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Chapter 1 The territorial and social situation
Chapter 2 History
Chapter 3 The historical cards of the monuments
Chapter 4 Urban history
Chapter 5 The survey
Chapter 6 Erice’s house
Chapter 7 Three hypotheses for recovery
Chapter 8 Archeology
Chapter 9 The plan
List of the plan materials
Erice: planning for life
Guide to the knowledge of Erice and the drafting of a recovery plan for its historic center
Introduction by Prof. Arch. Ettore Maria Mazzola
Titolo | Erice: planning for life
Author | Matteo Tusa
ISBN | 9788892667327
© All rights reserved to the Author
No part of this book may be reproduced without the
prior consent of the Author.
Via Roma, 73 – 73039 Tricase (LE) – Italy
INTRODUCTIONProf. Arch.Ettore Maria Mazzola*
*Ordinary Professor of Architectural and Urban Planning at the University of Notre Dame School of Architecture - Rome.
Anyone who can define himself a common or “cultured traveler” touring western Sicily is regularly drawn to the distant vision of the marvelous and mysterious isolated summit on which Erice rises.
Since ancient times, Erice has been like a huge magnet for sea and land travelers to that extreme western corner of Sicily. It is no coincidence that its sanctuary was one of the most important in the ancient age, and one cannot believe it has been realized there by chance!
The charm of Erice gets you even before reaching it. As we climb along the curves, often wrapped in a very misty fog, we see the stone walls and buildings appear and disappear, with a “surprise effect” provoking a strong desire to reach the goal and understand what playful nature is announcing and hiding at the same time.
View of the Madrice Church wrapped in fog during the field trip of March 2012
It may even happen, as it did during one of the many study trips I made with my American students at the University of Notre Dame School of Architecture, that the fog also prevents the view of the surrounding buildings in the city center...
The simplicity and at the same time the nobility of Erice buildings have a unique impact on those looking at them. Everything from the urban layout to the shape, size and proportions of the city’s architecture presents absolute consistency, despite the millennial transformations and overlaps being perfectly legible. It is far too obvious that those who have built this architectural and urban wonder over time have done it in the absolute respect of the genius loci, which has shaped its character.
All this would deserve proper protection, enhancement and revitalization rather than being a kind of feud of the “Ettore Majorana” Center for Scientific Studies, which only comes to life for one month a year, thanks to the participants of seminars and events organized by the center.
This means that it would be necessary to put into practice what has been planned since 1989 by Arch. Matteo Tusa with his team; it would mean that 365 days a year, the city should be reborn, as the main cause of the degradation of the historic building heritage, if someone still doubts it, is due to its abandonment and under-utilization. But rebirth means reviving not only the buildings, but also all those craft and commercial activities that can develop the local economy. Rebirth also means recreating those socializing conditions that can develop the residents’ sense of belonging to those places, a sense which we could better define as a collective identity.
Panoramic view of Erice and the surrounding area
The very difficult recovery plan elaborated by my dear friend and colleague Matteo Tusa, and this precious book for which I was honored to write this introduction, fit perfectly into this all-round restoration picture of the beautiful Sicilian city.
Plan of the ground floor of the buildings in the city of Erice - Extracted from the recovery plan of Erice elaborated by Matteo Tusa
But there is more. The fact that the book provides in-depth information on urban history, as well as the splendid plans hand-drawn by the author and his collaborators, make the work a great up-to-date guide for anyone wishing to know this wonderful town. In addition, the fact that the text carefully explains the whole design process - accompanied by elaborated charts - makes the volume a gorgeous technical guide to the development of a recovery plan for the entire national territory.
Despite Law 457/78, only Emilia Romagna Region has legislated within the terms set out in order to provide guidelines for the development of a recovery plan, whereas since then very few recovery plans have been properly elaborated in our country, and very few publications have been made to give the universities a good bibliography for the students of urban planning courses, dealing with this delicate matter which, let us remember, should be the main area of development in Italy.
In an era focused on selfishness, in a professional field based on envy and rivalry such as that of architects, and in the light of the immense sufferings and injustices Matteo Tusa had to go through while elaborating this recovery plan with professionalism and courage, I find his generosity extraordinary in making all his precious works public. Their disclosure will surely help Italian professionals to work on their projects.
The work of Arch. Matteo Tusa for Erice is therefore comparable, in depth and completeness, to the urbanistic-architectural and typological ones by Saverio Muratori and Gianfranco Caniggia and, as such, worthy of the widest spreading.
PREFACEArch. Matteo Tusa
This essay stems from the finding that nothing has changed in this matter after a quarter century since my Erice plan was adopted by the City Council (06/05/1991), indeed there has been a deep involution in culture too.
By reviewing the 107 boards in A0 format, plus the historical, archaeological, urban and jurisprudence reports of the plan in order to digitize and georeference it, I realized that a guide could be made, since I do not think there is any other available. And so here came the idea of a paper book, an e-book, and the full plan in a Cloud, where whoever wants can download the whole or parts of it. It should be pointed out that it was all designed by hand, because back in 1989 there were still very few computers for graphics. Because of the disappointments suffered and the lack of solidarity from the many collaborators and consultants, I only mention the mourned Professors Vincenzo Adragna for History and Carlo Doglio for Urban Sociology.
I was assigned the plan in March 1987 by the then Mayor of Erice, Sen. Giuseppe Perricone, who had had information about me since I had established a Regional Planning Commission of the PRI within the Group in the Sicilian Regional Assembly. When I received the call to go to Erice I did not know what was waiting for me and after signing the assignment document I was submitted to, I became aware of its importance and the commitment it required for many aspects.
At the time, besides carrying out the free profession, I was a “cultor” of urban planning at the Faculty of Architecture in the University of Palermo.
Having passed the first emotional moments, I began to try to understand the steps to be taken, and since Erice was and is almost synonymous with Zichichi, I went to the Archbishop of Monreale, the now deceased Monsignor Salvatore Cassisa, whom I knew to be part of the Construction and Urban Planning Commission of the city from 1984 to 1989, in order to have the references to meet the President of the “Ettore Majorana” Center for Scientific Studies.
Mons. Cassisa in my presence telephoned to Geneva to talk to Zichichi, but did not find him, and then wrote for me on his own cardboard, words of presentation to the professor’s then secretary, Dr Pinola Savalli. During four years of almost daily presence in Erice, despite asking for it several times, I have never met Zichichi. Nor did I understand why he did not want to meet me.
My ideas became clearer when the professor was informed by his “informants” in Erice that in my analysis work I had discovered that he had no title to hold the convents and churches, and that the related folders are missing at the State Archives of Trapani.
I do not find it useful to stay on this, I do not report, but I know how things went from my three years of life in jail and in the meantime the prescription has intervened, so I can only hope that someone who has had starring role in my arrest will go through a crisis of conscience and tell the truth, knowing that there is no more risk of arrest for them now.
The fact today is that Erice is without plan in the “A” area, also because I proceeded to distrust the various mayors who have succeeded over the years from using the great amount of documentation whose intellectual property belongs to me, and in fact the now deceased Prof. Bruno Gabrielli, whom I had warned of the matter, refrained from proceeding in 2000 by stopping on a rough plan drawn up entirely on my paperwork.
Life in Erice is non-existent today as then, despite the cableway built over the years. It only comes to life in August for a few weeks. The annual residents are now even less than the 300 of the time of the plan, and for all the months of the year, except August, the place seems a deserted labyrinth, despite the sign wanted by Zichichi saying “City of Science” where, on the contrary, for six days, men and women from various countries meet to attend the rich buffets the professor offers, at whose expense we do not know - because it is to say that the former “CCSEM” and the new “E. Majorana Foundation” are mysteriously not subject to any management and/or financial control while enjoying substantial public funds - and discuss neutrinos in the infinite cosmos.
The only restoration carried out in more than 25 years, and in a fairly questionable way, since it has turned a walkway into a carriageway, is Pepoli tower: all the rest lies under a layer of moss due to the moisture caused by the clouds periodically and unexpectedly investing it.
Erice: planning for life
Chapter 1 The territorial and social situation
The municipal territory of Erice is very extensive and includes several fractions: Adragna, Baglio Rizzo, Ballata, Casa Santa, Case sparse, Crocefissello, Lenzi, Lenzi Sottano, Napola, Pizzolungo, Pozzo Rocca, Quartana, Rigaletta, San Giovannello, San Giuliano Trentapiedi, Specchia, Torretta.
The territory is so extensive yet the town is so small, located on the homonymous Monte Erice, and therefore commonly called Erice Vetta (summit), which has little more than half a thousand inhabitants, and which was named Monte San Giuliano until 1934.
Until the 1950s Erice’s municipal area was mainly used for pasture or agriculture with orchards and gardens. From the postwar period onwards, a disordered process of urban expansion was observed, especially in the fractions of Trentapiedi, San Giuliano, Pizzolungo, Raganzili, Sant’Anna, Borgo Cià, Argenteria, San Giovannello and Fontanelle, where a migratory flow came from the nearby Trapani and added to the most populous fraction of Casa Santa. This has made Erice a bit particular, because it included, in addition to the three-thousand-year old historic center, two agricultural fractions and a quarter of the city of Trapani too. And even earlier, it also included the far neighboring villages: Valderice, Custonaci, Buseto Palizzolo and San Vito Lo Capo.
In 1955, when the last of the neighboring towns, Valderice, first named Paparella San Marco, gained independence, Erice’s municipality was made up of Erice Vetta and the hamlets of Casa Santa, Ballata and Napola. Very different centers, both from the economic point of view and the one of political and social issues: Erice Vetta with a service sector economy characterized by a tourist vocation, Casa Santa based on commerce and related activities, Ballata and Napola mainly agricultural.
All this was also reflected on the outcomes of the electoral population. As long as the number of voters coming from the capital and its surroundings was fairly balanced, the electoral body was able to cope with the different types of problems coming from the various territorial contexts. Since 1963, this balance has been diminished due to the uncontrolled building expansion of the city of Trapani, which involved the area of Erice and caused a number of problems from the urban, economic and social point of view. In fact, it led to an increase in population and a new reshuffle of the electoral body that brought Erice’s citizens, with their tourism-related problems, to no longer be politically represented in an effective manner.
From the analysis of the territory it is noticed how these changes have progressively led to an economic and social involution.
The degradation in which the city is falling is the mirror of a general state of neglect which started with the abandonment of primary activity, especially the agricultural one, in favor of the tertiary sector; a process interrupting the historic medieval relationship between city and country that had consolidated over time.
The depopulation of the city was progressive. The first to abandon it were the aristocratic families whose wealth was based on the exploitation of the territory; with them the related classes also disappeared, and so on to reach less than a thousand inhabitants, many of which are older people or entrepreneurs who have their own business there, or investors not living in Erice but spending only a few days a year there.
Chapter 2 History
There are no clear data on the origin of the city and the characteristics of what had to be its original residential structure, which emerged and developed in a very remote era, in any case not later than the X-VIII centuries B.C., in relation to its role as sanctuary of an Aboriginal worship that in the historical times would take Mediterranean resonance and dimension, and in parallel with that of strong place from the strategic-military point of view. Both roles motivated its existence and fame for centuries.
Certainly, though, the city named Iruka by Sicano-Elimi, Erech by the Phoenicians and Carthaginians, Eryx by the Greeks and the Romans, founded such fame and the resulting wealth on these two roles, which were the primary motivation of subsistence and well-being for the local community living in it.
The urban nucleus surely emerged through twinning with the shrine-fortress solitary rising on the highest peak of the mountain, occupying an area not determinable in amplitude, but certainly of varying extent in relation to the period of major or minor importance and floridity and much roughly bounded by the city wall. The latter surely enclosed and defended, as well as the inhabited or habitable area in anticipation of possible developments of the settlement, also the precious amount of water springs (to be mentioned again at the end of § 7, with the testimony of Vito Carvini), in which this mountain peak still abounds for the presence of rare and poorly studied favorable hydrogeological conditions.
Except for the memory, handed down by numerous literary, historical, epigraphic and archaeological sources, no significant testimony remains to express or document the appearance, characteristics, typology of the ancient original urban system, nor do we have correlative news concerning its demographic density, its socio-economic structure, its institutional, political and cultural reality.
In this regard, it appears that the hypothesis, based on critical reflection on the most significant historical testimonies and the circumstances they refer to, does not lack any real foundation: according to it, the population of the ancient city did not have a stable root or permanence there, and was basically made up of constantly renewing or transitory cores, essentially formed by the worshipers of the goddess - hundreds of priestesses (“jeròdulai”) in the first place - around which the socio-economic reality of the city was gravitated, mainly characterized by its religious function and the needs of movement, traffic, trade and exchanges brought about by such function: supply, hospitality, transport.
The presence of armed defense units of different numerical magnitude and motivation, depending on the general political conditions and the parallel role of a militarily strong place, supplemented the demographic density of the city, yet always for limited and defined times.
In this respect, it is significant that, in the political and administrative order of Sicily after the Roman conquest, Erice was included in the category of the “censoriae” (censorship) cities.
It is worth remembering that this arrangement distinguished the cities and respective territories of Sicily in four great classes: the “foederatae” cities, considered as allies of Rome; those who were most subjected to tithes (“decumanae”); those exempted by privilege from that tax (“immunes”); and, finally, precisely, the “censoriae”, considered as belonging to the Roman people. Now it should be noted that the reduction to such a total subjection was the destiny reserved, as punishment, to the rebellious cities or those who had long resisted the conquest. But this was certainly not the case with Erice, which rather had, amongst other things, suffered a fierce looting by Amilcare’s mercenary troops and then undergone a siege by him, during the last events of the First Punic War.
Not less significant is the other fact that, when in the first century the temple of the goddess of Erice, dropping for years, began to need restoration, a delegation of Segestani, not Ericini, went to Rome by Emperor Tiberius, to request the intervention of the Roman treasury in favor of a restoration work that the sharp decline in the traditional flow of pilgrims and the consequent decay of worship and financial means had made very difficult.
And again: apart from the policy of prudent syncretism towards the religions and cults of the subject people, the Romans delegated to seventeen Sicilian cities the task of annually providing the ancient temple for worship expenses and they established that a special military body of two hundred soldiers, called “Venerei”, was to be formed to watch over the temple itself and the city.
All this, for good reason, makes one conclude that the city did not have its own demographic consistency and political “individuality”, that the population permanently residing in it was not in a position to organize or assure the cult and was not even capable, given the small number of inhabitants, to express an efficient garrison for its own defense.
It seems therefore that one cannot properly speak of a stable and permanent community, of a “polis” with inhabitants linked by common traditions, with its own institutions and magistrates, with its socio-economic individuality, regarding this Erice from the most remote antiquity to Roman times.
Moreover, this ancient city, devoid of primary economy and therefore of self-sufficiency, lacks substantial and truly significant evidence that a multicentury existence and a prolonged stable settlement would have left, at least in a clear and engraved historical memory, if not in rich archaeological finds as elsewhere: public buildings or traces of them, theater, necropolis which was not (as it has been quite found) much more likely to be a burial site for men of transit and, as elsewhere, bearing traces or evidence of wealth or concern for monumentality.
The current settlement dates back to the Norman time when, after eight centuries of silence in all historical sources, the ancient Erice returned to populate. As a consequence of the African policy conducted by the Norman monarchy, the city found new motivation and the same mountain returned to assume its ancient role as a bastion on the Channel of Sicily.
In the time of King Ruggiero d’Altavilla, the testimony of the Arab traveler and geographer Edrisi (1100-1166) describes the site of the ancient city, dominated by “an abandoned fortress”, as reduced to “land to be sown”.
However, the situation appears very different, fifty years later or a bit more, in the description provided by another known traveler and geographer, as well Arab, Ibn Giubàir (1145-1217), at the time of King William II. On the top of the mountain, there was already a new city, having changed its ancient name into that of Monte San Giuliano and now appearing as fervent of life and trade.
The text by Ibn Giubàir is highly significant, and we do not find it idle to literally report this very important document on the revival of the city, encouraged by the political will of the Norman monarchy we were referring to. Among other things, this testimony is also interesting for the specific reference to the wealth of springs on the mountain, primary resource that had determined the choice of the site as place for human settlement, since the times of the most remote antiquity: “…at small distance from the isthmus (of Trapani) eastward with declination to the north, there is a very high mountain, surmounted by a cliff that stands out from the rest. On the cliff there is a small Rum fortress, which can be reached from the mountain through a bridge: next to the fortress on the mountain side lies a big village also inhabited by Rums. The women here are said to be the most beautiful all over the island: may God make them prisoners of the Muslims! On this mountain there are vineyards and seeded fields, then we were told that there are four hundred springs of water. It is called Gabel Hâmid (Hâmid mount). The climb is easy on one side only: and yet (the Christians) think that the conquest of the island depends… only on this mountain, and in no way they allow a Muslim to ascend. For the same reason, this formidable fortress has been well-equipped. At the first sound of danger, they would put the women there to safety, cut the bridge, and a large ditch would separate them from those on the adjacent summit of the mountain. Wonderful is this site (for its various qualities), among other things because it has a great deal of water springs that we have mentioned; whereas Trapani (down there) in the plain, has nothing else but a well (and even) far away”.
Therefore from that time, and more so from the one of Frederick of Swabia (1198-1250), who granted its inhabitants a vast territory, the city on the mount was a royal military bulwark and, at the same time, a lively residential center for a community of “habitatores” who, despite being laboriously dedicated to the agricultural and pastoral activities taking place in the plain, preferred to reside there, also and principally forced by security reasons, being the only site of the territory where, within the ancient and impregnable walls, they could secure themselves and their families and goods from all kinds of danger: wars, revolts, and internal disorder, brigands, bad weather, and pirate raids.
“Giovanni Majorana’s notary register(1297-1300)”, one of the oldest in Sicily, published in 1963 by Antonino De Stefano, is a living and still eloquent testimony to the living conditions, the floridity and the welfare of the city, in which, attracted by the guarantees and privileges granted by William Il and Frederick of Swabia, many “habitatores” had come to settle from every city and territory of the kingdom, from various regions of the Italian peninsula, with particular prevalence of Lombardi, from different cities of the same peninsula, especially from Genova, Amalfi, Salerno and the main Mediterranean nations, mostly represented by Catalans and Provençals.
This composite immigration of new inhabitants of different traditions, provenance, language, customs, and habits, who came to establish themselves on the mount within a few years and later, forming a new center of common life, determined a new and complex social reality, which in time would have assumed its own specific anthropological and cultural physiognomy as a result of the particular conditions that had determined its origin and development.
While surrounding cities and lands on the plain had been essentially carrying uninterrupted sociality, life and costumes, and thus drew rhythm and physiognomy of life from ancient, constant and consolidated coexistence, here it started from the beginning. Here, a mountain peak was populated, perhaps more than repopulated, pioneeringly giving life to a community characterized by its own unrepeatable and original conditions, by its own specific needs that would later give rise to a complex process of material, spiritual, physical and cultural interaction: to a new social reality, characterized by its own identity.
The “register” of notary Majorana, mentioned earlier, gives us the image of a social and economic system that had emerged in recent times, expressing itself, among other things, in the urban environment rebuilt or more properly built from the foundations. It makes us understand the embryonic and emerging aspects of “that life - De Stefano writes - which still seems to be contained within the circle of Pelagic walls, within the flowered “patios”, behind the closed shutters, on the solitary streets, where sometimes the steps of a woman all closed in her black cloak resound. Even today the thirteenth-century churches and shops speak about those men and those things that in the horn of several centuries had been kept hidden in the mute pages of their notary...”.
From the point of view of the “status”, the urban physiognomy according to the classification, or qualification, officially running in these centuries, since the XIII Monte San Giuliano occupied an intermediate place between “civitas” and “casale”: that is, the one of “land”.
“Civitas” was the walled city and the episcopal seat: “casale” (farmhouse) was the simple rural aggregate of peasants, corresponding to the “villa” of the Roman era, to the “curtis” or “massa” of the Middle Ages, to the “rahal” of the Arabs. The “land” was equipped with a castle, had a square or church where the people met in council, and enjoyed some administrative autonomy.
Considering that the number of “civitates” in Sicily at those times was still very limited (they were only the oldest cities) and the one of “terrae” was not relevant either, one can well infer that Monte San Giuliano was one of the most remarkable centers in Sicily, especially in the western area.
Since the Norman era, the city has thus developed through a process of gradual but steady growth, linked to the capacity, initiative spirit and adaptation rhythms of new citizens to the environment, which were expressed and made concrete in the construction and agglomeration of buildings, sometimes of a certain size (“tenimenti domorum”), at successive times and with techniques frequently influenced by the unevenness and the characteristics of the often rocky terrain: houses habitually, and whenever possible, open on a courtyard, according to the ancient Mediterranean model, provided with a spring well or, failing that, with rainwater collection tanks; homes going side-by-side and on in the nascent urban fabric, built day by day to fit human beings, or even responding to the primary and immediate needs for survival and individual and social security.