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Long gone the hypothesis that historiographical wanted Castelvetrano founded by the "veterans" of Selinunte, the theory that now seems more plausible is that which sees the origins of Castelvetrano engage in that particular process of social transformation, the result of Norman rule, which goes under the name of " crisis villanaggio." The disappearance of so many houses, in which the families of peasants had given birth, the focus of the peasants in the villages with the role of mercenaries caused a process of social transformation that had as a result of the confluence of so many workers on the land, together with the families, from the fields to the village which, by position, ability to defend itself, the meeting point of roads, giving greater assurance to their safety, more job opportunities and initiatives . Whatever the possible identification, it seems plausible that on any existing cluster, even small size, because of the good location and fertile land, all that has come concentrating the rural population, who fled from other houses dotted around the area, it is here refuge and stably insediata. It's likely that this process has come to mature starting from the thirteenth century, as a result of the economic and social upheaval that was mentioned before. This would explain the fact that you do not speak of Castelvetrano, as a town, nor the diploma of the founding of the diocese of Mazara in 1093, nor in the confirmation of the 12th century; as he mentions that in 1273 Castelvetrano pays his tithes to the bishop of Mazara. And it's likely, however, that the name Castrum Veteranum before even indicate a town, has designated a location, an intersection of roads, marked, perhaps, by a few ruins of Selinunte fortress, Roman or Byzantine seat likely of an ancient settlement, as attested by finds of tombs, cisterns and various ceramics where now lies the city. Moreover, a university dating back to 1124 from the monastery of San Michele di Mazara, in defining the boundaries of some of the properties of the nuns, cites a road "that goes from Mazara in Castelvetrano." In any case, while admitting the existence of a settlement in ancient times ( Legum, Entella Gaito, etc. . ), or the possibility of a fraction of a selinuntin fortification or agricultural, it must be said that Castel - vetrano gained its own identity since the thirteenth century. The name reappears in 1299, when King Frederick III, with a diploma given to Polizzi, the land grants of Castelvetrano, torn to felony Tomaso da Lentini, in the barony of Bartolomeo Tagliavias. From then on, the history of our city is intertwined with that of Tagliavias, who, through clever policy of expansion and double assurgeranno a great prestige and power, initiating the development of Castelvetrano, which will become the small "capital" of all their feuds and baronie. Reading Nino Tagliavia's testament, the second baron of Castelvetrano, we see how he binds all ' " by Santa Maria " ( Mother Church ) the annuity of an ounce, and checks the church San Gandolfo (the modern church of the Annunciation or the Abbey ) 300 tiles. This confirms the expansion of the village for a second church, St. Gandolfo, in fact, in the course of which they were the work of copertura. At the end of the fourteenth century, the city used to have a curtain wall and fortifications, probably the castle, whose original structure now remains only an octagonal tower. We deduce that whereas, in 1411, Castelvetrano joined a federation of cities, built to counter the master executioner of Modica, Cabrera, and safeguard the rights of the queen Bianca. If Nino II Tagliavia could sign the agreement in the castle of Salemi, it's unthinkable that the landowner had not behind a suitable place for support and defense. On the other hand, that the city was fortified by the fact that it follows the ancient church of St. John, whose founding date is 1412, was built outside the city walls, and likewise, some fifty years later, the church of Santa Maria de Jesus, because the ancient circle was already inadequate to contain an expanding city. In the second half of '400, at the end of a succession dispute, the barony of Castelvetrano came into possession of Nino III Tagliavia, younger brother of John, by virtue of the bond "primogenitale agnatic" imposed by testament to all the seed by Nino Tagliavias. John, in fact, had no sons, but only one daughter, Margheritella, thus excluding the transmission of securities and baronies. Nino stared III Tagliavias permanent residence in Castelvetrano, Sciacca in preference to, and then in the "city Palmosa " reside all his descendants, until the sovereign government commitments and assignments do not take off from Sicily and Italy. In the late fifteenth and early sixteenth century, experienced its heyday Castelvetrano for the skilled expansionist policy of his lords, as already mentioned, the center of our city made of their possessions. Charles V, in 1522, raised in Castelvetrano county; Philip II, in 1564, erected in the principality. The allocation of land for lease and rent, which entailed the development of uncultivated shores before; the introduction of methods of more intensive farming and rational; the adoption of more profitable crops, led to a rapid rise in Castelvetrano in agriculture and manufacturing, economic, demographic, social and urban. Sprung up in recent years, or were enlarged and embellished, the churches of St. Dominic, the Carmine ( 1509) of Madrice (1520), St. Lucia (1521), or the Annunciation of the Abbey (1526). Merit had initiated many factories goes to Giovan Vincenzo Tagliavias, first Earl of Castelvetrano, to which is also recognized for having started the colonization of Burgio Millusio (present-day Memphis), extending the area of the socio-economic interests of Castelvetrano; and obtained from Charles V dipoter the privilege to exercise them in the city of the games weapons, including that of the bull. In 1516 he also took part in the uprising of Castelvetrano vassals against the barons. On that occasion, Giovan Vincenzo Tagliavias - man prone to negotiations and compromise, while still keeping the basic objectives of his political line - he composed the dispute peacefully; Castelvetrano, in the public square, in the presence of the people and nobles of the witnesses of the countryside and neighboring land, swore the acceptance and compliance with the demands of citizens, most notably the abolition of the tax money badly, a supplement that is duty on meat and wine, which, despite having been imposed in 1499 with a term of 15 years, had been charged over the expected. The Ferrigno notes that the imposition of the fee was definitely a maldenaro abuse, and in fact Giovan Vincenzo Tagliavias, in the discharge of his conscience, imposed by will to his son John to build at his own expense the choir and tribune of the buildings to be constructed matrix, a fee of sums. Castelvetrano reached the peak of its development with Charles of Aragon (the Tagliavias had added to their surname from the Beatrice of Aragon, wife of Giovanni Vincenzo, and grandmother of Charles) Magnus Siculus, mentioned by Manzoni as governor of the State of Milan in 1582. Giarrizzo the don Carlo defines as the most active protagonist of the Sicilian politics of his time, promoter and interpreter of the " nationalistic " that assigned to Sicily a prominent role in the defense strategy of the Spanish dominions and the boundaries of Christianity in Mediterranean. Carlo d'Aragona and Tagliavias, first Prince of Castelvetrano, were made significant social works. In 1549 was founded the pawnshop to assist the poor and needy of the city by both insured annuities by Prince and by other prominent citizens, as well as read the acts of the notary Antonino Abitabile. Tra 1543 and 1549 was founded the Compagnia dei Bianchi, with an oratory in St. Anthony Abbot, dell'infermi much care, but for comfort and support of ' Les Misérables condannatai to death. The city administration was streamlined and made more efficient, leading to forty the number of the deputation of councilors, assigning seats to twenty-four nobles twelve to the craftsmen, four to borgesi, according to an allocation formula does not meet the modern concepts of democracy, another ignored and incomprehensible at the time. In the civic council of 8 May 1575 Don Carlo raised the problem of water supply of the city by the water Bigini, beginning to work, colossal for the time, which, because of various difficulties and oppositions, was completed in 1615, as can be read on the tombstone of the nymph of the fountain, built for the occasion by John III of Aragon and built by the Neapolitan Horace Nigrone. In those years were built or enlarged several convents, built new churches, formed numerous companies and fraternities, as reflected, inter alia, by the will of George Tagliavias, compiled in January 1578. The city prospered, grew rich in monuments and works of talent, becoming the center of a flourishing craft and home to art studios. Recall that just settled in Castelvetrano, summoned by Prince Charles, the famous plasticizer Antonino Ferraro Giuliana, founder of a distinguished generation of artists stucco ( Thomas, Anthony Jr. :) and painters ( Thomas, Horace), whose works still we admire in the churches of San Domenico, Matrix, St. Joseph. Although the economic situation experienced a marked improvement; we deduce from the fact that from 1556 to 1576 the gross income of the pastures, tolls, mills and census increases by 75%, while the rent of Borgetto and Belice - feuds mainly used for sowing - goes from 120 ounces of 1562 to 3650 of 1594, an increase of 197%. However, at the end of the century, began a long period of epidemics and bad harvests, even more aggravated by heavy exactions of the tax . The notary Vincent Graffeo is the main witness of the crisis that gripped Castelvetrano in the early seventeenth century. In 1612, for example, the arrendatario, who had contracted the excise of the mill, had failed to pay the amount of 2,600 ounces, as ob malicia temporum not potuit exigere gabellam historum molendorum to gabellotis suis . The same source, despite a certain increase in population and a timid building development, speaks of famine, drought, floods, epidemics, with particular focus on the terrible plague of 1624. Still remember a significant petition to the Viceroy in which, April 10, 1600, borgesi of them mentions of Castle Vetrano esponino time as GDP malo et mortality of cattle not pottiro siminari territory .... item begging them not to pagari in cuntu anyone except the terragio lu herbagiu to communicate tempu dellu Ill.mo accounts do Livares ( sic). Following the motion of Palermo Giuseppe D' Alessi, even the people of Castelvetrano, exacerbated by famine, revolted in September 1647; but the revolt, led by the class of tanner, was cruelly put down by the energetic woman Stephanie Cortes and Mendoza, in the absence of her husband, held the principality. In the early years of the eighteenth century Castelvetrano Sicilian participated in the events subsequent to the Treaty of The Hague; in particular, in February 1720, the city was faced with the occupation of both the Austrian troops of both the Spanish ones, which severely damaged the area. In the latter part of the century, the influence of the reforms of Caracciolo and Caramanico did emerge in Castelvetrano some enlightened bourgeoisie that was able to make its voice heard in the course of the first uprisings of the nineteenth century. In April 1787, the city hosted Wolfgang Goethe, who recalls the event in his famous "Voyage to Italy." In 1812, for about three months, stayed in Castelvetrano, before going into exile, Queen Maria Carolina, wife of Ferdinand II. Both in 1820 and in 1848, the city rebelled against the Bourbon rule, organizing civic guard and a provisional government, suffering as a result of the harsh repression Filangeris. A team of " picciotti " Castelvetrano, led by fellow Fra 'Giovanni Pantaleo, he met Garibaldi in Salemi, and distinguished himself, particularly in taking the bridge of Earn and door to St. Anthony Palermo. The Hero of Two Worlds, which had Castelvetrano honored with the title of "generous ", visited in July 1862, speaking from the balcony of a municipal memorable speech in which, among other things, claimed Rome, Italy. After the annexation, Castelvetrano came under the influence of the family Saporito, whose members favored the emergence of new business activities - such as pasta, oil mills, soap factories - but monopolizing the political and social life. In December 1893, the city, adhering to the movement of the Fasci Siciliani, was the scene of four days of violent riots, immortalized in print engraver of the able Ettore Ximenes. The city is the birthplace of the great philosopher Giovanni Gentile, the highest expression of Italian neo-idealism and author, among other things, a fundamental reform of the Italian school (1923); the historian and writer Virgil Tithonus, the physical Mariano Santangelo; the musician Raffaele Caravaglios. Constantly present in the most significant events in the history of Sicily, to the present day Castelvetrano is the reference point of the entire Valle del Belice, focusing on the development of tourism and the development of agricultural resources wine and oil. The coat of arms consists of the Palme d'Or of Tagliavias, in blue field, and the legend" Palmosa Civitas Vetranum Castrum", a clear reference to Selinunte, precisely defined "Palmosa" in the third canto of Virgil's Aeneid.
The center of Castelvetrano consists of three linked squares and many monuments can be found within these areas. The main square is Piazza Tagliavia which is adorned with many fine buildings including the town's principal church, the Chiesa Madre, which in its present form dates back to the sixteenth century. Inside the church are stuccoes by Ferraro and Giacomo Serpotta.
Near the church is the Municipio (town hall) and also close by is the Chiesa del Purgatorio, built in 1624–64, with its façade filled with statues.