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
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
Paul Martin Remfry