Geraci Siculi

 

 

Population: 2,384. Height: 1077m. Twinned with Nerpio (Spain).

The origins of Geraci date back to 550 BC when the Greeks first settled in this area of the Madonie. The name “Geraci” probably derives from the Greek ‘Jerax’ meaning vulture. The “Siculo” was only added in 1863. Geraci first developed in importance, as a result of its strategic position - from where entry to the Madonie could be controlled. The tortuous layout of the village dates from this Arab occupation of the 9thC. Geraci’s strategic importance continued under the Normans and was increased following 1252 when the powerful Ventimiglia family took control of this area of Sicily. Geraci was declared the capital of the Ventimiglia’s dominions and belonged to the family until 1812 when feudalism was finally abolished in Sicily.

The 13thC and 14thC were the period during which Geraci enjoyed its greatest economic, political and social eminence. Geraci was the centre of justice in the area and there was even a mint here which issued coins. However, in 1438 Enrico Ventimiglia was named as First Count of Italy and Marquis of Sicily and in 1454 he moved the family’s capital to Castelbuono. This was the beginning of Geraci’s decline.

As elsewhere decline of the local economy based on agriculture, has led to emigration.
Geraci, however has another resource – its water - which is famous throughout Sicily. This runs straight down to the village from the heart of the Madonie and has a very low mineral content. There is a bottling plant on the eastern approach to the town, but you can collect the water yourself, for free, from the fountain next to the Bar Al Bevaio.