Sciacca, otherwise known as Castello Luna, was first mentioned in May 1272 when it held a garrison of just one squire.  This garrison is claimed to have been in the early castle also known as Castello dei Perollo.  The place, first known as Thermae Selinuntinae, was occupied by the Greeks before the fourth century BC when it was known for its thermal baths.  In 840 the Byzantine town fell to the Arabs, to be reclaimed by Count Roger Hauteville (d.1101) in 1087.  It is claimed he built the town walls and the old castle of Perollo before passing the fortress on to his daughter Judith.  After her and her husband's death before 1136, the castle returned to the Crown.  The castle then presumably remained a royal fortress.  In September 1267 the town was seized by Frederick of Castile, later to be King Frederick III of Sicily, on behalf of Conradin (d.1268).  The invasion was soon repulsed and the castle passed to the Aragonese on their successful annexation of the island in 1282. 

After the defeat of King Philip III of France at Courtnai in Flanders on 11 July 1302, the French king called the Angevin claimant to Sicily, King Charles of Naples (d.1309), back to France to help salvage what he could from the defeat.  Consequently Charles, who at the time was besieging Sciacca, offered Frederick
III (1295-1337) terms he could not refuse.  Frederick promised to marry Charles' daughter Eleanora and be king for his lifetime only, the crown then reverting to Charles's family.  The treaty was signed at Caltabellotta, just 10 miles from Sciacca on 31 August 1302, finally ending the war begun in Palermo in March 1282 with the Sicilian Vespers.

In 1312 war came to the district again when the Angevin Palizzi and Chiaramonte families held the district against King Frederick, who again had to pacify the district.  In 1325 the Angevins seized the place in their great invasion of Sicily as described under Salemi castle.  By 1360 the town was held by Count William Peralta of Caltabellotta (d.1398) and it is claimed that the current castle was built by him.  However, the ruins are certainly much older than this.  In 1400 his granddaughter, Margaret Peralta, was married to Artale Luna, the maternal uncle of King Martin I (d.1409).  The castle was subsequently named after this family.

Sometime after the Lunas lost the castle in 1529, the Emperor Charles V (d.1558) named it Castello Nuovo, supposedly to distinguish it from the earlier Castello dei Perollo, which is some 17,500' to the west.  This myth seems tied up to the ‘Caso di Sciacca', a feud that lasted from 1455 to 1529 between the houses of Luna and Perollo.  What is supposed to be Perollo castle is a sixteenth century tower block and has no sign of any great age.  It therefore seems more likely on balance for Castello Luna to have been the original castle of Sciacca, which Charles V may have upgraded rather than built anew.  It can certainly be said with confidence that the great keep at Castello Luna is far more ancient than the current Palazzo Perollo.

The castle occupies the southeastern part of the town of Sciacca on the line of the town walls overlooking the valley to the northeast, but still visible from the coast.  The heart of the castle is the great rectangular keep which lies to the northwest of the site.  This is some 60' long by 40' wide and has walls 10' thick.  It is divided into 2 unequal chambers and has a fine batter at the base.  However, it is heavily ruined, standing only to first floor height in parts.  It first collapsed due to an earthquake and was then systematically demolished by the municipality in 1867.  In style it most resembles the Etna style Norman keeps of Adrano, Paterno and Motta Sant'Anastasia, although smaller rectangular keeps abound in Sicily.

The keep was surrounded by an enceinte to the northwest, but this area is now built over, although some of the northern walls on the site of the town walls survive.  One section of this is built in the traditional ‘Byzantine' style of rubble laid with flat levelling layers in between.  To the southeast is the main bailey, still mostly surrounded by walls standing to wallwalk height.  These walls are very irregular and their angular plan looks more sixteenth century than thirteenth.  To the south is a fine D shaped tower projecting boldly from the curtains.  Buildings line the interior of the enceinte, but these are now merely foundations uncovered by the recent excavations.  Some of their windows survive in the curtains, especially to the west where the long building has been identified as the earl's residence.

The curtain walls are some 7' thick and appear to be of 2 phases to the southeast, the lower portions consisting of fine quality ashlar with crossbow loops at internal ground level, while the upper sections are rubble built.  There is also a Romanesque postern reached by a flight of steps to the southeast under the angular southeast tower.  This tower is rubble built, but has ashlar corners, but these are not as well built as the ashlar in the base of the southeast wall.

To the east, the walls appear older and consist purely of rubble, including a solid half round mural tower to the southeast.  Unusually it does not occupy the corner as would be normal for such structures, although it does stand upon its own rock cut base.  A mainly internal rectangular tower to the north of this has been reduced to an ugly scar through the curtain wall.  On the inside of this stood St Gregory's chapel.  There is a central cistern in the lower courtyard and another in the southern chamber of the keep.

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


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