Like many Sicilian castles, the rectangular keep of Adrano is claimed to have been built on the ruins of a pre-existing Muslim fortress.  History shows that in 1092 the town of Adrano was within the Norman diocese of Catania, which had fallen to the Normans in 1071.  Initially Count Roger Hauteville (d.1101) gave the castle to his niece Adelasia, who became a nun before 1096.  Presumably the castle reverted to the Crown on her change of vacation.  In 1154 Edrisi  described Adrano (Adarnu) as ‘a beautiful hamlet'.  Yet just 4 years later in 1158, a diploma described it as a castle (oppidum), while in 1299 it was described as an impregnable fortress (oppidum inexpunabilis).  Before 1177 the castle had passed to Count Roger Aquila of Acerra (d.1183), the father-in-law of the future King Tancred (1190-94).  In 1185, two years after Roger's death, it was held by Earl Walter Paris (d.1201), who was succeeded at Adrano by the Pellegrino family.

Before 1330 the castle was held by Matthew Sclafani, who was killed in the baronial wars before 1347.  Afterwards the castle was seized by the Chiaramontans when it was described simply as a tower (turris).  The castle was subsequently acquired by the Moncada family who took the title, count of Adrano.  After this, probably in the seventeenth century, a small lower bastion wall was erected around the base of the tower.  By the eighteenth century the castle was derelict, but it has since been renovated and made into an archaeological museum.

The early part of the castle consists of a large rectangular keep, some 65'x55' and 110' high.  This is claimed to have been built by Count Roger Hauteville (d.1101) to command the district south of Mt Etna.  The walls vary between 7½' and 8½' thick and contain 4 floors over a basement, with the lower 2 being brick barrel vaults. 

The tower is accessed through a single ground floor pointed archway with a label moulding and stops.  This leads to 2 rooms on the ground floor.  These have 3 bays and are divided by a longitudinal wall.  A mural stair leads from the right of the door to the first floor which has 2 living rooms.  The northern one is lit by two single lights and an ogival window, while the southern one has three later windows.  A narrow mural stairway rises to the second floor which is divided into 2 compartments by an east-west wall.  The northern chamber is lit by five windows, while the southern compartment was divided into 2.  The eastern section contains a rectangular chapel (23'x13') with an apse inserted into the thickness of the wall.  This is similar to the chapel at nearby Paterno and like it is beautified with Byzantine style frescos including a Christ Pantocrator thought to be late fifteenth century.  Another flight of mural stairs leads to the top floor, which is similar to the lower floor and contains another small chapel.  Rather surprisingly a doorway with a pointed arch in the first floor gives access to the sixteenth century battlements.

Externally the tower can be seen to consist of a layered rubble build, although the stones almost make a herringbone pattern.  The quoins have been largely replaced, sometimes with bricks, but the more original survivors towards the base appear well executed, but not particularly tightly fitted.  Machicolations overhang the eastern side where the tower entrance is.  Externally some of the lights appear Romanesque and some are architrave, although they have been converted into square windows.  Internally there are also many Romanesque doors and windows, but again it is not certain when they were last remodelled.  At best their authenticity is doubtful.

The rectangular outer ward has small polygonal plinths rising up into round turrets at the 4 angles.  Apparently it stands to near its full height of some 20' as traces of the machicolations remain to the north where the enceinte is entered through an eighteenth century doorway.

Why not join me at other Sicilian castles?  Information on this and other tours can be found at Scholarly Sojourns.


Copyright©2019 Paul Martin Remfry