Lexicon of Sicily, from Gela to Grammichele

Sicilian encyclopedia for travel and knowledge

Gela is a city in the province of Caltanissetta in the south of Sicily, Italy. The city is at about 84 kilometers distance from the city of Caltanissetta, on the Mediterranean Sea. The city has a larger population than the provincial capital, and ranks second in land area. Gela is an important industrial city and port town. One important industry that is located here is that of petroleum refinery. The city can be reached from other cities, like Syracuse and Caltanissetta, by train.

Giovanni Falcone & Paolo Borsellino, assassinated by crimelords in 1992, these Sicilian prosecutors dedicated their lives to cracking the might of the Mafia. It is perhaps a uniquely Sicilian sort of irony that an easygoing smile shared by two old friends would come to symbolize the island's darkest hour of the past 60 years. The parallel destiny of Palermo prosecutors Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino began and ended in Sicily's capital, where the two were born and killed in 1992 in successive Mafia bomb assassinations. In between, the pair nearly brought Cosa Nostra to its knees with a new methodical approach, as brilliant as it was brave, to unlocking the Mob's code of silence. And so that smile shared one day on the job—captured by a photographer just months before they were killed—now hangs in nearly every Italian judicial office (and in schools and city halls across Sicily) alongside the usual portrait of the standing head of state. That apparently serene moment was taken in a brief pause amid the passion and inbuilt risk of their life's work. Inspired by an idea of Falcone's from the early 1980s, the pair forged a strategy of rounding up scores of Mafia associates, including the small fry, as a way to chip away at the organization's foundations, while coaxing key suspects to turn state's evidence. Their efforts culminated in a series of "maxi-trials" in a bunker-like courtroom in Palermo, which led to hundreds of convictions.

Giuseppe Garibaldi. (July 4, 1807 to June 2, 1888) In 1860, General Garibaldi landed in Sicily with his famous 1,000 volunteers determined to march on Rome and liberate the City. After a big battle on the Volturno River, he held plebiscites in Sicily and Naples, and then gave the whole of southern Italy to Cavour, proclaiming Victor Emmanuel as king of a united nation. He returned to the island of Caprera, which then remained his permanent home. In 1862, he made another attempt to liberate Rome without success. In 1867, he led another attempt to liberate Rome also without success. Garibaldi was like a caged lion on the island of Caprera and longed day and night to liberate his land from the roaring lion in the Vatican. Pope Pius IX was feeling more and more secure with the French garrison securing the City and Garibaldi a prisoner on the island of Caprera. In July 1870, he actually had himself declared INFALLIBLE. Then, like lightning, disaster struck. France and Prussia went to war and the French garrison had to be withdrawn. The Italians rushed into the City and the fall of the Papacy was complete.

Grammichele is 69 km from Catania, alt. 520 m, in the northwestern sector of the Hyblaean Mountains, in the basin of the River Acate, area 30.9 sq km. Its population is just about 15,000. The town dates back to the ancient Sicel town of Echetla, later Hellenized. Nearby is an necropolis dated to the 6th century BC. The township of Occhiola was developed in the Middle Ages and destroyed by the earthquake of 1693. Prince Carlo Maria Carafa Branciforte di Butera rebuilt the town, giving it its present name. The town has a spider's web layout, with a perfect geometric design off a hexagonal center.