|Comune di Aragona|
Location of the municipality of Aragona in the province of Agrigento
|• Mayor||Salvatore Parello|
|• Total||74 km2 (29 sq mi)|
|Elevation||400 m (1,300 ft)|
|Population (December 31, 2011)|
|• Density||130/km2 (340/sq mi)|
|Time zone||CET (UTC+1)|
|• Summer (DST)||CEST (UTC+2)|
|Patron saint||Madonna del Rosario|
|Saint day||October 7|
Aragona (Sicilian: Araùna or Raona) is a commune in the province of Agrigento in the Italian island of Sicily. It is 16 kilometres (10 mi) northeast of Agrigento. It is known mainly for the Macalube natural reserve and for being the Italian municipality with the highest emigration rate.
Aragona is located on the eastern slopes of the Mount Belvedere at an altitude of 428 m. It was founded on January 6, 1606, upon the initiative of lord Baldassare III Naselli, Count of Comiso. He had previously submitted a request for the foundation of a new village in his fiefdom of Diesi during the 49th Extraordinary General Parliament, overseen by the Spanish viceroy Lorenzo Suarez de Figueroa e Cordoba on August 2, 1604 in Messina. On September 6 of that year, the viceroy ordered an official investigation into the matter, which eventually resulted on January 6, 1606, in the granting of a licentia populandi, i.e. the permission to increase the fief's population. The new village was named after the Count's mother, donna Beatrice Aragona Branciforti.
The Naselli family ruled Aragona until 1812, when feudalism was abolished. Notable members of the family include:
- Baldassare I Naselli: Count of Comiso, who acquired the fiefdom of Diesi. He mostly lived in Agrigento but spent his later years in Comiso.
- Gaspare I Naselli: firstborn son of Baldassare I. He had to spend some time outside of Italy to escape some of his father enemies. He also spent his last days in Comiso.
- Gaspare II Naselli also known as "The Red Count": son of Baldassare II, he married Beatrice Aragona Branciforti of Castelvetrano.
- Baldassare III Naselli: son of Gaspare, he was responsible for initiating the construction of the new town in the Diesi fiefdom. He named the town in honor of his mother and of the renowned Spanish royal house of Aragona. He died of malaria at a young age, together with two of his sons. His only hair remained his son Luigi.
- Luigi I Naselli: he mostly lived in Palermo, where he managed to obtain the title of Prince of Aragona. In his old age, sick and widowed, he moved to Sciacca where he eventually died.
- Baldassare IV Naselli: son of Luigi, he held important military and civilian offices and distinguished himself in the defense of Sicily from French and Saracen incursions. He lived in Aragona until his death. He started there the construction of a feudal palace and of a network of underground passages still not completely explored. He also financed the constructions of churches and convents such as those for the Mercedari and the Capuchin monks. After abdicating in favor of his son Luigi (1702), he took up the monastic vows and retired into the Capuchin convent he helped build, where he died in 1710. He is remembered as the "father of the poors". He was buried under the main altar of the Capuchin church of Saint Joseph (nowadays the parish of Saint Francis of Assisi). Today his remains are temporarily stored at the municipal cemetery of Aragona while the ancient church undergoes restorative works.
- Baldassare V Naselli: born in the family palace at Aragona, he is considered the most prestigious member of the family. He was at one point nominated President of the Council of Sicily. He moved to the royal court of Naples first, then to Paris, a guest of the King of France.
- Baldassare VII Naselli was the last member of the family to hold civilian powers over the town of Aragona, as feudalism was abolished during his life in 1812. When he died in Aragona in 1863, the title of Prince of Aragona went to his sister Marianna, married to Nicolò Burgio, and later to their son Luigi.
- Luigi Burgio Naselli: he was a priest and the last direct descendant of the Naselli family. He lived in Palermo at first, then moved to Aragona, where he worked in close collaboration with the Daughters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul to take care of the local orphans and poors. When he died on September 28, 1889 the family palace became part of the assets of the Institute of the Prince of Aragona. For over a century, the Institute has taken care of youths in need under the guidance of the Daughters of Charity. Luigi is probably the one responsible for the construction of the family chapel by the architect Giovan Battista Palazzotto of Palermo in 1874.
The coat of arm of the Aragona municipality consists of a golden rampant lion in a azure field, with a ribbon cutting horizontally across the shield containing four red spheres. The shield is surmounted by a silver crown and standing between an olive branch to the dexter side and an oak branch to the sinister side; the branches are in turn bound together by a blue ribbon.
This symbol is derived from the coat of arms of the Naselli family, to which it greatly resembles apart for the following details: there are four red spheres instead of three golden ones; the spheres are placed in a central ribbon across the shield and not at the bottom; the rampant lion is shown whole, as opposed to being partially covered by the ribbon.
- Joppolo Giancaxio
- Sant'Angelo Muxaro
- Santa Elisabetta
- In the 1950 Italian language drama film Path of Hope (Italian: Il Cammino della speranza) directed by Pietro Germi, Aragona is featured for a little over a minute, with a panoramic view of the historical city center, dominated by the Palace of the Naselli Princes, and part of the cemetery.
- In Aragona were filmed parts of the 1994 Italian language drama film Law of Courage (Italian: Il giudice ragazzino), directed by Alessandro Di Robilant about the life of Rosario Livatino, a magistrate murdered by the mafia in 1990.
- Between 1999 and 2000 the movie La memoire aux auluettes on the Marcinelle mines is filmed there.
- Aragona is featured in the 2009 movie Rehearsal for a Sicilian Tragedy (Italian: Prove per una tragedia siciliana) with and by John Turturro, which was presented at the 66th edition of the Venice Film Festival.
The first Sunday after Easter the Sagra of the taganu takes place in Aragona. The taganu is a dish cooked from pasta, eggs and tuma, a typical local fresh cheese made from sheep's milk. The name derives from the name of the pot in which it is cooked on the Holy Saturday, to be then consumed on Easter Monday. It is baked for two hours and can be eaten hot or cold. It is accompanied by a white wine.
Another typical dish of the local cuisine is the imbriulata, which consists of a roll of salty paste of bread crumbs filled with olives, onions, minced meat (usually pork), oil, salt and pepper.
- The 17th century Prince Palace in Piazza Umberto I. The City Hall was located there before it moved to its current location in via Roma 161, Aragona's central street.
- The Church of the Rosario in piazza Umberto I, built in 1689.
- The Mother Church of Nostra Signora dei Tre Re (Our Lady of the Three Kings) in piazza Matrice, built in 1606.
- The Natural Reserve Macalube of Aragona (singular macaluba, from Arabic مقلوبة maqlūbah, '(a land) that turns over', from the verb قلب qalaba 'to turn over, turn upside down, invert') is the site of a particular and rare phenomenon of sedimentary volcanism. It is located 4 km SO of Aragona and 15 km North of Agrigento. The reserve proper extends over 93 ha and only research activities or authorized guided tours can be performed there. A buffer area of 163 ha surrounds the reserve and it is open to visitors.
- Archeological remains of a Roman Villa in contrada Fontanazza.
- The Salto D’Angio Tower, 5 km north of Aragona, which also offer a panoramic view of the surrounding area.
Notable people with ties to Aragona
- The mother of brothers John Turturro and Nicholas Turturro is from Aragona.
- Dominique Fidanza, former member of the Lollipop.
- Soccer player Vincenzo Scifo.
- Soccer player Pietro Zammuto.
- Journalist Luigi Galluzzo of the news programme Studio Aperto.
- Bishop Ignazio Zambito was priest of the parish Our Lady of the Rosary in Aragona from 1979 to 1989.
Other significant facts
- The sulfur mine Mandra, today inactive, is located in the municipality.
- Aragona counts three frazioni: Aragona Caldare (251 inhabitants), Ranciditi (69 inhabitants) and case sparse (276 inhabitants).
- Since 2010 Aragona's twin city is La Louvière, in Belgium.
- Aragona is part of the agricultural region #3 Platani Hills (Italian: Colline del Platani).
- There is a railroad station located in Aragona Caldare.
- "Aragona, il paese che emigra va via un abitante su due". Retrieved April 23, 2013.
- "Riserva naturale Macalube di Aragona – Introduzione" (in Italian). Retrieved 8 April 2015.
- "'Sono la Lollipop siciliana ma mi piace stare in pigiama'". La Repubblica (in Italian). 14 March 2001. Retrieved March 13, 2015.
- (Italian) Official website of the Comune of Aragona
- TheSicilySite.com has original pictures of Aragona
- (Italian) Istituto Principe di Aragona, the institution managing the heritage of the Naselli family
- (Italian) Official website of the Macalube reserve managed by Legambiente