Coat of arms of Scordia

Scordia, the town of the Red Oranges south of the plain of Catania bordering the impressive Monti Iblei lies in a territory rich in gorges carved by the waters over the centuries. And the first human settlements were born in the caves of the mountains in the area called Cava, dug by streams and rich in water necessary for life. In the Dragon's Cave, traces of ancient settlements are found that probably date back to the ancient population of the Siculi.

Some of these caves were artificially created to dig out the tuff to be used for the construction of houses and churches.

The presence of waterways has favoured settlements throughout the history of Scordia, and for centuries the town has been fed by these springs thanks to the aqueduct of Prince Branciforti.

The name Scordia seems to derive from the word 'garlic' or from the ancient Sicilian city of Xuthia, told about by Aeschylus in his Etnee tragedy written during his stay in Sicily.

But let's go back to the area that around the fifth century BC when it became part of the Greek colonies of Magna Grecia.

These were replaced by the Romans, then the Byzantines who brought the Orthodox rites and then the Normans called by the church that wanted to remove the Byzantine rites.

Throughout this period Scordia was never mentioned, and in the Norman period this area was part of a lordship which was partly given to the Templars.

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The arrival of the Swabians, and the struggle between the papacy and the empire that they enlivened, led the small nucleus of Scordia to be disputed. The first official document that reports a 'Casale Scordia Suttana' is a 1255 bull from Pope Alexander IV, who donated this farm to a nobleman from Catania.

Not much is known about the history of this farmhouse until in 1621, the farm came to Prince Antonio Branciforti who was appointed Prince of Scordia with the right to sit in the Sicilian Parliament. In 1628, then, the prince obtained the 'licentia d’habitare', that is, the right to be able to populate the farm, directly from King Philip IV of Spain
in exchange for a sum of money calculated as 400 onze.

The Branciforti family was already one of the most powerful in Sicily and is said to have descended directly from the court of Charlemagne. A legend says that he was a standard bearer in the train of Charlemagne who lost his arms in battle against the Lombards, yet always managed to keep the imperial banner high.

The prince assigned the land in a perpetual lease to the peasants giving each the opportunity to build a house in the urban centre, which thus came to take on the characteristics of a town.

The prince had his large palace built (now the museum and archive) as well as the church of the patron Saint Rocco and he started other churches and convents.
The earthquake of 1693 brought considerable damage but everything was rebuilt, also widening the boundaries of the inhabited centre.

The rights granted to the peasants led to an increase in agricultural production and trade and, consequently, to a greater wealth of the population. In return, the prince ruled absolutely according to the strictest feudal spirit, also exercising the power of justice.

This strong system of power was fine when accompanied by the presence of an enlightened prince, but it demonstrated its limitations when entrusted to people who administered on behalf of the prince without having his vision.

Over the centuries, therefore, the feudal system led to a friction between the feudal lord and the subjects.

The situation of the population improved with the reforms of the viceroy Domenico Caracciolo, who in his 5 years of government assumed positions of contrast to the barons (without too much success), and with the abolition of feudalism after Napoleon's period in Italy.

With the abolition of feudalism the story of the link between the Branciforte-Trabia family and Scordia ended.

Scordia then became an agricultural and commercial centre of some importance thanks to the birth of a bourgeois class. It then became an autonomous centre after the reforms of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies.

This climate of social justice, in addition to bitter opposition between two bourgeois families, led to support for the arrival of Garibaldi and the unification of Italy.

In 1892, thanks to the interest of the deputy Ippolito de Cristofaro, the railway connecting with Catania arrived which favoured the commercial vocation of Scordia as the City of Red Oranges.

But the local spirit of intolerance to injustice led to the birth of one of the first examples of unionism with the experience of the workers of the socialist party.
Today Scordia is still one of the symbols of citrus crops and production in Sicily and its reputation is known worldwide.

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