Scicli was an indomitable and victorious town. On March 1091 there was the event which mostly marked the proud and rebel soul of this little town, one of the most beautiful baroque towns in the area of the Hyblaean mountains. The Saracen army, previously defeated by the Normans, landed on the plain which today is called "Milici"; The inhabitants of Scicli armed with their strength, their enthusiasm, all together managed to defeat the invaders. It was the only Hyblaean town which was able to drive the Saracens out, though they were much more numerous and armed to the teeth. Each year this victorious battle is commemorated on the last Sunday of June in a spectacular feast called "Madonna delle Milizie". This is one of the most meaningful feasts in Sicily, the most suggestive atmosphere of the struggle between Christians and Saracens is recreated; popular actors in period costumes and old weapons act in the streets recalling the most important moments of that battle. In the place where the battle took place was built the small church of the Madonna dei Milici; in fact according to religious popular belief it was the Madonna who gave this proud town and the Normans led by the Earl Ruggero the strength and the impulse of the divine to defend themselves against the Saracens not to become a conquered land.
Scicli a town of art, nature and landscapes .
Scicli is a spectacular town, made of artistic spaces cut on the rock and of light and shade effects, where nature, landscapes and art in churches and palaces mix together into uncommon and beautiful contrasts. From the top of the hill where once stood the old town, the Church of San Matteo stands out on the horizon and with its old wooden clock dominates the town. The ruins of a castle, attributed to the Greek age, are still standing; two underground passages are supposed to lead off this fortress erected to defend the town but they have never been found. This castle defended the town even in the dark age when the raids of Barbarians, Vandals and Goths destroyed Sicily after the fall of the Roman Empire and the Byzantine domination. The inhabitants of this land showed their pride in 827 too, when Ragusa and other towns were invaded by Arabs. Scicli resisted for decades to a long siege. Today like in the previous ages the hill of San Matteo can be reached only through stairs, since there are no streets in the old quarter. On the top there are still the burial grounds which have been found in other areas.
Casmene, Sicla or Siclis?
There are numerous theories on the very ancient origins of Scicli. The most reliable one is related to the history of other nearby towns where traces of settlements of the ancient inhabitants of Sicily, the Siculi, have been brought to light. The name Scicli would come from "Siclis" that is Siculi. There is also the great myth of Casmene, an ancient town disappeared almost like Atlantis but other towns like Comiso have the right to think of being the descendants of the old Greek Syracusan colony. So this hypothesis is less reliable, especially for the geographical position of Scicli situated toward the inland. In the territory of Scicli, in some areas like Maulli, near the Irminio river, archaeological settlements have been brought to light. Not very far from the mouth of the river some fragments of worked pointed tools and ruins of villages attributed to the Greek age have been found. These findings would confirm the theory of trades taking place along the banks of the Irminio river. During the Hellenic age, Sicli, Motuka and Ceretanum defended many times Camarina in its battles against Syracuse. Some Carthaginian ruins have also been found in this territory. The last theory is related to the Roman age and to Marcellus consul, according to some historians he wanted Sicla to be founded as the mint of Sicily. Like Modica, Scicli was included among the decuman towns and obliged to pay the tenth part of its riches to the Roman Empire. The Arabs called it Sikla. Like in other parts of Sicily the town grew economically stronger and learned new agricultural techniques which allowed her to be rich and thriving. The Swabians reigned after the Normans but it was under the Angevins that the rebel soul of this people rose up again. With the Sicilian Vespers rebellion on April 5th 1282, Scicli managed to get free from French domination and passed under the protection of Pietro DAragona. A later raid of the Angevins in Scicli could not defeat the warrior spirit of people who where used to defend their town even against much more powerful invaders.
From the Hill to the Valley (XIV XVI)
It is a pretty singular event that a town moves to the valley from a hill. Surely, it took very long to the ancient inhabitants of Scicli, more than one century, to complete this passage; the new urban settlement was born in the plain below the church as hamlets. Leaving the Hill of San Matteo, named after the homonymous church, did not bring luck. The seventeenth century was the most terrible one because of plague, grasshoppers and family struggles which very only some of the numerous tragic events which marked the dark century of the town. The earthquake of 1693 inflicted the mortal blow on the town which was completely destroyed. From the ruins, a splendid baroque town was born and today it is a jewel with a restless but shining past.