Cerami has the feel of a rectangular Byzantine structure, yet, unlike so many other sites discussed under Aci, no such origin is attributed to this site, despite their being hypogeum in the rocks that dominate the site.  The history of the castle begins in 1063 when a standoff occurred for 3 days along the River Cerami.  Here a heavily outnumbered Count Roger Hauteville (d.1101) faced the Africans and the Arabs with their Sicilians.  The action ended when the Arabs crossed the river and occupied the castle.  At this Count Roger fell back on Triona, but on the fourth day  Hauteville (d.1072), the nephew of the count, with just 36 men assaulted and took the castle, allegedly putting to flight some 3,000 of the enemy.  With this Count Roger returned and a fought a battle against the Saracens in which St George is said to have ridden with the Normans and 15,000 of their enemies fell.  After gaining the victory the castle was entrusted to  by his Uncle Roger and in August 1072 he was recorded as lord of that place.  While  was at Enna he was brought news that the Saracens had attacked Cerami and sacked it.  Impulsively  marched after the enemy, but was met and killed, his men defeated and his body beheaded as an act of triumph by the enemy.  This happened after a one sided battle between Cerami and Nicosia

Cerami castle, if it fell in 1072, was soon regained and in 1082 it was recorded as within the diocese of Troina.  In the 1154 Book of Roger, Edrisi described the place as a prosperous hamlet overlooked by a high fortress.  This certainly still describes the site today.  By 1157 the castle had been subinfeudated to Henry Aleramico.  Thirteen years later in 1170 the fortress was under the command of a castellan called Bernard.  With this the castle fades into obscurity, although in 1296 it was recorded that Peter Antioch (a grandson of Frederick II) held 2 parts of Cerami.  The castle appears to have continued in existence being mentioned in 1308/10 and 1366.  Finally the castle passed to William Rosso in 1396 and remained with that family until the end of feudalism in 1812.

The crag of Cerami castle, 3,450' high, dominates the region and has views to Gagliano, Agira, Capizzi, Nicosia and in the distance even Assoro and Enna.  It is now rather disappointing as most traces of the castle are gone and the site is disfigured by a water works.  The actual castle rock is punctured by various hypogeums and surrounded by the meagre fortress remains.  These consist of fragments of the local stone mortared into position along the sides of the cliff.  Vague traces of rectangular structures can be made out to the northwest and to the southeast are the remnants of a curtain with 4 internal rectangular chambers.  Before 1907 a Romanesque gateway stood to the southeast which allowed entrance to the fortress.  Behind this lay the mid seventeenth century palace of the Russos and the church of St Georgio.

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