Italian little Italies: Troina, first Norman capital of Sicily
- WTI Magazine #146 Dec 18, 2021
Troina is a very ancient city. The first settlements in the territory go up again to the prehistoric period while the first nucleus of the inhabited center goes up again to the IV century to. C. Many studious identify Troina with the ancient Engyon, center of the pre-Hellenic temple devoted to the cult of the Goddesses Mothers.
Because of its geographical position, Troina was an important military stronghold both in the Greek and Roman period and during the Byzantine and Arab dominations. During the Norman period, in 1060, it was chosen by Count Roger as the seat of political and military power in the years of the conquest.
In this historical period in Sicily, Arabs, Normans, Latins, Jews and Byzantines coexisted for the common good and at the court of Roger met poets, generals and scientists with the aim of developing a society that asserts itself as a power in the Mediterranean. In the 1088 Pope Urbano II sojourned there, that, named pope to Terracina, was not able to enter in Rome, where then dominated the antipope Callisto III, under the protection of the Swabian emperor Enrico IV. To Troina, where it insisted a castrum munito, the Great Count left the young wife, it was usual to return after every conquest, it conserved you the spoils of war and the treasure and it received the ambassadors; it welcomed you Pope Urbano II and it made to bury the son (illegitimate) Giordano, dead to Siracusa.
In Troina Ruggero d'Altavilla, after the conquest in 1061, established the first bishopric in Sicily after the long Arab domination. Built between 1067 and 1078, it was consecrated to the cult of the Virginis Puerperae. From the beginning it was endowed with large revenues, it was a palatine church and in 1082 it was erected to an Episcopal Chair. In the course of the centuries it has undergone some changes that have modified its ancient structure: the first one dates back to the 15th century, the second one to the late Baroque age and the last one to 1927. The bell tower and the façade of the church are a testimony of these works. Of very recent construction is the new entrance door of the Mother Church, a work in bronze in which are carved the main events of the history of Troina, of the Church and of the life of the patron saint San Silvestro. Architecturally, the church has a Latin cross plan with three naves. The barrel vaults and the round arches decorated with stucco and accompanied by a series of paintings on the walls, give the church a classical image.
The high altar, coming from the Abbey of Santa Maria degli Angeli, is in polychrome marble. The apse is flanked by two side chapels: the one on the left is dedicated to Saint Sylvester, a Basilian monk, and the one on the right is dedicated to the Holy Sacrament.
Built in some sections on the ancient fortified walls of the Hellenistic age, the castle of Troina was located on the rocky acrocorus of the homonymous mountain (1121 m.). The strategic position of the cliff that dominates the underlying valley, waterways and roads, made it become in the Norman period privileged residence of the Great Count in Sicily and stronghold of the conquest. The castle, inurbato, rose in the area of the cathedral, included in the enclosure fortified external of the complex, encircled from walls turrite impostate on the edges of the cliffs. Made fortified by Roger I, in 1150 the Arab geographer Edrisi describes it as a "fortalizio" and "desired stay". The castrum troinese, documented in some documents of 1154 and 1212, was partly destroyed in 1233 by Frederick II after a popular revolt. Of the fortifications during the Angevin and Aragonese reign little is known.
A little less than a kilometer long and a few tens of meters wide, the structure consisted of three high and strong towers. In the strong walls opened four doors: the Baglio to the north, the Guardian next to the Cathedral, St. Nicholas to the east and Ram (source) to the west. Failed the defensive needs and the military importance of the city, in 1409 of the castle resists only a large tower (Capitania), subject to royal domain and defined as "domus plana", building demilitarized and without strategic value.
Passing under the bell tower a small road leads to a district that still preserves the medieval structure and whose name, Scalforio, derived from Arabic, means "outside the walls" and marks the end of the fortified city-castle.
The most ancient form of the actual name is Traghina, deriving from the Greek adjective rugged and rocky. In medieval documents and chronicles are also found other forms (Trayna or Drajna).
The pleasures of the borgo
The festival of the vastedda co sammucu takes place every year in mid-June and celebrates the most delicious gastronomic excellence of the territory. The "vastedda co sammucu" is a focaccia stuffed with salami (fellata) and cheese (tuma) typical enriched by the fragrance of elder flowers.
The feast of San Silvestro It 'a cycle of religious events that takes place every year in Troina from mid-May to the first week of June and is dedicated to cives et patronus San Silvestro. It has its beginning with two ancient pilgrimages full of symbolism on foot (Rami) and on horseback (Ddarata) and ends with the procession of the fifteenth-century wooden statue of St. Sylvester and the silver ferculum which is one of the most important Sicilian masterpieces of baroque silverware.
For lovers of nature and outdoor activities can not miss an excursion in Lake Sartori and in the woods of Nebrodi. Wonderful places, rich in vegetation, colors and sounds of nature, clean air and silence that will immerse the visitor in a magical atmosphere.
Among the products of the local artisan stand out the wrought iron and inlaid wood artifacts, the art of monastic inspiration of embroidery and the realization of the traditional tammura (drums) with tanned leather and scanni (small chairs) with ferulas.