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29 maggio 2013
Memoir Descriptive of the Resources, Inhabitants, and Hydr William Henry Smyth - 1824 -


Memoir Descriptive of the Resources, Inhabitants, and Hydrography ... - Pagina 180

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Leaving Vindicari, a fine bay extends towards Marzamemi ; and about the middle of it is a place called the Porticella di ... The Prince of Giardinelli has founded the town of Pachino on the hills, the church of which, with the windmill near it, are ...


Memoir Descriptive of the Resources, Inhabitants, and Hydrography of Sicily ...

 Di William Henry Smyth


Noto.—About seven miles from Avola, by a very pleasant road, passable for carriages, stands Noto, a city of thirteen thousand inhabitants, and the capital of the province of that name. It is superbly situated, and from its elegant streets, and noble churches and convents, forms one of the most respectable places in Sicily; while its adjacent grounds, though a considerable quantity of the land is left waste, possesses such abundant fecundity as to add greatly to its opulence. Baron Fargioni, who acted some time as British consul at Noto, has an excellent collection of Greek and Roman coins and medals; with the Saracenic and modern Sicilian money; and a tolerable cabinet of mineralogy, which are obligingly shewn on an introduction.

The ancient city was called Neetum, and was the birth-place of the crafty Ducetius, although he is also claimed as a citizen by the town of Menae: it stood on an impregnable hill, four or five miles distant, where, amongst the wrecks of 1693, there are still remains of an amphitheatre and a gymnasium; but, in consequence of the earthquake of that year, the natives removed to the present spot, which, though more conveniently situated, is very unhealthy. The air was originally bad, but it is rendered still more deleterious by the practice of steeping hemp, and though this injurious custom has been lately prohibited, the natives yet retain a pale, sallow aspect, and swelled bodies, which constitute the principal evidence of the existence of mal' aria.

Between the site of Neetum and Palazzolo are found the remains of the city of Acrae, and near them are some curious bas-reliefs on the rocks, supposed to be in honour of Cybele.

The river Abysso, so well known in history, under the name of Helorus, winds through the plain below, and from its beneficial influence on the surrounding lands, (which it irrigates in summer, and overflows in winter,) has been compared to the Nile of Egypt. The walnut, olive, almond, fig-trees, and vines, that luxuriantly abound, intermixed with myrtles, jessamines, oleanders, roses, aloes, and numerous aromatic shrubs, impregnating the soft and tranquil atmosphere with a delicious fragrance, and arraying nature in her gayest colours, seem to point out this as one of the spots where the comforts of a domestic circle would compensate for the evanescent enjoyments arising from the trappings, pageantry, and etiquette of ambitious grandeur. But, alas! wherever these beautiful vales occur, in southern climes, reptiles, misery, and disease, are in attendance; and thus in this delightful plain, (the scenery of which was sung by Virgil, and called Eloria Tempe by Ovid,) scarcely any habitations appear among its rich foliage, or on the banks of its meandering streams; and the few cadaverous natives that dwell there, are found idling and sleeping away the heat of the day, enfeebled by sickness, and devoured by vermin. How different a sensation is inspired by the sight of a well cultivated valley in England, sprinkled with cottages, and teeming with an industrious population, where the muchcalumniated climate is not only salubrious, but invites, and permits, both labour and exercise; and above all, where the proud axiom exists, that a slave cannot breathe in so fine an air.

The Asinaro disembogues itself near the Ballata di Noto, a small anchorage, near a point of land, with a few magazines on it, where the produce of the neighbouring country is embarked. It was between the Helorus and the Asinarus that, after several severe skirmishes, the battle was fought which completed the destruction of the Athenian invaders. It is commemorated by a circular column (now called Pizzuta), formed of huge stones, without cement, on a square pedestal of four steps, upon the very spot where the unhappy Nicias resigned his arms to Gylippus, and surrendered his wretched companions to a deliberately cruel slavery. It is surprising that the festival, instituted on this occasion, has been preserved through all changes of fortune, government, and religion, and is still celebrated (though now in honour of a saint) at Syracuse, in May, when two olive trees are borne in triumph into the city, and, during the fortnight they are allowed to remain there, debtors can roam about, free from molestation.

The neighbourhood teems with fragments of sepulchres, walls, antae, baths, and other vestiges of antiquity, supposed to consist principally of the ruins of Elorus and Icana; but very little has been found to give any precise information respecting them: the following is almost the only legible inscription that has been taken from thence, and is preserved, among several other relics, at Noto:

EnirYMNAZIAPXft
APIZTIflNOZ-TOYArAG
?I AlZTIXlNOZ-TOYEn IKPAT
N EANIZKOI-IEPHN EIO

Vindicari.—About four miles south-south-west half-west from the Ballata di Noto, beyond the pretty coves of Sta in Pace, lies Vindicari, a small port and caricatore, situated near the sandy marshes of Rovilta. These probably were once the port of Machara, vestiges of which town still exist in the vicinity. Vindicari is defended by a respectable tower of four guns; the southern point of the fort is formed by a small islet, called Macaresa, also bearing some antique remains on its west side. Refreshments may be procured, but not with facility.

Leaving Vindicari, a fine bay extends towards Marzamemi; and about the middle of it is a place called the Porticella di Reitano, where the common people, from tradition, believe an immense treasure to be buried; it has, in consequence, undergone some severe ransacking.

Marzamemi.—Four miles and a half from Passaro tower stands Marzamemi, a small filthy village, which, during the fishing season, is strewed with the blood and intestines of the tunny; as the people, however, are industrious, this Tonnara is one of the most profitable in Sicily, and there being a salt lake at the back of the Magazines, where the salt necessary for the establishment is made, the site is additionally valuable. The port, defended by a miserable towerbattery, is very small and shallow, with two low islets off it, affording but sufficient room for a few trading boats.

The coast, from Marzamemi to the southward, presents a barren, desolate appearance, and is nearly deserted, which, I believe, is principally owing to a dread of the Barbary cruisers. The soil is naturally fertile, and of a volcanic nature, disposed in horizontal strata of cinders and argillaceous tufa, in which other products are imbedded and intersected by lavas, containing, however, neither porphyry nor granite. Attempts have been made to improve these lands, but, as usual with the Sicilian agriculturalists, the desire of immediate re-imbursement makes them force newly-cleared grounds with successive crops of corn, until they become impoverished. The Prince of Giardinelli has founded the town of Pachino on the hills, the church of which, with the windmill near it, are conspicuous objects all round this part of the coast.

Passaro.—Below Pachino is a large valley, with an extensive salt lake, and two wells of fresh water between it and the sea. The evaporation occasioned by the heat of the sun causes the salt to crystallize near the banks of the lake. The canes and shrubs around are resorted to by a profusion of game. From the shape of the beach that shuts up this lake, I have no doubt of its having been once open, and that it was the Port Pachynus, where the Roman fleet was so disgracefully moored by the drunken Cleomenes, and where the hapless sailors were compelled by hunger to devour the roots of the dwarf palm, a plant that still flourishes in prodigious quantity.

On the point of the south part of the valley of Ginepre, and opposite Passaro Isle, is the large "tonnara" of that name, an establishment giving employment to about three hundred people, during the fishing season. Passaro Isle is composed of a curious aggregate of marble, lava, tufa, cinders, and oceanic deposits, and is high on all sides but the west, where it is joined to the main by a sandy spit, with two feet water on it. On its eastern point stands an excellent tower-redoubt for twelve guns, garrisoned by seventy-five men, with good bomb-proofs, stores, and cistern; it commands the island and coast for some distance, but would be infinitely more serviceable were a lighthouse erected on it, as this point is liable daily to be either the landfall or departure of various vessels.

This arid island, at the very extremity of the deserted wilds of Sicily, appeared, as if intended by nature and man, to be a place of banishment for the worst of criminals, under the control of some pardoned bandit; and on landing, the unfavourable prepossession was strengthened in my mind, by seeing two crosses among the dwarf herbage, to point out the spot where two murders had been perpetrated; though in Roman Catholic countries, crosses are, indeed, often erected, not only where murders have been committed, but also where a man has died suddenly by disease or accident, without the benefit of extreme unction. Our surprise, therefore, was great, on entering

the tower, to be met on the drawbridge by a veteran gentleman of the old school, with venerable white hair, and the order of Constantine decorating his neat, but antiquated, uniform coat; and still more, on his introducing us to his family, consisting of his lady, two grown-up daughters, and a son, who, with an air of politeness and good address, had been brought up on this sequestered spot. Our arrival was hailed by the family, the adjutant, and the chaplain, as a most auspicious event; and an hospitable kindness during the eight or ten days we had occasion to remain there, proved the sincerity of their professions. Still we found this remote community troubled with many of the agitations that disturb the peace of larger societies; and the old gentleman's vanity was conspicuous, by sending his invitations to our marquee on paper, stamped thus:

[graphic][merged small]

D. O R A Z I O
MOTTOLA

De' Marchesi dell' Amato, Maggiore de' R. Eserciti di S. M. (D. G.)
Comandante Proprietario del R. Forte, ed Isola di Capopassero, suo
Littorale, e di Real Ordine incaricato delle Funzioni di Commissario
Reale di Guerra del medesimo Forte, e Deputato d' Alta
Polizia, ec. ec.

This I have preserved, that the passing mariner, while he sympathizes (as is always the case) with the wretched people supposed to exist on so desolate a point, may, perhaps, be amused at a specimen of the Cape Passaro etiquette; and which will, at the same time' teach him that old officers can be found, who would rather shine in importance even there, than remain in insignificant obscurity in a to

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10 febbraio 2010
Pachino Promontorio La Città di Apolline Porto Ulisse Ispica Pachino Prof. Bellisario

Città di Apolline.

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Porto Ulisse e Punta Castellazzo (Ragusa) Il lavoro del Prof. Bellisario, insigne studioso della città di Ispica (prov. Ragusa), è una miniera di notizie storiche ed archeologiche sulla parte della fascia costiera ispicese (sud orientale) che ha presentato e presenta ancora giacimenti archeologici di grandissima importanza. Questa parte della Sicilia Sud Orientale, compresa tra il promontorio di Pachino e Punta Castellazzo, fu sempre ambita dai vari popoli che, dai tempi immemorabili, si sono insediati in questi luoghi ameni.
 
Le fonti storiche, che qui testimoniano presenze di gente in ogni epoca, sono moltissime e tutte concordano nell’ammettere l’esistenza fin dai tempi più remoti di un funzionale ed attivo scalo marittimo (Porto Ulisse), di una città antichissima lungo il perimetro portuale (Apolline), e di una grande fortezza eretta sul promontorio di (Castellazzo), a difesa dell’entroterra e del porto. 
 
Subito dopo la grande spiaggia di Santa Maria del Focallo, oltrepassati gli scogli di Punta Cirica e gli stupendi faraglioni poco distanti, s’incontra una lingua di terra che si proietta sul mare verso Mezzogiorno e delimita la parte occidentale della baia di Porto Ulisse. E’ Punta Castellazzo. 
 
Anticamente la sua estensione doveva essere molto superiore all’attuale, sia in lunghezza che in larghezza. Probabilmente si allungava sul mare 300-350 metri ed era larga quasi 120 metri. Oggi, secondo la mappa catastale, misura circa 250 metri di lunghezza ed 80 di larghezza massima.  
 
Durante la dominazione romana qui esistette un’importantissima “statio”, cioè un luogo di sosta e un “refugium”, un approdo per le navi, come attesta l’Itinerarium Antonimi. Nel periodo medioevale qui fu costruito un imponente castello, probabilmente su una preesistente costruzione. Dopo i Romani, molti altri popoli hanno posseduto questo posto ambito: i Vandali, i Goti, gli Arabi, i Normanni, gli Spagnoli, i Francesi, che in tempi storici diversi si stabilirono in questa penisoletta, la quale ad un tempo assicurava protezione e rifugio. 

Sicuramente qui, dunque, sorse una città di origini antichissime. Molto importante e strategicamente ben ubicata, atteso che si trovava a gestire uno dei più grandi porti della Sicilia Sud-Orientale, appunto Porto Ulisse, e su una delle rotte più battute dell’antichità per i commerci tra la Grecia, Malta ed i paesi dell’Oriente e dell’Africa. Ma qual'era questa città “famosa e bella” di cui parla Fazello? Qual’era il suo nome? Tutti gli studiosi sono concordi nell’identificare tale città con “Apolline”. 
 
Porto Ulisse, chiamato da Cicerone Odysseae Portus.  Una zona altamente commerciale, visto che quì confluivano tutti i prodotti dell’entroterra, vino, pellami, carne, frumento, ecc., che venivano caricati sulle navi per essere venduti a Roma o in Oriente. Una città ricca protesa verso i mercati africani, italici ed orientali. La Sicilia centro meridionale, infatti, tra il II ed il IV secolo d.C., fu prescelta dai Romani come terra di delizie e di sfruttamento terriero
 
A questo si deve aggiungere che sicuramente l’antica Spaccaforno (l’insediamento di Cava d’Ispica), distante dal Porto Ulisse e da Apolline meno di dieci chilometri, già al tempo della venuta dei Greci, e durante la dominazione romana, era certamente molto abitata, come attestano i resti degli insediamenti rupestri tuttora esistenti, per cui c’è da pensare ad un intenso traffico commerciale tra gli abitanti dell’interno verso la cittadina costiera il cui porto rimase attivo fino ai primi dell’Ottocento.
  
Le prime comunità che si insediarono a Punta Castellazzo e usarono Il porto erano sicuramente dedite alla pesca, ma prevalentemente praticavano un intenso commercio con i popoli dell’entroterra e quelli di tutto il Mediterraneo. E infatti fu attivo lo scambio di merce pregiata proveniente dai mercati orientali e africani, come stoffe, armi, profumi, manufatti di ceramica, che veniva barattata con le materie prime, come cuoi, pellame, frumento, vino, olio, ecc…, prodotti di cui era ricca la Sicilia. 
 
I Greci, successivamente, oltre che a dedicarsi ai commerci, praticarono con perizia non solo la pesca d’altura dei tonni e dei pesci spada, ma anche l’arte della conservazione del pesce che esportavano in tutto il Mediterraneo. In tutta la Sicilia c’erano industrie artigianali per la salatura del pescato già dal tempo dei Fenici. E sicuramente a Pachino e Marzamemi esistette fin dai  più remoti tempi una costruzione per la conservazione del pesce. A Portopalo, dove esiste un’antica tonnara di proprietà Belmonte che viene ancora attivata periodicamente, anche se i tonni sembrano scomparsi da alcuni decenni, è tutt’oggi viva la tradizione marinara della conservazione artigianale del pesce.
 
Successivamente, nel periodo romano, ebbe grande successo un preparato a base di pesce, il Garum, alla cui preparazione e commercializzazione sicuramente la popolazione di Apolline si dedicò attivamente, come facevano le comunità marinare di Marzamemi, Pachino e Portopaleo, oltre che di tutto il bacino del Mediterraneo. Il Garum ebbe una fondamentale importanza economica nell’antichità perché considerato una prelibatezza molto ricercata ma costosa. Era una specie di salsa ottenuta facendo macerare col sale in apposite vasche intestini di sgombri o di tonni, a volta mescolati con altri piccoli pesci. Nel periodo romano veniva usato come salsa da condimento, talvolta miscelato con vino, olio, aceto, acqua.  
 
Tutto il preparato veniva fatto ammollare nella salamoia per almeno due mesi al calore del sole, quindi veniva filtrato, ottenendo una parte pregiata e il “liquamen” di minor pregio. Questi contenitori, di forma rotonda e quadrata, ancora oggi possono ammirarsi, ma sono mal conservati in mezzo a sterpaglie che rischiano di far perdere questi antichissimi reperti. 
 
 
 
 
Turismo in Sicilia by wwww.costierabarocca.it
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