Stemma del Comune di Serradifalco

(Coat of Arms of the Town of Serradifalco)


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As shown on the Serradifalco town website.


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As shown on the
Società Mutuo Accorso Certificate.

       The raptor shown on the seal is interpreted by some as an eagle holding a torch in its beak, but I prefer to interpret it as a hawk or falcon.  The falcon, symbol of a leader's swiftness and courage, represents the town's name (originally Serra del Falcone), which means 'Mountain of the Hawk'.   The hawk also represents one who does not rest until his objective is achieved.  The Sicilian language is more ancient than the Tuscan dialect that is the "official" Italian language.  In Sicilian, the name of the town is pronounced SERRADIFARCU (sair-uh-dee-FAR-koo).
       The green diagonal on the crest represents a loyal defender, the vertical stripes (pales), military strength.  The starbursts are the rowells of a pair of spurs, signifying knighthood or nobility, emphasized by the surmounting ducal crown, indicating the noble origin of the town's second ruler, the Baron (later Duke) Leonardo LoFaso Pietrasanta.
       The entire shield is bordered by branches of indigenous trees: on the left, the laurel,  (Sicilian 'addauru') an emblem of prosperity and fame; on the right, the oak ('querciu'), signifying strength and endurance.

(Analysis of the Seal of the Town of Serradifalco, based on assumptions by Angelo F. Coniglio.)


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Serradifalco, July 2004 ~ Photo by Greg and Melissa Coniglio


A copy of the book Serradifalco was kindly sent to me by the great-grandson of my father Gaetano Coniglio's brother Antonio,  Giuseppe Micciche and his father Giovanni Micciche.   It was written by Giuseppe Testa in 1990, the 350th anniversary of the founding of the town.  Below is the beginning of the first chapter of that book, in Italian, and then translated into English.  To see more of the book, CLICK HERE.



Archeologia del Territorio

          <<Ogni sette anni, a mezzanotte in punto, nella piazzetta vicino alla sorgente “la testa di l'acqua“, si svolge una magica fiera. Chi vuole assistervi deve salire su un gran masso che sorge sull'acqua, prima dei ventiquattro rintocchi, e vedrà come per incanto illuminarsi tutta la piazzetta come se fosse pieno giorno. Vedrà quindi una gran quantità di buoi, di pecore, capre, e vicino prender posto i rivenditori di arnesi di lavoro, per i campi, per le officine, per gli usi comuni.
          E vedrà anche rivenditori di frutta come mele, melarance, melagrane. Tutti si affollano ma nessuno compra, nessuno vende. Se si riesce per prima a comprare anche un solo frutto spigna la fiera e diviene ricco, perche il frutto e un masso tutto d'oro zecchino.
          Questa fiera avviene ogni sette anni>>1.
S.D. Di Raimondi, in SICANIA, anno 1, No. 6, 1 dicembre 1913, pag. 211 <<La fiera di mezzanotte>> (Serradifalco).




Archaeology of the Territory

          "Every seven years, at midnight on the dot, in the little plaza close to the fountain, 'the head of water', a magical fair unfolds. Those who are careful to observe must go up on a large rock that rises above the water, before the clock strikes twenty-four times, and they will see, as though by enchantment, a light illuminating all the plaza as if it were broad daylight. They will see there a large number of cattle, of sheep, and goats, and near the corral, vendors of work implements, for the fields, workshops, and common uses.
          And they will also see vendors of fruit like apples, oranges, and pomegranates. Everyone crowds around, but nobody buys, no one sells. If someone succeeds in buying even a single fruit, the festival lights go out, the fair ends, and he becomes rich, because the fruit is a heap of gold coins.
          This festival appears every seven years "1.
1S.D. Di Raimondi, in SICANIA, year 1, No. 6, 1 December 1913, p. 211 "The midnight fair" (Serradifalco).


Below is a map of the topography and streets of Serradifalco, derived from a 1996 aerial photo.
Click on the map, expand to full size, and scroll to see details.


             Below is a map of a portion of Serradifalco.  In red, it shows the 'testa di l'acqua' mentioned above, in a little piazza reached through Vicolo Fonte (Fountain Alley).  The blue triangle locates the house where Gaetano Coniglio was born, at Vicolo Migliore No. 10.   The green circle shows the birthplace of Rosa Alessi, at Via Prizzi No. 9.  In purple is the Chiesa Matrice San Leonardo Abate, the church where Gaetano and Rosa were married on November 30, 1912.   The orange rectangle identifies the Municipio, or Municipal Building, where the were married in a civil ceremony on December 1, 1912.  Church and state were at odds during this period, and a couple not only had to have their marriage blessed by the almighty, but approved by the civil authorities, to legitimatize any offspring.
              Click on the map, expand to full size, and scroll to see details.


            Serradifalco never had a very large population.  Its first census, in 1652, reported 451 inhabitants.  By 1750, the date to which our earliest ancestors can be traced, it had grown steadily to about 2,300 souls, and continued to grow at about the same rate, doubling to about 4,800 by the time my grandfather Gaetano Coniglio was born in 1836.  By the time my father Gaetano was born in 1889, it was up to about 8,000 residents, and in the early 1900s, when he and Rosa Alessi emigrated to America, Serradifalco was at its peak population of about 10,300 people.

            The spurt in growth immediately after Sicily was "re-unified" with the northern peninsula to form modern Italy (1870 through 1900) may have been due to an increase in production of the nearby sulfur mines, Rabbione, Stincone, and Grottacalda.  But evidently the local economy, like most of Sicily's could not sustain the population leading to the emigration of thousands of Serradifalchese to the U.S.  The U.S. put a quota on Italian immigration in the mid-twenties, but the diaspora continued even into the 1940s and '50s.  In that period, Belgium saw many Serradifalco immigrants, as did even Australia.

            Angelo Rizzo is a writer of lyric poetry and a native of Serradifalco.  In the book Serradifalco, Giuseppe Testa presents this poem by Rizzo.  An English translation follows.

Angelo Rizzo, a Serradifalchese,
also speaks of the sulfur miners
in the dark fissures
and their tormented flesh, in his lyric poem:

This Village of Mine


This village of mine has seen three hundred fifty years,
Serradifalco, lying at the middle of the island,
which has gathered within itself the seeds of all peoples.
Her heart compresses and expands
with beating flow.  Sweet village,
which gave me birth, and in which remain
my ancient roots.  Her story
is an anonymous story, whispering
through the sunny vales, where in May
among the waves of wheat the shepherds
guard their flocks beside the vineyards.
She has cried much and laughed little, always,
this village of mine, with a back bent
to the scorched land, or with tormented
in dark caverns.
(My childhood was furrowed
by screams and cries: because of the mines
there’s a desperate shout in my heart.
But I cannot untie myself from the one who
gave me my lifeblood, prepared me for any fate;
who sees me as a little boy running,
with my fellow rebels, to ‘Purgatory’;

from the one who sees me silently passing
through the streets, th
at lead to my father,
through the streets, that take me to my mother).

My village roams the world
looking for work, its sons
are found everywhere, abandoned
to a troubled future, humiliated
by mocking words: “You southerners”
they say, so many times, to my people;
“Sicilian bastards,” I heard
with my own ears, in bleak Belgium.
It is the fate of the exile, to swallow
tears and insults, in hidden pain.
But on the town’s Calvario there is still a cross,
extending its arms wide in the sunset;
it seems to say “I bless you,
beloved children, who are far away”
The village goes on: seeds,
left intact in the deserted streets,
reopen by day; that is the promise
of a happier tomorrow, where the sun shines
and heartens the voyager.

Angelo Rizzo, translated by Angelo F. Coniglio                  


           This is a song in the Sicilian language that was popular with immigrants from Sicily and Serradifalco, brought from their homeland: 'u sciccarieddu', which means 'the little donkey'.



.More about Serradifalco

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The First Visit

The Second Visit

The Third Visit

The Fourth Visit

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The Church

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La Società

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The Book

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