Lombards of Sicily

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Lombards of Sicily
Total population
65,000 (est.)
Regions with significant populations
 Italy (Sicily)65,000 (est.)
Gallo-Italic of Sicily, Italian
Roman Catholic
Related ethnic groups
Italians (Northern Italians)
Map of Italy on the eve of the arrival of the Normans. The Lombards of Sicily came to Sicily from their homeland, the Kingdom of Lombardy.

Lombards of Sicily (Italian: Lombardi di Sicilia) are an ethnolinguistic minority living in Sicily, southern Italy, speaking an isolated variety of Gallo-Italic dialects, the so-called Gallo-Italic of Sicily.


The origins of these communities goes back to the 11th century when soldiers and settlers from Northern Italy, settled the central and eastern part of Sicily during the Norman conquest of the island. After the marriage between the Norman king Roger I of Sicily with Adelaide del Vasto, member of Aleramici family, many Lombard colonisers left their homeland, in the Aleramici's possessions in Piedmont and Liguria, to settle on the island of Sicily.[1][2][3]

The Normans began a process of latinization of Sicily by encouraging an immigration policy of their people, French (Norman, Provencal and Breton) and northern Italians (in particular from Piedmont and Liguria) with the granting of lands and privileges. The aim of the new Norman kings was to strengthen the "Latin stock" which in Sicily was a minority compared to the more numerous Greek and Arab populations.

Beginning from the end of the eleventh century were repopulated the central and eastern parts of the island, the Val Demone, where there was a strong Byzantine presence and the Val di Noto, with colonists and soldiers from the Aleramici mark which included the Monferrato in Piedmont, part of the Ligurian hinterland of the west, and small portions of the western areas of Lombardy and Emilia.

The major centres, called historically Oppida Lombardorum, where these dialects can still be heard today include Piazza Armerina, Aidone, Sperlinga, San Fratello, Nicosia, and Novara di Sicilia. Northern Italian dialects did not survive in some towns in the province of Catania, Syracuse and Caltanissetta that developed large Lombard communities during this period, for example Paternò and Butera. However, the Northern Italian influence in the local varieties of Sicilian are marked.

In the case of San Fratello, some linguists have suggested that the gallic-italic dialect present today has Provençal as its basis, having been a fort manned by Provençal mercenaries in the early decades of the Norman conquest (bearing in mind that it took the Normans 30 years to conquer the whole of the island).


  • "Western Lombard dialects in Sicily". Ethnologue. Ethnologue: Languages of the World. Retrieved 2011-08-08.

See also[edit]