Belvedere Castle, Fiumedinisi

It has been suggested that an acropolis stood on the site of Belvedere castle and a Greek settlement towards nearby Fiumedinisi, but no evidence has ever been put forward other than the assumption that the town name comes from a corruption of Flumen Dionisyi - the river of Dionysus.  Despite these claims it seems obvious that the castle has Roman or Byzantine features with Roman tiles being used as level courses in some structures and several Byzantine architrave doorways, similar to those found at other suspected Byzantine fortresses, viz. AciCalatabianco, Castelmola, Cefala Diana, Cefalu, Erice, Francavilla, Geraci Siculo, Milazzo, Mistretta, Nicosia, Rometta, Sperlinga, Taormina and Vicari.

The castle is claimed to have been of some importance in the Norman era as it was here that the Emperor Henry VI is postulated to have come to hunt before his death on 28 September 1197.  He had previously put down the Sicilian revolt around Catania which sought to make Count Jordan of Bovino king in his place.  This action had involved destroying the city and accidentally burning the cathedral.  Once again, as the cathedral survived until the earthquake of 1693 and its ruins can still be seen, this destruction could hardly have been total.  After a successful occupation of Palermo and an unsuccessful attack on Enna the king retired to Messina to do some hunting.  During this hunt he was soaked with cold water and returned to Messina with chills where he soon died.  Later it was claimed that he was poisoned by his wife for his treatment of the Sicilians, but apparently no one at the time thought this.  He was only 32 when he was struck down, but he found the time to make a will before dying.

The castle seems to have left royal control in the late thirteenth century.  In 1271 it was recorded as merely a hamlet, but by 1296 it was a fee of Roger Vallone of Messina.  He was still holding it a little before 1330, but by 1336 it had passed to Giamo Villanova.  In 1354 it was taken by the mercenary captain Giovanni Saccamo and retaken by the count of Aidone the next year.  In 1357 King Frederick IV (d.1377) granted Fiumedinisi with the hamlet and fortress, as well as Limina to Giovanni Mangiavacca, the lord of Francavilla.  Finally in 1392 the castle was given by King Martin to Tommaso Romano Colonna.  It remained with his descendants to the abolition of feudalism in 1812.

The castle is located towards the craggy summit of an area called Belvedere a mile south of the town of Fiumedinisi and has an exceptional view of the sea coast.  It is situated just west of the rocky summit filling this part of the cliff girt plateau.  It consists of a rhomboid hall keep with thicker, irregular outer walls to the north and east.  The two walls to the south and west are at right angles, unlike the outer 2.  The bailey makes up an irregular polygonal ward to the west and has various buildings aligned along the walls and a rectangular cistern next to the northwest angle of the keep.  Another cistern 16' deep lies to the south.  Entrance was gained to the ward via a hole in the wall entrance to the northwest and allegedly tunnels lead from the castle into the caves below.

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


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