In 1061 the chronicler Geoffrey Malaterra (d.1099) mentioned a place called Scalatribolis.  This could well be a reference to Tripi.  Some 50 years later the Arab geographer Edrisi (d.1165) mentions Tripi (Tarbilis) in his 1154 Book of Roger as ‘a beautiful and spacious fortress (qal'a) on a rock'.  Documents from 1262 record a hamlet, while between 1282 and 1285 Tripi was granted by King Peter III of Aragon to the Catalan Roger Lauria (d.1305), who also around this time was made lord of Aci.  In 1296 it seems held by his brother, John Lauria (d.1298) who rebelled with his brother this year.  By 1340 Tripi was held by Matthew Palizzi of Caronia.  The castle seems to have survived into the sixteenth century, but in 1750 Vito Amico talks about the castle being in ruins.

The fortress stands at the summit of a north to south running cliff ledge with a steep fall of ground to the east.  The easiest approach is along the ridge line from the town of Tripi to the southwest.  The castle forms an irregular trapezoidal shape which apparently was entered via some form of gatehouse to the south.  This led into a long ward running towards the summit of the site where a large rectangular keep, some 40'x25', once stood, projecting boldly over the cliff face to the east.  North of this is a long rectangular chamber making the north side of the castle.  At the northeast end is a projecting D shaped tower, with a 25' diameter, hanging over the cliff face.  East of this is a spur much lower down the cliff which appears to have some masonry structures built upon it.  Maybe this was a hall or farm accessed from the castle above.  On the north wall of the castle is a sold mass of masonry which appears to mark the plinth of a large rectangular tower.

The surviving masonry is again laid in ‘Byzantine' style, rubble with flat stones or Roman tiles forming levelling layers and poor quality quoins at the corners.  As such it is possible that Tripi castle began life as a battleship type Byzantine castles as are recorded under Aci castle.

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