Caltavuturo would appear to be another Byzantine fortress, possibly of
the early ninth century. In 851/852 the Muslims raided the
district around Caltavuturo and took the fortress.
This seems to have led to their submission of the locals for in 860 the
people of Caltavuturo were said to have broken their pact with the
Muslims. As a consequence they were again subdued. In
881/2 the Byzantines annihilated a Muslim army near here, but the
status of the castle is not recorded, although the implication is that
it was Muslim held as it was described as Qal'at Abi Tawr, the castle
of Abu Tawr. He was the Aghlabid commander. In
later fighting in 938-939, Caltavuturo was taken in the course of the
repression of the anti-Fatimid revolt. In c.970 Caltavuturo
was mentioned in the list of Sicilian cities made by
al-Muqaddas. With the Norman invasion of the island Roger
Hauteville (d.1101) won a skirmish near the castle in 1063, but probably did
not take the castle until the fall of Palermo in 1072. In
1081 it was included among the appurtenances of the diocese of
In the Book of Roger (1154), Caltavuturo is described as hisn, a strong
castle. The fortress was one of only 4 that held out for King William III against the Emperor Henry VI (d.1197) in December 1194. With this the fortress passes into obscurity, although
in 1283 it was recorded amongst the places taxed by King
Peter (d.1285). It was still recorded as a fortified land in 1308 and in c.1355
when it was called Calatabuturum cum castro.
During this period the castle passed from the control of Frederick
Manna who died before 1330 to that of the families of Spadafora,
then to Moncada, then Rosso and finally to Luna in the fifteenth
century. An inventory drawn up early in the fifteenth century
mentions stables, armories, kitchens, chambers, bedrooms, barns and
cellars. There was also a mill. King Martin of
Aragon (d.1409) and Queen Maria of Sicily (d.1402) later granted the
fortress to Count Anthony Ventimiglia.
Presumably it fell out of use soon after this and by 1500 the town had
moved in a southerly direction outside the walls. The new
village was called Terranova, while the old town of Terravecchia was
left totally abandoned by 1750.
There would seem to be the remains of 3 separate structures on the crag
which occupies the highest point at the SE end of the 2,300' high rocky
plateau of the Terravecchia. The main castle is not on the
highest point of the crag, but lies to the NE. It consists of
a rhomboid enclosure about 110' by 100' and has a cluster of irregular
buildings to the SE, which includes a projecting D shaped tower to the
SW. This commands a hole in the wall gate. Amongst
the cluster is what looks in plan like an internal Roman fort tower!
To the NE is a small, backless projecting turret, while centrally in
the west wall are the remnants of a rectangular tower keep with a
cistern in the basement. The SW part of the fort is badly
ruined. Elsewhere some of the walls are up to 33' high and are mostly
5-6' thick. The whole is rubble built with some fine quoining.
At the summit of the crag to the NW is a battleship shaped flat area
which may mark the site of an early Byzantine fortress, similar to those listed under Aci.
Beneath this to the south are the foundations of a large building,
probably the church of SS Salvatore. West of this are a
series of rectangular chambers.
Why not join me at other Sicilian
castles? Information on this and other tours can be found at Scholarly
Paul Martin Remfry