The small hilltop settlement began as troglodyte community contemporary with the Sicani, dating around 1,000 BC. However, during the Middle Ages, a castle cut into the rock was constructed by Roger II. In the 12 C it was reinforced by Frederick II, before passing into the hands of the Ventimiglia in the 16C.
The mazelike complex is hewn out of the rock on several layers and contains an unknown number of chambers, passageways and courtyards. The caves around the entrance would have been used for stabling animals, forges, making weapons and probably as prison cells. In front of the castle is the prince’s reception room. The chapel and residential quarters lie opposite; the undercrofts in this section of the castle served as granaries.
Between the two wings, a steep staircase cuts up into the bedrock to the lookout tower: from here the 360° view over the Gangi plateu with the Madonie range behind, the Nebrodi to the north, Mount Etna to the east and the Erei mountains to the west. To the right an undulating ridge runs from Monte Grafagna to San Martino and links up with the Nebrodi mountain chain.
The town’s greatest moment of glory is the legend of the Sicilian Vespers (1282) when the town gave refuge to the French. Sperlinga was the only town that didn’t adhere to the revolt against the misgovernment and oppression of the Angevis, a revolt which began in Palermo and spread throughout the island.
In 1283 after months of resistance Pedro of Arogana seized the town upon he announced with harsh words:
QUO SICLUIS PLACUIT SOLA SPERLINGA NEGAVIT
(Only Sperlinga denied that which pleased the Sicilians)
The writing can be seen on the stones above the pointed arch in the castle vestibule, near the entrance.
After the Ventimiglia family a few other noble families owned the castle eventually it was purchased by the Comune of Sperlinga for a sum of 1,000 lire which was paid only to make the contract of sale legal.
It was in Sperlinga during the WWII where the American soldiers asked to locals if they knew where the Germans were, this event was photographed and now exhibited one of the rooms of the castle.