of the ground floor there are two large windows. Above the openings of the first floor the white of a theory of the raised pinnacles which reproduce hangings of noble tapestries. From every corner of the ground floor some small towers come out; every tower is faced in four parts and closed, from top to bottom, in volumes with gracious lines. Over every facing there is a slit and on every slit eyes and ears are carved in order to remind to the farmers that the master controls them even when they believe not to be controlled.
The southern façade of the palace has got three windows as the eastern façade. It also has an external stair that goes to the rooms of the upper floor. At the beginning it goes dressed to the façade and after it turns in the direction of the door, where it extends in a harmonious small terrace. The narrow stairs, with a lava stone handrail has got a small arch at the beginning. It goes before of a flower bed with green climbing plants adjoining to the castle. The interior of the ground floor, with barrel vaults, it is the basement. It is a cold store room to save food and wine. The upper floor has got eight rooms with an ancient furniture and object such as pictures, Gravina' s court of arms in golden "teson" of Spain; the flag with Savoia's court of arms, valuable books, ancient furniture and a piano.
At the bottom in the large courtyard, in the south east side of the palace, there is a small church dedicated to St. John cult, whose first construction dates back to 1544. It is presently consecrated to Our Lady of the Letter. In the interior there are two small lateral altars and the bigger central one, where, upon it there is the icon of the Our Lady of the Letter. The small church, which is totally in the noble area of the castle, must be excluded by the cult of people different from the owners.
There is a legend about the name of the palace. It tells about a doctor from Palermo, called Palmieri, who saved the Prince of Palagonia's young son affected by a very dangerous illness. The Prince gave him a part of his feud next to the fresh spring of the river because he was very grateful to him. Palmieri built a beautiful palace, he wanted to spend a long resting period with his young and charming lady. But the quiet family life was disturbed by the arrival of “Moreschi" pirates who arrived at the castle from the near beach. They stole everything and imprisoned the owners in order to sell them as slaves. When they came back to the ship riding and anchor in the river, the Moors were attacked by a group of young people from Taormina. They were led by Nello Corvaja who was in the lady's good graces. From the heights of Taormina he noticed the Moor's vessel; he hastened to reach the river, being afraid of the sort of the lady.
The Castle of the Slaves has been the setting for many cinematography works. It was discovered by Pier Paolo Pasolini in 1968. He filmed some scenes of "Orgia" but the castle became famous with Il Padrino (The Godfather). Francis Ford Coppola filmed some immortal scenes both from the first part (1971) and the second part (1974).
Church of Saint Joseph/Our Lady of the Rosary
Going up towards Castello and after Via Della Chiesa and a square dedicated to Mother Teresa of Calcutta, until fifty years ago it was possible to see the ruins of the small Church of Saint Joseph, built by the Prince of Palagonia in 1612, and the ruins of the tribune put up by the first town councillors.
During World War II bombardments the church was completely destroyed, miraculously the statues that were in the church were not destroyed. During the period that there was no church the statues were kept in several parishioners houses:
- Our Lady of the Chain in Salvatore Pafumi's house
- Our Lady of the Rosary in Salvatore Caminiti's house
- Saint Joseph in Alfio Vecchio's house
- Our Lady of the Sorrows & Dead Jesus in Mr. Cristina's house.
During the 1960s the church was rebuilt and finished. It was consecrated the 6 September 1969 but it hasn't yet been dedicated to Our Lady of the Rosary for several difficulties.
Gravina family castle
In some ruins near the church, entirely restored, some experts have seen the rests of the castle of Gravina Family built in 1500 and after which the quarter is named.
Next to the church there is a large building, a citrus byproducts firm, built in the second half of the last century and named Casale Papandrea. Placed by the side of the court is a lava stone gate entrance. The complex consists of three buildings around a square space. The factory consists of a large rectangular room, mainly developed in length and it has two levels. Next to the firm there are two lower bodies of the building: a store and a small building once used as an office. This is leant against a big arch which is a communication link between the court and outside the building. It continues the rhythmic scansion of the openings that are walled up and so it close the third façade of the court. The rear walls of the houses that looks out on Via Della Chiesa, close the court. The factory seems to be a compact structure whose front is measured by depressed curved windows with two shutters and with a brick frame. There is just and projecting element that is a square little tower over which leant a brick stair, a room which was used to check all people did inside the building. On the ground floor there are still some cast iron screw presses which were used to abstract the sourness. The upper floor was used as a citrus fruits store that the conveyor belt led to the ground floor where the fruits were manufactured. The tile covering of the roof is supported by wooden trusses. Leaning against the blind wall there are some vats for fermentation.
Beyond Diana, on the west, between Feudogrande and Ponteborea, among the green citrus plantations, there is another tower which is named Torrerossa (the red tower) because it was built with red bricks. Originally it was a Roman sepulchral monument; it has been restored several times and now it is the symbol of the Commune.
Church of Holy Immaculate Mary
Along the road S.S. 114 towards Catania is Botteginelle, which is the most important built up and commercial area. In the main square there is the Holy Immaculate Mary Church that was built thanks to the contribution of the comune and the parishioners in 1866-1877 and it was open in July 1877. It has a nave with a bell tower in front of it.
The right aisle -on the southern side- was built in 1910-1920 together with the chapel dedicated to the Immaculate and it was distempered by the painter Primo Panciroli(1944) from Rome. The statue of the Immaculate Conception, which is very worshipped by the inhabitants of the town, is a valuable sculpture made of Sicilian poplar wood by a sculptor from Messina and donated to the church by Francesco De Maria(1888) for favours received. The left aisle -on the northern side- together with the tower bell and the northern façade in white stone of Syracuse have been completed in the 1950s and 1960s thanks to the Archpriest Antonino Catalano (priest 1937-1990). The glass resin statue of the Immaculate was placed on the tower bell in July 1977 on the occasion of the centenary of the church.
Marina di Cottone
From the motorway junction, along via Ponte Minissale, after the road S.S. 114, on the East, the visitor can admire the splendid view of Marina di Cottone, with its open and unpolluted sea and its beach with big grey, white and black shingles; it is the destination of thousands of tourists during the summer time.
Nature Reserve of the River Fiumefreddo
Together with the sea, with its pure, deep and cold water, the element that is the main attraction in the territory is the river. In order to protect this peculiar ecosystem the river Fiumefreddo has been included among the first 19 Sicilian natural reserves. Through the law, D.A. n. 205 of the 29 06 84, the Sicilian Regional Administration has instituted the Nature Reserve of the River Fiumefreddo.
The main entrance of the Reserve is situated in Cottone, far about 200 m. from the sea and 1,500 m. from Diana, after the Castle of the Slaves that is in the territory around the Reserve. Members of this association act as guides during visits and provide information and leaflets. After an agreement with the Provincial Authority, a local preservation group is entrusted with management of the reserve. Visits are recommended during the winter, when the water flow is substantial. Spring and autumn are fit for viewing of the migratory bird life. The summer season is ideal to go to the sea, especially next to the mouth, and is pleasant resting in the surrounding woods.
It is possible to go along "sentiero natura”, which is aboutthree kilometres long. The path is paved in concrete and on a level, with grassy stretches. The excursion takes about 90 minutes including a rest and observation time. During the winter it is advised to dress properly with trekking suit and shoes. It is also good to take binoculars to see things from a distance.
The Reserve is of interest because it is a remnant of a large marshy area that used to spread out along the coast from Riposto to Fiumefreddo.
The great importance of this protected area is due to the particular ecological conditions created by the cold water and by the flowing of Fiumefreddo river. They provide a perfect habitat for watery vegetation such as "Brasche" and Buttercups. These types of plants are more typical of Central and Atlantic Europe. They represent a unique survey station for all of southern Italy.
In the shallow zones of the river, interspersed with smaller streams, it is possible to find water celery, cress, water speedwell and bergamot mint. Near the mouth there are some examples of "sparganio", a rare species which is in Sicily only on the Nebrodi at a height of one thousand meters. The riversides are full of marsh thin reeds and some serrate leaf polygon.
In the mouth of the river there are plants of papyrus whose quality is superior to that of the Ciane river in Syracuse and to the Egyptian papyrus. The vegetation upon the cane brake with sedges bank sedge and foxy sedge has an excellent marshy flora built from water iris, dichotomous zygome and other species.
Along the riversides there are nettle, angelica, white bearbind, water hemp, equisetum, brambles and reeds. This kind of nitrophilous vegetation (it grows in an environment full of nitrogen) is favoured by surrounding farming. Near the springs called “quadare” it is possible to observe fragments of an old wood of white willow.
The river ecosystem is important for many species of animals. This habitat is a staging place even for animals whose life is not deeply linked to the water. During excursions it is possible to observe many birds: sedentary species such as water hen, greenfinch; titmouse, kestrel, barn owl, kingfisher. Among migratory species: wild duck, hoopoe, red heron, egret, ash coloured heron, crane, stork, kite and tit.
Mammalian species, that live inside the reserve, are less numerous but not less interesting: wild rabbit, fox, weasel, hedgehog and little rodents such as the field mouse. In this habitat reptiles find an ideal environment: the coluber, the ring snake and the gecko. Fish species are the heel[clarification needed] and, more rarely, the trout.
Although there is no detailed information about invertebrates living in the reserve, it is possible to observe many insects that are the food sources for the larger fauna; there are many species of dragonfly, chafer, cricket, balm cricket, water flea, bumble bee, swallow tail, cabbage butterfly, vanessa, earthworm and river crab.
Fiumefreddo in the 21st century
The vineyards which were the main sources of industry were uprooted during the eighteenth century. Since the beginning of the twentieth century Fiumefreddo has based its economy on citrus plantations (verdello lemons, oranges and tangerines) and on the manufacturing of citrus by-products. The first firms were built at the end of the nineteenth century and at the beginning of the last. This caused an increased demand for labour; so many workers moved to Fiumefreddo especially from the Province of Messina. The lemon juice was processed, bottled up and exported to make several types of drinks. At the beginning of the 20th century the London market required almost the entire production. But from the 1950s the export trade began to meet difficulties because of the competition with America and Mediterranean countries, such as Spain and Israel.
The crisis of the citrus plantations caused a difficult time which was overcome when, in the 1960s, two factories were opened: the Siace and the Keyes, to manufacture the paper. This signalled an important economic change as agricultural workers became employed in manufacturing.
The opening of the Siace caused a widening of the tertiary sector and increased the quality of the local life, deeply linking the life in the town to the financial success of the factory. After a few years the first factory started its decline which ended with the closing of Siace. The critical time was the summer of 1969, when the factory was occupied by the workers. Later it passed to the Sicilian Region but this didn't save the factory, while Keyes, a Dutch multinational company, continued the production of trays and containers made of biological paper until 2005 when it was closed.
Lately there has been a return to the country; a renewed agriculture that makes optimum use of the land through farmers' co-operatives and innovation, such as the floriculture and the production of vegetables grown in greenhouses. It is important to underline the export of daisies, bouganvilleas (Fiumefreddo is in competition with Florida), hibiscus, ornamental palms and citrus trees. Recently the cherry tomato (called "di Pachino”) industry is expanding; about 80 people work in one farm. The growing and manufacturing of papyrus, out of which a valuable paper is made (the Pharaoh's paper), is also increasing. There is also a production of exotic fruit, especially mango, that finds ideal weather conditions here.
Handicraft is also developed, especially the manufacturing of building products and marbles, machine shops, the handwork of artistic handicrafts made of wrought iron, lamps, wooden and aluminium frames, joiner's shops and studios specialised in restoration works of old furniture. A big pasta factory specialising in organic pasta exports its products all over the world. It is very interesting visiting some craftsman's shops, especially those showing furniture of the Sicilian eighteenth century and old tools. In Via Umberto there is the studio of a very esteemed naive painter, Professor Marcello La Spina. Some private shops make gold and silk embroidery, following ancient techniques.
Another source of wealth for the town is the sea, more so from tourism than fishing. Fiumefreddo's beach seems to be the only bathing area from Catania to Messina, in fact it gained the Blue Flag of the European Community. Carlo Lizzani filmed some scenes of his documentary “A travel around Frederick the Second". In restaurants along Marina di Cottone beach there is fresh fish and other specialities of Sicilian cuisine, accompanied by Etnean wines.
Fiumefreddo di Sicilia has several sports clubs:
- Unione Fiumefreddo Calcio (1970-2007)
- Fiumefreddese Football Club (from 2005)
- Papiro Fiumefreddo
- Veritas Fiumefreddo
- Tennis Club Fiumefreddo
- Libertas Fiumefreddo
- Bonanno, Giuseppe (2000). Guida di Fiumefreddo di Sicilia, Acireale: Bonanno Editore. ISBN 88-7796-102-3