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13 marzo 2014

Noble Mazzarino

cronacheFrom the top of the mountain peak on which it stands, Mazzarino dominates the upper valley of the river Gela, maintaining, for many centuries, a solemn and austere appearance. Its Norman origins accounted by the age, are related to the family of the Aleramici that, since 1143, became masters of the city. In 1288, the fief of Mazzarino was subtracted from Giovanni Mazzarino, the son of Manfredi, lord of Mongialino, and delivered to the noble Vitale of Villanova. Between the XIIIth and XIVth century, the estate became the property of the powerful family Branciforte, who ruled the population by the majestic medieval castle, now in ruins, called “u Cannuni” for the cylindrical turret and the only survivor. The fortress and the village below are, even today, tangible evidence of the development of the typical medieval city.

Only in 1676 following a decision by Carlo Maria Carafa, grandson of Giuseppe Branciforte, that in that year he was awarded with title of Prince of Mazzarino, the family residence was transferred from the castle to the prestigious building within the center of city. According to historical chronicles and detections, «the palace, adorned with splendid halls, gardens on the grounded floor and wall units, vast courtyards with capable tanks, still visible immense warehouse, warehouses, dozens and dozens of rooms for servants and vassals, barracks and courtyards for the company feudal juror classroom for the civic magistrate [...] and another for the final and public stores, a chapel of the palace, underground prisons of the rooms in the back and a fort adjacent to form the current prisons, an elegant theater [ ...] »(A. Li Gotti, 1982).

Under the domain of Branciforte-Carafa family, Mazzarino was embellished with many civic and religious monuments such as the Cathedral Church of Santa Maria della Neve, unfortunately incompleted on the front, but majestic in its structure. According to scholars, the architect Angelo Italia, who died during the work of his creation, was inspired, in his project, the Roman classical vision.

Of importance are also the baroque Church of Carmelo and the Capuchin Monastery (Convento dei Cappuccini), in which is preserved a wooden tabernacle inlaid with ivory, ebony, mother pearl and coral, artistic work of Brother Angelo Gagliano of Mazzarino. Important, finally, to the devotion of Mazzarinesi, the Church of Santa Maria del Mazzaro, 1782, originally dedicated to Santa Maria delle Grazie. According to historical sources, the current religious building was built on the previous three other factories dating from the XIIth century. The third, in particular, was destroyed by the earthquake of 1693. The church holds two important artifacts of the XIIth century: a painted panel depicting Saint Maria Delle Grazie and a wooden crucifix.