Villa | 2 bedrooms | sleeps 5
Sicily for Rent is a villa with a garden overlooking the sea, a few kilometers from Taormina and Catania, 300 meters from the main square of Fondachello di Mascali. Fully furnished, equipped kitchen, washing machine and parking.
Located in Fondachello di Mascali on the sea and is an excellent base to move around and enjoy the most beautiful natural scenes and evocative of the Mediterranean, the volcano Etna and the east coast of Sicily
|Size||Sleeps up to 5, 2 bedrooms|
|Nearest beach||Lido delle Sirene/Lido Sette Nani 50 m|
|Will consider||Long term lets (over 1 month), Short breaks (1-4 days)|
|Access||Car advised, Wheelchair users|
|Nearest Amenities||50 m|
|Nearest travel links||Nearest airport: Catania Fontanarossa 45 km, Nearest railway: Stazione Ferroviaria Giarre/Riposto 8 km|
|Family friendly||Great for children of all ages, Suitable for people with restricted mobility|
|Notes||Pets welcome, Yes, smoking allowed|
Features and Facilities
|General||Air conditioning, TV, Wi-Fi available|
|Utilities||Cooker, Fridge, Freezer, Washing machine|
|Rooms||2 bedrooms, 1 bathrooms of which 1 Family bathrooms|
|Furniture||Single beds (2), Double beds (2), Dining seats for 6|
|Outdoors||Balcony or terrace, Private garden, Shared garden, BBQ|
|Access||Parking, Wheelchair users|
The Sicily region
Sicily is internationally renowned for its history and beauty, for the smell of lemons and oranges you can breath everywhere on the island, for the friendly hospitality of its inhabitants, for thebeautiful beaches, for the clear blue sea coasts, for the highest volcano in Europe, and, last but not least, for the special food you can taste, for its fish and the sweets.... and for many other reasons.
History : In the past Sicily has been dominated by many Conquerors : Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Spanish. Wherever you drive in Sicily, you can see the remains of each domination.
In 30 minutes drive you can visit the Greek theatre in Taormina, a village famous all over the world for the beauty of its houses, its shops and the charming atmosphere you can breath when walking along its small and charming lanes.
In 40 minutes drive you reach Catania, one of the biggest town in the area. A walk in the town centre will be very interesting : you can see the remains of a Greek-Roman theatre, the Cathedral, Castel Ursino ( which is a fortress built around 1240 to protect the city from the sea and then used as a royal residence and as a prison), the Bellini Theater (opened in 1890), with its wrought iron in the portico and very beautiful inside, where you can admire the 4 tires and a gallery, corridors and frescoed ceilings.
One of the most attractive places to visit in Catania is Via Crociferi, a true triumph of 18th Century Baroque Style, with its opulent line of religious buildings. Very interesting will also be a visit of the Botanic Gardens, spread over a surface area of 16,000 square meters, where exotic, rare, aquatic and Sicilian plants are grown. If you visit Catania in February, you can't miss the feast of the Saint Agata, whose statue is carried for 4 days along most of the streets of the town, followed by thousands of people. However, anytime of the year you're in Catania, we recommend a stop in the typical fish market.
In 1 hour drive is Siracusa, one of the most famous town in Sicily. You can visit the Greek theatre and the Roman amphitheatre, where Greek tragedies are played according to the ancient tradition. You should also visit the isle of Ortigia, the nucleus of the old city. It's a very nice tourist place for relaxing walks along charming lanes, while visiting interesting museums and beautiful historical buildings.
If you want to go on visiting the remains of the island's Conquerors, you could drive to Agrigento ( 2 hours by car) and see the Valley of the Temples, one of the most important archaeological sites in the world and a Unesco world heritage site since 1998. In the Valey are still sited the great temples of ancient Akragas : the temple of Hera (Juno) Lacinia, Concordia, Heracles (Hercules), Olympian Zeus (Jupiter), Castor and Pollux (Dioscuri) and Hephaistos (Vulcan).
THE SEA : In Sicily the sea is very clear and mostly clean. In the nearby of the house you have different kinds of coasts. In a short drive, you can choose among white sandy beach , small-stony beach, or rocks . If required, there's also the opportunity to rent a sailing boat for daily trips.
THE VOLCANO : Etna is the highest volcano in Europe, since it's around 3330 meters high. If you want to have a look, there are many paths you can walk along in a short time. There's also the possibility to drive up close to the main crater, only with the authorized means (daily transfers are organized on request).
FOOD : Sicilian cooking is famous for many reasons : for the smell and taste of its fruit and vegetable , grown in sunny gardens and collected only when ripe enough to be at their best ; for the fresh fish and mussels you can buy in the typical fish markets, where is not rare to find live octopus or prawn, so fresh that can be eaten uncooked ; for the ice creams lovers ,we recommend to taste the 'granita', a typical dessert which is usually eaten at breakfast, accompanied by what we call 'brioche' , a sort of sweet bread you can't resist .
Mascali is a small town situated on the slopes of Etna, between Acireale and Taormina.
With regard to the etymology, various scholars believe that it is of Arab origin. But Santi Correnti notes that it is not necessary to "find an Arab origin to all the Arab place names of the Etna area. And in the case of Mascali and Mascalucia there is no need to think about the Arabic term ‘Maskil’ (which means ‘sea place beach’), because the modern Mascali is some distance from the sea, and even more Mascali, destroyed by lava on November 6, 1928, was off in ancient times (…)
The name 'Mascali' derives from the Greek-Byzantine 'mascalis', which means 'flowering branch', and it clearly indicates the fertility of the plain of Mascali, famous for its vegetables and wines, celebrated by Giovanni Meli [1740-1815]”( See Santi Correnti, “Storia e folklore di Sicilia”, Mursia, 1975, p. 68). The assumption proposed by Santi Correnti seems the most appropriate for the environment in which Mascali is, and today it is that which enjoys much of reputation.
Another hypothesis proposes a derivation from "màsculu" [= armpit, with reference to the numerous sinuous recesses that are plentiful in the area]: “In Campania and Cilento we have 'mascali' and also 'mascula', 'mask', 'mascara' (… ) meaning 'armpit' "(See M. Cortelazzo-C. Marcato, “I dialetti italiani: dizionario etimologico”, UTET, 1998, p. 275).
With regard to the antiquity, Cluverius identified Mascali with the ancient Kallipolis, a Chalcidian colony of Naxos, submitted by the tyrant Hippocrates og Gela (died 491 BC). It is safe enough, as Pliny [23-79 AD] (4, 47) narrated that the island of Naxos was also called "Kallipolis" (meaning “beautiful city”) [See G. Camassa, "Gallipoli di Sicilia", in "BTCGI", 1989, No 7, pp. 544-548).
The same hypothesis was formulated later also by Vito Amico: “It is asserted by Cluverius and other historians that this town occupies the site of the ancient Gallipoli, one of the Chalcydic colonies, which was in ruins at the time of Strabo” ( Vedi Luigi Piale, “Hand-book or new guide to Naples, Sicily and the environs”, 1853, p. 54).
In fact, "Naxos expanded its territory sout-west, founding, among other things, in places not yet identified ( Giarre or Mascali?), Kallipolis, mentioned by Pseudo Scymnus (circa 185 BC), while the most important subcolonies, Leontini and Catania, as recalled by Thucydides (460-395 BC), were deducted after the founding by Thukles "(See “Miscellanea di studi classici in onore di Eugenio Manni”, 1996, vol. 2, pp. 550 ff.).
The ancient location of Mascali is very uncertain; according to C. Camassa, we must locate Kallipols between Naxos and Catania, while for others among Mascali and Giarre. However, a definite answer to this question there is no: “Various sites have been brought forward as candidates for the site of Kallipolis, but it remains unidentified, though recent finds at San Martino south of Naxos are promising in this connection.
In general, the fact that, like Katane and Leontinoi, it was a colony of Naxos suggests a location in the coastal plain south of Naxos or on the slopes of Mount Etna; in any case, the foundation of Kallipolis should be been as a part of the Chalkidian occupation of north-eastern Sicily. The siege mentioned by Herodotus (484-425 BC) implies that Kallipolis was fortified by Hippokrates” ( See Mogens Herman Hansen, Thomas Heine Nielsen, “An inventory of archaic and classical poleis”, Oxford University Press, 2004, p. 202).
We know that Kallipolis survived for some time also in Roman times, as it was mentioned by Silius Italicus (25-101 AD) like an ally of Rome in the Second Punic War: "Romana petivit foedera Callipolis" [Kallipolis made a pact with the Romans]. However, the fate of Kallipolis, like that of other Sicilian cities of the Ancient World in Roman times, was decided.
We recall in these areas a radical change in the environmental situation, which in practice was a prelude to an environment dominated by forest, that is the habitat in which Mascali was built. Strabo (64 BC-19 AD) clearly told us what happened; he noted that by then had disappeared "the traces of ancient settlements, among which 'Kamerina'. Then totally ruined Himera, Gela, Selinus, Naxos, Kallipolis, Euboia, Kamikos and other Sicilian cities were in a total state of neglet (...) So Strabo adds that the Romans, having noticed the urban degradation, after purchasing most of the mountains and plains entrusted them to horse breeders, to cattlemen and shepherds.
These conditions promoted, in addition to slave revolts, like that of Heunus in Henna, even banditry, reappeared with Selouros, called 'the son of Etna’ "(See G. Manganaro, “La Sicilia da Sesto Pompeo a Diocleziano”, in “Aufstieg und Niedergang der romischen Welt: Geschichte und Kultur Roms im Spiegel der neueren Forschung,” edited by Wolfgang Haase-Hildegard Temporini, De Gruyter, Berlin, 1988. Vol II, p. 16).
Therefore, in this landscape dominated by forest, historians spotted the first signs of the modern Mascali. Sebastiano Fresta writes: “For centuries this land remained an uncultivated wood, dangerous because of the possibility of fire and used in some places for grazing. The Count Bishops came from Catania to take possession of this Diocese, but, until Bishop Nicola Caracciolo (1512-1568), they had no cure for this area rich in water and for the most part a flat land "(See S. Fresta, “La contea di Mascali (1124-1860). Documenti e testimonianze,” Catania, Giannotta, 1971, p. 98).
The first mention of a place called "Maschalas", the modern Mascali, was found in a document dating back to Pope Gregory the Great [540-604] , of 593, where the Pope, speaking to the Bishop of Taormina, recalled the presence of a baptistery in the monastery of San Andrea, built by '"insolence" of the monks, who did not obey the orders of Pope.
On the contrary, He wanted the baptistry was demolished and an altar was built in its place. We note that Gregory the Great seems very determined and his language was quite threatening towards Bishop Secundinus: “[...] C. VII. Baptisterium in monasterio non permittitur fieri. Item Gregorius Papa, lib. II. Indict. 11. epit. 56., Secundino Episcopo). “Pridem praecepimus, ut de monasterio S. Andreae, quod est super Mascalas [o “Maschalas”], baptisterium propter monachorum molestias [other manuscripts:'insolentias'] debuisset auferri, atque in eodem loco, quo fontes sunt, altare fundari (...), quatenus et praedictis monachis opus Dei securius liceat celebrare, et non de negligentia vestra contra fraternitatem tuam noster animus excitetur […]” [First, with regard to the monastery of St. Andrew, overhanging "Mascalas", We order that the baptistery, built for the insolence of those monks, is dismantled, and indeed We want where there is a spring is built an altar (...) which allows the monks to celebrate serenely the glory of God Moreover, We do not want Your negligence in carrying out the order excites Our mind against You] (see" Corpus Juris Canonici ", edited by Aemilius Ludovicus Richter, Lipsiae, 1839, Vol I, p. 715).
After the fall of the Roman Empire, the territory of Mascali was subject to the dominion of the Byzantines, and recent researches show that Byzantine art and architecture left important evidences in Mascali, which will be discussed later. After the Byzantines, the Mascali was submitted to the Arabs.
We have no Arab documents speaking about Mascali before the year 1000; the oldest Arab chronicler who cited the location in relation to its timber trade was Ga'far Abu Nasr al-Ahmad Ibn Dawud, who died in 402 (= 1011 AD) [See “Simbolo e realtá della vita urbana nel tardo medioevo”, a cura di M. Miglio-G. Lombardi 1993, p. 100 footnote 17]. Then, of course, Mascali was quoted by Al Idrisi (1099-1166) and by Yakut (1229), who mentioned Mascali in relation to Etna, which he called the "Mountain of Fire": “’The Mountain of Fire’, located in Sicily, stands out on the coast (…) between Catania and Mascali, not away from Taormina" (See A. Borruso, “Da oriente a occidente”, Palermo, Officina di studi medievali, 2006, p. 72 and note 20).
The history of the small town takes a more precise outline with the advent of the Normans, and in particular with Count Roger (1031-1101), who donated the land to the Bishop of Catania. A legend, passed down us by G.A. Massa would like the city was founded by Count Roger. He gave Mascali to Ansgerio, prior of St. Euphemia in Calabria; Roger II (1095-1154) in 1124 confirmed the donation to successors of ansgerio, with other privileges, such as that forbidding the inhabitants to "lead the pigs in the woods of Mascali not to damage the rights of the monks. "
In addition, Roger II forbade the trees were cut without his express permission (See G. Vecchio, “La cella Trichora di Santo Stefano e l'antico eremo di Dagala del re”, Acireale, 2008, pp. 299-300).
The territory of Mascali was rich in monasteries. S. Fresta said "[...] The oldest Benedictine institution in the Etna region dates back to the years between 1088 and 1092, with the foundation of the Abbey of St. Agatha in Catania, Sicily, and the endowment of it to Ansgerio. [...]" (S. Fresta, p. 97). In the history of Mascali was essential the figure of Bishop Nicola Caracciolo: "Charles V [1500-1558], after knowing the personality of this Bishop and his character and prestige, with the privilege of 12 March 1540, raised the fief of Mascali in rank of County, investing the Bishop of the title of Count of Mascali. Nicola Caracciolo participated actively in the Council of Trent, and he had clear ideas about the religious organization of his Diocese (...) He also made a great work of agricultural organizing and demographic expansion that populated the plains and the hill of the great plain of Mascali (...) He developed trade, the economic growth and the organization of this territory that now encompasses five municipalities, that is Mascali, Giarre, Riposto, Sant'Alfio and Milo "(Fresta, p. 99-102).
The city and its territory, precisely because of its soil fertility were for long time disputed by the local nobility to the Church of Catania. Gradually, most of the territory of the Diocese was fragmented into many properties. Mascali also saw a remarkable economic boom in the eighteenth and nineteenth century, thanks to the exceptional development of the vineyard: “The annual production reached the 110,000 hectoliters (...)
This enormous production of wine impressed all the foreign travelers who visited Mascali (...) In 1827 an outstanding traveler, that is the young Tocqueville, wrote about being “au milieu d'un pays enchanté qui vous surprendrait partout et qui vous ravit en Sicile” [in an enchanted land of Sicily, which will surprise and fascinate you] ( See E. Iachello-A. Signorelli, “Trafficanti e produttori in un'area vinicola: la contea di Mascali tra '700 e '800” in “Il Mezzogiorno preunitario”, a cura di A. Massafra, Dedalo 1988, pp. 901 ff.).
An American traveler, in 1827, told: “Crossing a little river at the mouth of which is Riposto, a village adjacent to Giarre, and which like the latter appears to be in a thriving condition, I entered on the fertile district of Mascali. It occupies an extensive waving tract near the base of Mount Ema, for still the route continued along the skirts of that mountain. The town of Mascali, large, but no longer flourishing, was at a short distance on my left. The territory around is exuberantly productive. Exclusive of grain, timber and fruit, it annually yields ninety thousand pipes of wine. This district extends to the Alcantara, the ancient Onabala, a very respectable stream, which by some is considered the northern boundary of Etna.. But the mountain has disdained to observe the limits it would affix. It has not only pressed over and beyond it, but repeatedly compelled the river to shift its course, and to choose and scoop out a new channel for its waters. The Alcantara at present flows over a bed of very ancient lava. In the district of Mascali the famous Cold River, 'Fiume Freddo', takes its rise. Its course is short and rapid. I crossed it near its outlet. If all the stories told of the stream be true, it certainly possesses very curious properties. One is, that though its waters be uncommonly cold, and they certainly are so to the feeling, yet they are never known to freeze. It is probable that a different tale would be told had they ever been subjected to the zero frosts of a New England winter” ( See Andrew Bigelow, “Travels in Malta and Sicily”, Boston, 1831, p. 423).
Bigelow, about the area of Mascali, made the same observations of Al Idrisi, who noted: "Mascali [‘Masqalah’] is a village located on top of a high mountain, and it thrives to the industriousness of its inhabitants (...)
Between Mascali and Taormina flows the river called An Nahr al Barid' (' the Cold River', today Alcantara) "(See M. Amari, “Biblioteca arabo-sicula”, Loescher, 1880, Vol I, p. 116) . The small town was badly damaged by the earthquake of 1693 and then from that of 1928, but it was rebuilt and today, despite many vicissitudes, it has a great territory from the naturalistic point of view, and some researches uncovered important examples of art of Byzantine times.