Castella Spadafora and so much more!

Spadafora Travel Blog

 › entry 11 of 26 › view all entries

We set the Tom Tom and headed out of town for Spadafora. I had, unexpectedly found this on the map as I planned our route through Taormina to get to Catania. I had no idea what I would find. It wasn’t even listed in any guide books. I knew that it must have a connection to my family but, I had never heard of this town. It wasn’t that long ago that I was reintroduced to the name, Caccamo, as a Spatafora family heritage site. I vaguely remember it being spoken of as a child. Most of the time, the city of origin that was spoken about was Palermo but, the description was different that anything that found in Palermo. It did however look much like the Caccamo views, which I witnessed.


Anyway, back to the story at hand, next stop ��" Spadafora.

  We traveled along the North Central Sicilian Coast heading east. Along the way, we passed many picturesque villages with churches on the hill like in Patti.


A little info; besides agricultural products such as grapes, olives, citrus fruit, cereals and vegetables, Spadafora bases its prosperity also upon fishing. It was part of one of five country-houses of feud of San Martino and was acquired by Federico Spadafora in 1459. The noble family has been in possession of it till 1737 when the noble Guttierez Spadafora, a component of the family, founded the village giving it his name.


At the town of Rometta, we left the highway for a little road that lead to the down to a village on the beach, Spadafora (pop.

5,334). Entering the village and seeing the welcome sign, even in English, had a strange and exciting feel. The first section was not very exciting as it was all newer build, mid-rise buildings that were very non-descript. We came to a point where there was a large piazza with a simple yellow with neo-classic elements across from a 16th century castella.


I yell to Rob to stop the car as I am about to jump out of the car at the sight. He parks on the square around the castella. We walk onto the lush palm tree lined square and find a statue of an angel with a wreath in her hand. I’m not sure what the statue is to commemorate as I can’t read Italian but, I’ll figure it out. We see a fountain with a shield with several family crests on it. I think that I recognize the one that is Spadafora. I’m getting really excited now. The castella is in a style reminiscent of ones that I have seen  in Malta.

As, I move closer, I see the historical landmark sign that says Castella Spadfora. Wow, as castella with part of my heritage involved. I have to know more. We walk inside. There is a man sitting at a desk and there is a Spadafora crest banner and many works of art. I want to look around. He smiles and waves us on. We take a brief bathroom break and then start the exploration. The interior was renovated in the 1980’s but, only a few elements were preserved.  We walk into the front rooms and discover an art exhibit that is showcasing local artists. There are some colorful works here. The next room brings us our first look at a restored ceiling with elaborate plaster work probably from the 17th or 18th century. The center fresco and two of the four panels has just a hint of color. One of the panels has a faint


image left and one with no color at all. That’s such a shame to have lost the images forever.


We continue through the lower level and see more of the local art. Returning to the entry hall, the caretaker asks us to sign the register. I took this opportunity to try to share with him that part of my family heritage is Spat/dafora. I try to explain the connection and he understands my non-existent Italian and I make out his non-existent English. He seems excited. He shows me some information that I can take with me that has some history. He has another man show the second floor and out onto the balcony. First, Rob takes a picture of my with the shield of the Spadafora crest that shows the marriage to a Millazzo. In the history that we were given it tells about the famous architect, Camillo Camilliani, from Firenze who designed the Castello Spadafora.  It was build for a Spadafora who married an Aragon to secure trade and mutual security with Spain.


The opens the door to the balcony and there is a commanding view of the Thyrennean Sea. There are other buildings in the way now but, for many hundreds of years it must have had a fantastic view of the water. In one of the last rooms that we visited there was a very creative curio built into the wall. It has plaster embellishments on the wall and the ceiling of it was raised panels.


We thank the man for his generous time and showing us around. He smiled and seemed happy so do.


We walked around the exterior and took some shots of the fantastic details.

On one side there was a little door through the rampart with a slit of a window. It also had a large cactus next to it, wow! What a nice experience, to see such a thing and have a connection to it. I travel all over and see so many historical sites, now to visit places such as Palermo, Caccamo, and Spadafora, where there is a connection to me feels a bit surreal, exhilarating, but surreal.


Next, we walk across the street to the Chisea San Guiseppe. For a small church it has some exceptionally nice details. There is a beautifully painted dome and alcoves along the pews with statues with frescoes surrounding them. There is also a piece of religious art on the altar that would be right at home in a museum. They had Stations of the Cross crafted from copper, something that was a first for me. They are exceptional.


From here, I wanted to walk to the beach.

I am a beach bum; I get that from my mother. It seems that it might have been passed along in the genes as this spot near a beach was chosen for Spadafora’s castella. There is a fence up as there is work being done along the waterfront. There are boats up on the sand and construction materials being stored for some project. We found a way to walk around the fence and have a little walk along the shore. We picked up a few pieces of sea glass and honed rocks made of granite and carrara marble. The view along the coast was fantastic as long as you didn’t look to your left as there was some type of plant and tall vent / smokestack. It was clear and we could see distant mountains and villages.


On our way walking back to the car, I noticed a crenulated tower and decided to investigate. Upon closer inspection, it was the Villa Cordaro , a grand house that has fallen into terrible disrepair. It was still rich with interesting details.


We also saw a strange poster for a Bizzaro avantgard circus coming to Spadafora. I had to photograph it. Also, some artist had painted beautiful scenes of the front stucco wall of the city’s sport center, just near the castella.


We were now a bit hungry and made a loop, walking the downtown area. We saw an old theatre along the way but, no food. The closest thing to food was a patiseria. We went in but, really wanted food even though the desserts looked tasty.


We just went back to the car. I had some nuts and fruit for us to eat that would be a better snack.

We could eat in Messina which wasn’t too far away. Oh before I forget, the next town over from Spadafora is Sapanaro. This is possibly significant as I have Italian relatives in the US with the spelling Sampagnaro. They are spoken the same exact way.  I could be reaching but will do some research. Who knows, there may be something there.


I had seen on the map that the kind man had given us that there was a cemetery, not too far away. I thought that maybe I could find some family there. We went up into the hills just south of Spadafora. We looked in four of the sections with no luck. The dates just didn’t go far enough back. I was looking for Pre 1900 death dates and finding more birthdates of just before 1900 to present. They must be somewhere else, something more for me to research. There was a really odd thing about the cemetery; it has a fantastic view of the coast.

I would love to spend eternity with a view like this.


We got back in the car and continued up the hills, which have seemed to become more of a mountain. The man at the castella told us of the St. Martin Church on the mountain. I wanted to see it for myself. On the way we stopped for some panoramic views of the city, the coast and the mountains for many, many kilometers around.


We wind our way up the mountain on a tiny road, luckily we met no one on the way as I don’t think anyone could pass and it was along way down on the outside! We reached a parking area and could see a clock tower above the buildings. We had found it but also a little community as well.

It seems that this is part of Spadafora, as well. It is such a quaint and peaceful place. The houses are perched on a small bluff on the mountain side. They are so close together that getting a picture was most difficult. While walking around looking for a vantage point, we discovered the many treasures of the mountain side village. There was even an ancient church, looking to Middle Ages in appearance, it had been abandoned.


Around every corner there seemed to be the most interesting colors and items with fascinating texture. I just keep clicking my camera. I was in heaven.


Now it was time to head out. The clouds in the distance looked menacing and we had much driving to do. At this point, Taormina was out for the day.

We would make the journey another day. Back at the car, I noticed that in the parking area there were some images on the pavement, in an order. It looked like a game. I figured out that the images told the story of a man who grew grapes and made them into wine and then sold it. It was so cute!

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Pamphlet about Castella Spadafora
Pamphlet about Castella Spadafora
photo by: delsol67