|The province of Messina
Francavilla di Sicilia
Francavilla di Sicilia (Zip Code 98034) is 239 km. far from Agrigento, 167 km. from Caltanissetta, 56 km. from Catania, 126 km. from Enna, 70 km. from Messina, which province it belongs to, 237 km. from Palermo, 160 km. from Ragusa, 114 km. from Siracusa, 336 km. from Trapani.
The municipality has 4.962 inhabitants and an area of 8.211 hectares for a density of population of 60 inhabitants per square kilometre. It rises on hilly area and is 335 metres above sea-level.
The Town Hall is placed in piazza Annunziata, tel. ++39 (0)942-98801 fax. ++39 (0)942-982523.
Photo © A.A.P.I.T. Messina
Main economic activities are agriculture and handicraft. Products mostly cultivated are citrus fruit, vegetables, fruit in general. The wines and the cakes typical of this place are excellent.
Particularly beautiful are the embroideries, pottery articles and wrought iron handicrafts. There is also some industrial development in the paper industry.
The name Francavilla derives from French Franc Ville, and means free town and it refers to the exemption from feudal taxes which has enjoyed till 1538. The addition "di Sicilia" was added in 1863 to distinguish it from the other seven Francavilla present all over Italy. First evidences of a town centre date back to the V century B.C., according to some archaeological remains found in the area. But the present centre was founded in 1120, during the Swabian-Norman domination, round the preexistent castle. In this period has been registered a population increase due to immigrations of populations coming from the northern Italy, who spread their Gallic-Italic dialect in the town and spoken in Francavilla till few decades ago. State town, in 1538 it was given by Charles V to the viscount Paolo Balsamo.
Photo © Reti e Sistemi
Later it has belonged to different feudal families Ruffos, Onetos, Sperlingas, Majorca-Montillaros. On 21 June 1719 here it was fighten the famous battle between Austrians and Spanishes, won by the former who have dominated Sicily until 1734 when the island became a Bourbonic possession. The most interesting monuments are the ruins of the Norman Castle rebuilt in the XIV and XVI centuries, the Convent of the capuchins of the XVI century, and the remains of the stronghold Badia called "Badiazza".
Various they are the existing nobiliary palaces in all the territory, among "Cagnone Palace", whose east wing is going back sixteenth century, the rest introduces an architectonic one a typical one of late the seven hundred, today of public property of the Municipality.
Photo © A.A.P.I.T. Messina
Turning for the historical center we find "Prescimone Palace" then, that one of the "Sgroi", that one of the "Moncada-Mortillaro". In the ancient part of Francavilla there is the characteristic Fountain Vena, constructed in the 1400 and called "The Fountain of the eigthteen jets".
To explain the ethymology of the town the inhabitants have invented a tale which tells that the Dolphin of France Louis, in love with a maiden of Francavilla, Angelina, kidnapped her during the night. For this reason the maiden exorted her maidservant to watch so that they are ready for the departureand says "Franca, vigghia!" (Franca, watch!) but in Sicilian it is also the name to indicate Francavilla.