According to many scholars, the name and origin of the town are traced back to the period of Arab rule. According to Ibn al-Athir (The Complete History, VII.370.5–7), in AH 268 (881/82 CE), the Aghlabid commander Abū Ṯawr was defeated by the Byzantines (probably commanded by the strategos Mosilikes) and his was army annihilated, with only seven men surviving. The locality was later named in Arabic Qalʿat Abī Ṯawr ("Castle of Abū Ṯawr"), which is the origin of the modern name. Others[who?] instead maintain that the name derives from the Arabic word "qal'at" (fortress) and the Sicilian "vuturu" (vulture) meaning of "fortress of vultures."
The town was the site of the so-called Caltavuturo massacre on 20 January 1893, when local authorities killed 13 and wounded 21 peasants that had occupied communal land that they claimed was theirs.
^Vasiliev, A.A. (1968), Byzance et les Arabes, Tome II, 1ére partie: Les relations politiques de Byzance et des Arabes à L'époque de la dynastie macédonienne (867–959) (in French), French ed.: Henri Grégoire, Marius Canard, Brussels: Éditions de l'Institut de Philologie et d'Histoire Orientales, p. 106