Discovering some of my roots
Caccamo Travel Blog› entry 7 of 26 › view all entries
We finally hit the road and make good time until we hit
Turning off the main highway and continuing south, the road got noticeably narrower and the uphill climb began.
As we traveled higher and further inland, we were now able to see the sea, again.
On the outskirts of Caccamo, there is a sports center that has a tremendous number of outdoor activities available on the lake and in the mountains, very impressive. From here we can see a great deal of the valley and in the distance, the first glimpse of Castello Caccamo, perched high upon a bluff. With the zoom, I got a great look at what is to come. Iâ€™m so excited.
The town was founded by the Phoenicians but, the first time in which Caccamo was officially documented was in 1093, under the Norman count Ruggero I of Altavilla.
Caccamo, for many years, was in feud, governed by noble families, amongst which the Chiaramonte, the Prades, the Cabrera (1420-1480), the Henriquez until 1646, the Galti and the Amato, ending with the De Spuches.
We return to the car and continue. Around the next curve is the sign welcoming us into Caccamo. This is the village near
We wind our way through a narrow road and can see the castle closer. We tried to find the best place to stop to begin our exploration and ended up at the Monte di Pietra. One end is dominated by the Chiesa Madre S. Giorgio Martire. Along one side is a row of buildings facing the valley.
The square is fantastic in its details from many ages gone by. I could just feel the history, some of it my own, as I stood there taking it all in. I found unusual details that spoke to me and are apart of me. This place of gathering and worship was a place that my family would have come and I could feel their presence.
The Chisea Madre S. Giorgio Martire- built in 1090. The central doorway is surmounted by a carved medallion (1660) by Gaspare Guercio, depicting Saint George in the act of saving a young girl. The bell tower, whose lower part was made of the tower castle has a different and clearly more archaic than the rest, culminating in his huge mass with a pyramid-shaped spire, whose four faces, destroyed by lightning, were decorated with majolica tiles depicting Saint George.
The Oratorio SS. Sacremento ďż˝ďż˝" The church on the left of the Monte di Pietra, to the right of the mother church
The Monte di Pietra - for a period of time, a pawn shop, Center of the buildings to the right of the mother church
The Chisea Anime Sante del Purgatorio ďż˝ďż˝" On the right end of the Monti di Pietra.
The group of three building seem to have virtually no information on them in Italian or otherwise.
The significant age-old history that took place around the castle has a wonderful and exciting annual commemoration: "La Castellana Caccamo" event in costume, charming atmosphere and dreamy, with a strong value to the propulsive dissemination of culture history. A parade of colors and fabrics, banners and harmony of notes that you are singing and poetic homage to the Lady of the castle. The men and women of the city walk the streets of the old town, proud of their ancestral heritage, while the hot August sun casts long shadows and they dress in clothing styles of their ancestors. There are also the musicians of the court, the flag bearers, the archers and trumpeters entertaining attentive audiences.
Looking out over the terrace, the views are spectacular.
We begin our ascent to the Castella. There are houses above the stairs where the mountain below has worn or crumbled away leaving a question in your mind as to the safety of these houses. I could also see the structural support for the decorative upper section of the Chisea Madre, a complicated stair and arch structure, which Iâ€™ve never seen before. After climbing several sets of stairs and getting to a point where we were crossing peopleâ€™s front doors steps and a growling dog in front of us, we turned around. We didnâ€™t feel that this was leading us in the right direction.
We climbed down and walked around and up the hill that we had driven down.
We found the sign and stairs leading up to the entrance to the Castella. Once inside, the stone path must have been the original one as it was very difficult to walk on as the stones were extremely uneven and there was no fill in between. Once through the first gate, we started up the next set of stairs of which these were of much shorter rise and much longer run. The stones were equally uneven but, a lot of grass helped cushion, a bit. We stopped briefly outside the second gate and took a few pictures of the valley and a stone house in the distance.
We saw a sign for tickets (the guide says itâ€™s free) and went inside to pay the fee.
(Rosanna) spoke up and told me that there are actually three paintings in three different churches of Antonio Spataforas. They all seemed amazed, if not impressed, that a descendant of his was here to see the town and his work. She explained a bit about the paintings but, told me that today it would not be possible to see them as they were all closed. She gave me the name of 2 different books (one, a history of Caccamo and one a book about the churches and art in them) that would have much information for me.
could get in to see them, that day. I took her number and thanked her for the effort. She explained what there was to see and told me that I could explore anywhere that I wished.
We left the hall where the group very helpful of ladies were sitting and chatting an occasionally selling a ticket or two and went through the second gate and looking up at more stairs the medieval windows and crenellated upper rail made for an exciting and fairy tale like view. Along the climb up this set of stairs there was a view of the lake along side one of the towers.
We enter the Castella building and in the first room there are many crests with the family name and the year of significance. There were names from the founding of Caccamo through the 17th century, though there were none
shown for any period after that.
In the next section there was a room with the major religious buildings of the town, the names, and some detail shots. It was just pictures and some titles but, in the absence of a guide or information, this was great. I photographed everything.
We walked from there, out onto the Castellaâ€™s upper terrace. It has a beautiful twin arch and a panoramic view of the valley, lake and the sea. I took many pictures here and even some with Rob and with me.
Back inside we made our way into the museum. In the first section there is an exhibit of showcasing the religious art and artifacts that are within the village. It was just a tease for me as I wanted to see the real thing. In one room there were frescoes still visible on a section of a wall just below the moldings. There was the town crest, a ship, and a bird. There was even one with clouds with rays shining through causing a rainbow to form. I felt very fortunate to be able to witness these delicate works.
Down a set of stairs there was another museum. Its exhibition was called Terre Madre. It included more recent works of Caccamoâ€™s art community. The first room was a collection of geodes and different mineral samples collected in the area.
In the next room there were many sculptures in bronze and one in glass. The general them was motherhood. There were some examples of ceramics in the local style, as well. They were very colorful and had designs with a story.
In the next section, there were many weapons from medieval times and newer. There were many types of blades for working in the fields and metal works for horses. Then there was great collection of swords. My familyâ€™s name, Spatafora, means sword maker. I wondered if any of these on display were made by a Spatfora. I will have to return and do some research.
In the last section there was paint and photographic art. They were obviously 20th century or newer. There
incredible depicting religion, different jobs in the village, and some creative photographs showing daily life.
We exited the museum with some ideas of the creativity found here in Caccamo. I see some of it in myself. Maybe some of my creativity was handed down from the link that I have to this place. I can see the possibility.
We finished our tour of the Castella and set out down the many stairs.
We took their advice and ate at the Castella. Rob and I sat at a table with a view of the valley. Rob had the local menu which offered many new tastes and treats for him. I had a local pasta dish that is specific to Caccamo, as well. It has a homemade macheroni with a cream sauce with mashed beans and fennel. The food was fantastic. The unusual pasta dish that I enjoyed was very earthy and rich. It is a taste that I cannot compare as I have had nothing like it.
Not far away is the church to the Abbey of St. Benedict founded in 1615 by Benedictine nuns. The interior features a large tiled floor of Nicholas Sarzana, a beautiful wrought iron gate in the shape of large fan, a large amount of plaster from the school of Serpotta and also colored marbles, frescoes on the ceiling and the paintings of the side altars.
It was after and I did want to make it around to the other side of the valley to see the village from that vantage point. The grandson of the man from the tourist center had given us directions to a better spot to see the village.
We take the same tiny, scary, 3/4th of a lane road back to Termini Imerese and then proceed east, Cefalu awaits.