|Comune di Forza d'Agrò|
Church in Forza d'Agrò
|Province||Province of Messina (ME)|
|• Mayor||Fabio Di Cara (since June 9, 2009)|
|• Total||11 km2 (4 sq mi)|
|Elevation||420 m (1,380 ft)|
|• Density||78/km2 (200/sq mi)|
|Time zone||CET (UTC+1)|
|• Summer (DST)||CEST (UTC+2)|
|Patron saint||Holy Crucifix|
|Saint day||September 14|
Forza d'Agrò is on the lower peak of a small mountain, while on the higher peak that overlooks the town are the remains of a Norman castle. Much of the town consists of traditional buildings and stone paved lanes that are impassable by car. Due to this lack of recent development, Forza d'Agrò has featured as the backdrop in a number of films, such as The Godfather trilogy.
A brief history
It is not certain if in the valley and hills of Forza d’Agro whether the first settlers were the Sicani or Siculi. It is thought that there may have been a village or commercial port called Phoinix, while further inland, there was a small town named Kallipolis or Agrilla which was eventually destroyed.
The first Greek settlers arrived between 8th century and the 5th century BC and it is certain that it was them who gave the name ‘Arghennon ‘akron - Silver Promontory (Promontory: a point of high land jutting out into the sea) which is the actual Cape S. Alessio. Over time, Akron changed to Argon then to Agron and finally to Agrò. Slight remains of a fort-like structure located at the top of the mountain indicate that Forza D'Agrò had once been a fortress.
After the Roman conquest in 135 BC the Greek specification of "Arghennon" was substituted by "Agrillae" or "Agrille". The village and suburb and the set of houses within the margin of the River Agrò became known by the Latin name, Vicum Agrillae.
The zone was then passed on to the Byzantine domain which lasted from the centuries 536-827. During this period, the community adapted the Greek-oriental cult in the hillocks of the valley and the Monastery of the Church of S. Peter and Paul of Agrò was erected. In order to escape from other invasions the, population moved more inland to Casale. In the 8th century, there were more frequent Arabian incursions, and perhaps during this period the Monastery d'Agrò was destroyed.
It was under the reign of Count Ruggero the Norman and his successors that the Castle of Forza D'Agrò was built and the reconstruction of the Monastery of S. Peter and Paul took place. "Vicum Agrillae" is mentioned for the first time under the decree of Ruggero II 1117. When "Vicum" wasn't big enough for the expanding population, the people moved higher up the mountain in search of security and independence to an area known as Magghia on a flat leveling. The area around the guardroom became another picturesque neighborhood known as the Quartarello. The name given to the village was Fortilicium d'Agrò (Fortezza d' Agrò - Fortress of Agrò) abbreviated to Forza D'Agrò. It was in the 14th century that the village slowly took shape and has been conserved to the present day.
After the revolution in 1674 between Spain and France, Forza D'Agrò remained loyal to the Spanish and it was treated as a territorial conquest. Savoca absorbed Forza D'Agrò, which lost the privileges that had been donated to them by Ruggero II, the Norman King. The University of Agrò lost no time in trying to retrieve its privileges. The first fifty years of 1700 was spent fighting for these rights between the Forzese and the Great Admiralty. Even though the citizens were represented by courageous officials, they almost always had to abide to the authorities of that time.
At the beginning of 1800 the English occupied the Castle of S. Alessio and the Castle of Forza D'Agrò to defend the area from Napoleonic attacks. In 1866 a law relating to the suppression of religious estates gave the state the power to take possession of ecclesiastical assets. The Franciscan monks of St. Catherine and St. Agustine were forced to leave their convents. The conventes were then transformed into administrative offices.
In the early 1900 many Forzese left the village in search of fortune, most of them immigrating to America.
Despite their presence being felt, the area of Forza D'Agrò was almost untouched by the Nazis. Those who were in danger were evacuated via a secret tunnel in the Cape of S. Alessio.
In 1948, the hamlet of S. Alessio detached itself from Forza d'Agrò, becoming an autonomous community.
- The Rough Guide to Sicily 7 by Jules Brown and Robert Andrews, 2008, ISBN 1-85828-437-6