Gagliano Castelferrato

The site is an ancient necropolis which became a castle, probably in the Byzantine period.  The name Gagliano seems to derive from Galaria, the Greek for milk (gala) and river (rios).  The River Salso is a milky river due both to its torrent and its richness in potassium salts.

In 858 the castle fell to the Arabs, during their campaign to take the interior of the island.  It is next found in 1142 as a fee of the Pirou (Perollo) family.  This would suggest that the castle was in occupation before that date.  By 1296 Castro Gagliani was held by the heirs of Montaneri Peris of Sofa.

The castle lies on a rocky crag some 2,400' above sea level.  In typical Byzantine castle style the fortress is shaped like a battleship heading west - see Aci for such castles.  The main defences are at this end and consist of a great wall called the Porta Falsa which commands access to the crag.  This consists of an 8' thick wall about 60' long and has a Romanesque gateway with machicolations above and a gun port set in a Romanesque embrasure beside it.  This controls access via a fortified ramp which curves around the rock to the north and gives entrance to the main fortress known as Castello Rupestre. 

The Castello Rupestre is the oldest part of the castle and contains houses cut into the rock.  These include a hall, rooms, stairs, passages and walkways carved into the rock.  Some of the rooms would appear to have had 2 floors.  At the summit of this part of the crag is a rectangular tower which has only 2 walls, the other 2 being made of the living rock.  East of this and beneath it, is what was possibly the castle hall, a structure about 45' north to south and 20' east to west.  Above this fragments of walls crowd the craggy summits, making the castle a cross between Caltanissetta and Sperlinga in its layout and looks.

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


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