SERRADIFALCO [Sicilian: SERRADIFARCU] was written by Giuseppe Testa in 1990, to celebrate the 350th anniversary of the founding of the town.  Below is a partial translation.  Some parts of the original Italian are shown, in blue, with translation.  Where Latin footnotes were used, they are shown in red, but without any translation.  Blank pages are omitted, therefore page numbers are not always continuous.  More will be added eventually.  [Editorial comments by me are shown in this way.]

      For sending this treasure of a book, thanks to Giuseppe Micciché, great-great-grandson of Gaetano Coniglio and Maria Carmela Calabrese, who were my grandparents. 

      Tom Palmeri, another son of Serradifarchisi emigrants, has posted a PDF file of the entire book, at  Thanks, Tom!  Tom also has an excellent wbebsite detailing his (successful) quest to become a dual Sicilian/American citizen, at  

        ~ Angelo F. Coniglio

This is a 2022 photo of the author, Professor Giuseppe Testa

He is flanked by members of the
Associazione culturale "Serra del Falco"
("Mountain of the Hawk" Cultural Association): on the left, Sergio Milazzo; on the right, president Carmela Maria Miceli and treasurer Angelo Speziale.

Questa è una foto del 2022 dell'autore, il Professore Giuseppe Testa.

È affiancato dai membri dell'Associazione culturale "Serra del Falco": a sinistra Sergio Milazzo; a destra, la presidente Carmela Maria Miceli e il tesoriere Angelo Speziale.

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a cura dell’Amministrazione Comunale

(edited by the Town Administration)

Ai Giovani
di Serradifalco
                   G. T.

To the Youth
of Serradifalco
                   G. T.


           La ricostruzione storica degli avvenimenti umani è sempre un problema aperto e difficile. Scegliere fra i fatti accaduti, quelli che si stimano più importanti, porta ad un inevitabile elemento di soggettività dovuto al punto di vista dello storico, che deve essere comunque compreso e giudicato. I Serradifalchesi hanno sempre avvertito il “bisogno” di conoscere la propria storia e le proprie origini. Le poche notizie storiche spesso confuse, tramandate da generazione in generazione, non hanno mai soddisfatto la nostra voglia di “conoscerci”.

           La nostra Serradifalco è legata con mille fili al passato, ed è al passato che dobbiamo rivolgere la nostra mente e il nostro cuore, cercando di riprendere quei fili che il tempo ha spezzato, per comprendere la nostra originaria fisionomia collettiva e l'evoluzione della nostra comunità, consapevoli che per quanto grande possa essere il contributo che una generazione da alla propria comunità, tale contributo è sempre più piccolo di quello che la stessa generazione eredita dagli uomini vissuti nel passato, e che ha permesso il “suo vivere” nel presente.

          Il 350o anniversario della fondazione del nostro Comune è stato l'occasione per l'Amministrazione comunale per invitare la nostra collettività a ripercorrere insieme, grazie al lavoro del Prof. G. Testa, la nostra storia; per sottolineare avvenimenti più o meno importanti, per parlare di uomini illustri, di contadini, minatori, di gente umile, che insieme hanno costruito il nostro presente.

           La storia di questa “Serra del Falco” è la storia in cui noi tutti viviamo e non potremmo farlo consapevolmente senza conoscerla, ma è soprattutto la “nostra” storia che consegnamo gelosamente ai Serradifalchesi e a quanti amano il nostro Paese.

Prof. Egidio Speziale
Assessore alla Cultura


          The historical reconstruction of human events is always an open and difficult problem. To choose between the factual events, those that are believed more important, brings an unavoidable element of subjectivity with the point of view of the historian, which must however be included and considered. The Serradifalcan has always perceived the "need" to know his own history and his own origins. The sparse, often confused historical information, handed on from generation to generation, has never satisfied our desire "to know ourselves".
          Our Serradifalco is tied with thousands of threads to the past, and it is to the past that we must turn our mind and our heart, trying to restore those threads that time has broken, in order to comprehend our original collective facade and the evolution of our community, aware that however great a generation’s contribution to its own community, such contribution is always less than what we inherit from those who lived in the past, who have allowed us "to be living" in the present.
          The 350th anniversary of the foundation of our Comune has been the occasion for the Town Administration to invite our community to retrace our history together, thanks to the work of Prof. G. Testa; to emphasize events more or less important, and to speak of illustrious men, of peasants, miners, and of humble folk, who together have constructed our present.
          The history of this "Mountain of the Hawk" is the history in which we all live, and we could not be aware without knowing it, but is above all "our" history, which we deliver proudly to Serradifalcans and to those who love our Town.

Prof. Egidio Speziale
City Councillor for Culture


       After innumerable difficulties of every kind, finally, today I can say that the historical picture of Serradifalco, from its origin to our day, is completed in all its essential parts.
       The work has been long, but the satisfaction remains of having contributed by placing one small pebble into the structure of the knowledge of this Town.
       From it, other searches will be able to spring, other relations, in order to uncover, as years pass, a more and more complete picture.
       The difficulties began at the start: to put order to many, varied and isolated items, and to propose a serious, scientific, sure vision, based only and exclusively on documentation: from the real property and feudal fiefs (the Moncada, Graffeo, Lo Faso) to several social, economic, religious, and political events, happening over the course of three and a half centuries, imbedded in the Sicilian panorama, and on that vaster national and European stage.
       My greater satisfaction comes from having received as never before a sensitive, careful, spontaneous and cordial collaboration from so many Serrafalcan citizens, agencies, institutions, and associations, that it is very difficult to list them all.
       But I cannot do less than to list in this long directory Mayor prof. Michele Territo with all the Councilmen, who have put their confidence in me, to see an ancient aspiration realized; the Communal Secretary geom. Vincenzo Mazzara and all the Employees of the Municipal Offices; the archpriest Galante; the directors of the Institute of San Giuseppe and the College of Maria; the Gentlemen Salvatore Petix, Agostino Aquilina , Camilla Licalsi, Filippo Genco ...
       Moreover, Dr. Claudio Torrisi with the Civil employees and Employees of the Archives of State of Caltanissetta; The Employees of the Archives of State of Palermo, of the Communal Libraries of Caltanissetta and Palermo; of the Library of the Sicilian Region, Palermo; of the Diocesan Administration of Agrigento; prof. Rosa Scaglione Guccione, General Secretary, and prof. Massimo Ganci, President of the Sicilian Society for the History of Birthplace Palermo; Dr. the Grazi Fallico Burgarella, Supervisor of the Archives of State of Sicily; the Gentlemen Franco Sedia and Orazio Rotondo of the Papal chancery of the Civil Court of Caltanissetta ...
       And finally, I must complete this list with my Wife, and my sons Claudio and Ivano. Without their collaboration I would have never carried this history to fulfillment.

Campofranco, November 1990
                                                                                                                                                            G. T.





ASCL      - Archivio di Stato di Caltanissetta
                  Archives of State of Caltanissetta
ASPA      - Archivio di Stato di Palermo
                   Archives of State of Palermo
ASPP      - Archivio di Storio Patria Palermo, Lo Faso
                   Archives of the History of Birthplace Palermo, Lo Faso
ACAG      - Archivio della Curia Vescovile di Agrigento
                   Archives of the Diocesan Administration of Agrigento
S.V.P.      - Sacre Visite Pastorale
                   Decrees from Holy Visits
ACSe      - Archivio del Comune di Serradifalco
                   Archives of the Community of Serradifalco
AMSe      - Archivio della Chiesa Madre di Serradifalco
                   Archives of the Mother Church of Serradifalco
ATCL      - Archivio del Tribunale Civile di Serradifalco
                   Archives of the Civil Court of Serradifalco
ASS         - Archivio Storico Siciliano, Palermo
                   Sicilian Historical Archive, Palermo
ASSO      - Archivio Storico Della Sicilia Orientale, Catania
                   Historical Archives of Eastern Sicily, Catania
ASM       - Archivio Storico di Messina
                   Historical Archives of Messina
NQM      - Nuovi Quaterni del Meridione, Palermo
                   New Views of Southern Italy, Palermo
AGTC      - Archivio di Giuseppe Testa, Campofranco
                   Archives of Giuseppe Testa, Campofranco


Le fotografie moderne sono di Angelo Gallo, Salvatore Middione, Giuseppe Di Francesco, Giuseppe Testa, Pubblifoto, Archivio di Stato di Caltanissetta e di Palermo; varie fotocopie.
Di quelle antiche sopnosciamo l’autore e lo studio fotographico.


The modern photographs are by Angelo Gallo, Salvatore Middione, Giuseppe Di Francesco, Giuseppe Testa, Pubblifoto, Archive of the Records of Caltanissetta and of Palermo; various photocopies.
For the older ones, the creators or the photographic studios are unknown.













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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.
         Similmante alla <<fiera di mezzanotte>>, vi sono tante altr leggende e tradizioni di Serradifalco, che narrano di ant chi abitatori, grandi re siculi sicani greci o romani, immense ricchezze do melagrani d’oro, rubini e ptetre preziose sotterrate e sparse tra le contrade di Serradifalco.
          Potremmo continuare, ma il nostro cammino volge in tutt’altro campo lontano da fantasie, dove

.         1S.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.
          Like the “midnight fair”, there are many other legends and traditions of Serradifalco, which tell of ancient inhabitants, great kings of the Siculi, Sicani, Greeks or Romans, immense riches of golden pomegranates, rubies and precious stones, buried and spread throughout the streets of Serradifalco.
          We could continue, but our walk turns to another field entirely, far from fantasies, where fillerfillerillerfiller

         1S.D. Di Raimondi, in SICANIA, vol. 1, no. 6, 1 December 1913, p. 211 "The midnight fair" (Serradifalco).


archaelogy is not confused with the supernatural, and where ancient and remote reality is confirmed by visible and infallible documentation.
          Our voyage takes us to the research of royalty, and of the historical record of the town, and not to the ‘head of water’ but elsewhere, in the footsteps of a great researcher, Antonio Salinas, who in 1883 wrote thusly in his Archaeological Excursions in Sicily, regarding our village:
          “On this road from Serradifalco leading to the sulfur mine of Grotta d’acqua (the Grotto of water), before joining with the ‘Zagaredda casina’, are seen crypts and ruined sepulchral chambers, also containing crypts.”2
          And that is the lone testimony, unfortunately, of a remote epoch, immeasurable, suffused in mystery and wrapped in a haze.
          Biagio Pace wrote no more, in his work Art and Civilization of Ancient Sicily; he repeated the information, without any addition: “…the indicated crypts near Serradifalco not far from the sulfur mine of Grotta d’acqua (from feudal times) are from the Christian epoch”3. [English editor’s note: Pace appears to be wrong; some of the tombs are from prehistoric Siculan or Sicanian times.]
          Domenico Lo Faso himself, Duke of Serradifalco, the great archaeologist, writer and author of various scientific works, from whom we expected some specific and interesting words, reports not a single recollection of the land and the feudal fief of his ancestors.
          Only in 1917, Siculus (who was most certainly Salvatore Raccuglia) made a thorough investigation and a detailed description, which was published in SICANIA, with many notes revised in March of that year, and begins in this way4;

“Siculan sites in Sicily.
Grotta d’Acqua
When leaving Caltanissetta by rail towards Canicatti, between San Cataldo and Serradifalco, and exactly midway between the first and second tunnel, a little beyond signal box 143, on the vista to the left you see a group of houses, on the flank of a small stream, and standing above them a small mountain falling almost vertically, and whose face is all spread with holes, some rectangular, like glass windows, others semicircular, more or less widened, like the mouths of ovens, excavated in the rock.
          The place is called the Cave of Water after a natural grotto from which issues a spring that is

         2 ANTONINO SALINAS, Escursione Archeologiche in Sicilia, A.S.S., VII, 1883, fasc. I-IV, pag. 107.
BIAGIO PACE, Arte e Civiltà della Sicilia Antica, Milano, 1935, vol. IV, pag. 174. Il Duca Domenico Lo Faso Pietrasanta, archeologo scrisse Le antichita di Sicila esposte ed illustrate, 5 volumi.
SICANIA, anno V, 1 marzo 1917, n. 3, pag. 103.

         2 ANTONINO SALINAS, Archaeologcal Excursions in Sicily, A.S.S., VII, 1883, par. I-IV, p. 107.
         3 BIAGIO PACE, Art and Civilization of Ancient Sicily, Milano, 1935, vol. IV, p. 174. Duke Domenico Lo Faso Pietrasanta, archaeologist, wrote The antiquities of Sicily explained and illustrated, 5 volumes.
         4 SICANIA, vol. V, March 1, 1917, no. 3, p. 103.


channeled into a fountain built beside a country lane, possibly the remnant of an ancient trail; and the mountain is called Grotta d’acqua, and what’s more this name belongs to all of an ancient feudal district, that extends for many kilometers to the south and east, and it is given to the lands, and to the assets and buildings that spring up there”.

          The holes that open in the mountain are entrances to small caverns of a Siculan necropolis, excavated by men, whose village could be found on the plateau that overlooks the mountain.
          The caves have the shape of ovens, with a flat floor and walls that rise curving, until they actually form a hemispherical vault. They resemble tombs of the second age of the Siculans, prominent in 800 BC, at the time of the first population of Sicily, by Siculans or Sicanians.
         At the lower slopes of the mountain are two larger caves, one called the Cave of the Fates, the other with traces of crypts, by now ruined, that bring to mind a small catacomb.
          There is nothing to say what was the history of the village, which built the necropolis, and every trace is lost, even its name of old.
          Archaeologists, writers, historians, geographers, all ignore the ancient epoch of these caves. Neither is there anyone who speaks of the other feudal fiefs or of the territory of Serradifalco.
          Rodano, who was well informed on the antique works of Gela, Butera, Mazzarino, Sutera, Riesi and Pietraperzia, modern cities born in the ancient epoch with the names of Terranova, of Omphace, Mactorion, Sotjr, Altariba and Caulonia, doesn’t even wink at Serradifalco in his work5.
          Nor are records or information brought out by Amico or Villabianca, even up to today’s Ernesto De Miro, in his singular “Archaeology of the Nissene”, or Vincezo La Rosa…
          We have gone to the Government Department responsible for archaeological excavations in Agrigento, but among the numerous reports, which consider excavations of Butera, Mussomeli, Santa Caterina, Milena, Monte Desusino, and Costa di Mandorle, there does not exist one report with the name of our village.
          It is rumored, as often happens in Sicilian villages rich in history, of fortuitous archaeological finds in the surrounding territory. But if they haven’t been discovered officially and excavated by the Government Department, a face will not be able to be given to the shadows, nor will they be changed to firm declarations.

         5 LEONARDO RODANO, Sulle città che furano nella Provincia di Caltanissetta, Caltanissetta, 1859.

         5 LEONARDO RODANO, On the Cities that existed in the Province of Caltanissetta, Caltanissetta, 1859.


          Equally vague and uncertain is the placing in Serradifalco of the Castle of Minsiario and the hamlet of Minzel, given by King Frederic II to bishop Ursone, in consideration for services received from the church of Agrigento.
          “To Minsciar, eighteen miles through the plain and between the mountains of Girgenti”.
          Minsiario was determined by Amari to be in Sant’Angelo Muxaro, or Montedoro. Salvatore Raccuglia, in SICANIA, proposed and insisted that it was in Serradifalco6.
          “This castle”, writes Raccuglia, “is at the peak of a steep mountain; the inhabited area around it is cultivated, has much land for planting, and is rich in agricultural products. From Serradifalco to Al Quatta [Canicatti] is about half a day, ten miles”.




         6 La Sicilia nel 1154 di ‘Ibn ‘Idris, di SALVATORE RACCUGLIA, in SICANIA, n. 49, anno V, 1917, n. 8, pag. 43.
Storia dei Musulmani di Sicilia, Catania 1933, I vol., pag. 480, n. 2. 
Le più antiche carte dell’Archivio Capitolare di Agrigento (1092-1282), Palermo 1960, pagg. 97-98, nota 1.

         6 The Sicily of ‘Ibn ‘Idris in 1154, by SALVATORE RACCUGLIA, in SICANIA, no. 49, vol. V, 1917, no. 8, p. 43.
History of the Moslems of Sicily, Catania 1933, vol. I, p. 480, no. 2.
The oldest papers of the Capitular Archives of Agrigento (1092-1282), Palermo 1960, pp. 97-98, note 1.








(… - 1086 - 1617)





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          After the ancient and archaeological age, the name of Serradifalco7 still had not been used for the lands of this feudal fief.

        7 Di RAIMONDI, in SICANIA, (S.D.) anno 11, gen. 1914; n. 1, pag. 13 riporta una leggenda toponomastica siciliana:

La Serra del falcone

          Sullo stradale che porta dalla stazione ferroviaria verso il paese, vicino il secondo ponte, a de stra, si nota un avvallamento di terreno, accanto al quale si erge una collina, sulla quale vi è una rupe chiamata da tempo remoto: la Serra dal falcone.
          Nei pressi della rupe viveva un contadino che allevava pulcini. Ogni tanto un falcone, eludendo la sua sorveglianza, gliene rapiva qualcuno. Il contadino, quando sentiva il pigolio dei pulcini, vedeva già il rapace in alto nel cielo con tra le grinfie gli animaletti, che si dirigeva sicuro verso il rifugio della serra, la Serra o la rocca del falco.
          Tutto si concluse a lieto fine, perché il contadino un giorno, finalmente, uccise l'uccello rapace.
          Ed alla rupe, anche con gli anni a venire, rimase il suggestivo nome di Serra del Falco.
          La spiegazione del nome non presenta difficoltà.
ORRADO AVOLIO, nella sua opera Introduzione allo studio del dialetto siciliano, Palermo, 1975, pag. 128, nella nota n. 4 scrive su serra: «schiena di monte, sommità prerutta: bl. serra.
In un diploma siciliano del 1094, accennato dal Vigo a pag. 23 della Raccolta amplissima apparisce questo sostantivo. Lo spagnolo ha sierra».
Lo stesso A
VOLIO in un'altra sua opera Di alcuni sostantivi locali del siciliano, in A.S.S. 1889, NS, anno XIII, a pag. 374, tra i toponomastici cita:
«numerosi composti con Serra (b. lat. serra, monte) Serrapizzuta, Serradifarcu, ecc.». 
IUSEPPE GIOENI, in Saggio di Etimologie siciliane, a cura della Soc. Sic. per la Storia Patria, Paler mo, 1889, pag. 256, scrive
«Serra (di munti); catena di monti: italiano antica serra (Poeti del primo secolo); spagnuolo sierra; portoghese e provenzano serra, catena di monti, già nei più antichi diplomi spagnuoli; propriamente sega, latino serra, dalla sua forma dentata. DIEZ 1, 380.

          7 Di RAIMONDI, in SICANIA, (S.D.) vol. 11, January 1914; no. 1, p. 13 reports a toponymous Sicilian legend:

The Mountain of the falcon

          On the road that takes you from the railway station towards the town, near the second bridge, to the right, you notice a subsidence of the land, beside which rises a hill, on which is a cliff called, from ancient times, the Mountain of the falcon.
          In the vicinity of the cliff lived a peasant who raised chicks. Every a once in a while a falcon, eluding his surveillance, would steal one. The peasant, when he heard the cry of the chicks, used to see the raptor up in the sky with the little animal between its talons; then, secure, it headed towards the shelter of the mountain, the Mountain or the Rock of the hawk.
          It all had a happy ending, because one day the peasant finally killed the raptor bird.
          And the cliff, even in the years to come, retained the evocative name of Mountain of the Hawk.
          The explanation of the name is not difficult.
ORRADO AVOLIO, in his work Introduction to the study of the Sicilian dialect, Palermo, 1975, p. 128, in note no. 4 writes on serra: "hump of mountain, jagged summit: Low Latin serra.
In a Sicilian certificate of 1094, he pointed out that from Vigo on p. 23 of the Raccolta amplissima this noun appears. The Spanish word is sierra".
The same A
in another work On some local nouns of Sicilian, in A.S.S. 1889, NS, Volume XIII, on p. 374, regarding toponyms, states:
"many use combinations with Serra (Low Latin serra, mountain) Serrapizzuta, Serradifarcu, etc.". 
GIUSEPPE GIOENI, in Proof of Sicilian Etymologies, edited by the Sicilian Society for the History of the Patria, Palermo, 1889, p. 256, writes "Serra (of mountains); mountain chain: ancient Italian serra (Poets of the first century); Spanish sierra; Portuguese and Provencal serra, chain of mountains, formerly used in ancient Spanish certificates; properly sega [saw], Latin serra, from its toothed form. DIEZ 1, 380. 


You must imagine land: land covering many domains, land of limitless borders, or without any borders, spread over all the farms, hills, mountains and mountain ranges, watercourses, rivers and springs; land of shepherds with their flocks, land of haggard lost wayfarers, where the horizon stretched from beginning to end, with boundaries uncharted.
          Land that did not know plow or planting, battered by the wind, the rain, and the tempests, or scorched by the sun of July and August, acres and acres of terrain over many fiefs without name or lordships, possessed by unknown owners, until the Normans.
          It was, in fact, the Normans who began to delimit lands and fiefs, and Roger specifically, to donate them to kinsmen or soldiers of fortune, who had been covered in glory beneath their battle pennants.
          And so for many years, for many centuries, from the Greek or Roman age, that land, which in time would be called by men (who was the first? in what age?) the Mountain of the Hawk, was under jurisdiction of the place that would become known as Caltanissetta. In 406 BC, when the city was founded by the Carthaginian admiral Nicia, in Sicily to besiege Siracusa, he named it Castra Nicia. Arabs and Saracens changed the name to Calatanissetta
[Qalat al Nissa], which means "rock or castle of women". And the future Serra del Falco was still under the purview of Caltanissetta in 1086, when Roger the Grand Count conquered the castle of Pietrarossa and founded the Royal Abbey of the Holy Spirit.  He embellished Caltanissetta with buildings, and he endowed others with feudal fiefs, parcels of land and rich gifts.
          And after him came his wife Adelasia, the Grand Countess, and his granddaughter Duchess Adelasia, and his great-grandson Count Goffredo, with other Princes of the Norman House.
          And after their deaths, for other innumerable generations, their descendants governed.
          The name of Serra del Falco, ignored in the Tax-rolls of Muscia in 1298 and 1408, is seen for the first time in the Capibrevi of Giovan Luca Barberi, when he tried to put some order to the recording of fiefs with respect to their owners8.
          He writes of the three fiefs of Serradifalco, Tarbuna, and Salina, in the valley of Mazzara, under

In Sicilian serra also signifies a single mountain, but steep and ronchioso, and so appears in many composites: Munsirratu, Serra di lu rimitu, etc.".
The same report is also given by D
U CANGE, Glossarium mediae et infimae latinitatis, VI. Band, 1954, p. 439. 
          8 B
ARTOLOMEO MUSCIA, Sicilia Nobilis, Palermo, 1692
IOVAN LUCA BARBERI, Capibrevi, Palermo, 1879, f. 379, 380, 381.


the jurisdiction of the Earldom of Caltanissetta, but he did not know when.  Like the rest, Arnico9 wrote: -- “I don’t know in which year it passed to the Earldom of Caltanissetta”.
          Serradifalco, Salacio, Grotta dell’acqua, Tarbuna, and Salina, as well as Naro, Sutera, Mussomeli, Delia, Fontanafredda and other lands in the valley of Mazzara, along with the seigniories of Caccamo and Gagliano, comprised the jurisdiction of the Earldom of Caltanisetta, rich with acres and square miles of land, and dominions with flocks and pastures in a jumble of confused and contradictory records.
          Then, little by little, slowly, names and designations come out; of districts, of territories, of parcels of land, and farms and estates, on which civil and criminal jurisdictions begin, and where Baronial Law is imposed.
          On March 20 1296 his Serene Highness King Frederic II of Aragon, on the day of his coronation, among many Countships created on that happy occasion, granted the title of Count of Caltanissetta to Pietro Lanza, grandson of the Chief Justice of the Kingdom. In 1396, Eleanor of Aragon, descendant of Lanza, was invested as Countess. 
          In 1405, Caltanissetta and its vast territory were owned by the Regio Demanio
[Royal Domain].
          Soon thereafter, King Martin granted those territories to Sanchio Roiz of Lihori, Grand Admiral of the Kingdom, who, on June 25 1407, in exchange for the city and lands of Augusta, gave them to Matteo Alagona-Moncada
A II, with their jurisdiction to him and his heirs in perpetuity.
          Guglielmo Alagona-Moncada was the first Count of the territories, along with the seigniories of Pietrarossa, Salinas, the Land of Cammarata, and the fiefs of Pietra d’Amico and Motta Sant’Agata, Castronovo . . . . 
          There followed a series of Moncadas: Matteo, Guglielmo, Antonio, and Giovanni Tommaso; and the Land often passed from the hands of one to another with quarrels, inheritances, transactions, etc. And these conflicts are not surprising, because the Moncadas were one of the most powerful Families of the Kingdom of Sicily.

          9 VITO AMICO, Dizionario topografico della Sicilia, tradotto dal latino ed annotato da Gioacchino Di Marzo, chierico distinto della Real Cappella Palatina, Palermo, 1856, due volumi, pag. 496.
         10 FRANCESCO MARIA EMANUELE e GAETANI, MARCHESE Di VILLABIANCA (d'ora in poi solo VILLABIANCA), Della Sicilia Nobile, Palermo, 1759, pag. 81;
GIOVANNI MULE BERTOLO, Caltanissetta nei tempi che furono e nei tempi che sono, Caltanissetta, 1906, pag. 183.

          9 VITO AMICO, Topographic dictionary of Sicily, translated from the Latin and annotated by Gioacchino Di Marzo, distinguished clerk of the Royal Palatine Chapel, Palermo, 1856, two volumes, p. 496.
         10 FRANCESCO MARIA GAETANI-EMANUELE, MARQUIS of VILLABIANCA (now and then simply VILLABIANCA), Of Noble Sicily, Palermo, 1759, p. 81;
GIOVANNI MULE BERTOLO, Caltanissetta in the times that were and in the times that are, Caltanissetta, 1906, p. 183.

       A [The Italian naming convention, especially for nobles, is to give the father's surname first, followed by "and (mother's surname)", thus Matteo, whose mother's surname was Alagona and whose father's was Moncada, would be Matteo Moncada ed Alagona.   In translating, I have used the English convention of giving the mother's surname first in a hyphenated surname for the child.]


          “Just think of it,” writes Alfredo Li Vecchi, “that half the island [of Sicily] was under that dominion.” In western Sicily, one Seigniory was made up of Palermo, Biancavilla, Adernò, and other minor centers; in eastern Sicily, one domain began with the Earldom of Collesano and extended with a band of unending land and fiefs all the way to Caltanissetta.
          Family of ancient nobility, honored by supreme assignments, rich with great states, with seigniories inferior to no one. It recalled the time of Charlemagne11.
          Courageous, valorous in war, on their family crest they had a black lion with red pickets around it in a field of gold. It was changed when, in the war against the Moors, during a scarcity of provisions a Guglielmo Raimondo [the First, of the Moncada House] brought seven loaves of bread to King Giacomo of Aragon. The Sovereign gave six to his Barons, and divided one with Moncada. Since then the new coat of arms comprised seven golden loaves, six whole and sound, and one divided in two, on a field of red12.
           In 1470 it is said that the Earldom of Caltanissetta was invested in Giovanni Tommaso Moncada, who was the son of Count Guglielmo Raimondo and Giovanna Sanseverino. He was a masterful man, a lover of fine literature, who took Raimondetta Ventimiglia for his wife. He was President of the Kingdom in 1475, Chief Justice of Sicily and Grand Chamberlain of the Kingdom of Naples13. He died on June 1, 1501.
          And with Giovanni Tommaso Moncada, Gentleman of the Parliament of King Giovanni, Governor General of arms in the city of Agosta, Viceroy, Grand Chamberlain of the Kingdom, Grand Chief Justice, Lord of his noble House and Count of Caltanissetta, begins the official story of the Land of the Mountain of the Hawk, in the dominion and jurisdiction of the Earldom of Caltanissetta.
          “Serra di Falco was a fief of Tommaso of Moncada, from whom it was transferred”, writes Villabianca14.   Barbieri15, putting some order to the feudal fiefs  and their proprietors, writes about fillerfillerfillerfillerfillerfillerfillerfiller

      11 ALFREDO LI VECCHI, Caltanisetta feudale, Caltanissetta-Roma, 1975, pag. 7;
ILADELFO MUGNOS, Teatro genologico delle Famiglie nobili titolate feudatarie ed antiche nobili del fidelissimo Regno di Sicilia, viventi ed estinte, Bologna, 1978, vol. II, pag. 173.
     12 Idem, pag. 182.
      13 MUGNOS, Teatro, cit., pag. 179;
ARBERI, Capibrevi, cit., III,   ff. 379, 380, 381;
Della Sicilia, cit., II, Libro V,  f. 93 e vol. IV f. 42.
      14 VILLABIANCA, Della Sicilia, cit. II, Libro II, pag. 134.
      15 BARBIERI, Capibrevi, cit. III, p. 379, 380.

      11 ALFREDO LI VECCHI, Feudal Caltanissetta, Caltanissetta-Rome, 1975, p. 7;
ILADELFO MUGNOS, Genealogic exposition of the titled feudal noble Families, living and extinct, and ancient nobles of the Kingdom of Sicily, Bologna, 1978, vol. II, p. 173.
      12 Idem, p. 182.
      13 MUGNOS, Exposition, cit., p. 179;
Capibrevi, cit., III,  ff. 379, 380, 381;
Of Sicily, cit., II, Libro V,  f. 93 e vol. IV f. 42.
      14 VILLABIANCA, Of Sicily, cit. II, Libro II, pag. 134.
      15 BARBIERI, Capibrevi, cit. III, p. 379, 380.


delle annotazioni originarie16.
           Non abbiamo avuto il tempo di fare il punto della situazione che il feudo di Serra di Falco è venduto dal Conte Giovanni Tommaso Moncada, con il patto di recompria (jus luendi) a Nicolò Barresio, per gli atti di Notar Giovanni Perdicaro, il 7 gennaio XII ind. 1493, per il prezzo di 2500 fiorini.
           Mentre gli altri due feudi Tarbuna e Salina sono venduti con lo stesso jus luendi a Michele La Farina per 500 onze17.

our fief in his annotations of origin16.
           We have not yet had the time to make a point of the situation in which the fief of Serra di Falco was sold by Count Giovanni Tommaso Moncada, with an agreement of repurchase (jus luendi [right of redemption]) to Nicolò Barresio, according to the notice by Giovanni Perdicaro, Notary, 7 January 1493, index XII, for the price of 2,500 florins.
            Meanwhile, the other two fiefs, Tarbuna and Salina, were sold with same right of redemption to Michele La Farina for 500 ounces17
[of gold].

       Feuda Tarbuna et la Salina, ac Serradifalco noncupata, in Valle Mazarie posite, pro ut asseritur de membris sunt et pertinencijs Comitatus Calatanixecte, ex quibus dictum feudum la Serradifalco per quondama Ioannem Thomasium de Montecatheno, olim ipsius Comitatus Comitem et Adernionis, quondam Nicholao de Baresio pro certo precio, puplico mediante contractu manu Notarij Ioannis de Perdicaro, VIIo Ianuarij XIIa Indicionis 1493 celebrato, prima facievenditum fuit. Qui Nicholaus de Baresio de eodem feudo la Serradifalco ad ipsomet Ioanne Thomasio de Montecatheno Comite, tune in Regno Preside, XXIIIo Decembris XIIIa Indicionis 1494 investituram, in Regie Cancellerie dicti anni libro in cartis 695 notatam obtinuit.
         17 BARBIERI, Capibrevi, cit. III, pag. 380 e 381.

                                                                                   TARBUNA ET SALINA
      Feudum vero Tarbuna cum dicta Salina per eundem Comitem Ioannem Thomasium quondam. Michaeli La Farina pro certo precio, carta gracie reddimendi mediante, venditum etiam fuit. Que quidem precia summam unciarum quingentarum ceperunt, convertendarunt nihilominus insatisfacionern precij juris luendi terre Paternionis; quod jus luendi ab ipso Comite loanne Thomasio emptum extitit, siculi in actis dieti Notarij Ioannis de Perdicaro continetur.
      Postmodum autem idem comes Ioannes Thomasius, jus luendi ipsorum feudorum Tarbune, Saline et Serradifalco quondam, Anthonino Rizono Regio Secretario suisque imperpetuurrì heredibus, carta gracie reddimendi mediante, pro precio unciarum XX, Vice Regia licencia preeunte, puplico mediante contractu manu Notarij Dominici de Leo VIIo Augusti XVa Indicionis 1497 celebrato, vendidit. Quem vendicionis contractum, cum illius inserto tenore, Ioannes de La Nuca, tunc Regni pro Rex, eidem Anthonio Rizono juxta formam investiture dicti Cornitatus Calatanixecte natura, et forma feudi in aliquo non mutata, servicio militari ed juribus Curie ac alterius semper salvis; ejus cum Vice Regia provisione data Panhormi XXVIIIIo Decembris prime Indicionis 1497, et in Regie Cancellerie dicti anni libro in cartis 202 notata, acceptavit et confirmavit.
      Cuius vendicionis virtute, idem Anthonius de Rizono de feudis eisdem possessionem adeptus extitit; nálominus de illis investiiuram, pro ut moris et, capere non curavit, immo ipsa sola confirmacione Vice Regia se letari tantum voluit.
      Mortuo tandem dicto Anthonio Rizono, sibi in dictis feudis Tarbuna, la Salina et Serradifalco successit Ioannes Georgius de Rizono ejus filius legitimus et naturalis ac primogenitus, qui de feudis eisdem investituram, in Regie Cancellerie libro anni in cartis 247 notatam, reportavit.
      Deficiente postremo dicto Comite Ioanne Thomasio de Montecatheno, sibi in codem comitatu Adernionis, Calatanixecte ed alijs successit Gulielmus Raymundus de Montacatheno ejus filius unicus legitimus et naturalis; qui feuda antedicta redemit, et illa postmodum Ioanni Aloysio de Septimo legum doctori, carta gracia reddimendi mediante, pro precio unciarum... previo contractu puplico


           Chi fosse questo Nicolò non sappiamo, ma abbiamo moltissime notizie sui De Barresio o Barresi18.
           Per quanto riguarda i due feudi Tarbuna e Salina, occasionalmente legati al nostro Serradifalco in questa pagina di storia, diciamo che furono venduti ai La Farina, Famiglia portoghese, e abbiamo occasione di parlarne poiché Michele era figlio di Nicolò La Farina e Domenica Salomone, sorella di Francesco Salomone, da Sutera, uno dei tredici della Disfida di Barletta.
            Il Barresi e La Farina, dopo quattro anni, sono costretti a lasciare i feudi poiché Antonino Rizono, Regio Segretario, acquista dal Conte Giovanni Tommaso Moncada il jus luendi, e il 7 agosto 1497 comprai tre feudi facendosi riconoscere dal Vicerè per se e i suoi eredi in perpetuo19.

            Who this Nicolò was, we don’t know, but we have very many references to De Barresio or Barresi18.
            As far as the two fiefs Tarbuna and Salina, occasionally attached to our Serradifalco during this page of history, we report that they were sold to
[Michele] La Farina, of a Portuguese family, and we have had occasion to hear of this, since Michele was a son of Nicolò La Farina and Domenica Salomone, sister of Francesco Salomone, from Sutera, one of the thirteen knights of the Challenge of Barletta.
             Barresi and La Farina, after four years, were forced to give up the fiefs, since Royal Secretary Antonino Rizono aquired the “jus luendi” from Count Giovanni Tommaso Moncada, and on August 7, 1497 purchased the three identified fiefs from the Viceroy
[Moncada] for himself and his heirs in perpetuity19.

manu dicti Notarij Dominici de Leo Panhormite, XXVIIIIo Iulij 1501 celebrato, iterum vendidit.
       Cujus vírtute idem Ioannes Aloysius de feudis predictis a quondam Ioannes de La Nuga, tunc Regni pro Rege, ultimo Augusti 111a Indicionis 1501 investiturani, in Regie Cancellerie libro anni 1501 in cartis 591 notatam, nactus fuit.
       In presentiarum autern, anno 1513 decurrente, feuda ipsa Tarbuna et Salina ac Serradifalco per prefaturn loannern Aloysium de Septimo possidentur, que anno quolibet reddunt...

FRANCESCO SAN MARTINO DE SPUCCHES (d'ora in poi solo DE SPUCCHES), La storia dei feudi e dei titoli nobiliari di Sicilia, dalla loro origine ai nostri giorni, Palermo, 1924; quadro 1024, pag. 367. ASPA, R. CANCELLERIA, anno 1494, f. 695.
FRANCESCO PECCHIENEDA, Ragioni apro della reintegrazione della Città di Caltanissetta al Sacro Regio Demanio del Regno di Sicilia, umiliate alla Maestà del Re N.S., Napoli, 1756, pag. CLVII:
                          1493 Il feudo di Trabuna, con la Salina
                          ed il feudo di Serra di Falco
                          furono venduti dal
                          Conte Gian Tommaso di Moneada con il patto di ricompra
                          per lo prezzo di fiorini 2500, e non essendo tali feudí, che (a ventesima parte
                          almeno di Caltanissetta, dovea
                          allora valere tutto lo stato
                          almeno fiorini 50 000,
                          anzi dovea assai più valere, conciosiacosacché
                          i sopradetti feudi erano allora
                          quasi inutili, siccome quelli, che i più
                          remoti erano della Città sudetta.
      18 MUGNOS, Teatro cit., 1 vol., f. 117;
VILLABIANCA, Della Sicilia, cit. II, vol. 3, pag. 295.
      19 DE SPUCCHES, Storia dei feudi, cit. e BARBIERI, Capibrevi, cit., R. Cancelleria, ASPA, libro 1499, f. 247.

FRANCESCO SAN MARTINO DE SPUCCHES (now and then simply DE SPUCCHES), The History of the fiefs and noble titles of Sicily, from their beginnings to our day, Palermo, 1924; chart 1024, p. 367. ASPA, ROYAL CHANCELLERY vol. 1494, f. 695.
FRANCESCO PECCHIENEDA, Explaining reasons for the reintegration of the City of Caltanissetta with the Holy Royal Domain of the Kingdom of Sicily, humble before the Majesty of the King, Our Lord., Naples, 1756, p. 157:
In 1493 the fief of Trabuna, with that of Salina
                          and the fief of Serra di Falco
                          were sold by the
                          Count Gian Tommaso of Moncada with a re-purchase agreement
                          for the price of 2,500 florins, and those fiefs were less than one-twentieth part of
                          Caltanissetta, while the whole group was valued at least at 50,000 florins,
                          but a much higher value could not be given, recognizing that
                          the aforesaid fiefs were nearly useless, since they were so remote from the City named above.

      18 MUGNOS, Expositions, cit., 1 vol., f. 117;
ILLABIANCA, Of Sicily cit. II, vol. 3, pag. 295.
      19 DE SPUCCHES, History of the Fedal Lands cit. and BARBIERI, Capibrevi, cit., Royal Chancellery, ASPA, book 1499, p 247.


       On the death of Antonino Rizono, he was succeeded by Giovanni Giorgio, his first-born son, who was invested with the fiefs in 1499.
       And the Rizono family, of whom we have no records, like meteors, vanished from the history of our Land without leaving a single trace.
       The fiefs returned instead to the Moncadas, with Guglielmo Raimondo, who, succeeding his father, took the investiture of Adernò and Caltanissetta in 150120, and re-purchased the three fiefs from Rizono. His need for funds, continual and impelling, forced him to sell them to Giovanni Luigi di Settimo21, doctor of law, always with the same right of re-purchase.
       But only the fief of Serra del Falco, detached from the original group of three, was sold to Antonino La Rocca, a member of the Aragon and Catalan House of Nobles, descended in Sicily since 130022.
       At first, our feudal lords were without holdings, but they acquired one fief after another, in order to have a noble title.

       Meanwhile Guglielmo Raimondo Moncada, who had sold our fief, was succeeded by Antonio Moncada-Moncada, Francesco Moncada de Luna (who redeemed the fief of Serra del Falco), Cesare, and then Francesco and Antonio. This last Antonio Moncada-Aragona, born in 1591, was a Grandee of Spain and husband of Giovanna Lacerda, daughter of the Duke of Medinaceli. On October 25, 1600 [eight years old???!!!], after having redeemed the fief of our Land, he invested himself of all the others, on the death of Filippo I and the succession to the throne of Filippo II23.
       Prince Antonio was the last feudal lord of the House of Moncada to own our districts, even though we might ask how the the fief of Serra del Falco (with its uniquely singular name) could be represented by Moncada, who was twice a Grandee of Spain, Prince of Paternò, Duke of Montalto and of Bivona, Count of Adernò, Count of Caltabellotta, of Sclafani and of Motta Santa Anastasia, Baron of Centorbi, of Pietrasoprana, Caltavuturo, Malpasso, and of Biancavilla and many other lands, and of innumerable baronies and fiefs which were lost, sold, and reacquired in a cycle of sale and re-purchase without end.

         20 ASPA, Royal Chancellery, vol. 1501, V, f. 144.
         21 "At present", writes Giovann Luca Barberi, in Capibrevi cit., "in 1513 we find the three fiefs under De Septimo".
"The Noble House of Pisa", writes AGOSTINO INVEGES, (Nobiliario, Palermo, 1651, f. 125), in f. 125, "in their stay in Sicily owned fiefs and seigniories. The son of Nicolò, Baron of Guarratana, for his grand doctrine was made Master Logician of the Royal Property and Regent in the Royal Chancellery of Aragon. He died December 29, 1522".
There are other records of the Noble House in
IGNAZIO GATTUSO, Fitalia, i Settimo e Campofelice, Palermo, 1975.
         22 The names are in ASPA, Royal Conservatory, vol. 1542, f. 503 and 1557, f. 79.
         23 ASPA
, Royal Conservatory, book Investiture, 1600-1620, f. 39 r.


       Pechenada, in 1700, accused these Lords of paupering the Earldom of Caltanasetta with their profiteering sales of the fiefs. For the period he considers, in fact, Don Antonio Moncada, son of Guglielmo [the Sixth], between 1525 and 1533 had sold the fief of Gallidauri, and others, to Antonello di Caruso, Baron of Spaccaforno24.
       Don Cesare Pignatelli-Moncada, in 1570, had ceded other fiefs25 and the same was done by Don Francesco Moncado Luna, who in 1571 had sold the fiefs of Grotta Rossa and Deliella to Don Luigi Lo Puzzo, but had re-purchased those of Turretta, Bifara, Chiusa Vecchia, and Marcato D’Arrrigo.
       Don Antonio Moncada-Aragona, Duke of Montalto, in 1614 sold five fiefs, and in 1617 (after Gallidauro, Deliella, Grasta, Gebbia Rossa and Graziano) on another occasion turned over a triad of our fiefs, Serra del Falco, Salaco and Grutta dell’acqua, to Don Francesco Graffeo for 19,737 ounces [of gold], and another three combined lands with a large number of comuni (communal areas) to the Principality of Fiume Salato, for 90 aratateB.
       In short, concludes Pechenada, defender of Caltanissetta, the denari and florins [cash flows] were always to the advantage of the Moncadas. It had been just a beautiful deal, to have changed the city of Caltanissetta into the House of Moncada - "the widespread, diverse Earldom of Caltanissetta for the lonely Earldom of Agosta!"26. And Cancila27 concludes that this great prodigality, characteristic of the Moncadas, of building enormous palaces at Palermo and elsewhere, by spending on luxuries, fillerfiller

Aveva venduto Marcato della Serra, Antinello, Musto Mu xaro, Mustesini, Marcato d'Arrigo, la Turretta, Xitilichabili, la Chiusa Vecchia, Murtijantinu, la Bifara, intorno al 1560 la Grutta dell'acqua, a Giovanni Vito Grimaldi, e a D. Pietro Marchifava il diritto di ricompra: nel 1520 il feudo di Gruttarussa a Francesco Farfaglia.
       25 Nel 1570 i feudi di Grasta e Gebbia Rossa a Ippolito Lucchesi.
       26 Nota de' Feudi, ed altre Terre del Territorio di Caltanisetta.

       24 He had sold the fiefs of Marcato della Serra, Antinello, Musto Muxaro, Mustesini, Marcato d'Arrigo, the Turretta, Xitilichabili, the Chiusa Vecchia, Murtijantinu, and the Bifara, and around 1560 the Grutta dell'acqua, to Giovanni Vito Grimaldi, and to Don Pietro Marchifava the right of re-purchase: in 1520 the fief of Gruttarussa to Francesco Farfaglia..
        25 In 1570 the fiefs of Grasta and Gebbia Rossa to Ippolito Lucchesi.
A notable Fief, and other Lands of the Territory of Caltanisetta..

Ogni Aratata di Terre costa di Salme nove
Ogni Salma di Moggi sedici,
Ogni Moggio di canne 648.
Ogni canna di otto Piedi Romani, o sia palmi
Every Aratata of Land costs nine Salme
Every Salma sixteen Moggi,
Every Moggio 648 rods.
Every rod eight Roman Feet of two palms.


Feudi appartenenti all'Ill. Casa Moncada. 
Fiefs belonging to the Illustrious House of Moncada. 



Aratati Salme




Sabucina  16. Muntiganini 14.
Trabunella 10. Mustumusciaru l1.
Garistuppa 15. 5. Deri 36. 4.
Xhirbi  l1. 1. Trabuna 21.
Piscazzi soprani   8. Mimiano 34.
Sottanì 21. Antimello 10.

      B [An aratata (plural aratate or aratati) was a measure of land area equal to approximately 144 modern acres. In dealings between landowners, it was used as a medium of credit or exchange.  A canna (rod, plural canne, was a unit of length equal to about two meters.]


works of charity, and regal gifts, were the cause of great ruin, and were followed by the transfer, with re-purchase or not, of quite a few feudal lands.
       Our own Duke of Montalto, Don Antonio Aragona-Moncada, last feudal lord of our Mountain during that age, had six sons and one daughter. After a grave illness, on May 20, 1626, he renounced his titles in favor of his son Luigi, and obtaining a Papal brief he made himself a priest, though married, and entered the Company of Jesus, while his wife dressed in a nun's habit under the name of Sister Teresa, in the Monastery of the Assumption, which her husband had founded especially for her in Palermo.

       Did he never comprehend that, among his vast properties, there was a fief with a curious name that evoked game, wild animals, and prey? Was he never with his retinue on this, our land, with the hawk on his gloved right hand and his vassal falconers ready to seize the catch? It begs the question, but we can give no answer.



Aratati Salme
Marcato della Serra





Gibili Gabibili  8. Galassi 17.
Turretts 9. 4. Giffudraffù 21.
Misteci 10. Giffaruni 18.
Musta  7. Bifaria 15.
Ganzirotta   5. 3. Marcato Bianco 10.
Marcato d'Arrigo 9. 5. Ramilia 25.
Furiana 12. Giulfo 13.
Cicuta Vecchia 12. 5. Deliella 24.
Nova 15. 5. Grotta rossa 60.
S. Martino 22.


Feudi della Casa Moncada venduti. 
Fiefs of the House of Moncada which were sold 



Aratati Salme
Grotta dell'acqua




Serra di falco 28. Gallidauro 25.
Salaco 14. Fiorilla l0.
Garziano 15. Corriggi, ed altre Terre aggregate al
Grasta l1. . Marchesato di S. Cataldo circa 10.
      Vi sono inoltre nel Territorio di Caltanissetta molte tenute di Terre, che Comuni si appellano, della quali possedeane l'Università la quinta parte, cioè salme 196.14, ma per debiti contratti con la Regia Corte fu necessitata venderli nel 1638 a Casa Moncada, per il prezzo di once 3842., come per gl'atti di Not. Giacinto Cinquernani di Palermo a' 18. Gennario 1638. 6. Ind. Tali comuni furono dalla Casa Moncada quasi tutti alienati a diverse persone quali al presente li posseggono.
27 ORAZIO CANCILA, Baroni e popolo nella Sicilia del grano, Palermo, 1983, pag. 136.
       There are many Land holdings elsewhere in Caltanisetta, which are called Comuni, of which the Community owned one-fifth part, that is 196.14 salme, but because of contracts of debt with the Royal Court, it was necessary in 1638 to sell them to the House of Moncada for the price of 3,842 ounces [of gold], according to the records of Notary Giacinto Cinquemani of Palermo, January 18, 1638, Index 6.  Those comunes were of the House of Moncada, nearly all of them turned over to various persons who own them at present.
27 ORAZIO CANCILA, Barons and commoners in the Sicily of grainfields, Palermo, 1983, p. 136.









The Graffeos acquire the fiefs of Serradifalco - The House of Graffeo
Francesco Graffeo, 1st Baron of Serradifalco
Giovanni Graffeo, 2nd Baron.








CapitoloLogo.jpg (322421 bytes)

I Graffeoa acquistano i feudi di Serradifalco

       Nel capitolo precedente abbiamo visto che, nonostante la potenza o le cariche e le onorificenze, le condizioni della Casa Moncada e della Contea di Caltanissetta erano preoccupanti. Sui loro stati gravava annualmente un numero enorme di creditori per migliaia di onze a causa di arretri, di soggiogazioni, assegni, vitalizi, ecc.
       Alla data del 1639, 97 creditori vantavano 20310 onze, per l'importo annuale di onze 9473 sugli Stati di Paternò, Adernò, Caltanissetta ed altri. E tra questi, la Famiglia dei Graffeo attendeva dagli inizi del secolo il soddisfacimento del suo credito28.

          Il 18 settembre 1607 il Barone Francesco Graffeo fu Girolamo aveva prestato 16000 onze al Principe D. Cesare Moncada ed alla moglie D. Maria d'Aragona. La Regia Gran Corte dopo due anni aveva inviato una «interlocutoria circa la soluzione di denaro»29 contro gli eredi Paternò (il Principe, la

       a GRIFEO, GIUSEPPE, nella corrispondenza personale con CONIGLIO, ANGELO il 10 giugno 2006.  L'ortografia corretta è GRIFEO, come confermato dal grifone sul stemma della famiglia. "Graffeo" è un errore di ortografia che è stato perpetuato dai periodi medioevali.

GIUSEPPE TRICOLI, La Deputazione degli Stati e la crisi del Baronaggio Siciliano, Palermo, 1966, pag. 69, 71; 
ANTONINO MARRONE, Bivona città feudale, Caltanissetta, 1987, pag. 286. Vedi inoltre la relazione «Fatto sopra la compra di feghi di Serra di Falco, lo Salacio et Grutta di l'acqua» in ASPP, Volume A, ff. 255, 259.
       29 ASPA, Archivio Serradifalco, vol. 3, f. 32.


The House of Graffeoa acquires the fiefs of Serradifalco

       In the preceding chapter we have seen that in spite of their power, strength, and positions of honor, the conditions of the House of Moncada and the Earldom of Caltanissetta were worrisome. Every year, upon those states, lay the exceedingly heavy burden of an enormity of creditors, for thousands of ounces [of gold], due to arrears, accounts payable, unpaid drafts, liens, annuities, etc.
       In the year 1639, 97 creditors were due 20,310 ounces for the annual amount of 9,473 ounces on the states of Paternò, Adernò, Caltanissetta and others. And among these, the House of Graffeo had waited since the start of the century for the satisfaction of credit extended then28.
       On September 18, 1607, Baron Francesco Graffeo, son of the late Girolamo, had loaned 16,000 ounces to the Prince Don Cesare Moncada and to his wife Donna Maria d'Aragona. The Royal Supreme Court after two years had sent an "interlocutory about the solution of the debt"29 against

        a GRIFEO, GIUSEPPE, in personal correspondence with ANGELO CONIGLIO on 10 June 2006.  The correct spelling is GRIFEO, as confirmed by the griffin on the family coat of arms.  "Graffeo" is a spelling error that has been perpetuated from Medieval times.

GIUSEPPE TRICOLI, The Deputation of the States and the crisis of Sicilian Baronies, Palermo, 1966, p. 69, 71;
ANTONINO MARRONE, Bivona, feudal city, Caltanissetta, 1987, p. 286. See also the treatise "Facts on the purchase of the fiefs of Serra di Falco, Salacio and Grutta di l'acqua" in
ASPP, Volume A, pp. 255, 259.

       29 ASPA, Archives of Serradifalco, vol. 3, p. 32.


Principessa, D. Cesare e D. Giovanni), senza ottenere alcunché.
       Dieci anni dopo fu fatto un altro tentativo, il 6 maggio 161730 D. Francesco Graffeo causò esecutoria contro i Moncada in tutti i loro beni, singoli, allodiali.
       Ancora, il 17 maggio 1617 altro atto di notificazione per D. Antonio Moncada e Paternò per la somma, che intanto era aumentata a causa di interessi maturati e non pagati sino a onze 17337.4.531.
       Ma D. Antonio questa volta decide di pagare, con il solito espediente di vendere alcuni feudi, con il diritto di rícompra, il 6 giugno 1617. Questa volta si tratta dei tre feudi di Serra del Falco, lo Salacio e Grutta dell'acqua32, per onze 19337.4.4
      E con questo atto di vendita, finalmente, possiamo leggere le caratteristiche ed attributi con notizie e confini, che riguardano i tre feudi:


the heirs of Paternò (the Prince, the Princess, Don Cesare and Don Giovanni), without obtaining a cent.
       Ten years later another attempt was made, when on May 6, 161730 Don Francesco Graffeo brought action against the Moncadas and all their assets, singly and jointly.
       Further, on May 17, 1617 another action dunned Don Antonio Paternò-Moncada for an amount which was increased because of accrued and unpaid interest, up to 17,337.4.531 ounces.
       But Don Antonio this time decided to pay, with the usual expediency of selling some fiefs, with the right of re-purchase, on June 6, 1617. This time he traded the three fiefs of Serra del Falco, Salacio and Grutta dell’acqua32, for 19,337.4.4 ounces.
       And from this bill of sale, finally, we can see the details and extent of the characteristics and attributes regarding the three fiefs:

        30 Idem, ff. 138, 139.
        31 Idem, ff. 138, 139, 17 maggio 1617.
       32 «Et non habente dicto Duce et Principe Don Antonio modum et formam solvendi dicto Francisco pecunias per ipsum Ducern et Principem dicto Francisco pro causis ... » pensò di « ... dare vendere et alienare ut supra infrascriptas baronias et pheuda videlicet:
baroniam et feudum di Serra di Falco per prezzo di onze 8.903.20
baroniam et feudum de lo Salacio per prezzo di onze 4.500
baroniam et feudum de la Grutta di l'acqua per prezzo di onze 6.333.10
de membris et pertinentiis ... »
per il totale di onze 19 737
Il Contratto di vendita dei feudi ... «da D. Antonio d'Aragona e Moncada a favore di D. Francesco
Graffeo, Marchese di Regiovanni ... » si trova in ASPA, Archivio Serradifalco, vol. 3o, ff. 150-205;
copia di esso in ASCL, Atto rogato dal Notaro GABRIELE IMPERIALE di Caltanissetta, vol 961
(1615-1617) ff. 285-289.
Testimoni dell'atto furono il 6 giugno 1617, Don Frabrizio Monserrato, D. Geronimo Jarubruno, Geronimo Salazar, Aurelío Lo Sciglio, Michele Mazzone.

Nel prezzo erano incluse onze 17 337.4.4. ed onze 877.6 per la metà della ragione della decima e tarii spettante al Duca di Montalto, che Graffeo si obbligò di pagare, ed onze 1522.24 per le quali il Graffeo soggiogò onze 91.11.1 di rendita sopra i suoi beni.
                                                                                    onze                               17 337. 4.4
                                                                                                                               876. 6
                                                                                                                             1522. 24
                                                                                    totale onze                     19.736. 4.4

Fatta la vendita Colantonio La Porta, Collettore della Decima e Tarì fece relazione al Tribunale del Regio Patrimonio il 18 Luglio 1617 che la decima e tarì importavano onze 2 631.18 e dedotta la 13a parte restava da pagare onze 1 754.12, cioè onze 877.6 per la parte del Moncada ed altrettante per la parte toccante a Graffeo.

The sale was conducted by Colantonio La Porta, Collector of Tithes and Tariffs, made with recognition by the Royal Property Court on July 18, 1617 that the tithes and tariffs comprised 2,631.18 ounces, deducting a 1/3 part, leaving 1,754.12 ounces, 877.6 for the portion to Moncada and as many for the adjacent portion to Graffeo.


Page39Figure700w.jpg (366863 bytes)

          Contratto di vendita di feudi di Serradifalco tra D. Antonio D’Aragonia e Moncada e D.
          Francesco Graffeo, 6 Giugno 1617.
Prima pagina dell’atto, Notaro Gabriele Imperiale di Caltanissetta.
          Contract of sale of the fiefs of Serradifalco between Don Antonio Moncada-D'Aragonia and Don
          Francesco Graffeo, on June 6, 1617.
          First page of the act, Notary Gabriele Imperiale of Caltanissetta.


Serra di Falco, terra che confina con il feudo dello Dragaito e Mandra di Giumento del territorio della Baronia di Fiume Salato e commune di Anurmarici, della parte verso Caltanissetta, con lo comune dello Cusatino, e strata pubblica; dall'altra parte con lo feudo di Rabiuni territorio dello Stato di Mussomeli alla via insino allo vallone dello fego di la Balatazza dello Stato della Favara; dall'altra parte confina con lo fego di Gallidauro, lo fego dello Salacio e comune di Falbaccaro; dall'altra parte con lo fego di Grutta russa e comune di Piticaro.

Serra di Falco, land which borders the fief of Dragaito and Mandra di Giumento of the territory in the Barony of River Salato and the commune of Anurmarici, the part towards Caltanissetta, with the community of Cusatino, and the public road; from the other section bordering the fief of Rabiuni, territory of the State of Mussomeli, all the way to the valley in the fief of Balatazza in the State of Favara; from the other section bordering with the fief of Gallidauro, the fief of the comune Salacio and of Falbaccaro; and from the other section bordering the fief of Grutta russa and the comune of Piticaro.

Item feudo et baronia chiamata Grutta dell'acqua, di la parte verso Caltanissetta confinante con il comune chiamato di lo Salacio e comune di Favarella; dall'altra parte del mezzogiorno confina con lo fego della Bifaria, e lo comune di Castellazzo; dalla parte di ponente confina con lo comune della Lapezzila per un pezzo e con lo fego di Grutta russa; dalla parte di tramontana confina con lo fego dello Giurfo, con lo comune di Trigona, la strata pubblica chiamata Hadira e lo comune della Xhadira e lo comune di Caltanissetta la petra.

A fief and barony called Grutta dell'acqua, the part towards Caltanissetta adjacent with the comune called Salacio and the comune of Favarella; from the other section a half-day away it borders the fief of Bifaria, and the comune of Castellazzo; on the west it borders the comune of Lapezzila for a ways, and with the fief of Grutta russa; on the northern part it borders with the fief of Giurfo, with the comune of Trigona, the public road called Hadira and the comunes of Xhadira and Caltanissetta la petra.

Item dictum feudum di Lo Salacio confinante con il feudo di Grutta russa con la strata in mezzo del comune di Falbaccaro e una punta confinante con lo fego di Graziano dalla parte verso Caltanissetta; di l'altra parte confina con lo fego di Gallidauro al Vallone, da un'altra parte confina con lo fego di Serra di Falco33.

The said fief Salacio adjacent to the fief of Grutta russa, with the road in the middle of the comune of Falbaccaro, and a point neighboring the fief of Graziano from the side towards Caltanissetta; the other section borders the fief of Gallidauro in the valley, and another section borders Serra di Falco33.

       33 ASPA, Archivio Serradifalco, vol. 3, ff. 206-209 «Osservatoria del contratto di vendita di detti tre feghi nominati La Serra del Falco, lo Salacio e Grutta dell'acqua contratto tra esso Duca di Moltalto con Francesco Graffeo.
       Don Antonino d'Aragona e Moncada, Duca di Montalto e Principe di Paternò e Francesco Graffeo del fu Geronimo dicino a Vostra Eccellenza che retrovandosi detto di Graffeo creditore tanto d'esso Duca come del quondam Don Cesare Moncada suo fratello in molta somma di denaro, per minor danno di detto Duca e suo Stato, concertao e convenne vendere et alienare col patto de retrovendendo al detto di Graffeo, tre Baronie e feghi dello stato di Caltanissetta, nominati la Serra del Falco, lo Salacio e la Grutta dell'acqua, per prezzo in tutto d'once 19 737 con tutte le loro ragioni, giurisdizioni e pertinenze, universi d'haversi per detto Graffeo la reale et attuale potestà dal I' di Settembre prossimo da venire come più diffusamente si declara, per il contratto da celebrarsene nell'atti di Notaro pubblico, supplichiamo perciò V.E. voglia restar servita di confirmare, approbare et rathificare ac viceregio murimine corroborare, et validare il detto contratto di venditione e compra da celebrarsi come sopra e sia anco V. E. servita farli gratia di relasciare com'è solito la terza parte della decima e tarì, toccante alla detta Regia Corte, per conto di detta venditione ... »
5 Dicembre - 1 Ind. - 1617 - ASPP, Vol. «A», f. 307.

      33 ASPA, the Serradifalco Archives, vol. 3, pp. 206-209 "Review of the contract of sale of three fiefs named the Mountain of the Hawk, the Salacio and the Cave of Water, contracted between the Duke of Montalto and Francesco Graffeo.
       Don Antonino of Aragon and Moncada, Duke of Montalto and Prince of Paternò, and Francesco Graffeo, son of the late Geronimo, declare to Your Excellency that because the said Graffeo is a creditor of this Duke as well as of the late Don Cesare Moncada, his brother, for a large sum of money, for minor considerations by the said Duke and his State, plan and come together to sell and to turn over, with a pact of repurchase, to the said Graffeo, three Baronies and fiefs of the state of Caltanissetta, named the Mountain of the Hawk, the Salacio and the Cave of Water, for the price in all of 19,737 ounces [of gold] with all their laws, jurisdictions and pertinences, all for said Graffeo to hold from the 1st of next September until further notice, by the contract to be confirmed by the acts of the public Notary, therefore we beg Your Excellency if you please, to confirm, approve and to ratify ac viceregio murimine corroborare, and to validate the said contract of sale and purchase to be confirmed as above, and also Your Excellency is petitioned to make them free of renunciation since it is ordinarily the third part of one tenth and tari, belonging to the said Royal Court, on behalf of said sale... "
5 December, Index 1, 1617 - ASPP, Vol. "A", p. 307


La Famiglia Graffeo
Francesco Graffeo, IoBarone di Serradifalco

       I creditori dei Moncada erano così numerosi nello Stato e nella Contea di Caltanissetta ed in Sicilia che non abbiamo dato alcuna importanza al Graffeo.
       Inizialmente, pensavamo, fosse uno dei tanti. Ma, acquistando la Baronia ed il feudo di Serra del Falco, dà inizio e principio ad un capitolo particolare della nostra storia, e perciò, prima di continuare, ci sembra opportuno conoscere la Casa e la Famiglia dei Graffeo, ed avere notizie dettagliate sul suo rappresentante più notabile: Francesco, il primo Barone della Serra del Falco.
       La Famiglia Graffeo-Grifeo prende origine dagli Imperatori greci. Leone e Niceforo sconfissero i Bulgari intorno alla metà del 900, e l'Imperatore donò loro castelli, l'isola di Candia e permise che nello scudo su un campo d'oro fosse messo un Grifo nero passante sopra una lista, e di sotto tre bande azzurre con una bianca erta a guisa di combattere, e perciò fu cognominata dal grifo: GRIFEO. I due fratelli scesero quindi in Sicilia, dove si imparentarono con i Normanni.

The Family of Graffeo
Francesco Graffeo, 1st Baron of Serradifalco

       The creditors of the Moncadas were so numerous in the State and in the Earldom of Caltanissetta, and in Sicily, that we have not yet given any importance to the House of Graffeo.
       Initially we believed that it was only one among many. But, they acquired the Barony and the fiefdom of Serra del Falco, and are the principals of a particular chapter of our history, and therefore, before continuing, it seems opportune to understand the House and the Family of Graffeo and to have detailed reports about their most notaable representatives.
       The Graffeo-Grifeo Family had origins from the time of the Greek Emperors.  Leone and Niceforo vanquished the Bulgars in around the middle of the 900s, and the Emperors gave them castles and the island of Candia, and allowed a black Griffin in a field of gold on their coat of arms, and under it three blue bands with white borders, with the griffin in a posture of combat. Therefore the family was given the surname of the griffin: GRIFEO. The two brothers thereafter had descendants in Sicily, where they intermarried with the Normans.

33 (continued) In the bill of sale the three fiefs were yielded with every law and pertinence, jurisdiction and privilege, and the duty for Graffeo to provide an armed cavalry unit for military service.
Don Antonio Moncada the Prince of Paternò, Count of Adrano, Count of Calatissetta, titled Baron of Santa Anastasia and more, was taxed for 67 armed cavalry units.
That is, in particular cases the feudatory had to participate in the military service of the island with a number of armed horses required from him. Some cavalry levies could be dispensed by paying 10.5 ounces of gold for every armed cavalry unit, a fixed sum by ancient custom, called
adoamento in the time of the Aragonese and composizione today. The cavalry unit involved the service of a knight and two shield-bearers, or of one shield-bearer and two footsoldiers and three horses.
(There is diversity of payment in
IGNAZIO SCATURRO, History of the City of Sciacca, Naples, 1926, in that it speaks about 10.5 ounces; ANTONINO MANGO, On the titles of Barons and Lords in Sicily, Palermo, 1904, p. 250, note 1, says 20 ounces because in Sicily a fief returned 20 ounces of income annually; DIEGO ORLANDO, Feudalism in Sicily, Palermo, 1847, p. 130, says 20 ounces, etc).
On the island existed the
New Militia of the Realm, instituted in 1573 by Don Carlo of Aragon, President of the Realm (first instituted in 1548, restructured by Don Carlo) that divided Sicily into 10 Sergenterie or Districts, divided again into 27 cavalry companies, and 31 dismounted companies. Serradifalco belonged to the Sergenteria of Sciacca; the militiamen had to be of age from 18 to 50 years, and received daily pay of 4 tari for every mounted soldier and 2 tt. for those on foot.
Militia maintained by the King, assigned like ordinary garrisons of the Island in the fortresses and the main cities, composed for the most part of Spanish soldiers.
Militia of the feudatories, obligates you to serve in war for three months per year at your own expense, and thereafter at the expense of the King in the case of enemy invasion or rebellion in the realm.


       Count Roger granted the Land of Partanna, baronial land in the Val [District] of Mazzara, which succeeded to excellent personages like Orlando, Goffredo, Maio, Benedetto and others.
       Mugnos writes further that
"we assume those possessors of fine arts, of antiquity, are the illustrious Graffeo Family, or truly the Grifeo, most ancient true nobility of the Realm of Sicily..."34, A.
       For the coat of arms, as we have already said, we do not have doubts; the Family is armed with a divided shield: in the top portion is a black griffin on a gold field; under it three slanting bands of blue on gold.  It has for its motto "Nolo me tangere", ["Touch me not"]
       Francesco Graffeo, son of the late Girolamo, originally of Sciacca, went to Prizzi in 1563, where it seems the father was sheltered in order to escape the ferocious internecine battles between the houses of Luna and Perollo that bloodied the city in 1529, after famous events like "the second incident at Sciacca".  The Graffeo Family were adherents of the Perollos.
       Francesco was justice of the State of the two Petralie, in 1607.  In ’17 he married Pelligrina Abagio and in the same year, as we have seen, acquired the Barony of Serradifalco and the other two fiefs, beginning therefore to collect a series of titles and fiefs, for which he had asked of Filippo IV, and obtained, the title of Marquis. The title, which was quickly dispatched from Madrid35 on 20 May 1625, was: Marquis of Serradifalco.

     34 MUGNOS, Expositions, cit., vol. II , p. I. Other news can be read in VILLABIANCA, Of Sicily, cit., Part II, book 1, pp. 78 and 79 (Partanna), p. 93 (Gangi); book II, p. 56-57 (Ciminna); FRANCISCO SAVASTA, The famous Cases of Sciacca, Palermo, 1843, p. 47; AGOSTINO INVEGES, Nobiliario, Palermo 165 1, p. 193, 79; DE SPUCCHES, History of the fiefs, cit., p. 369.

     35 Privilegium
Tituli Marchionatus Serre di Falco in personam Francisci Graffeo.

His Sacred Catholic and Royal Majesty
the King, our Lord Filippo,
by his sacred Royal privilege, in order to honor the house of the beloved
Francisco Graffeo baron of Serradifalco
orders that the barony be elevated to the dignity of marquis
and Francisco Graffeo and his heirs and and successors to
Marquises of Serradifalco, and with such title to enter him in the Parliament or
Congregations of nobility of this Realm
with every dignity and privilege,
with the right to transfer


But he preferred to change it, to Marquis of Regiovanni, a fief of the Ventimiglia Family that was usurped by the Geremia Family toward the end of the 1300s.
       He was the first one of the Dynasty to possess Gangi, a baronial Land, with simple and complete ownership, in the Val [District] of the Demon, by concessions sent by King Filippo IV on 16 July 1629.
       The Family also possessed the State of Ciminna, annexed from Ventimiglia in 1500 to Graffeo, who reduced it to a Dukedom36.
       Don Francesco Graffeo, after the death of his wife Pellegrina, joined in a second union, marrying Donna Antonia Giuffrè Lo Campo Afflitto. But he did not have sons [with her], because of which he left the Principality of Gangi to his nephew Francesco Graffeo, son of his brother Giuseppe, on the occasion of his marriage to Donna Caterina Grimaldi, believed to be of the Barony of Bozzetta, on 19 July37.

in altra terra o baronia il titolo di marchese.
E ciò si rende noto alla R. Curia, al Tribunale del R. Patrimonio,
Maestri Razionali, Tesoriere e R. Consiglieri.
Dato in Madrid il 20 Maggio 1625, anno V del nostro Regno
Nei Privilegi del Regno di Sicilia, a Palermo esecutoriato
V Luglio VIII ind. 1625, il Cardinale Giovanni Doria

ASPA, Protonotaro del Regno, vol. 535, ff. 374 377. Nel f. 374 v ai lati è annotato:
«X Maggio X ind. 1627.
poiché l'111. Francesco Graffeo, avendo ricevuto nell'ultimo di Maggio 1625, esecutoriato a Palermo l'8 Agosto VIII ind. 1625, il titolo di Marchese per se e per i suoi eredi nella Baronia di Serradifalco, con la possibilità di poterne mutare Terra e Stato, reputò cambiare il titolo sopra la Baronia di Regio vanni, con atto nel Notaro Comino Terminelli di Palermo del 26 Giugno IX ind. 1625».
Voglio ricordare che in quel tempo i Sovrani, dovendo sostenere grandi spese per la guerra, non tro vando altre fonti (giacché tutte erano disseccate, scrive Giovanni Evangelista Di Blasi) cominciarono a vendere titoli. Non si videro mai nel Regno tanti Marchesi, tanti Duchi e tanti Principi, né tanti Cavalieri Grandi di Spagna, quanti se ne videro in questi anni.

DE SPUCCHES, Storia dei feudi, cit., f. 369; SAVASTA, Il famoso Caso, f. 47; CANCILA, Baroni, cit., pag. 161; VILLABIANCA, Della Sicilia, cit. II, III, f. 416; Rocco PIRRI, Sicilia Sacra, Palermo, 1641, 1o vol., f. 752.
ASPA, Ufficio del Protonotaro, libro 1625, f. 193.
35 (continued) to other lands or baronies the title of marquis.
And he shall be known to the Royal Administration, to the Court of the Royal Patrimony,
the Masters of Logic, the Treasurer and Royal Councilmen.
Given in Madrid May 20, 1625, year five of our Reign
On Behalf of the Kingdom of Sicily, executed in Palermo
July 5, Index VIII,1625, by Cardinal Giovanni Doria

ASPA, Office of the First Notary of the Realm, vol. 535, pp. 374-377.
On p. 374-v - the margins are annotated: "May 10, Index X, 1627.
since the Illustrious Francesco Graffeo, having received in the last day of May 1625, executed at Palermo on August 8, Index VIII, 1625, the title of Marquis for him and his heirs in the Barony of Serradifalco, with the possibility of being able to change Land and State, power to change the title to the Barony of Regiovanni, by act of Notary Comino Terminelli of Palermo on June 26, Index IX, 1625".
I want to note that in that time, the Monarchs, having to support great expenses for war, not finding other sources (the giacché all were dried up, writes Giovanni Evangelista Di Blasi) began to sell titles. Never in the Realm were there seen so many Marquises, Duchies and Principalities, nor so many Grand Knights of Spain, as were seen in these years.

DE SPUCCHES, History of the fiefs, cit., p. 369; SAVASTA, The famous Case, p. 47; CANCILA, Barons, cit., p. 161; VILLABIANCA, Of Sicily, cit. II, III, p. 416; Rocco PIRRI, Sacred Sicily, Palermo, 1641, 1st vol., p. 752. ASPA, Office of the First Notary, book 1625, p. 193.

       36 Nello Stato di Ciminna si succedettero Mario Graffeo e di Bologna (Io Possessore di Partan na) e Io Duca di Ciminna 1634 quindi Domenico, Benedetto, Girolamo, Benedetto.
VILLABIANCA, Della Sicilia, cit., parte 11, libro 11, f. 55, Ciminna.

       36 In the State of Ciminna followed by Mario di Bologna Graffeo (1st Owner of Partanna) and 1st Duke of Ciminna, 1634, thereafter Domenico, Benedetto, Girolamo, Benedetto.
VILLABIANCA, Of Sicily, cit., part II, book II, p. 55, Ciminna.

       37 Francesco Graffeo prese l'investitura di Gangi il I' marzo 1636 ASPA, R.C. Investiture vol. 1140. 1o marzo IV ind. 1636, f. 126 D. Francesco investito di Marchese di Regiovanni con castro e casale. Idem, f. 128, investitura di Gangi.
Francesco procreò Giuseppe Graffeo, ma Gangi andò ai posteri della sorella Antonia che se ne assicu rò l'investitura nel 1652. A noi non interessa, ma Villabianca dà il seguente quadro: Da Francesco, Giuseppe, la sorella Antonia, Giuseppe, Francesco, Saverio, Marianna Valguarnera e Branciforti.

       37 Francesco Graffeo took investiture of Gangi on March 1, 1636 - ASPA, R.C. Investiture vol. 1140. March 1, index IV, 1636, p. 126 - Don Francesco was invested as Marquis of Regiovanni with fort and country house. Ditto, p. 128, investiture of Gangi.
Francesco begat Giuseppe Graffeo, but Gangi went to the descendants of his sister Antonia who secured the investiture in 1652. To us it is of no interest, but Villabianca gives the following picture: From Francesco, Giuseppe, the sister Antonia, Giuseppe, Francesco, Saverio, Marianna Branciforti Valguarnera.


       In the Barony of Serra di Falco and in all his other assets, Don Francesco left as universal heir his other nephew Don Giovanni Graffeo, son of his brother Fabrizio and of the late Antonina Graffeo, on the occasion of his marriage with Donna Antonina di Ventimiglia on August 30, 163438.  Don Giovanni was invested with the Barony of Serra di Falco as the 2nd Baron on January 5, 1636, only a year after the death of his uncle. Our "acquistatore" and first Baron of Serradifalco [Don Francesco] died without a religion on January 5, 1635, at the age of 72 years. In his will39 Francesco Graffeo, Baron of Serradifalco and Marquis of Regiovanni, ordered his body to be buried in the church of Saint Ignazio all’ Olivella in Palermo40, to which he bequeathed hundreds of ounces [of gold] for celebration of masses, and other offerings for Palermitan churches, to be selected by friar Onofrio Pennello.
       In our Baron Don Francesco we are obliged to notice various activities; his personality leaps out in examination of many documents in the Archives of State of Caltanissetta, ignored by our historians. Even before the purchase of Serradifalco, he was already landlord for the State and the County of Caltanissetta from 1615-16, with authority for collecting excise taxes; and for the sale and purchase of lands, animals, houses, and grain; with Prince Antonio Aragona Moncada. He worked with his brothers, Fabrizio  (whose son Giovanni, in 1636, would take investiture of Serradifalco), fillerfillerfiller

        38 ASPA, Notaro MARIANO ZAPPARATA di Palermo, II stanza, vol. 415, f. 858 a f. 882, lo settembre III ind. 1634.
39 Idem, Testamento, vol. 415, f. 7 aperto il 9 gennaio III ind. 1635. Nota in Conservatoria di Registro, ASPA, vol. 1140, f. 121.
 40 La chiesa dell'Olivella dei PP. dell'Oratorio di S. Filippo Neri. Nella cappella di Santa Maria degli Angeli, in cornu Epistolae, vi era la tomba di Francesco Graffeo. Ma fu distrutta durante un'in cursione aerea nel 1943.
Sulla tomba vi era la seguente iscrizione:

D. 0. M.

ANNO 1635
VILLABIANCA, Della Sicilia, cit., parte II, f. 135, al f. 93 Gangi; GASPARE PALERMO, Guida istruttiva per Palermo e i suoi dintorni, riprodotta su quella del cav. D. Gaspare Palermo dal Beneficiale Giro lamo Di Marzo Ferro, Palermo 1858, pag. 130.
--- L'investitura di Giovanni Graffeo (ASPA, R. Cancelleria, vol. 1140, d. 121) dice che morì il 6 gennaio.
          38 ASPA, Notary MARIANO ZAPPARATA of Palermo, Section II, vol. 415, p. 858 to p. 882, lst of September, Index III, 1634.
    39 As above, Testament, vol. 415, p. 7 opened the 9th of January, Index III, 1635. Note in Conservatory of Registration, ASPA, vol. 1140, p. 121.
    40 The church of Olivell of the Patrons of the Oratorio of Saint Filippo Neri. In the Chapel of Saint Mary of the Angels, in the corner of the Epistles, was the tomb of Francesco Graffeo. But it was destroyed during an aerial raid in 1943.
Above the tomb there was the following inscription:

D. 0. M.

YEAR 1635
VILLABIANCA, Of Sicily, cit., part II, p. 135, to p. 93 Gangi; GASPARE PALERMO, Instructive Guide for Palermo and its surroundings, copied from the work of Cavalier Don Gaspare Palermo, by Girolamo Beneficiale of Marzo Ferro, Palermo, 1858, p. 130.
--- The Investiture of Giovanni Graffeo (ASPA, Royal Chancellery, vol. 1140, p. 121) says that he [Francesco] died on the 6th of January.



Giuseppe, whose son Francesco would take investiture of Gangi), and Giovanni, abbot of the abbey of Saint Mary of the Nativity, at Castelbuono41.
But what is of interest to us particularly is his relationship with our Land and its fiefs. After the purchase he gave lands for lease42, while in other years he managed them with his brothers.
       As we reported, already in the main fief, that of Serradifalco, there had accumulated over the years a manor farm, an aggregate of premises; with stables, warehouses, ditches, a group of houses with ovens, an olive oil-mill, and a flour mill, already associated with the governance of the County of Caltanissetta.
       And therefore we have found that our Baron and Lord Don Francesco had named, as his Procurator and Governor, Don Mario Frangiamore of Mussomeli; and in turn his brother Don Giovanni, the abbot, had named Don Alfonso Pardi as Procurator ad lites [concerning litigation], that is, defender of causes, to make arrests and imprisonments in the Barony of Serradifalco. And Frangiamore requested the Baron to conscript muleteers to transport wheat and barley from the fief to the Officer at Girgenti "with diligence and effort".
       And together with the Procurator came the Master of the arranteria, assigned to capture animals or slaves, and to deliver them to their respective masters and brand them (the arranteria was the destined enclosure for the safekeeping of animals).
       Thus began the germ of a new town, in which the authority of the Baron and the Landlords was already manifest and active.

Giovanni Graffeo, 20 Barone di Serradifalco
Dei due cugini, Francesco e Giovanni Graffeo, seguiamo il destino del se condo, non essendo interessati agli eredi del Principato di Gangi.
Giovanni, per gli atti
propter nuptias del 30 agosto 1634, era stato nominato erede universale nei beni e nella Baronia di Serradifalco, dallo zio43.

Giovanni Graffeo, 2nd Baron of Serradifalco
Of the two cousins, Francesco and Giovanni Graffeo, we follow the destiny of the second, not being interested in the heirs of the Principality of Gangi.  Giovanni, according to the acts of propter nuptias [valid only on condition of his marriage] of August 30, 1634, had been named universal heir of the assets and the Barony of Serradifalco, by his uncle43.

       41 La dicitura negli atti è
D. Francesco Graffeo del fu Geronimo Barone di Serra di Falco,
cittadino palermitano, arrendatario dello Stato e Contea di Caltanissetta.
Diamo alcune indicazioni di notai per chi volesse approfondire la sua ricerca specificatamente sul Ba rone Graffeo:
ASCL, Notar IMPERIALE, vol. 967, f. 136; vol. 968, f. 31; vol. 957; vol. 964, ff. 29, 101, 31, 142; vol. 965, ff. 119, 42, 68, 124, 44, 161, 200, 22; vol. 966, f. 173; vol. 967, ff. 251, 99, 136, 249; vol. 968, f. I.
       42 ASCL, Notaro IMPERIALE, vol. 967, ff. 112 e 225, 21 ottobre V 1621 e 6 dicembre V 1621.
       43 ASPA, Notaro ZAPARATA, vol. 415, f. 858, al 10 settembre III ind. 1634; idem, f. 882 il 9 gennaio III ind. 1635, morto lo zio viene aperto il testamento.

       41 The speaker in the records is
Don Francesco Graffeo, son of the late Geronimo, Baron of Serra di Falco,
Citizen of Palermo, arrendatario of the State and County of Caltanissetta.
We give some indications of notaries for those who wish specifically to expand their research on Baron Graffeo :
ASCL, Notary IMPERIALE, vol. 967, p. 136; vol. 968, p. 31; vol. 957; vol. 964, pp. 29, 101, 31, 142; vol. 965, pp. 119, 42, 68, 124, 44, 161, 200, 22; vol. 966, p. 173; vol. 967, pp. 251, 99, 136, 249; vol. 968, p. I.
       42 ASCL, Notary IMPERIALE, vol. 967, pp. 112 and 225, 21 October, Index V, 1621 and 6 December, Index V, 1621.
       43 ASPA, Notary ZAPARATA, vol. 415, p. 858, on the 1st of September, Index III, 1634; idem, p. 882 the 9th of January, Index III, 1635, on the death of his uncle the will was opened.


       On 5 January 1636, exactly one year from his uncle‘s death, he took official investiture of the Barony and the Fief of Serra [del Falco], the Barony and the Fief of Salacio, the Barony and the Fief of Grotta dell'acqua, pertinency of the County of Caltanissetta, for himself and his heirs44.
        The years pass without vicissitudes or events in the simple history of our Land. But time slides by, and there seems to approach a new dawn, which lifts the gloom and the shadows of anonymity, and lets us feel the pulsation of the organized life of men and their deeds, happy or sad.
        Baron Francesco Graffeo and Prince Antonio Moncada had already died. In our Barony the bondholders and ancient creditors of Moncada intend to be paid for old debts. They mean to make a deal with his successor, his son Luigi, who, not unlike his father, swims in a sea of debt, even if he is cloaked with the prestigious title of President of the Realm45.
        Giovanni Graffeo, who contrary to his uncle, remains only the Baron of Serradifalco, and does not possess other noble titles, intends to close a definitive purchase with Moncada, for the lands of Serradifalco, in order to avoid one day finding himself without title and without land. He lets it be known that he is disposed to acquire "the right of repurchase" (the jus luendi), for redeeming the Barony46.
        Some time later comes the stipulated bill of sale of the right of repurchase, on 10 September 163747.


        44 ASPA, Conservatory of Registers, vol. 1140: Investitures pp. 121 and 122.
       45 It was generated by Lieutenant Ferdinand Afan de Ribera, Duke of Alcalà, who succeeded to President of the Realm from 1637 to 1647, nine years in which he rendered the roads of the island secure, and enriched Palermo with civic works. Under his government the head tax was instituted. The Sicilians were grouped in two classes: those who had unearned income and those that earned wages. The former had to pay the amount their assets yielded in a day; the latter a day’s earnings. In 1647 he was named the Viceroy of Sardinia, then he embraced the ecclesiastical life. Information from GIOVANNI EVANGELISTA DI BLASI, Chronological History of the Viceroys, Lieutenants and Presidents of the Realm of Sicily, vol. 30, Palermo, 1974, p. 104.
At this time, around 1635, Don Luigi Moncada promotes the construction in Caltanissetta, in the quarter of Saint Venera, of the Moncada Palace, interrupted in 1638, on the hill of the noble square (architect Brother Peter from Genoa). Today, after a period of degradation, this palace is about to be restored, being the most important architectural monument of the city.
Arch. DANIELA VULLO, Palace Moncada Bauffremont, yesterday, today, tomorrow, Caltanissetta 1986.
        46 ASPA, Archive of Serradifalco, vol. 3, pp. 206 209.
«Provided the price of the right of repurchase (jus luendi) of the Barony of Serradifalco could be resolved», 5 November 1637.
        47 In it mention was made that the Most Excellent Don Luigi Moncada «had need of certain sums for the purpose of discharging various affected bondholders and creditors around the State of Caltanissetta. In order to avoid the distractions which the creditors had begun, action was taken to sell to Don Giovanni Graffeo... the right to repurchase the Barony, which he had reserved in the contract of sale of 6 June 1617».
ASPA, Notary GIACINTO CINQUEMANI of Palermo, Contract of sale in ASPP, vol. 32, to p. I. «Purchase of the Barony of Serradifalco and its fiefs of Lo Salacio and Grotta d’acqua, the commune of Falbaccaro, and the Casalotto [compound] and surroundings of its capital».



        Between the two feudatories comes an agreement. The Land will be sold at 18 ounces per aratata. Nearly a month later comes the authorization of the Viceroy, on 14 October, near the manor farm of the comune of Xaddira, in the house of Scipione Licari, lord of that land, Don Giuseppe Di Forti, Secretary48 of the Most Illustrious and Most Excellent Don Luigi Moncada Aragon-La Cerba, Prince of Paternò, Duke of Montalto, Count of Caltanissetta, "the present President and General Captain in the Realm of Sicily for S. C. M." and Don Giovanni Graffeo, Baron of Serradifalco, in the presence of the Notary Arcangelo la Mammana of Caltanissetta, choose three experienced experts to measure the land49.
        On behalf of Moncada are selected Giuseppe Guarnisi of Monreale and the reverend Father Gabriel di Raimondo, of the Regular Teatini Clerics of Saint Giuseppe of Palermo; on behalf of Don Francesco Graffeo, Simone Savio of Nicosia.
By 19 October 1637, the experts declare «to have measured, seen and reviewed the three fiefs, evaluated them and found the following measurements:»
(according to the measure of Caltanissetta)

the fief of Serradifalco 31 aratate 1


- tumuli
the fief Lo Salacio 17 " 2


4 "
the fief Grotta dell'acqua 23 "        
which in total equal 71 aratate



4 tumuli50

        48 ASPA, Archives of Serradifalco, vol. 3, pp. 210 r through v.
«Sale of the right of the Barony of Serradifalco and its fiefs from Don Alojsio Aragona-Moncada to Giovanni Graffeo».
Duke Don Domenico Antonio Pietrasanta-Lo Faso asked for a transcript of this act on 26 December 1817.
ASPA, Archives of Serradifalco, 3rd vol. p. 266.
        49 ASPA, Archives of Serradifalco, vol. 3, pp. 225 228.
Act of approval and selection of experts for the assessment of the three fiefs of Serradifalco, done for the Most Excellent Prince of Paternò and Don Giovanni Graffeo.
8 January VI 1637.
The record of the experts has been reconstructed as well in ASCL, Notary Arcangelo MAMMANA.
        50 Every aratata corresponded to 9 salme.
71 x 9 = 639 salme + 3 = 642 gross salme. The corda of Caltanissetta consisted of 22 canne per tumulo.
ASCL, Notaro DI FRANCO, vol. 676, p. 41, in 1652.


          The experts had also measured public tracts (6 salme and 8 tumuli of land) which, calculated at 18 ounces to every aratata, and by reason of 4.17 ounces per hundred, results in the entire price of the entire Barony of 28,127.29 ounces. Of which, deducting the 19,737 ounces credited to Graffeo in compensation of the contract of sale of 1617, there remained 8,390.29 ounces, to which was added the 400 ounces extra promised by Graffeo, which therefore left a debt of 8,790 ounces and 29 tari for the entire fulfillment of the price of the Barony.
          The three fiefs were sold with jus luendi, with the title of Baron, civil and criminal jurisdiction, and all the other rights and pertinencies, as had been done with the act of the Imperial Notary public of 6 June 1617.
          On 8 January 1638 the assessment of the experts was ratified, and Giovanni Graffeo deposited the sum of 8,000 ounces to the Duke of Montalto, and for him, to several of his affected creditors, as can be noted from various entries by the Notary Cinquemani, and from which creditors the new Baron obtained cessions of rights and bonds.
          The Land was finally free from creditors of every kind.
          Unfortunately, in spite of the sale of the land of Serradifalco, the state of debt of Moncada was not resolved. The King came to an agreement with him that his States would be placed in privileged deputation, separate from the Deputation of States51.
          The prodigal and garish nobility thoughtlessly consumed the rich patrimony with various festivities, costumes, and annuities.
          In 1639 the Graffeo family, due to other small debts, still had credit on its assets and States, by the Prince of Paternò52.
           "Ma mentre Cartagine piange, Roma non ride."
But while Carthage cries, Rome does not laugh.
          This situation of uneasiness, which was becoming difficult for many Barons, does not spare our Graffeo family, which does not succeed in extracting its credit from other feudatories.
          The activity in the Land of Serradifalco demanded the involvement of the Baron to arrange a series of initiatives in order to organize the growing casalotto [compound?]. And in order "per fare rispettare le leggi ingabella a Filippo d'Amico, un malandrino palermitano originario di Mussomeli, la baglia della Baronia" to impose respect for laws and [duties?] on Filippo d'Amico, a rogue from Palermo, originally from Mussomeli, the [winery?] of the Barony.

          51 La Deputazione degli Stati era stata costituita nel 1600 con lo scopo di amministrare i patri moni indebitati, liberarli da pesi, obbligando i proprietari a forti risparmi.
Al Moncada vennero annualmente concesse 4000 onze per alimenti, e 2000 per spese processuali; nel 1644 la somma complessiva venne elevata a 8000 onze. Ma era stato venduto un altro feudo, di Castellammare, il cui ricavato di onze 5000 era servito per pagare parte di altri debiti.
TRICOLI, La Deputazione, cit., pag. 86, 278; MARRONE, Bivona, cit., pag. 287.
52 T
RICOLI, La Deputazione, cit., pag. 278 284.

51 The Deputation of States was established in 1600 with the charge of administering indebted patrimonies, freeing them from debt and obligating the owners, by force, to save them.
To the Moncadas went annual grants of 4,000 ounces for supplies, and 2,000 for legal expenses; in 1644 the total sum was elevated to 8,000 ounces. But another fief, of Castellammare, had been sold, and the profit of 5,000 ounces was taken in order to pay part of their other debts.
TRICOLI, The Deputation, cit., pp. 86, 278; MARRONE, Bivona, cit., p. 287.
52 TRICOLI, The Deputation, cit., p. 278 284.



          Already incidents have erupted over civil and criminal jurisdiction, with the Officials of the Land of Caltanissetta, who have had disagreements with the Customsmaster of Serradifalco, the miller of the mill at Grotta dell‘acqua, and townspeople and debtors, over their boundary walls. And Graffeo writes to Moncada of Paternò, reminding him that the land had been sold with mero e misto imperio [jurisdiction over life and death] and that their [Paternò’s] magistrates could not impose themselves on its affairs53.
          Now, insists the Baron, once and for all, order must be imposed. Therefore, he pleads that the Prince of Paternò will send letters to all the civil functionaries of Caltanissetta and his other States "not to impose themselves in matters of the jurisdiction of said Barony [Serradifalco] and its fiefs, nor to upset, nor to disturb, our quiet and peaceful property". (We point out that by 1638 the Customshouse of Serradifalco was already operating, and the mill of Grotta dell’acqua was functioning).
          This memorandum is answered by Donna Maria, Princess of Paternò, pacifying Graffeo, and sending letters to the Superior Court of Montalto on 5 October 163854.

          53 ASPP, vol. 38, f. 1 e volume A f. 401; f. 371.
«Mernoriale avanzato da D. Giovanni Graffeo possessore dello Stato di Serradifalco per cui volea mantenuto il mero e misto imperio venduto assieme a detto stato».
          54 ASPP, vol. 38, f. 5, Lettere della Corte Superiore ad istanza di D. Giovanni Graffeo, del 5 ottobre VII 1638.
Avvennero altri contrasti ancora, ma due anni dopo Giuseppe La Voglia, gabelloto dello Stato di Ser radifalco, biasimava gli «impratichi ministri di Caltanissetta», ignari della formazione di una nuova baronia detta di Serradifalco, vicina alla Contea di Caltanissetta, indipendente, che possiede la sua giurisdizione, che ha le sue leggi sotto i Graffeo.
1 Una volta la Terra era gravata al tempo dei Moncada di innumerevoli soggiogazioni, e continua La Voglia, «con queste notizie che si conoscono in tutto il Regno, è difficile trovare borgesi inquilini ed altre persone necessarie per il seminerio, con grande danno per Serradifalco e per Sua Cattolica Maestà e per il beneficio pubblico specie in questi
tempi sterili e calamitosi».
Chiese perciò ancora Lettere di salvaguardia in ampia forma per avere necessarie cautele. La Regia Gran Corte concesse le Lettere richieste, ordinando:
«Non habbiate né dobbiate molestare
durante lo tempo della gabella
né permettere siano
pacto aliquo molestati inquietati né perturbati in beni né in persone esso esponente, soi inquilini herbaggeri, terraggeri, gabelloti, subgabelloti, conductori, detentori, pos sessori, et altri di dette baronie presenti et futuri».
Non lo potevano disturbare Regia Gran Corte, né Città ed Università del Regno, né il Mastro Secreto o il Maestro Portulano, i Monti di Pietà, vedove, vergini, pupilli, orfani, persone miserabili, lochi pii, ed altri qualsivoglia persona... Insomma, era in una botte di ferro!
Le Lettere erano anche dirette al Presidente dei Tribunale della SS. Inquisizione di Girgenti ed alla Curia Spirituale di Serradifalco.
ASPP, Volume A, f. 387, «Lettere di salvaguardia per lo Stato di Serradifalco, a favore di Giuseppe La Voglia», del 26 novembre 1640. Altre nello stesso volume al f. 379, del 3 dicembre 1640.

          53 ASPP, vol. 38, p. 1 and volume A p. 401; p. 371.
«Memorandum advanced by Don Giovanni Graffeo, owner of the State of Serradifalco, for which he wishes maintained the mero e misto imperio, sold together with the said state.».
          54 ASPP, vol. 38, p. 5, Letter of the Superior Court in the instance of Don Giovanni Graffeo, of 5 October VII 1638.
Other conflicts still happened, but two years later Giuseppe La Voglia, overseer and tax receiver of the State of Serradifalco. blamed the "inexperienced ministers of Caltanissetta", who were unaware of of the formation of a new barony, the said Serradifalco, neighbor of the County of Caltanissetta, independent, which possesses its own jurisdiction, and which has its own law under the Graffeo family.
1 Once the Land was burdened at the time of the Moncadas by innumerable bonds, and La Voglia continues, "with these facts that are known in all the Realm, it is difficult to find renters for the village and other persons necessary for sowing crops, with great damage to
Serradifalco and to His Catholic Majesty and the public good, especially in these sterile and calamitous times".
He therefore asked for still more Letters of safeguard in broad terms to express the necessary cautions. The Royal Supreme Court granted the Letters demanded, ordering:
"You must not harass during the time of the excise tax, nor allow, pacto aliquo, to be harassed , worried nor disturbed in their holdings neither in person or through their representatives, whether they are renters of fields or land, overseers, sub-overseers, transporters, jailers, owners, or others of said present and future baronies".
Neither the Royal Supreme Court, nor the City and University of the Realm, nor the Customsmaster or Harbormaster, nor the devout Bastions of the Church could disturb Serradifalco’s widows, virgins, pupils, orphans, wretches, local holy men, or any other person ... In short, it was as secure as an iron cask! The Letters also were directed to the President of the Court of the Most Holy Inquisition of Girgenti and to the Spiritual Curia of Serradifalco.
ASPP, Volume A, p. 387, "Letters of safeguard for the State of Serradifalco, in favor of Giuseppe La Voglia", of 26 November 1640. Others in the same volume at p. 379, of 3 December 1640.


        Without warning, or nearly so, Don Giovanni Graffeo, made an act of donation on 11 November 1640 of the Barony of Serradifalco to his son the minor Francesco, approximately five years old, born from his union with Antonina Sarzana-Ventimiglia, and to his heirs and successors55: "the Barony called Serradifalco, the Barony called Lo Salacio and the Barony named Grotta dell’acqua, with lands of Falbaccaro, with their borders, laws and pertinencies, civil and criminal jurisdiction, power of the sword, indebted for a unit of armed cavalry for royal military service, and also with the right of jus luendi, the right of repurchase, and already operating in the acquired land".
        Reserved was the right and the ability to revocate the entire donation before dying, "if he should want to or like to".
        Therefore he creates an administator and governess of Francesco, his son and heir, with broad and free powers; not his wife Donna Antonina, but the mother of his wife, his mother-in-law and grandmother of little Francesco, Donna Maria Sarzana-Ventimiglia, widow of Federico Ventìmiglia, with wide freedom to act in the government and the administration of the Barony, excise taxes, rights, returns, proceeds and emoluments, declaring her free to name one or more proxies until Francesco reaches the age of 18 years "and not otherwise".
        He declares all this under oath, in front of the four figures of the Evangelists and by the hand of the Notary public. He declares to have already advanced to the Royal Court, long ago, the demand for the ability to found and to inhabit a new Land in the above-named fiefs, and that such ability transfers and transmits to his son, for him and his heirs to infinity; meaning therefore to support a new request that will put forward the name of his firstborn son Francesco Ventimiglia-Graffeo and have the appeal from his grandmother, his procurator and administrator, turned over to the Court of the Royal Patrimony.

          55 Donatio pro D. Francisco Graffeo
cum D. Joanne Graffeo.
«...consideraus et attendens ad maxirnum. amorem, maximarn benevolentiam quem et quam semper gessit erga Don Franciscum Graffeum et Ventimiglia infantem
de proximo natum eius filium legitimurn et naturalem natum suscptum et procreatum ex eo et D. Antonina Graffeo et Ventimiglia eius uxor, volens illum et illam in partem
demonstrare sponte ac motu propriu ex eius certa scientia maturo et deliberato animo...
dedit et donavit
ac dat et donat, et hujusmodi donationis et dationis titulo et causa habere licere concessit et concedit dicto Don Francisco Graffeo et Ventimiglia pheuda et baroniam ... ».
ASPP, vol. A, f. 381, all'11 novembre IX 1640.


          In this way, Baron Giovanni wants to separate the destiny of his son from his own, already seriously caught between debts and credits, and between the coils of a situation vitiated by the economy and his finances.
          The hope lives that that the young man can save the Noble House and the Family, with the rise of a new town, and with the prospect of a better destiny, not far off.
          The next day, 12 November, Donna Maria Sarzana-Ventimiglia, the new governor and administrator of his grandson Francesco, ingabella [indentures?] and surrenders the State of Serradifalco to Giuseppe La Voglia, represented by Giulio Cesino his proxy, with manor farms, crops, animals and everything else, including excise taxes, jurisdiction, creation of officials and factories ... from the 1st of December 1640, for three years assured and three years on option, for 1,000 ounces annually, 500 ounces to be paid in September and 500 ounces in January of every year56.









          56 Lo stesso volume senza numero, che abbiamo indicato con «A», della ASPP, ai fogli 415 e 417 riporta partite di Tavola che dimostrano regolari pagamenti di onze 500 ciascuno fatti da Giulio Cesino per norme e parte di Giuseppe la Voglia per la gabella di Terra e Baronia di Serradifalco.

          56 The same unnumbered volume, which we have indicated with «A», from ASPP, at pages 415 and 417 shows portions of a Table that demonstrates regular payments of 500 ounces each, made by Giulio Cesino by order and in behalf of Giuseppe la Voglia for the excise tax on the Land and Barony of Serradifalco.



6 DICEMBRE 1640.

La licenza di popolare la Terra del Falco
Il nome della nuova Università
Attività - Usi Civici di Serradifalco



6 DECEMBER 1640.

The permit to populate the Land of the Falcon
The name of the new Community
Activities - Uses of Serradifalco






CapitoloLogo.jpg (322421 bytes)

La Licenza di popolare la Terra del Falco
- 1640 -

The Permit to populate the Land of the Falcon
- 1640 -

         «Bisognava con ogni mezzo ridare il senso gioioso della vita dei campi, dissodare nuove terre e spingere I feudatari a coltivare I loro feudi, se volevasi evitare lo spauracchio della fame che income sui centri piú cospicui di populazione, dai quali, specie dalle coste, emigravano a torme I contadini verso l’interno».

        Cosi inizia Garufi in un suo saggio su una terra feudale siciliana57.
Siamo ai primi anni del 1600 e per la Corte Spagnuola e Filippo IV correvano ristrettezze economiche gravissime.
        Il vasto impero poteva considerare perduti il Portugallo, la Catalogna, le Azzore; la guerra in Fiandra contro la Francia si prolungava ed aumentava il bisogno di armati e di denaro.
        Nel 1629 il Re ordinò al Vicerè di Sicilia di vendere tutto, «qualunque genero de hazienda del Real Patrimonio», città ed feudi, pur di raccogliere denaro, insieme a gebelle, terre, titoli di nobiltà, giurisdizione civile e criminale.
        Solo cosi si poteva soppierire ai bisogni «e saziare l’ingorda lupa della Corte di Spagna».

        “While appreciating the joyful sense of life in the fields, new lands required plowing and the feudatories must be encouraged to cultivate their fiefs, if they were to avoid the scarecrow of hunger that threatened the larger population centers, from which, especially from the coasts, the peasants emigrated in hordes towards the interior.”

        Garufi begins in that way, in his treatise on a particular Sicilian feudal land57.
       We are in the early 1600s, and for the Spanish Court and Filippo IV, serious economic constraints exist.
        The vast empire could consider Portugal, Catalonia, and the Azores lost; the war in Flanders against France prolonged itself and increased the need for arms and money.
        In 1629 the King orders the Viceroy of Sicily to sell everything, “whatever sort of holding of the Royal Patrimony”, cities and fiefs, and to collect money together with excise taxes, lands, titles of nobility, and jurisdictions, civil and criminal.
        Only in this way could he support his needs “and sate the greedy wolf that was the Court of Spain”

       57 CARLO ALBERTO GARUFI, Roccapalumba, dal feudo all’abolizione della feudalità, Palermo, 1922, pag. 29.

       57 CARLO ALBERTO GARUFI, Roccapalumba, from feudal fief through the abolition of feudalism, Palermo, 1922, p. 29.



          At that time “pirates infested the coasts of the mezzogiorno [southern Italy and Sicily]”, Garufi writes further, “and famines followed one another with fearsome frequency. Filippo IV, after having transferred the private goods of the crown, and bartered fiefs and titles, in 1638 requested another two million from his donors and in the next year introduced two new taxes: those on printed paper and on contracts of exchange, etc.
          Poverty became ever more threatening, but especially, as you can imagine, a time of the most abject political decadence, financial and economic, and of a major depression”. Sicily, the conquered land, was prostrated by epidemics and overloaded with taxes.
          In October 1636 the Viceroy, the Duke of Montalto and Prince of Paternò, wishing to revive agriculture, “restricted by laws which tended to centralize the estates in the hands of the Barons, issued instructions about planting crops aimed at giving aid to the villagers”.
          In 1639 the new Viceroy, the Count of Assumar, renewed the circular and pressed the feudatories to cultivate grain in their vast domains, and to give aid to “the townspeople” dedicated to planting crops. An agrarian policy made out of words.
The Barons, owners of diverse fiefs, thought to increase their income by making their lands productive, but this could arise only with the presence and the participation of many colonists.
          To do this it was necessary to assemble as many people as possible, offer them certain things, terms, gratuities, giving them the opportunity to lease with low rent lands and vineyards or or rural fields, offering plots to build homes or even putting at their disposal houses already built.
           For our Land of Serradifalco, it was enough to develop the street plan, to which no thought had ever been previously given, to ask the Treasury permission to establish, or to give official recognition, to the Land that was abandoned until then.
          And also for the Viceroys, who asked for gifts to the realm, and imposed them at every moment, it was easy to tax the Permits for incorporation. With time, the tax receivers found the opportunity to open this new font of resources for their stressed finances, always increasing the compensation required for granting Permits.




          We know that 100 ounces were paid for the Permit for Altamira, 120 for Borgetto and Montedoro, and that 400 of gold were paid for Alimena and Palma di Montechiaro.
         At that time, a new era began for Sicily, with possibly the most intensive demographic movement encountered in the modern history of the island.
          In the first years of the age, it even can be said that no time passed that did not see the birth of a new Università (that is, town, borough, or village). More than 80 were established during the seventeenth century, and to every new Land that rose came new colonists, impoverishing old centers and cities of the domain or ancient Baronial Lands, which had been thought to last forever.
          The List of Permits to Populate agreed to by the Feudatories of Sicily during the Seventeenth Century, compiled by Giuseppe Cosentino58, comprise 67 Permits of which that of the 1st of April 1602 was given to Vincenzo Spucches for the Land of Clarastella, later called Molinazzo, and on 18 December 1699 to Gaspare La Grutta for the establishment of Roccella, later Campofelice.
           His notes and observations seem to me to be the most complete of the lot. Our greatest interest is in the group of Towns near Serradifalco, in the province of Caltanissetta itself:

Feudatario data della Nome del Nome della
  Licenza feudo nuova Terra
Giulio Grimaldi 28 gennaio 1604 Risiaia e Monaco S. Caterina
Nicolò Galletti 18 luglio 1607 Caliruni S. Cataldo
Pietro Marino 3 settembre 1633 Vallelunga Vallelunga
Diego Aragona 29 marzo 1635 Balatazza Montedoro
Francesco Spatafora 30 gennaio 1635 Cacciuni e Michenesi Acquaviva
Maria Ventimiglia
madre di Francesco
6 dicembre 1640 Serra del Falco Serradifalco
Pietro Altariva 13 agosto 1647 Riesi e Cipolla Riesi, poi Altariva,
poi Riesi
Giacinto Papè 29 aprile 1671 Vallelunga titolo di
Duca con l'obbligo
di popolare
Feudatory date of the Name of the Name of the
  Permit fief new Land
Giulio Grimaldi 28 January 1604 Risiaia and Monaco Santa Caterina
Nicolò Galletti 18 July 1607 Caliruni San Cataldo
Pietro Marino 3 September 1633 Vallelunga Vallelunga
Diego Aragona 29 March 1635 Balatazza Montedoro
Francesco Spatafora 30 January 1635 Cacciuni and Michenesi Acquaviva
Maria Ventimiglia
mother of Francesco
6 December 1640 Serra del Falco Serradifalco
Pietro Altariva 13 August 1647 Riesi and Cipolla Riesi, later Altariva,
then Riesi
Giacinto Papè 29 April 1671 Title of Duke of Vallelunga
with the obligation
to populate

           58 GIUSEPPE COSENTINO, La Cartha memoria di Riesi o una falsificazione del secolo XIX, Palermo, 1907, pag. 67.

           58 GIUSEPPE COSENTINO, The Historical Record of Riesi, or a counterfeit of the Eighteenth Century, Palermo, 1907, p. 67.  


The Permit to populate

          To obtain the right to populate, it was customary to address the King or the Viceroy for the privilege (which later was called the Permit), jus populandi [the right to populate], to populate owned lands which were abandoned and uncultivated, and to erect a castle and a tower together at the new Università.
           The Graffeos had a few possibilities among which to choose.
          1st to ask for the Permit directly from the Sovereign, who gave the applicant the Permit, to present to the Viceroy for execution.
          2nd to ask for the Permit from the Viceroy, who would grant a Viceregal Letter, pending royal approval. It was required to address the Sovereign, who would decide after requesting information from the authorities of the island59.
           Then the Permit was presented to the Viceroy or to the President of the Realm to be executed. A long and complicated procedure. It was a time in which the habit was to make the request of the Viceroy, who directly issued the Permit.
            Many feudatories in the land had chosen this custom.
           Baroness Maria Sarzana-Ventimiglia60, the procurator and tutor of Francesco Ventimiglia-Graffeo, wrote to the Viceroy. She made it known that Don Francesco was her grandchild, Baron of Serradifalco, Salacio and Grotta d'acqua and other territories, those bequests from his father, Don Giovanni Graffeo, in virtue of the acts of Notary Musanti of 11 November 1640; that she had already made a request for the original Permit to populate to the Royal Court, which was being delayed; that the princely fief of Serradifalco was distant from habitation, and because of this solitude was infested with brigands; that the land was rich with waters, fecund with grain, and unfortunately remained uncultivated because of the absence of serfs.

           59 Erano le famose Lettere locis convicinis a Secrezie e Giurati dei luoghi vicini che, temendo la migrazione dei loro vassalli per le nuove terre, e quindi la diminuzione delle proprie risorse, avan zavano quasi sempre difficoltà e frapponevano ostacoli. Anche se queste difficoltà si superavano... col denaro.
Il personaggio di Donna Maria Ventimiglia e Sarzana, vedova del fu D. Federico di Ventimi glia, è difficile collocarlo nella storia complessa dei Ventimiglia. La Famiglia era nobilissima ed anti chissima, traeva origine da Clodoveo, re di Francia, nell'anno 480, si era diramata in tutta Europa. Il ramo siciliano prendeva origine da un Normanno discendente da Ruggero Guiscardo, ricco di do mini e terre e signorie nelle Madonie.
ANTONIO MOGAVERO FINA, I Ventimiglia, Conti di Geraci e Conti di Collesano, Baroni di Grat teri e Principi di Belmonte, Palermo 1980; Idem, Profflo storico dei Ventimiglia, Signori delle Mado nie, Principi di Belmonte, Palermo, 1973; MUGNOS, Teatro, cit., vol. III, f. 513; SAVASTA, Il famoso Caso, cit.

There were the famous Lettere locis convicinis to Treasurers and Judges of the neighboring localities, who, fearing the migration of their serfs to new lands, and therefore the lessening of their own resources, nearly always advanced difficulty and scattered obstacles.  But even these difficulties were overcome ... with money.

The person of Donna Maria Sarzana-Ventimiglia, widow of the late Don Federico di Ventimiglia, is difficult to place in the complex history of the Ventimiglia. The family was most noble and most ancient, its origins were from Clodoveo [Clovis, Louis], king of France, in the year 480, and it had branches throughout Europe. The Sicilian branch originated from a Norman descendent of Ruggero Guiscardo, rich of dominions, lands and lordships in Madonie.
ANTONIO MOGAVERO FINA, The Ventimiglia, Counts of Geraci and Counts of Collesano, Barons of Gratteri and Princes of Belmonte, Palermo 1980; Idem, Historical Profile of the Ventimiglia, Lords of Madonie, Princes of Belmonte, Palermo, 1973; MUGNOS, The Theatre, cit., vol. III, p. 513; SAVASTA, The Famous Case, cit.


             A new population would have to be subservient to the Royal Court for drafts (extraction of cereals) and to the convenience of the public. That year the Viceroy was Don Francesco de Mello di Braganza, Count of Assumar, who had left in Sicily in August 1640 Monsignor Pietro Corsetto, Bishop of Cefalù, as Governor of the Realm61. With due insistence on the Royal Court and the Tribunal of the Royal Patrimony, in less than a month, the Office of the Chief Notary of the Realm decreed to grant a Licence to populate "jus populandi", granting it to Don Francesco Graffeo, Baron of Serradifalco, represented by his administrator and governess, his grandmother Donna Maria Sarzana-Ventimiglia, on 6 December of 1640.

              For the “good of the realm” the Governor conceded the power to the Baroness, and to the heirs and successors of young Francesco, to construct, erect, and gather residents for a new population center in one of the fiefs of her choice of the Barony, considering the altitude of the site and the quality of the wind, the convenience of forests, water and other necessities for building a new habitation.

              He gave her the power to erect a tower, fort - fortified castle - and equipping it with walls, turrets and other necessities of fortification.
              In the new Land, the Baron acquired every right to impose levies, duties, bail, rent, zàgato and any other fees, as the other Barons of the Realm did with their vassals.
              The Permit thus issued, as can be seen, was all-encompassing, with no defect, and lacked nothing.

              He empowered her also to name the Castlekeeper, the Jailer, the Captain of the Guard, the Judge and the other officials necessary, liked by and available to the Baron, with every honor and duty, “usual and customary”, held by the other Jurors, Judges, and Officials of the other Lands of the Realm. And finally, the right to elect, create, and ordain, and also to remove or re-appoint them as many times as seemed necessary by the Baron.

          61 Corsetto, born in 1577, was famous in Sicily in the legal Sciences, and by his merit he had been Pretorian Judge, Master of Logic, and President of the Consistory. In 1636 his wife had died and he had embraced ecclesiastics. In 1638 King Filippo had named him Bishop of Cefalù. He exercised the office of Governor in 1640, for one year, with zeal and prudence. Monsignor Corsetto died in 1643.
Di BLASI, Viceroys, cit., vol. III, p. 119; GIUSEPPE M. MIRA, Sicilian Bibliography, Palermo, 1875, p. 263; Diary of Things occuring in the City of Palermo and in the Kingdom of Sicily from 19 August to 16 December 1652, compiled by doctor Don VINCENZO AURIA of Palermo, Historical Bibliography and Letters of Sicily, Bologna, '73, vol. III.



           The Baroness had more license; to contract laws of the land, ordinances, statutes or other, with the new vassals.
           A copy of the Permit was sent to the Chief Justice, to the President of the Royal Court, to the Judges of the Royal Supreme Court, to the Masters of Logic, to the Treasurer and the Conservator of the Royal Patrimony, to the Fiscal Procurator and the other Officials of the Realm in order to have them adopt it, to execute and to observe under penalty of 1000 ducats to be paid to the Royal Treasury.
           Don Pietro Giovanni Guercio, Treasurer of the Royal Supreme Court, declared that in the name of and for Donna Maria Ventimiglia he had received the sum of 400 (four hundred) ounces in coin of the Realm “for the permit received from the Tribunal of the Royal Patrimony permitting habitation of one of the fiefs of the Barony of Serradifalco situated and located in this Kingdom and in the Valley of Mazzara and in execution of the provision made on the 23rd of this last November in response to the memorandum of Donna Maria for the above solvendis uncias quatricenti habeat licentiam62.
            An ordinary Permit, without particular favors or privileges, rights, or responsibility to populate the fief at a given time or in a given place.
            The Littere locis convicinis are missing.
            Not even a slight mention was made of mero e misto imperio [power over life and death], since the fiefs were de membris of the State and appurtenances of the County of Caltanissetta, and on 6 June 1617 they had been sold by Antonio Moncada to Francesco Graffeo “with jurisdiction civil and criminal, high and low, mero e misto imperio, with every power of the sword, privilege and otherwise, to the said fiefs appertaining to ... ”.

Il nome della nuova Università

Il nome comunemente veniva scelto dallo stesso feudatario ed indica to nella Licenza di popolare. Nel nostro caso non si fece alcun cenno spe cifico.
             Del resto c'era libertà. Molti Baroni sceglievano nomi di Santi (S. Ca terina, S. Ninfa, S. Cataldo); altri adottavano il cognome della rispettiva Famiglia (Lercara, da Francesco Lercaro, Lucca da Francesco Lucchese, Ventimiglia da Beatrice Ventimiglia, Altariva da Pietro Altariva).

The name of the new Community

           The name commonly was chosen by the feudatory himself and indicated in the Permit to populate. In our case, no specific hint was given.
            For the rest, there had been leeway. Many Barons chose the names of Saints (Santa Caterina, Santa Ninfa, San Cataldo); others adopted the surnames of the respective Family: (Lercara, by Francesco Lercaro, Lucca by Francesco Lucchese, Ventimiglia by Beatrice Ventimiglia, Altariva by Pietro Altariva).

             62 ASPP, volume “A”, p. 393, 5 December 1640.



               More than a few Lands kept the same names as the fiefs in which they were founded: Comitini, Baucina, and Calamonici. Our Land therefore could have called itself Salacia or Grotta dell'Acqua, or Graffea. It called itself Serradifalco after the fief of the same name, in which it rose.

               Iniziava per il feudatario un periodo di grande ed intensa attività. Se voleva che la nuova Università fosse popolata e avesse fortuna c'e ra proprio da rimboccarsi le maniche e lavorare. Nessuno pensi che da quel giorno 6 dicembre, sotto Natale, due giorni prima della festa dell'Im macolata arrivassero mastri e muratori, camions e ruspe a sbancare col linette, aprire fondamenta ed innalzare edifici. In genere, l'abbiamo già detto, esisteva una masseria con il Palazzo del Barone, con i suoi magazzi ni, le fosse, alcune case per i soprastanti, altri catoi e dammusi per i con tadini, che venivano a lavorarvi e vi trascorrevano settimane, mesi o anni, lontani dalle famiglie e della vie di comunicazione.


                There began for the feudatory a period of great and intense activity. If they wished that the new Community would be populated and would have luck, they had to just roll up their sleeves and work. No one thought that on that day 6 December, before Christmas, two days before the feast of the Immaculate Virgin there would arrive master builders and masons, trucks and excavators to shape the hills, open foundations and raise edifices. As we have already said, there was a manor farm with the Palace of the Baron, with his warehouses, the moats, some houses for the superintendents, and other shacks and stone houses for the peasant farmers, who came to work and passed weeks, months or years far from their families and from any means of communication.

                It was necessary to estimate the situation well and spontaneously, for the amenity of the place, the abundance of water, the fertility of the land and many other reasons, to create it years and decades before meeting its potential.
                Those attempting to establish a new Land, or the reasonable cultivation of a fief, did not always succeed. Often the lack of communications, the low fertility of soils, the insufficient facilities granted by the feudatories and the lack of water were reasons to decide to abandon the lands soon after inception. And the talk - rumors fly - circulated between colonists and vassals, in the markets and at the fairs.
               Soon after the act of approval, which Giovanni Graffeo had given to his to minor son Francesco, Donna Maria passed the action on, indenturing and obliging the Barony of Serradifalco to Giuseppe La Voglia, who had singular influence and prestige in the region, to impose law and discourage the usual rogues and raiders of the countryside, or bandits and gang members of the comune63.

               63 Anche tra le carte spesso è facile notare lo stato d'animo dei nostri personaggi. All'8 novem bre 1640 era già stato stipulato un atto in cui D. Giovanni Graffeo, barone, stipulava con D. Ignazio la gabella dello stato con Giulio Cesino. Questo atto fu cancellato. Il Barone Giovanni pensò che proprio da quell'atto di arrendamento potevano inziare le nuove attività a nome del figlio e della suocera, il nuovo gruppo dirigente. Fu cancellato, e ripetuto in seguito da Donna Maria Ventimiglia e Sarzana, a nome del nuovo Proprietario e Barone il giovane D. Francesco Graffeo.
ASPA, Atti Notaro
MUSANTI, vol. 14528, f. 57.

               63 Also, from the papers, it is easy to see the state of mind of our personages. On 8 November 1640 there had already been stipulated an act in which Don Giovanni Graffeo, baron, arranged with Don Ignazio the indenture of the state to Giulio Cesino. This act was cancelled. Baron Giovanni thought that directly fom that act of rendering they could start the new activities in the name of the son and mother-in-law, the new management group. It was cancelled, and repeated in turn by Donna Maria Sarzana-Ventimiglia, in the name of the new Proprietor and Barone, the youth Don Francesco Graffeo.
ASPA, Notary Acts
MUSANTI, vol. 14528, p 57.



          La Baronessa ed il Procuratore vennero quindi nel feudo a prendervi dimora, e seguire da vicino la costituzione della nuova Università. Già borgesi e contadini venivano in cerca di lavoro per periodi più o meno lunghi, bisognava ora creare condizioni ideali affinché molti vi fissassero stabile dimora, sino a suscitare una colonia fiorente di attività. La voce si sparse nei paesi vicini e jurnatari, misalori e annalori, provenienti da comuni di versi, cominciarono a prendere chiuse di terre, che avevano beverature, e ricche sorgenti di acqua. I Graffeo non concessero particolari agevola zioni. Nessun documento, per esempio, parla di terre comuni (fondi aperti nei quali la popolazione poteva cacciare, far legna, ecc.). Gli abitanti, è evidente, non godettero mai di usi civici cioè di diritti di condurre a pa scolare, legnare, estrarre gesso, calce, pietra, raccogliere olive, erbe, fra sche, lumache, funghi e così via, gratuitamente, senza obbligo di versare canoni né ai Graffeo né ai Lo Faso.

          The Baroness-Procurator then came to the fief to take residence, and soon thereafter to develop the new Community nearby. Already, townspeople and peasant farmers had come in search of work for periods more or less lengthy, and now it was necessary to create ideal conditions so that many would build permanent dwellings, until they had developed a community flourishing with activities. The word was spread in nearby towns, and in journals, missals, and annals of various towns, and people began to enclose land that had drinking water and was rich with flowing streams. The Graffeos did not grant some specific activities. No document, for example, speaks of terre comuni (open areas in which the population could hunt, cut wood, etc.). The inhabitants, it is evident, never enjoyed the right to graze animals, cut wood, extract chalk, lime, or stone; to pick olives, herbs, berries, mushrooms and such things free of charge, neither from Graffeo nor from Lo Faso, without being obliged by various rules.

          Non ebbero obbligo di corrispondere angarie (prestazioni e servizi gra tuiti di lavoro ed opere), dovute in ragione di alcune giornate per anno, in cambio di protezione accordata dal Barone ai suoi vassalli, senza diritto a mercedi; né pèrangarie (gli stessi servizi forzati con mercede). Né di pagare ogni anno decime di prodotti o bestiame, come a Mezzojuso e Lercara, o prestare una giornata di lavoro al mese per i bisogni del Barone; o corrispondere ogni anno frumento e vari tarì, galline, o carichi di paglia e di legna, come a Campofranco e Casteltermini; o costruire stanze e letti per il feudatario come a Lercara, e portare acqua al servizio del Padrone e saldare la tassa della fascia per la nascita dei suoi figli64. «Ad oneri maggiori rispondono, scrive Garufi, diritti maggiori, ad oneri minori rispondono diritti minori».

          But neither were the people obliged to give angarie (free labor), reasonably due for some number of days per year, in exchange for protection accorded by the Baron to his vassals, without entitling him to goods; nor pèrangarie (the same services, but including goods). Nor to pay every year one tenth of produce or livestock, as in Mezzojuso and Lercara, or spending a day of work per month for the needs of the Baron; or to pay every year with wheat and various taxes, poultry, or loads of straw and wood, as in Campofranco and Casteltermini; or building rooms and beds for the feudatory as in Lercara, and carrying water in the service of the Padrone and paying taxes for swaddling clothes at the birth of his children64. “Greater privileges correspond to great duties” writes Garufi, “to lesser duties, lesser rights.”

          64 Nel 1501 a Mezzojuso i vassalli pagavano un tarì per casa, la decima sui prodotti e gli anima li, un canone sulla terra, l'opera gratuita per riparare i mulini, una giornata di lavoro per ogni masi nata, il dono di una gallina o porcellino o agnello per ogni famiglia per festa di San Giovanni...
A Campofranco e Casteltermini (1573 e 1625) 3 tarì per casa, per corredino o fascia del figlio del Barone, un carico di legna e uno di paglia, ogni anno fornire 2 galline, 2 capponi, 2 pollastre, 2 gallet ti e 2 piccioni...
Nei Capitoli di San Michele di Ganzaria decima per i cereali, 1 tarì e una gallina all'anno, preferenza nella vendita della roba del Barone...
Altri balzelli in Aidone, Cefalù...
Vedi per tutti:
GIUSEPPE TESTA, Il Principato di Campofranco nel feudo Fontana di li Rosi, Agri gento, 1973.

           64 In 1501 in Mezzojuso the vassals paid one tarì coin per house, one tenth of their produce and livestock, a rent on the land, free labor for repairing the mill, a day of work for every month, and a gift of one hen or lamb for every family for the feast of Saint John…
In Campofranco and Casteltermini (1573 and 1625) 3 tarì per house, for supplies or swaddling clothes for the son of the Baron, a load of wood and one of straw, every year providing 2 hens, 2 capons, 2 chicks, 2 grouse and 2 pigeons...
In the Capital of San Michele di Ganzaria one tenth of the grains, 1 tarì and one hen per year, and preference to the Baron in the price of goods...
Other unjust taxes in Aidone and Cefalù...
For a full account see:
GIUSEPPE TESTA, The Principality of Campofranco in the fief Fountain of the Roses, Agrigento, 1973.


«Queste le massime fondamentali economiche che regolavano i rapporti fra feudatari e comunisti (abitanti del comune), secondo l'antica e sempre nuova legge economica dell'offerta e della ri chiesta»65.

“These were the fundamental economic principles that regulated the relationship between the feudatories and the comunisti (inhabitants of the town); secondly the ancient but always new economic law of supply and demand”65.

          Serradifalco, come Roccapalumba (per fare un esempio con l'opera del Garufi) fu meno oppresso di «gravezze feudali». I suoi vassalli non possedettero particolari diritti e privilegi (usi civici, terre promiscue, ecc.) di cui altrove borgesi e contadini godevano... in cambio di oneri maggiori. Così come furono disponibili a pagare un tarì per ogni famiglia per ogni suolo di casa66.

          Serradifalco, like Roccapalumba (to make an example from the work of Garufi) was less oppressed by the “burdens of the feudal system”. Its vassals did not have certain rights and privileges (civic uses, common tracts, etc.) which some other villagers and peasant farmers enjoyed... but in exchange for greater burdens.  Therefore they were able to pay one tarì for every family, for every house lot66.

          Siamo in piena epoca feudale, ma Donna Maria Ventimiglia e Graffeo non costrinse con la forza a popolare i suoi feudi. Non abbiamo noti zie dì sorprusi o forza baronale. Pensò invece di tenere in economia i feudi e gabellarli, per migliorare la coltura; provvedere i lavoratori con una mag giore prestazione di servizi, dai soccorsi in natura per la terra agli animali da lavoro; concedere fondi rustici in enfiteusi a prezzi non onerosi; co struire case per i nuovi vassalli e darle loro in affitto; costruire la chiesa (dedicata a San Francesco di Paola) e chiamarvi fl cappellano, il curato che battezzassero i loro bambini nati nella nuova Terra, o benedicessero i matrimoni tra i primi venuti o seppellissero i loro morti...

           We are fully in the feudal epoch, but Donna Maria Ventimiglia and Graffeo did not populate their fief by force. We have no record of beatings or baronial force. They believed instead in holding their fiefs through economics and by enriching them, by improving cultivation; providing the workers with greater services, by helping to provide forage-land for the beasts of burden; granting verdant rural fields at prices that were not burdensome; constructing houses for the new vassals and letting them for rent; building the church (dedicated to San Francesco of Paola) and summoning a chaplain, a caretaker who baptized their children born in the new Land, or blessed the marriages between the newly arrived, or buried their dead...

           A molti piacquero questi modi semplici e cordiali, accettarono la mo destia dei censi, e certamente trovarono quelle agevolazioni e comodità che non avevano trovato altrove.
           Accettarono, certamente, anche le privative del Barone e i suoi diritti feudali, che erano una regola e non l'eccezione, di molire nei suoi mulini, di comprare nelle sue botteghe, di cuocere il pane nei suoi forni, od acqui stare la carne nelle sue boccerie e macelli.
            Ed acconsentirono alla sua giurisdizione civile e criminale, che per gli onesti era una garanzia di vita semplice e non turbata da malandrini e av venturieri.
            «E così, scrive la Fallico67, si avviò il paziente lavoro collettivo cui prendevano parte gli umili e potenti, le persone colte e gli illiterati i quali tutti tendenti alla stessa mèta, realizzavano insieme ilprogrammapre disposto».

            To many these simple and cordial ways were pleasing, and they accepted the modest restrictions, and certainly realized some facilities and comforts they had not found elsewhere.
             They also accepted, certainly, the prerogatives of the Baron and his feudal rights, which were the rule and not the exception, to grind flour in their mills, to purchase from their shops, to cook bread in their ovens, and to obtain meat at their butchers and slaughterhouses.
              And they consented to his civil and criminal jurisdiction, which for the honest was a guarantee of a simple life undisturbed by rogues and adventurers.
              “And in this way,” writes la Fallico67, “went the patient collective labor accepted on the part of the humble and the powerful, persons of culture and illiterates, who all marched to the same beat, together realizing the pre-ordained plan”.

          65 GARUFI, Roccapalumba, cit., pag. 75.
         66 M. R.: Memoria per Signor Duca di Serradifalco contro il Sindaco della Comune di Serradi falco ed il Procuratore del Represso il Tribunale Civile di Caltanissetta come parte principale, Paler mo, 1854.
          67 GRAZIA FALLICO BURGARELLA, Introduzione in Le Aquile Rosse dei Campo di Giuseppe TE STA, Caltanissetta, 1990.

          65 GARUFI, Roccapalumba, cit., p. 75.
         66 Royal Memoranda: Memorandum for the Lord Duke of Serradifalco versus the Mayor of the Comune of Serradifalco and the Procurator of the King, before the Civil Tribunal of Caltanissetta, principal session, Paler mo, 1854.
         67 GRAZIA FALLICO BURGARELLA, Introduction to The Red Eagles of the House of Campo by Giuseppe TESTA, Caltanissetta, 1990.


          Era un'impresa entusiasmante, per quanto finanziariamente rischio sa, che tendeva a creare le premesse per la crescita della nuova Terra, lo sviluppo delle attività agricole e commerciali, il progresso economico di tutto il territorio. Pagina bellissima che dovrebbe anche rivalutare la tan to vilipesa feudalità, solitamente considerata un elemento negativo della storia siciliana «ma che in realtà, tra Medioevo ed Età Moderna, colonizzò l'isola».
          It was an enthusiastic enterprise, however risky financially, which leant itself to create the premise for the growth of a new Land, the development of agricultural and commercial activities, and the economic progress of the whole territory. A beautiful page of history which calls for the re-evaluation of vile feudalism, usually considered a negative element of Sicilian history “but which in truth, between Medieval times and the modern age, colonized the island”.

           E Donna Maria con il nipote D. Francesco Graffeo, come Vincenzo Maria Termini (Casteltermini), Lionello Lercaro (Lercara Friddi), Ottavio Lanza (Trabia), Carlo Carafa (Grammichele), Placido Fardella (Paceco), Pietro Altariva (Riesi), Diego Aragona (Montedoro), Giovanni Campo (Campofranco), Giacinto Papè (Vallelunga), e molti altri, in quell'epoca, portarono il loro contributo pietra su pietra, come dice il Sorge, al grande edificio della storia della Sicilia. «Fu una delle imprese più grandiose, scrive Trasselli68, che la storia della Sicilia possa vantare».
           And Donna Maria with her grandson Don Francesco Graffeo, like Vincenzo Maria Termini (Casteltermini), Lionello Lercaro (Lercara Friddi), Ottavio Lanza (Trabia), Carlo Carafa (Grammichele), Placido Fardella (Paceco), Pietro Altariva (Riesi), Diego Aragona (Montedoro), Giovanni Campo (Campofranco), Giacinto Papè (Vallelunga), and many others, in that epoch, brought their contribution stone by stone, as Sorge says, to the great edifice that is the history of Sicily. “It was one of the most prodigious enterprises,” writes Trasselli68, that “the history of Sicily can boast of.

          Colonizzazione del latifondo... quante volte tale espressione è com parsa nella stampa scientifica o quotidiana o impegnata, da quando si parla di Questione Meridionale!
           Ebbene, un Barone come la Graffeo, senza aiuto della Cassa del Mez zogiorno e senza leggi sullo scorporo del latifondo, seppe realizzare la co lonizzazione di Serradífalco.
           E nella nuova Terra paraspulari e vurdunari, gente umile ma attiva, curatoli e picurari, ed agricoltori, ed artigiani, barbieri, ciabattini, fale gnami e muratori, presero in affitto le case e aprirono le loro botteghe nel corso principale, e nella piazza tra la chiesa e il Palazzo del Barone, per 1 una nuova vita, una nuova era per i loro discendenti a venire.
            The colonization of the latifondo... How many times that expression has appeared in scientific papers, or the daily press or in debate, when the Southern Issue is spoken of!
            Well, a Baron like Graffeo, without the help of the Bank of the Mezzogiorno and without laws on the subdivision of the latifondo, knew how to achieve the colonization of Serradifalco..
            And in the new Land, weavers and muleteers, humble people but productive ones, doctors and shepherds, and farmers, and artisans, barbers, cobblers, carpenters and masons, rented the houses and opened their shops on the main street and in the piazza between the church and the Palace of the Baron, for a new life and a new era for their descendants yet to come.

Usi civici di Serradifalco

            Abbiamo già visto che il nostro feudatario non accordò mai ai suoi vassalli, sin dal 1640, alcun diritto di acquare o portare gli animali al pa scolo nelle «terre comuni», o prendere pietre, calce, né prima né dopo la Licenza di popolare. Non successe con i Graffeo né con i Lo Faso.

Civic uses of Serradifalco

             We have already seen that our feudatory never accorded his vassals, since 1640, any right to water or to bring their livestock to pasture in “common lands”, or to extract rock or chalk, neither before nor after the Permit to populate. It didn’t happen with the Graffeos, nor with the Lo Fasos.

68 TESTA, Il Principato, cit. Introduzione di Carmelo TRASSELLI, pag. X.

68 TESTA, The Principality, cit. Introduction by Carmelo TRASSELLI, p. X.


             E particolarmente Francesco Graffeo, quando ricevette il Privilegio di popolare i suoi feudi, non assunse alcuna obbligazione in favore dei nuovi abitanti del borgo.
            Allorché il 16 dicembre 1812 il Parlamento Siciliano dichiarò abolita la feudalità, la classe dei contadini e degli operai molto lentamente comin ciò a prendere coscienza della sua forza. Nasceva un nuovo equilibrio tra due istituzioni: i gabelloti e i vassalli, forza predominante, contro i feudatari.
            Ogni comune, si può dire, iniziò la sua causa per gli Usi civici contro il suo Barone; e tutti furono messi sotto accusa.

             And particularly Francesco Graffeo [Grifeo], when he received the Permit to populate his fiefs, did not assume any obligation in favor of the new inhabitants of the town..
            And so, when on December 16 1812 the Sicilian Parliament declared the abolition of feudalism, the classes of peasant farmers and laborers very slowly began to consciously realize their strength. A new equilibrium emerged between two institutions: the overseers and the serfs, a predominant force, against the feudatories.
              Every village, it may be said, began its own suit for Civic Uses against its Baron, and all the Barons were put under accusation.


Con il secolo XIX non cambia nulla o quasi. Al 1804 vi e ancora il Beneficiale Insalaco, procuratore della chiesa, che in eta matura, e accusato dal Vescovo di non avere introitato le offerte dei fedeli, con «apoca» o ricevuta, e la situazione finanziaria e un po' confusa 289.

Ma intorno al 1827 con il nuovo Cappellano, sac. D. Raimondo Coniglio, l'amministrazione cambia in meglio. E prima dell'entrata della chiesa nella nuova diocesi di Caltanissetta ci restano alcuni documenti per trac­ciare un quadro molto preciso.

Dall'ultima Visita Pastorale (1827) la chiesa, l'altare maggiore, e gli altri, i confessionali, le statue dei santi, tutto e bene ordinato. Mai aveva­mo letto sei fogli pieni di «suppellettili, argento ed altri utensili esistenti nella chiesa» e presentati dal nuovo Cappellano Coniglio a Mons. d'A­gostino 290.

Tra l'altro mettiamo una nota storica ad «un piccolo manto color violaceo con frinza di argento per Maria SS. del Carmine».

Sotto il Beneficiale Coniglio l'importo della congrua passo da onze 18 a 24, mentre si erano aggiunti altri censi e giogali di fedeli, ed elemosine.

Il Beneficiale spesso non prendeva la congrua, donandola alla chiesa.

Le spese correnti erano per consumo di cera, novena del S. Natale, le Quarantore del Divinissimo, acconci nella costruzione, per «disparo di rnorta­retti nell'anniversario dei morti e nei primi dodici lunedi», onze 9.30.

Nello «Stato delle chiese del comune di Serradifalco al 1829», che abbiamo spesso citato, la Chiesa de/ Purgatorio ha la seguente scheda: - E di proprieta del Signor Duca di Serradifalco. Abbisogna di essere biancheggiata a stucco per una spesa di 180 ducati.

Confraternita del Purgatorio

Una «Confraternita» fu subito eretta accanto alla chiesa, la si riscon-

         289 ACAG, SVP, Reg. 1804, f. 743, alla data del 6 dicembre 1804.

            290 Primariamente una sfera grande di argento con sopra fili indorati, piti una croce e crocifisso d'argento con sua asta, piu un sicchiello con sua sponsa d'argento.
un incensiero, un calice, una pisside, un perpetuo, una chiave d'argento;
un calice di rame con gotto d'argento indorato e sua patena indorata, drappi fiorati e ricamati in oro, lampieri di rarne,
camici, cottc, cappelle, con frinze d'argento e guarnite di gallone d'argento, 5 altari adorni di suoi candelieri, in rame e crocifissi, un baldacchino di seta,
il Sepolcro della Settirnana Santa tutto indorato, e foderato di dentro con raso a color di latte ...
ACAG, SVP, Reg. 1827, ff. 1$8-161,
Inventario della Chiesa delle Anime Sante del Purgatorio.

But around 1827 with the new chaplain, Priest Don Raimondo Coniglio, the administration changes for the better. And before the entry of the church in the new diocese of Caltanissetta there are some documents which draw a very accurate picture.

For the Pastoral Visit (1827) the church, the altar, and the other items; the confessionals, statues of saints, were all in good order. We never have read six such pages full of  “furniture, silver and other items existing in the church” and presented by the new Chaplain Coniglio to Msgr. D'Agostino 290.

Among other things we show a historical note for "a purple cape with silver fringe for Maria SS. del Carmine".

Under the Benefactor Coniglio the value of the stipend increased from 18 to 24 ounces, while there were added other gifts of the faithful, and alms.

The Benefactor often did not take the stipend, giving it to the church.

Current expenditures were for consumption of wax, novena of San Natale, the Forty Days of the most Divine, flourishes in the construction, for “display of fireworks on the anniversary of the dead and on the twelve first Mondays”, 30.9 ounces.

In the report “State of the churches of the town of  Serradifalco through 1829,” which we have often cited, the Church of Purgatory has the following annotation: - It is owned by the Lord Duke of Serradifalco.  Its stucco is in need of whitewashing at a cost of 180 ducats.

Brotherhood of Purgatory

A "Brotherhood" was immediately erected next to the church, we find


            289 ACAG, SVP, Reg. 1804, p. 743, dated 6 December 1804.

            290 Firstly, a large sphere of silver overlaid with gilded wire, a silver cross and crucifix with its stand, plus a silver --?
a censer, a chalice, a ciborium, a perpetual, a silver key;
a cup of copper gilt and its gilded stand, flowered drapes embroidered in gold, copper lamp-stands,
gowns, cooked goods, chapels, with silver fringes trimmed with silver stripes, five altars adorned with
chandeliers, copper crucifixes, a silk canopy,
the tomb of the Holy Week all gilded, and lined with m ilk-colored satin ...
ACAG, SVP, Reg. 1827 pp. 158-161, Inventory of the Church of the Holy Souls in Purgatory.


      Dopo dieci giorni, il 21, veniva pubblicato il Regolamento, con il quale erano date indicazioni precise circa l'estensione, la forma, la custodia dei camposanti e il modo di sotterrare i cadaveri. A queste disposizioni non si diede alcuna importanza. I morti venivano sepolti nelle fosse delle chies­e da decenni, da secoli e nessuno voleva cambiare. A Serradifalco le pri­me fosse furono nella chiesa di San Francesco, in quella antica e nuova matrice di San Leonardo, e nelle altre chiese, che man mano andavano sorgendo.  
      Nel 1825, il 14 ottobre, il Sindaco comunicava all'Intendente di avere saputo, attraverso i registri, che ii cimitero fuori l'abitato, era stato eretto in dal 1784 a spese del Duca di Serradifalco, per seppellirvi i cadaveri.
Era il Cimitero di San Giuseppe, cioè un oratorio accanto alla chiesa, che era sorta l'anno prima 357.
       Ed il Sindaco Sferrazza aggiunge che questa chiesa rimane ancora la piu idonea allo scope. Un mese dopo ritira la proposta, e rileva che il sep­pellimento in quella arreca pregiudizio alla salute degli abitanti, «essendo la chiesa senza coverticcio e con molti rettili». E consigliabile scegliere le altre dell' «Imrnacolata» e del «Purgatorio».
       Ad un anno di distanza, il 10 giugno 1831, viene chiesto lo Stato delle sepolture gentilizie esistenti nel commune.

             357 Idem, vol. 3243.



Chiese, confratrie o cap-
lle ove esistono
le se-

Famiglie cui appartengono

come siasi glusuficata la

1 - Nella Matrice chiesa
esistono 3 sepolture

2 - Chiesa e Congregazio-
ne del SS. Rosario
2 se-

3 - Chiesa dell'Anime del
1 sepoltura

4 - Chiesa dell'lmrnacota-
ta Concezione
1 sepoltura

Il Duca di Serradifalco, Famiglie Lio e Garnbuto, Famiglie Gambuto e Sferrazza

Una della Famiglia Vaccari e la seconda
per i confrati

Filippo Coniglio e i suoi

Delli Beneficiali pro tempo


Con attestato dell'arci-
prete che da piú di anni
30 hanno esistito

Con attestato del Vicario
direttore di d. chiesa e

Per atto di concessione
fatta dal Beneficiale e
con attestato dello stesso
giustificante di essere di­-
venuto a tale concessione
per essersi dal Consiglio
erogate onze 60 per ri-
torare le fabbriche di d.
chiesa pericolante

Con attestato del Benefi-
ciale coll'esistcnza da piú
di anni 30

ASCL, Intendenza, vol. 3243.

Fatto in Serradifalco 10 giugno 1831
I1 Sindaco ff. Salvadore Misuraca

      Ten days later, on the 21st, were published Regulations, with which they were given precise details about the size, the shape, and custody of the cemeteries and the way to bury the corpses. These provisions were not given any importance. The dead had been buried in mass graves of the churches for decades, for centuries; and no one wanted to change. At Serradifalco the first graves were in the church of San Francesco, in the old Mother Church and the new one of San Leonardo, and other churches, which gradually arose.
      In 1825, on October 14, the Mayor communicated to the Superintendent that he had known, through the town registers, that a cemetery outside the main village had been erected in 1784 at the expense of the Duke of Serradifalco, to bury the corpses.
[Note: Though on the outskirts, the church was not outside the town]
      It was the cemetery of
St. Joseph, that is, a chapel next to the church, which had risen the previous year 357.
      And Mayor Sferrazza adds that this church is still the most suitable for the purpose. A month later he withdrew the proposal and notes that the burial in that church is detrimental to the health of the inhabitants, "the chapel being without cover, with many reptiles." It is advisable to choose the other churchyards of ''Immacolata" and "Purgatory."
       Later, on
June 10, 1831, he prompted the report titled the state of noble burials in the existing town357.

Idem, vol. 3243.


Churches, Societies or Chapels
where there are burials

Families to which they belong

How the situation was justified

1 – In the Mother church [San Leonardo] are 3 sepulchers

2 – Church and Congregation of SS. Rosario 2 sepulchers

3 – Church of the Souls of Purgatory 1 sepulcher

4 – Church of the Immaculate Conception
1 sepulcher

The Duke of Serradifalco, the Families Lio and Gambuto, the Families Gambuto and Sferrazza

One for the Family Vaccari and the second
for the society members

Filippo Coniglio and his family

For the Beneficiali of the period


With certification by the archpriest that they had existed for over 30 years

With certification by the Vicar Director of said church and congregation

By concession made by the  Beneficiale and certification by him justifying this concession through having 60 ounces delivered to the Council to restore unsafe elements of said church

With certification by the Beneficiale that they had existed for over 30 years

ASCL, Superintendency, vol. 3243.

Recorded in Serradifalco 10 June 1831
The Mayor [signed by] Salvadore Misuraca


Images from the book

The fountain "Testa di l'acqua"

"Grotta d'acqua" (Cave of the water)

FountainTestaDel'Acqua.jpg (121198 bytes)

CaveGrottaD'Acqua.jpg (104492 bytes)


The mountain "Serra del Falcone"
MountainSerraDelFalcone.jpg (75063 bytes)

.More about Serradifalco

SerradifalcoCrestModSmall.jpg (4693 bytes)

SerraSmal.jpg (5441 bytes)
The First Visit

The Second Visit

The Third Visit

The Fourth Visit

ChiesaMadreSmall.jpg (3842 bytes)
The Church

SocietaSmall.jpg (5131 bytes)
La Società

webbunny.gif (3114 bytes)

CompassRose50high.gif (1661 bytes)



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Last revision: 22 July 2022 ~ Angelo F. Coniglio,