Francavilla di Sicilia

This little town takes its name from the French "franc-ville", meaning "free town", because it was exempted from paying taxes during the Norman rule of Sicily.

According to archaelogical foundings, the origins of Francavilla date back to the V century B.C, when colonists from Naxos settled here, in the Alcantara river valley.

After the Roman and Arab rule, the territory was assigned to the basilian monastery of Saint Salvatore della Placa. Later, it passed to the Sicilian aristocrat Roger of Lauria together with the near Castiglione.

Francavilla di Sicilia

In 1538, the Spanish king Charles V exchanged it with Taormina and later gave it to the viscount Antonio Balsamo, a noble aristocrat from Messina, as a feud. At his death, Francavilla was inherited by his nephew Jacopo Ruffo, who embellished it with several elegant buildings, churches, statues and fountains.

In the XVIII century, Spanish and Austrians fought for its possession, and during this battle Francavilla lost thousands of citizens. In the XIX century the town took part to the process of unification of Italy and only after 1860 it knew a marked development.

Highlights in Francavilla

This elegant town boasts a unique heritage of monuments inserted in a urban context where past and present live in perfect symbiosis.

Castello feudale normanno - Francavilla di Sicilia

On top of a hill 500 metres on sea level you can visit the remnants of a feudal Castle, erected in 1275 and circled by large and imposing defensive walls. The Castle rose along the "regia trazzera", the royal main road departing from Taormina and leading towards the interior of Sicily, along the Alcantara river valley.

On Corso Vittorio Emanuele you can visit Saint Paul's Church, dating back to the XV century, and the elegant Saint Paul's fountain, embellishing the omonymous square. This monument was the work of artists from the Gaginis' school, and it consists of the white marble statue of a maid with a shield in her right hand. On the shield you can see the blazon of Domenico from Sperlinga, with two rampant lions. According to tradition, the maid represents the town of Francavilla.

Close to Saint paul's Church you can admire the Vena Fountain, also named the "fountain of the 18 pipes".

Chiesa dell'Annunziata - Francavilla di Sicilia

A sort distance from the actual town, after crossing the so-called Saint Mary of Prayers bridge, you can reach the Capuchin Friars Monastery, which was built in 1570 by will of Viscount Antonio Balsamo thanks to the ecnomic support of the population and later of his nephew Jacopo Ruffo's donations.

Other monuments worth a visit are the Church of Saint Annunziata, built in 1550, and the Church of Saint Rocco, which is open only once a year, on August 16th.

On top of the town, above the noble Palazzo Majorca Pecoraro, you can visit the typical "borgo", an ancient peasant quarter named "contarado", whose little houses are characterized by balconies embellished with flowers and architectural elements in late gothic style.

Chiesa Matrice - Francavilla di Sicilia

The most important monument in Francavilla is the Church of Saint Mary of the Assumption, built in XVI century (open on ly on friday mornings). It has a precious sandstone portal in gothic style.

The original bell tower, built in the XV century, was demolished and replaced with a new one in 1852, made out of both lava stone and white stone. The interior has just one nave. On the main altar you can see a beautiful marble tabernacle, from the Gaginis' school. In a chapel on the right side you can admire a tarnished wooden crucifix, while in the chapel on the left side there's a XVII century painting of the Assumption of the Virgin and a wooden statue of Saint Anthony the Abbot.

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