ACATE

The little town of Acate which once was called "Biscari"was founded in 1494 on a plane not far from the sea on the valley of the Dirillo river, today full of olive groves, citrus orchards and vineyards.
The nucleus of Biscari was the homonymous castle and the annexed church of San Vincenzo. Some centuries later in 1938 Biscari was called Acate. For both the permanent symbol was, and is still today, the Castle of the Princes which from the top of the hill on which today the town stands has always dominated the cultivated valley of Acate.

The Castle of the Princes of Biscari

The plaque indicating the year of foundation with the coat of arms of the owner of this castle has unfortunately been lost. But it is sure that the castle was built at the end of the fifteenth century and that later it was modified many times. Its present aspect is the result of changes made by the Prince Vincenzo Patern˛ the fourth one of the dynasty. In the south-eastern wing of the castle there are the jails, while in the northern wing we can find the structure of the ancient portal which has been bricked in. In the central part there are twelve windows on both lateral wings.
The devotion to the statue of San Vincenzo which is in the church next to the castle, is related to a story that also shows traces of legend. In the eighteenth
century the Pope Clemente XI gave the Prince Vincenzo Patern˛ Castello the mortal remains of the martyr San Vincenzo. The story mixed to the legend tells that the Prince hopelessly fell in love with a beautiful woman of the people who lived near the castle and who accepted the Prince’s advances starting with him a love affair. But the princess Anna Scamacca Bonaiuto discovered the intrigue and ordered that the young Prince’s lover was shut up in a jail of the castle and that her body was sprinkled with honey so that bees might eat her. The Princess later repented of her deed; the Pope proposed to forgive her if she had put inside the Castle the body of a martyr buried in the Vatican. The cult of San Vincenzo and the famous palio are related to this story too. The feast and the Palio have taken place in Acate since 1722, to celebrate the arrival of the martyr’s body that landed at the port of Scoglitti shipped from Rome. The Prince, on horseback lead the ceremonial column with the urn of the martyr from Scoglitti to Biscari. This historical ride is commemorated each year through the Palio.


The Church of San Vincenzo

The church was originally dedicated to St.Joseph. but its name was changed after the martyr’s burial.
The fašade of the church is regular, the interior has a central nave and two lateral aisles; the columns, the stuccoes and a beautiful organ adorn the simplicity of the structure. The relics of San Vincenzo are held on a refined eighteenth century crystal urn.


Acate: from the prehistory to the Middle-Age

The settlement found in the area of Poggio-Bidine where huts, furnishings and funerary altars have been broughtto light date back to the Bronze Age. Archaeological excavations in different areas have found traces of the natives of the Island the Siculi, of Roman rulers and Byzantines. And with the Saracen’s invasion for the first time a name appears: Odogrillo. The etymology of this word might come from the Arabic "Wayd-Ikrilu", "the river of Acrilla" which would have been changed to Odogrillo river, until the last root Dirillo. What is left today of the built up area of Odogrillo are only the ruins of the big wall in the Casale area.
After the Vespers rebellion against the Angevins, Odogrillo became a university too ( the corporation which were obliged to pay taxes) and Casale passed from the Sicilian Baron Alaimo Dea Lenitni to the Chiaramonte family. Odogrillo declined, to flourish again with the name of Biscari around its castle.