The castle is thought to be Norman, with settlers from Liguria arriving with Adelaida Vasto Savona (d.1118), the mother of King Roger (d.1154).
However it is thought the castle may date back to the
Saracen period or earlier.
Before 1250 Galvano Lancia (d.1268) claimed the county of Butera though the inheritance of his mother, who would appear to have been Bianca Maletta (d.1215+). Peter Ruffo of Messina (d.1256+), acting as virtual ruler of Sicily and owing allegiance to the pope, refused the order of Prince Manfred
(d.1266) to turn Butera and the other castles including Aidone over to
him. In 1254 Peter Ruffo was expelled from Sicily, but the
Sicilians under the influence of Messina refused to accept the regent,
Manfred. In 1256 a civil war began with Palermo supporting the regent. Consequently in the summer of 1257, after the surrender of Messina, only Aidone, Piazza Armerina and Enna
continued in their resistance. Frederick Lancia, the royalist
Marshall of Sicily and brother of Galvano, then marched on the
rebels. After crushing Piazza Armerina
and being lenient to the defenders, the men of Aidone asked and were
received in surrender. Presumably the castle was then passed to
Galvano Lancia, but passed to King Charles (d.1284) after his victory against King Manfred in 1266.
before 1330 it was recorded
as being held by Russo Rosso of Messina (d.1342), the lord of Noto. By 1411 it was held
by the widowed, White Queen
Bianca of Navarre (d.1441). After her death it
became a prison, before being destroyed by the earthquake of 1693.
The castle, just north of the town, stands on a ridge end site some
3,000' above sea level. It occupies a vaguely rectangular
site with a section possibly quarried away to the northwest. The
ruins are too sketchy to be certain of its original plan and there
appears to be little or no flanking. The best remaining
section of wall to the east contains a gap which appears to mark a
simple hole in wall type gateway. Next to this the rubble
wall has possibly been rebuilt at some point. To the south
the masonry appears of better quality and has fine quoins.
Why not join me at other Sicilian
castles? Information on this and other tours can be found at Scholarly
Paul Martin Remfry