Alcamo

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Alcamo
Comune
Comune di Alcamo
PanAlcamo1.jpg
Coat of arms of Alcamo
Coat of arms
Alcamo is located in Italy
Alcamo
Alcamo
Location of Alcamo in Italy
Coordinates: 37°58′40″N 12°57′50″E / 37.97778°N 12.96389°E / 37.97778; 12.96389Coordinates: 37°58′40″N 12°57′50″E / 37.97778°N 12.96389°E / 37.97778; 12.96389
Country Italy
Region Sicily
Province / Metropolitan city Trapani (TP)
Government
 • Mayor Domenico Surdi
Area
 • Total 130.79 km2 (50.50 sq mi)
Elevation 256 m (840 ft)
Population (31 December 2015)
 • Total 45,307
 • Density 350/km2 (900/sq mi)
Demonym(s) Alcamesi
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 • Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Postal code 91011
Dialing code 0924
Patron saint Madonna of the Miracles
Saint day 21 June
Website Official website

Alcamo (Sicilian: Àrcamu) is the fourth-largest town in the province of Trapani in Sicily, with a population of 45,307 inhabitants. It is situated on the borderline with the Metropolitan City of Palermo at a distance of about 50 kilometres both from Palermo and Trapani.

Nowadays the town territory includes an area of 130.79 square kilometres and is the second municipality as for population density in the province of Trapani, after Erice.[1]

Alcamo is bounded by the Tyrrhenian Sea on the north, Balestrate and Partinico on the east, Camporeale on the south and Calatafimi-Segesta and Castellammare del Golfo on the west. Its most important hamlet is Alcamo Marina which is about 6 kilometres from the town centre. Together with other municipalities it takes part with the Associazione Città del Vino, the movement Patto dei Sindaci, Progetto Città dei Bambini, Rete dei Comuni Solidali[2] and Patto Territoriale Golfo di Castellammare.[1]

Geography[edit]

Territory[edit]

Alcamo is situated in the middle of the Gulf of Castellammare, at 258 metres above the sea level and at the foot of Mount Bonifato, a calcareous complex 825 metres high. At the altitude of 500 metres (near the "Funtanazza") there is the Nature Reserve of Monte Bonifato.

The territory of Alcamo includes also Alcamo Marina, used mainly as a summer resort.

Climate[edit]

The climate is mild, with higher rainfall during winter than summer.[3]

The average annual temperature is 16.9 °C,[3] with higher temperatures in August (24.8 °C)[3] and lower temperatures in February (10.3 °C).[3]

The average annual rainfall is 558 mm.[3] Rainfall is particularly scarcer in July (4 mm)[3] and more abundant in December (83 mm).[3]

Climate data for Alcamo
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 13.1
(55.6)
13.2
(55.8)
14.8
(58.6)
17.5
(63.5)
21.5
(70.7)
25.4
(77.7)
28.5
(83.3)
28.7
(83.7)
25.9
(78.6)
21.7
(71.1)
17.7
(63.9)
14.4
(57.9)
20.2
(68.37)
Daily mean °C (°F) 10.4
(50.7)
10.3
(50.5)
11.7
(53.1)
13.9
(57)
17.6
(63.7)
21.4
(70.5)
24.5
(76.1)
24.8
(76.6)
22.4
(72.3)
18.6
(65.5)
14.8
(58.6)
11.8
(53.2)
16.85
(62.32)
Average low °C (°F) 7.7
(45.9)
7.5
(45.5)
8.6
(47.5)
10.4
(50.7)
13.8
(56.8)
17.5
(63.5)
20.5
(68.9)
21.0
(69.8)
18.9
(66)
15.5
(59.9)
12.0
(53.6)
9.2
(48.6)
13.55
(56.39)
Average precipitation mm (inches) 72
(2.83)
60
(2.36)
52
(2.05)
48
(1.89)
21
(0.83)
9
(0.35)
4
(0.16)
14
(0.55)
37
(1.46)
78
(3.07)
80
(3.15)
83
(3.27)
558
(21.97)
Source: Climate-Data.org[4]
Part of the beach of Alcamo Marina in summer
The countryside around Alcamo in spring
One of the rare snowfalls in Alcamo (8 January 1981)
  • Seismic classification: zone 2 (medium-high seismicity), Ordinance PCM 3274 (20 March 2003)
  • Climatic classification: zone B, 1140 degree day[5]
  • Köppen climatic classification: CSa[3]
  • Atmospheric diffusivity: low, Ibimet CNR 2002

History[edit]

Etimology[edit]

There are discordances about the etymology of the toponym "Alcamo". One of the hypothesis connects the present name to the Arab word al-qama, which would mean "muddy earth" or "rich soil".[6] Another supposition is that it had been derived from the name of the Muslim leader who probably founded the town in 828 AD and whose name was al-Qāmūq (in Arabic: القاموق). According to some people this hypothesis was invented by Leo Africanus who had told this story without consulting any document on the subject.[7] Besides, according to some scholars, the name Alcamo would derive from caccamu, a dialectal word referring to the plant Citrullus colocynthis.[6]

Prehistory[edit]

Though there is little information about it, there are evidences that Alcamo territory was inhabited even in prehistoric times; in one of the oldest sites, near "contrada" Molinello (a country district), they discovered archaeological findings dating back to the Mesolithic, approximately to about 9,000–6,000 BC[8] and other very old ones dating back to the Neolithic during the archaeological excavations done by the archaeologist Paolo Orsi (1899) and the marquis Antonio De Gregorio (1917) near the river Fiume Freddo.[9] One of the most important finds is an axe from the Neolithic kept at the Museum Paolo Orsi of Syracuse.[8]

Longuro and Longarico[edit]

From the quotations by Lycophron we know that in old times there was an inhabited centre on Mount Bonifato called "Longuro".[10] According to an old story, this settlement was founded by a Greek colony which had escaped from the destruction of the town of Troy.[11]

During the Roman period the inhabitants of Longuro moved to the foot of the mountain so they could practice agriculture in the surrounding lands.[10] The town was called "Longaricum";[10] this name appears in the Itinerario di Antonino Pio (3rd century AD)[10] and would coincide with the Latin name of Longuro.[12]

According to a supposition the two hillocks appearing on Alcamo gonfalon would represent both the towns of Longaricum and Longuro.

Origins[edit]

Alcamo was founded in 828 by the Muslim commander al-Kamuk (after whom it is probably named), though other sources date its origin to about 972.

The first document mentioning Alcamo is dating back to 1154, in a paper written by the Berber geographer Idrisi who was given this task by Ruggero II[13] in order to get a collection of geographic maps. From a distance longer than an Arab mile, the writer describes the position of Alcamo viewed from the Castle of Calatubo (visible even today from the town territory) and defines it as a "manzil", that is a hamlet or a group of houses with rich soil and a flourishing market.[13] This hamlet was called "Alqamah" by Arabs.[14] In a diary of 1185 the Andalusian pilgrim Ibn Jubayr confirms the Arab origin of the town;[13] in fact during his travel from Palermo to Trapani he stopped at Alcamo and describes it as a beleda (town) with mosques and a market whose inhabitants were of Muslim religion.[13]

Medieval age[edit]

Arab fountain in Alcamo

In the Middle Ages Alcamo was largely inhabited by Muslim people, whose numbers declined after the Norman conquest of Sicily, begun in 1060. Alcamo was divided into four hamlets named San Vito, San Leonardo, Sant'Ippolito and San Nicolò del Vauso.[15] but a series of Arab revolts between 1221 and 1243 led King Frederick II to move most of the Arab population[16] to a colony at Lucera, while Christians from Bonifato came to inhabit the town. In this period the famous poet Ciullo or Cielo d'Alcamo was born.

In 1340 Raimondo Peralta acquired the feud and barony of Alcamo from Peter II of Aragon.[14][17] Then the barony passed to his son Guglielmo Peralta Sclafani, called "Guglielmone".[17] and afterwards to the Ventimiglia family (up to 1397), Giaimo de Prades (1407), the Cabrera family, the Speciale family, Pietro Balsamo prince of Roccafiorita (1618) and finally to Giuseppe Alvarez (1777).[14]

In the 14th century Alcamo had several thousands of inhabitants[18] and hundreds of them had immigrated from different parts of Sicily and Italy (in particular: Pisa, Amalfi, Bologna, Calabria, Liguria), and some also from Spain.[18] During this period, Antonello da Messina moved to Alcamo for three years (around 1438–1441) in order to learn the tanning techniques from the tanner master Guglielmo Adragna di Alcamo.[18] In fact the town was an important pole of development for commerce and handicraft.[19] In particular, it had a massive exchange of wheat and wine with the nearby towns[19] and there were also expert artisans such as bakers, blacksmiths, tanners and weavers.[19] During this century Alcamo was an important centre for wheat storage and sorting.[19] In the same period the writer Giacomo Adragna transcribed the Commentarii in Persium and Pietro d'Alcamo many works from the library of San Martino.[20]

Modern age[edit]

Porta Palermo in a print of 1900

About the year 1500, Alcamo was under the jurisdiction of the captain of justice Ferdinando Vega, who fought against the raiding Turkish pirates. The town was surrounded by defensive embattled walls provided with four gates:[21]

  • Porta Palermo (afterwards called Porta Saccari), at the end of the present via Rossotti;
  • Porta Corleone, at the end of the present via Commendatore Navarra;
  • Porta di Gesù, opposite the church of Saint Mary of Jesus, next to the Franciscan friary;
  • Porta Trapani (later called Porta del Collegio), at the beginning of via Commendatore Navarra.

During this period, the town was divided into four-quarters, each one associated with the name of the main church in that area:[22][23]

  • San Giacomo de la Spada
  • San Calogero
  • San Francesco d'Assisi (or "Terra nuova"[24])
  • Maggiore Chiesa.

The division between these quarters was coincident with the main streets of the town, that are the present Corso VI Aprile and Via Rossotti and its continuation via dei Baroni Emanuele di San Giuseppe[22] (called incorrectly "Via Barone di San Giuseppe"[24]).

In 1535, in coincidence with the visit of the emperor Charles V, coming back from Tunisia, the old Porta Trapani was closed and four gates were opened:[21]

  • new Porta Trapani, near the beginning of the present Corso VI Aprile (that was called "Corso Imperiale");
  • new Porta Palermo (initially called Porta San Francesco), at the end of today's Corso VI Aprile;
  • Porta Stella, at the corner between Via Stella and Piazza Ciullo; this name derives from the name of the church Mary of the Star (in Italian "Madonna della Stella"), near there;
  • Porta Nuova, between the present Discesa al Santuario and Piazza della Libertà.
The Sanctuary dedicated to Our Lady of Miracles

During the 16th century there was a development in education in Alcamo because of the construction of new schools and the activity of expert teachers, in particular the poet and scholar Sebastiano Bagolino (1562–1604).[20][23] In 1547 the Madonna appeared to some women of the people and an image of Madonna Fons Misericordiae was discovered and worshipped as "Our Lady of Miracles".[25]

In the late 16th century, the population was decimated by a pestilence.[26] The victims were buried in the cemetery of Saint Ippolito.[26]

In 1667 Mariano Ballo ordered the construction of a theatre, called "teatro Ferrigno", later demolished and rebuilt during the 1960s. After the reconstruction it was first called "cine-teatro Euro", and later "teatro Cielo d'Alcamo".

Map of Alcamo in a painting of 1725

During the 18th century, pestilence and popular rebellions occurred in Alcamo again.[26] On the other hand, this age was important for art because of the construction of the Basilica of Our Lady of the Assumption (1699), designed by the architects Angelo Italia and Giuseppe Diamante.[14] Its interior was decorated also with 38 frescos by the Flemish painter Guglielmo Borremans between 1736 and 1737.[14] In the same period the Church of Saint Olivia was renovated, Saint Paul and Bartholomew's Church was rebuilt (1689),[26] and the church Saint Francis from Paola was completed (1699)[27] together with the monumental church of College some decades later(1767).[27]

The population of the town, gradually recovered from the pestilence and increased to 13,000 in 1798.[26]

Contemporary age[edit]

At the beginning of the 19th century Alcamo's feudal status was abolished (1812)[14] and the town became a direct royal possession.[23]

The archpriests Stefano Triolo Galifi and Giuseppe Virgilio, together with the baron Felice Pastore were members of the Sicilian Parliament as representatives of Alcamo.[27] In 1820, during a revolt, there were different murders, sacks, release of criminals from prison and a fire in the municipal archives[28] and in 1829 many people died of cholera.[28] In 1843 the construction of the present Town Hall started, on a land of the baron Felice Pastore.

On 6 April 1860, Stefano and Giuseppe Triolo let the Italian Tricolour wave on the Town Hall,[28] creating groups of volunteers in order to help Giuseppe Garibaldi in the battle of Calatafimi and from Alcamo some dictatorial edicts on Victor Emmanuel II's behalf were issued. Some time later Francesco Crispi prepared the Constitution for the lands set free. Further to this event, Corso Imperiale was named Corso 6 Aprile, in memory of 6 April, in which the volunteers started to be enlisted in Alcamo.[23]

During the Unification of Italy the brothers Triolo of Sant'Anna and Giuseppe Coppola of Monte San Giuliano enlisted many citizens from Alcamo to fight with the Garibaldians in 1860.[14]

The Great War Memorial (1915–1918), inaugurated in 1929.[29]

At the end of the 19th century, in 1897, public lighting was inaugurated in Alcamo during the traditional feast of Our Lady of Miracles. Among the most important people of this period we have to remind Don Giuseppe Rizzo, a priest who founded the bank called "Cassa Rurale e Artigiana Don Rizzo" (1902).[30]

At the beginning of the 20th century (1901–1911) the number of citizens in Alcamo diminished abruptly, partially because of the emigration of 36,718 Sicilians from Sicily abroad and in particular to the United States,[31] but it is possible that the statistics about this year and the previous years were not reliable because the census was carried out without following certain criteria.[32] In the same period the cultivations in the territory of Alcamo were affected by phylloxera and two banks ("Cooperativa" and "Segestana") went bankrupt with subsequent economic difficulties for Alcamo's citizens.[33]

There were also some events linked to mafia, such as the murder of Gaspare Cottone, a carter (1899)[30] and the death of the 19 years old Benedetto Guastella during a fire conflict with carabinieri in 1900.[30] As the mafia had taken power in the districts of Trapani and Alcamo,[30] the commissary Cesare Mori intervened with a series of arrests and charges against the material executors of the crimes occurred in the area[30] and finally with the arrest of Vincenzo and Michele Tedesco, brothers, and Baldassare Adragna, considered the heads of the gangs in Trapani's territory.[30]

Façade of the cinema-theatre Marconi; today a congress centre

During the First World War, four hundred citizens from Alcamo died[28] and the following period was characterized by poverty because of monetary inflation and banditry. In 1918 about five hundred people died because of Spanish flu[28] and in the Second World War 213 citizens from Alcamo died or were lost.[28]

The entrance to Società Generale Elettrica della Sicilia (SGES) ad Alcamo (anni '40)

The foundation of Società Elettrotecnica Palermitana,[34] whose name was changed into Società Generale Electrica della Sicilia (SGES) and which installed an important electric workroom in the district of Saint Augustine in Alcamo, dates back to the twenties.[34] The jobs inside this firm were very longed-for because it was the only firm in Trapani Province which had a Health insurance fund and granted holidays.[34] The electric workroom existed until 1963 when it was acquired by Enel and demolished.[34] During the years in which SGES operated, there was an improvement of the electric services in Alcamo's territory, owing also to the realization of several artificial lakes.[34]

During Fascism, the citizens of Alcamo asked the government to appoint Alcamo as the capital of the province (1930), but this request was not satisfied.,[28] however some important infrastructures were built in Alcamo, in particular:[35]

  • The Railway station of Alcamo Diramazione
  • The cinema-theatre Marconi
  • The aqueduct between Alcamo and Castellammare del Golfo (1922–1925)[36] and the communal water reservoir at Mount Bonifato (called "bottino")
  • The anti-tuberculosis profylaxis dispensary
  • The Carabinieri's post
  • The building of the present Classical Lyceum "Cielo d'Alcamo".
The old theatre Ferrigno in Alcamo (early 20th century)

On 19 August 1937 the fascist leader Benito Mussolini visited Alcamo crossing Corso VI Aprile by an open car and parading through the crowd of his supporters.[37] The visit was due to the inauguration of the railway line between Trapani and Alcamo, completed in the same year.[38] Some weeks later, prince Umberto visited Alcamo too.[37]

On 21 July 1943 the American troops entered Alcamo without any opposition,[28] freeing the town from Italian Fascism.

On 18 December 1944, because of the economic and social discomfort, the citizens raised up, occupied the Town Hall and put its archives on fire.[28] Since 1960 the town planning system has been greatly expanding, particularly at the foot of Mount Bonifato with the construction of Viale Europa, which is one of the most important street in Alcamo.

At about the end of the 1980s and the beginning of the 1990s there was a bloody Mafia war between the clan Greco (related to the Rimi family) and the members of the emergent Mafia of Corleone, led by the boss Vincenzo Milazzo in the territory of Alcamo. Vincenzo Milazzo received orders from Totò Riina to eliminate members of the old Mafia (in particular the member of the clan Greco) and put in command only his trusted men. Just for this reason the Greco family represented an obstacle: the cause which roused the conflict was the approaching of some members of Cosa Nostra to the rival clan of Grecos. The war bathed the town in blood for about five years and provoked tens of victims. The new Corleone's mafia prevailed, but the cost to be paid was very high, because a lot of members of this clan died. During the same period, in which there were armed clashes between the Mafia families, at contrada Virgini in Alcamo, they discovered the biggest heroin refinery in Sicily. (1985)[39] Tens of people died in five years, and at the end the Mafia of Corleone prevailed.

While the crimes of mafia went on and tens of people disappeared as victims of "lupara bianca",[40] in Alcamo there was a religious revival which led to the birth of several Catholic associations such as Rinnovamento nello Spirito Santo, Cammino neocatecumenale and the movement of Comunione e Liberazione.[41] From the last one the parish community of the Church of Gesù Cristo Redentore (Jesus Christ the Redeemer) originated in the district of Sant'Anna (2006).[41] This religious revival was followed by a new interest into the old Alcamo's traditions that are mentioned in the works of Roberto Calia and Carlo Cataldo, historians from Alcamo.[41] Carlo Cataldo has also been prized several times both for his historical works and for his dialectal poems which tell Alcamo's folkore.[41]

The Cuba delle rose after its restoration.

In the 21st century there was a renovation of Alcamo's architectural context, thanks to the restoration of some important historical buildings such as the Castle of the Counts of Modica, the Theatre Cielo d'Alcamo, the Cine-Theatre Marconi, the Ex Jesuits' College, the Cuba delle rose (in 2013), church of College (in 2014), the façade of Badia Nuova (in 2014) and the old Arab fountain (in 2016). Thanks also to the intervention of Fondo Ambiente Italiano, it is expected the restoration of the Castle of Calatubo; its chapel and the path leading to the castle have already been cleaned by the volunteers' association "Salviamo il Castello di Calatubo" (in 2015).[42]
Among the works of revalutation of the urban areas there are the restoration of Piazza Ciullo by the architect Gae Aulenti (1996)[43] and the realization of an underground car park in Piazza Bagolino, together with the creation of the near suburban park. The interest in the environment is also associated with that in the territory. In fact, after the adhesion to the initiative "Rifiuti Zero" (Zero Rubbish), the town of Alcamo has been considered an example to be followed for the results got between 2010 and 2013 in the field of waste sorting (raccolta differenziata).[44]

Coat of arms[edit]

The Coat of arms of Alcamo used since the kingdom of Frederick II of Swabiais a black flying Eagle, crowned by Gold in a Silver range, with three hills below and two Golden Oaks.[45]

A sculpture of the coat of arms is put on a side wall of the Church of Saint Francis of Assisi, near Porta Palermo.

Stucco representing the coat of arms of Alcamo near Porta Palermo (1750).[46]

Main sights[edit]

Civil buildings[edit]

The tower of palazzo De Ballis.

There are several historical civil buildings in Alcamo:

  • Casa De Ballis (in Via Mariano de Ballis): built in the 16th century, with a square tower with battlements, adorned with a round arch that contains two windows, one twin lancet and one triple lancet;[47] it was probably designed in 1490 by Tommaso and Pietro Oddo[24]
  • Palazzo della Loggia (1500): built after the design of the architect Domenico De Vitale, it has a base made with travertine and the upper part in calcarenite. It is located at the corner between Corso 6 Aprile and via Barone di San Giuseppe.
  • Palazzo Diana (or Termine): it is located at the corner between via Ignazio de Blasi and Corso 6 aprile; there are two small columns at the corner, one double lancet window in via De Blasi, with the Diana's coat of arms and a cornice similar to Gothic style above the door
  • Palazzo Pia Opera Pastore, designed by the architect Giovan Battista Palazzotto in 1872;
  • Palazzo Fraccia (in via 11 Febbraio): in Baroque style, built in 1700;[47]
  • Palazzo Rocca (in Corso 6 Aprile): built in about the year 1629;[47]
  • Palazzo Rossotti-Chiarelli (in via Rossotti): in baroque style, built in the 18th century;[47]
  • Palazzo Palmerini: at the corner of via Madonna dell'Alto and via Buonarroti
  • Palazzo Peria (in Corso 6 Aprile): built in about 1700;[47]
  • Palazzo Di Gregorio (in via Dante): built in about the 17th century;[47]
  • Palazzo Patti (in Piazza Ciullo): built in about the 18th century;[47]
  • Palazzo Guarrasi (early 18th century)
  • Palazzo Quattrocchi (built around 1700)
  • The Town Hall (in Piazza Ciullo): in Neoclassic style, built in 1843;[47]
  • Palazzo Ferrara (at the corner of via Francesco Crispi and via Ruggero Settimo): in classical style, built in 1909;[47]
  • Palazzo Pastore (in Corso 6 Aprile, near Piazza Ciullo): in neoclassic style, built at the end of the 18th century;[47]
  • Palazzo Velez (in Via Buonarroti, behind the Basilica of Our Lady's Assumption): built between 1600 and 1700, it has an internal garden.
  • Villa Luisa (between via Madonna Alto Mare, via Rossotti and via Federico II): built in 1903.[47]

Religious buildings[edit]

14th century[edit]

The portal of the Church of Our Lady of the Star.
The portal of the ex Church of Saint James of the Sword.
  • The Church of our Lady of the Star (Chiesa di Santa Maria della Stella) which is abandoned now, was the first Mother Church of Alcamo since 1313.[48] It was located in the old district of San Vito[49] and inside it there was the painting of Our Lady of Honey (Madonna del Miele) dated 1300 and later moved into the Saints Paul and Bartholomew's Church:[50] they believe this painting is the oldest one in Alcamo.[51][52]
  • Ex Church of Saint James of the Sword (Ex Chiesa di San Giacomo della Spada): built before 1529, it was enlarged between 1625–1636.[53]
  • Church of saint Vito (Chiesa di San Vito): it gave the name to the ancient district of San Vito and to the street where it is located. It was already existing in 1492 and, according to Ignazio de Blasi (a historian from Alcamo), it was founded by a member of the Confraternity of the Annunciation, together with a hospital for poor people next to it.[54] It was restored in 1922 and some decades ago; there is nothing old in it and today is used by Eastern Orthodox Church christians for their rites.

15th century[edit]

Portal of the Church of Saint Thomas.

16th century[edit]

17th century[edit]

The façade of Basilica di Santa Maria Assunta in a photo of the early years of 20th century.

18th century[edit]

20th–21st centuries[edit]

Military buildings[edit]

Military buildings in Alcamo include:

The Calatubo Castle by night.
  • The Castle of the Counts of Modica (or "Castle of Alcamo"): probably built in the 14th or 15th century by the Peralta family and then completed by the feudatories Enrico and Federico Chiaromonte. In 1535 the emperor Charles V lodged there. It was a possession of the Cabreras and then of the Counts of Modica, until 1812. Later, during the Reign of Italy and until 1960, it was used as a prison. It has a rhomboidal shape, with four towers: two quadrangular at the corners and the other two are connected by curtains and are cylindrical. In each tower there were a torture room for prisoners, rooms for sentinels and for passing guest sovereigns. One of the particular characteristics of the castle is given by the thick walls which bound it and that in old times defended it from the enemies' attacks extremely well.
  • Castle of Ventimiglia: situated on the top of Mount Bonifato. It is a medieval castle and today there are only some parts of the walls, the primary tower and the dungeons. It took the name from Enrico Ventimiglia, who declared he had built it just for defence, though according to some interpretations, it would date back to a previous period.[90]
  • The Calatubo Castle, outside the town but inside its territory and on the road leading to Palermo, is a fortress built in the early Middle Ages. The homonymous village of Calatubo stood nearby and its commerce was based on the exportation of cereals and millstones.[91] In the same place there is an old necropolis dating back to the 6th century BC.[92]
  • The watchtower located in the town centre, in Corso 6 Aprile, next to the chiesa della Madonna del Soccorso (Church of Holy Mary's Aid), opposite the Mother Church. Its construction dates back to 980 A.D. and is the oldest architectural work existing in Alcamo, in perfect preservation conditions.[93] Later the tower was bought by the diocese (1400) and used as a bell tower for the near Mother Church which, at the time, didn't have one.[93] They put then two bells on its top, the remaining one is on the west, while the smaller one on the north side was dismounted at about 1950 for safety reasons.[93] Inside the building you can see a stone winding staircase with 84 steps, 50 of them are original ones.[93]

Archaeological sites[edit]

The interior of Funtanazza, on Mount Bonifato.

In the territory of Alcamo there are several and interesting archaeological sites:

The beach of Alcamo Marina.

Natural areas[edit]

Among the areas of naturalistic interest near Alcamo there are the beaches of Alcamo Marina, the Nature Reserve Bosco di Alcamo on Mount Bonifato and the Segestan thermal waters. The hot springs are produced by the reclimbing of water of meteoric origin which meets the water of Fiume Caldo.[95] They are seven kilometres far from Alcamo and next to the boundary with the territory of Castellammare del Golfo, a small town which shares this naturalistic attraction with Alcamo. According to the narration given by Diodorus Siculus, they were created by the nymphs to favour Eracle's rest during his trip from Piloro to Erice.[47]

Hinterland[edit]

The surrounding areas include interesting touristic and historical locations like Segesta and Gibellina. The old fishing village of Scopello, 20 kilometres (12 mi) from Alcamo, has been referred to as having a remarkable seaside. Another small town considered worth visiting is Castellammare del Golfo which is between these two places.

Society[edit]

Demographical evolution[edit]

Historical population
Year Pop. ±%
1861 19,531 —    
1871 20,934 +7.2%
1881 37,497 +79.1%
1901 51,798 +38.1%
1911 32,211 −37.8%
1921 63,765 +98.0%
1931 51,687 −18.9%
1936 38,396 −25.7%
1951 41,815 +8.9%
1961 43,097 +3.1%
1971 41,596 −3.5%
1981 42,339 +1.8%
1991 42,621 +0.7%
2001 43,890 +3.0%
2011 45,314 +3.2%
Source: Statistiche I.Stat ISTAT  URL consultato in data 28 December 2012.

Ethnic groups and foreign minorities[edit]

According to the ISTAT data of 1 January 2013, the foreign people resident in Alcamo were 1,258 people corresponding to the 2.58% of the residing population.[96] The most represented nationalities, according to the percentage on the total residing population, were:[96]

Culture[edit]

Presumed house of Ciullo d'Alcamo.

The poet Cielo d'Alcamo (known also as "Ciullo d'Alcamo") was the author of the contrasto "Rosa fresca aulentissima".[23] He wrote in vernacular in the 12th century and was from Alcamo. Many important places of the town, such as the main square, the theatre and the Classical Lyceum founded in 1862, have been named after the famous poet.

Puppet theatre of Alcamo

From the cultural point of view, in the following centuries Alcamo saw the rise of activities connected with arts such as the construction of churches and buildings, first in the baroque and then Renaissance style, with the coming of several artists of international level: painters (like Guglielmo Borremans and the very talented Pietro Novelli from Monreale), sculptors (Antonello Gagini and Giacomo Serpotta) and other various artists who embellished the town's image. Inside the castle of Alcamo there is a puppet theatre and they often give performances. During the feasts in Alcamo there are often streets entertainers and pedlars selling sweets, dried fruit and different objects in their stands called "baracchelle".

Media[edit]

Radio[edit]

There is a local radio, Radio Alcamo Centrale, which operates in the territory since 1976.[97]

Press[edit]

The oldest periodical in Alcamo is "Il Bonifato".[98]

Television[edit]

The networks in Alcamo are Alpa Uno (since 1976) and Video Sicilia (since 1987).

Music[edit]

Exhibition of the Choir "Mater Dei" inside the garden of Palazzo Rocca.

In 1880 they founded the Premiato Complesso Bandistico "Città di Alcamo", which is the oldest band in the province of Trapani.[99] In the first years it was led by the baron Triolo di Sant'Anna.[99] In 1892, during a contest with the other Sicilian musical bands (and under the direction of the famous Maestro Raffaele Caravaglios), it won the honour Diploma and the golden Medal, that is why it is named premiato(=prized).[99]

Since 1986 there is in Alcamo the Associazione Amici della Musica (The Association of Music's Friends), which promotes and organizes concerts of lyrical music, international contests and prizes also in other towns in the province of Trapani and Palermo.[100]

The Associazione Jacopone da Todi, founded in 1989, has the objective of spreading the knowledge of holy art, in its different expressions; the Director is Gaetano Stellino, a school teacher.

The Coro Mater Dei is a musical association born in 1998 and made up of about 30 members; it has held various concerts (especially during the Christmas holidays) in the province of Trapani. The chorus master is Baldo Barone.

The Coro Francesca Adragna was founded in 2008 under the direction of the chorus master Maria Messana. It has a very varied repertory: arias from operettas, opera melodies, church music, Sicilian popular tunes and Neapolitan songs.

A live concert during XXI edition of the Summertime Blues Festival, in piazza Ciullo.

There is also the Brass Group, the promoter of the "Summertime Blues Festival", which was held for various consecutive years in Piazza Ciullo and where blues singers and musicians from different parts of the world took part.[101]

Religious traditions and folklore[edit]

The simulacrum of Madonna of the Miracles during a traditional procession.
  • 19 March: celebration in honour of Saint Joseph (novena and procession)
  • Good Friday: procession of the Dead Jesus and Our Lady of Sorrow.
  • First Sunday after Easter: Feast of Jesus Christ the Redeemer (cultural and religious event).
  • Second Sunday after Easter: celebration in honour of Saint Francis of Paola (cultural and religious event).
  • Third Sunday after Easter: Feast of Patrocinio in honour of the Holy Family (procession and lunch with the Holy Family).
  • 1 May: celebration in honour of Saint Joseph the Worker (novena and procession)
  • 13 June: celebration in honour of Saint Anthony of Padua (novena and procession)
  • 19–21 June: Celebration in honour of Maria Santissima dei Miracoli (Saint Mary of Miracles, the patron saint of Alcamo): cultural and religious events. During the feast there are a solemn procession of the Madonna's simulacrum, fireworks from the "bastione" in Piazza Bagolino and the descent of civil and political authorities to the Sanctuary of Madonna of Miracles. In the past (until 8–10 years ago) there were horse races along Corso 6 Aprile; the last two times they took place in Viale Italia.
  • End of July: Saint Anne's feast with novena, procession and cultural-recreational activities.
  • 8 September: celebration in honour of the Most Holy Mary from the Height (Madonna dell'Alto) on the top of Mount Bonifato (dialect poems recitation and procession).
  • 7–8 December: celebration in honour of Immacolata Concezione (the Immaculate Conception): novena, pastoral melodies and procession.
  • Alcamo Christmas (concerts, outdoor performances, preparation of traditional Christmas cribs and pipers' passing).

Recreational activities[edit]

  • July–August: Alcamo Estate ("sagras" or festivals, "Calici di Stelle", "Blues Festival", "Festival di Nuove Impressioni")
  • Second half of August: "Alcart – legalità e cultura" (Legality and Culture) a series of events (exhibitions,seminars, music,theatre etc.).
  • Second or third week-end of December: Cortiamo – International Contest of short films organized since 2006 by "Segni Nuovi" (a club of cinematographic culture within the Church of the Saints Paul and Bartholomew).

Sport events[edit]

  • 2–6 January: International Costa Gaia Trophy (youth soccer tournament).

Local market[edit]

The local market in Alcamo (called "mercatino") takes place every Wednesday morning in Via Tre Santi, near Viale Italia.[102][103]

"Mustazzola" (in front) and "cuddureddi" (behind).

Cuisine[edit]

Some specialities of cuisine of Alcamo are:

  • Handmade maccheroni
  • Pasta with "finocchi and sarde" (wild small fennels and sardines)
  • Sausages with "cavuliceddi" (a typical Alcamo vegetable)
  • Dried filled tomatoes[104]
  • Cuddureddi (Christmas handmade fig sweets)
  • Tetù (mixed and coloured biscuits)
  • Sciù (cream sweets)
  • Muffulette (fresh cooked roll bread with ricotta or other fillings)

People[edit]

Marble bust of Cielo d'Alcamo inside Villa Giulia.
A bust of Don Giuseppe Rizzo, kept inside the Civic Library of Alcamo.
An oil mill in Alcamo (Antico Frantoio Vallone).
The stone quarry in Piano Santa Maria (1953).

Economy[edit]

Alcamo is one of the most important centres in Sicily for wine production, especially Bianco Alcamo D.O.C.,[107] made from vineyards with espailer or "tendone" structures and using white common or bright catarratto vines, eventually associated with damaschino, grecanico and trebbiano.[47]

Besides the wine activity there are cattle and sheep breeding, olive growing (for the extraction of extra virgin olive oil),[47] cereals (particularly wheat) and the typical oval melon, with a green wrinkled peel, locally called "miluni purceddu",[47] which has the peculiarity that can be kept longer than other kinds of melon.[47]

In the primary sector it is also significant quarrying (of different marbles and mostly travertino), though the tertiary sector (more or less advanced) has however got the majority of employed people.

Transports and infrastructures[edit]

Railway route between Alcamo and Trapani.

There are two motorway junctions from Autostrada A29 Palermo-Mazara del Vallo: Alcamo Est and Alcamo Ovest, apart the junction of Castellammare del Golfo which links up with the north entrance to Alcamo. Another motorway junction is from Alcamo Ovest (Autostrada A29 diramazione Alcamo-Trapani). Alcamo is crossed by two National Roads: strada statale 113, connecting Trapani with Messina, and strada statale 119, connecting Alcamo with Castelvetrano. The Railway line doesn't pass through the town centre but along the coast, then inland on the west side. The railway station of Alcamo Diramazione is located near the motorway junction of Alcamo Ovest and the station of Castellammare del Golfo is situated in the territory of Alcamo, precisely at Alcamo Marina.

These State Highways (or National Roads) pass through Alcamo:

These Regional Roads (SR) of Sicily:

  • SR 2 Parti Piccolo-Quaranta Salme-Croce di Fratacchia;
  • SR 3 Alcamo-Giardinaccio-Rocche Cadute-San Nicola;
  • SR 5 Bivio Quaranta Salme-Bivio Sant'Anna;
  • SR 6 of Calatubo;
  • SR 8 Amburgio-Morfino-Rincione-Coda di Volpe.

And also these Provincial Roads (SP) of the province of Trapani pass through Alcamo:

In the area of Alcamo there are also the following draining roads of the province of Trapani:

  • SB 21 Bisurdo-Stracciabisacce;
  • SB 22 Case di Piraino;
  • SB 23 Maruggi-Montelongo.

Along the National Road Palermo-Sciacca (SS 624) there is the exit "Alcamo" in both directions and is about 30 km from on the south-west side of the town. This exit, wholly located in the territory of Poggioreale, connects with the National Road of Gibellina (SS 119) near the ex railway station and motorway junction of Gallitello through the Provincial road SP9 (of the series n.182 Macchia-Sella-Bonfalco) and the SB0 (a local link road of Gibellina), to the border between the territories of Poggioreale and Monreale.

Alcamo is about 40 km from the airport "Falcone-Borsellino Airport" of Palermo-Punta Raisi and about 50 km from the "Vincenzo Florio Airport" of Trapani-Birgi.

Administration[edit]

Twin towns[edit]

Sport[edit]

Alcamo football team during a match in 1928.

The most popular and practised sport in Alcamo, as in most Italian towns, has always been soccer; the greatest team is the Alcamo team, which was in the past a protagonist in some football seasons in League C (Italian Serie C), for its victories against Bari and Crotone, and in League D. Apart various regional trophies, it has won the Coppa Italia Dilettanti in 1996 and the subsequent Supercoppa Italiana Dilettanti. Together with the golden period in League C, these were the most beautiful pages of the football history in Alcamo. A recent society crisis has caused bankruptcy and the team which played in League D had to restart from the First Category League. Today it competes in the regional Eccellenza championship following the 2010 refoundation. The activity of juvenile soccer is very active, and the Adelkam football school emerges among the various youth teams because it has launched different football players and has won a lot of national and international competitions. Alcamo is also the principal centre of the Costa Gaia International Trophy, a youth football kermess in which a lot of titled teams take part and where many great players of the bigger championships have been the protagonists.

Basket is also very popular and practised, today with better results than football anyway. The female team Basket Alcamo (Gea Magazzini) which has obtained important results in its history (a long participation in A1 League and the final match in the Ronchetti Cup), has played in the A2 League for eleven years, and has regained the major league in the season 2011–2012. The male team has also obtained good results, but not at the same levels.

The local handball team, Pallamano Alcamo plays its home matches at the Palasport Enzo D'Angelo.

Sport facilities[edit]

The town has got several sport facilities, the most important are the stadium Lelio Catella (with a capacity of about 10,000 people) for football and athletics, the Palazzetto dello Sport(sports hall) Tre Santi for Basket and the Palasport Enzo D'Angelo (indoor stadium) for handball. There is a private swimpool open to public use (La Fenice) where young boys (who have won National prizes) train regularly. In the same facility there is an ice-skating rink. When Alcamo football team played in League C, the home matches were played at stadium Don Rizzo, which together with Sant'Ippolito stadium, is now used by juvenile and minor teams

Sports personalities[edit]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Comuni-Italiani.it
  2. ^ tuttitalia.it – Alcamo
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h climate-data.org
  4. ^ "Climate: Alcamo". Climate-Data.org. Retrieved 19 May 2016. 
  5. ^ Comuni-Italiani.it, "Alcamo: Clima e Dati Geografici"
  6. ^ a b Regina 1972, p. 16.
  7. ^ Regina 1972, p. 20.
  8. ^ a b c AlqamaH – Historia Alcami: Reperti archeologici. Piccole tracce della storia di Alcamo
  9. ^ a b Gruppo Archeologico Drepanon 2014, pp. 17–18.
  10. ^ a b c d e Alcamo e le origini da Longuro, Longarico
  11. ^ Orlandi 1770, p. 204.
  12. ^ Nuove effemeridi siciliane
  13. ^ a b c d Regina 1972, p. 15.
  14. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Alcamo", Enciclopedia Italiana (1929)
  15. ^ AAVV 1991, p. 4.
  16. ^ Orlandi 1770, pp. 204–205.
  17. ^ a b San Martino De Spucches & Gregorio 2013, p. 50.
  18. ^ a b c AAVV 1991, p. 6.
  19. ^ a b c d AAVV 1991, p. 8.
  20. ^ a b AAVV 1991, p. 14.
  21. ^ a b AAVV 1991, p. 10.
  22. ^ a b AAVV 1991, p. 12.
  23. ^ a b c d e f g h Comune di Alcamo – Storia e tradizioni
  24. ^ a b c Historia Alcami: I Palazzi storici – Intervista al Prof. Roberto Calìa, storico.
  25. ^ AAVV 1991, p. 15.
  26. ^ a b c d e AAVV 1991, p. 16.
  27. ^ a b c AAVV 1991, p. 18.
  28. ^ a b c d e f g h i AAVV 1991, p. 20
  29. ^ Chiarelli 2005, p. 96.
  30. ^ a b c d e f Chiarelli, Andrea; Cocchiara, Dario (2005). Alcamo nel XX secolo , Volume I: 1900–1943 (in Italian). Campo Edizioni.
  31. ^ Chiarelli 2005, p. 42
  32. ^ Chiarelli 2005, p. 61.
  33. ^ Chiarelli 2005, p. 43.
  34. ^ a b c d e http://www.tp24.it/2015/08/17/inchieste/la-storia-della-prima-officina-elettrica-di-alcamo/93500
  35. ^ Chiarelli 2005, p. 147.
  36. ^ Società italiana per condotte d'acqua – Il dopoguerra e le opere del regime
  37. ^ a b Chiarelli 2005, p. 120.
  38. ^ Chiarelli 2005, p. 143.
  39. ^ la Repubblica.it, "Un colpo all'eroina SpA"
  40. ^

    Chiarelli (Vol. I)

    — p. 297.
  41. ^ a b c d

    Chiarelli (Vol. I)

    — p. 299-300.
  42. ^ AlpaUno, "Alcamo: Castello Calatubo, volontari ripuliscono la cappella"
  43. ^ AlqamaH, "Muore Gae Aulenti, aveva riqualificato Piazza Ciullo"
  44. ^ Raccolta differenziata al 50 per cento, Alcamo nel club dei Comuni virtuosi
  45. ^ Orlandi 1770, p. 207.
  46. ^ Trapani Nostra – Accanto alle Aquile di Carlo Cataldo
  47. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Comune di Alcamo, "Alcamo"
  48. ^ Regina p. 52
  49. ^ Regina p. 51
  50. ^ (Italian) TP24.it – Luigi Culmone, "La storia della prima Chiesa Madre di Alcamo"
  51. ^ (Italian) I monumenti di Alcamo
  52. ^ (Italian) Sicilie.it, "Alcamo – Chiesa Santissimi Paolo e Bartolomeo"
  53. ^ trapaniplus – Ex chiesa San Giacomo de Espada
  54. ^ Cataldo, Carlo (1982). Guida storico-artistica dei beni culturali di Alcamo, Calatafimi, Castellammare del golfo, Salemi, Vita. Alcamo: Sarograf.
  55. ^ Comune di Alcamo – Chiesa di San Tommaso
  56. ^ trapaniplus – Chiesa di San Tommaso
  57. ^ trapaniplus – Chiesa di Santa Maria del Gesù Alcamo
  58. ^ trapaniplus – Ex chiesa S. Maria del Soccorso
  59. ^ trapaniplus – Chiesa del monastero del SS Salvatore
  60. ^ Chiesa di Sant'Oliva
  61. ^ trapaniplus – Chiesa di Sant'Oliva
  62. ^ Comune di Alcamo – Santuario di Maria Santissima dei Miracoli
  63. ^ trapaniplus – Santuario Maria SS. dei Miracoli
  64. ^ Comune di Alcamo – Chiese e monumenti
  65. ^ Comune di Alcamo – Chiesa dell'Annunziata
  66. ^ trapaniplus – Chiesa di Maria SS. Annunziata
  67. ^ trapaniplus – Ex chiesa di San Nicolò di Bari
  68. ^ Comune di Alcamo – Basilica di Santa Maria Assunta
  69. ^ trapaniplus – Sacra spina
  70. ^ Provincia di Sicilia dei Frati Minori Conventuali – Convento San Francesco d'Assisi
  71. ^ Comune di Alcamo – Chiesa dei Santi Paolo e Bartolomeo
  72. ^ Chiesa dei SS Paolo e Bartolomeo
  73. ^ trapaniplus – Chiesa di Santa Maria delle Grazie
  74. ^ trapaniplus – Chiesa di Sant'Anna
  75. ^ trapaniplus – Chiesa delle Riparate
  76. ^ Comune di Alcamo – Chiesa del Gesù
  77. ^ trapaniplus – Chiesa del Gesù
  78. ^ Comune di Alcamo – Chiesa dei Santi Cosma e Damiano
  79. ^ trapaniplus – Chiesa dei SS Cosma e Damiano
  80. ^ La scultura di Serpotta
  81. ^ Comune di Alcamo – Monastero di S. Francesco di Paola (Badia Nuova)
  82. ^ trapaniplus – Chiesa della Badia Nuova
  83. ^ trapaniplus – Chiesa della SS. Trinità
  84. ^ trapaniplus – Ex chiesa Ecce Homo
  85. ^ trapaniplus, Ex chiesa di S. Maria del Rosario
  86. ^ trapaniplus – Chiesa di Maria SS. Dell'Alto
  87. ^ Chiesa Parrocchiale delle Anime Sante trapaniplus – Chiesa Parrocchiale delle Anime Sante
  88. ^ Parrocchia Sacro Cuore di Gesù, Alcamo
  89. ^ La Chiesa del Redentore – Alcamo
  90. ^ Mariangela Ettari, "Il Castello di monte Bonifato"
  91. ^ Malanima p. 75.
  92. ^ a b iCastelli.it, "Castello Di Calatubo"
  93. ^ a b c d ideazionenews.it – "Alcamo: il più antico edificio, ancora integro, è del 980. Istituzioni e storici però non ne parlano"
  94. ^ Comune di Alcamo – Alcamo Marina
  95. ^ Terme Libere di Segesta
  96. ^ a b tuttitalia.it – Cittadini stranieri Alcamo 2013
  97. ^ Radio Alcamo Centrale – Storia
  98. ^ http://www.teleoccidente.it/2009/07/una-universita-ad-alcamo/3570 Teleoccidente, "Una università ad Alcamo"
  99. ^ a b c BandaMusicale.it – Premiato Complesso Bandistico "Città di Alcamo"
  100. ^ Associazione Amici della Musica – Chi Siamo
  101. ^ Io amo la Sicilia – Summer Blues Festival 2013 Winter Edition
  102. ^ VirgilioCittà – Alcamo, Mercato Rionale
  103. ^ Comune di Alcamo – Calendario anno 2013 delle giornate lavorative presso il mercatino settimanale del mercoledì
  104. ^ Pomodori secchi ripieni all'alcamese, il gusto della tradizione
  105. ^ Beato Arcangelo Piacentini da Calatafimi
  106. ^ Banca Don Rizzo – Credito Cooperativo della Sicilia Occidentale
  107. ^ Comune di Alcamo – L'economia locale

Sources[edit]

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External links[edit]