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Ancient Quarters of Savoca
The town of Savoca was composed by four very populated quarters
S. ANTONIO QUARTER: it was located out of walls and was destroyed in 1880 by a landslide, together with S. Antonio Abate church.
S. GIOVANNI QUARTER: it is situated beneath the Calvario mount; it is renowned for the nice eighteenth-century residences. Here was the Savoca’s hospital.
On the last side of this quarter there was the second gate of the town, today not existing.
The most famous monument today is the beautiful residence with mullioned window with two lights, mentioned on a Touring Club edition.
The church consecrated to S. Giovanni has gone on ruin.
PENTEFUR QUARTER: it seems to be Savoca’s most ancient quarter; it is also deduced by the etymologic studies of the term: Pentefur for some people means “five robbers”, and it takes name from the popular legend attributing Savoca’s foundation to five marauders.
S. ROCCO QUARTER: it was the old residence of fishermen, where they retired after carrying on their sea activity.
The S. Rocco church, constructed in 1593, today is in ruin.
S. Michele Church
The oldest documents date it to the beginning of the Fourteenth Century: in 1308 Greek chaplains officiated there (Savoca belonged to the archimandrite). Probably the church was existing in Norman times.
It was the Church of the Castle. On the front stand out two beautiful Gothic-Siculian portals with sandstone arches. The inside, with a nave, partially remade in Baroque, contains very valuable works of art, aristocratic tombs, altars with twisted columns and seventeenth-century stuccos, many frescos of considerable workmanship adorning the walls.
The no-believers converting to Christianity, according to a documented tradition, had to scale its seven steps on his knees and then receive Baptism.
On the church-square a memorial tablet calls to mind that there were buried no-baptized children.
S. NicolÚ Church
The oldest documents date it to the beginning of the Thirteenth Century. Little remains of its original appearance, getting twisted restorations in times. It seems a fortress dominating the underlying valley.
It is incorrectly called S. Lucia Church, because the statue of the saint was transferred here after the collapse of the church consecrated to her.
The building, with a nave and two aisles, contains valuable sumptuously carved polychromatic marble altars of the Baroque period and many "vare" (richly decorated bases) on which wooden saint’s sculptures stand.
Along the nave there are some paintings on wood representing biblical episodes.
On the high altar some pictures on canvas represent S. Lucia and her martyrdom. Also interesting are terracotta reproductions of the stations of the Cross.
It dates back to the Norman domination and it was smaller and with different architectural features than today.
Recently, during repairs, two mural paintings representing some saints and belonging to Byzantine iconography were brought to light.
The monument is consecrated to "S. Maria in Cielo Assunta" (S. Mary Taken up into Heaven). All other urban and rural churches of old Savoca’s territory were subject to its jurisdiction.
The carrying structure consists of a nave and two aisles with Romanesque capitals; according to historical documents the original building dates back to the Norman period. The church tower and the church-square were executed and annexed in next times. The present front was partially remade at the end of 1400 thanks to Pietro Trimarchi.
"Tre martelli" (three hammers), Trimarchi family’s coat of arms, are engraved on the architrave. In the cellars were mummified corpses and still today you can see the locals where this process, practised until 1876, was done.
Here was also the Archimandrite’s chair, and still today is preserved the wooden throne with the Archimandrite’s blazon.
Medieval residence with mullioned window with two lights
Building of the late Middle Ages, recently restored, it’s mentioned in old texts because of its " stile greco" (Greek style). Today it’s property of Cantatore family; in the past it belonged to Fleres, Trischitta, Rizzo and Altadonna families.
The monument, already mentioned in a Touring Club guide-book in 1928, today is subject to architectural protection bond and it is in excellent condition.
It dates back to the Fifteenth Century but it was restored in 1735 by Jesuits.
The "route" starts from the Capuchins’ Monastery and wind along the alleys of the historical centre, ending at the top of the Calvario mount, where is the church consecrated to "Beata Vergine dei sette dolori e della Santa Croce" (Blessed Virgin of Seven Sorrows and of the Holy Cross).
Typical are the Way of the Cross’ stations, hollowed in the rock.
The whole route, where every year takes place a spectacular representation of the Passion of Christ, and the church were recently entirely restored.
In the cellar of the Capuchins’ Monastery there is a crypt. Here are buried the mummified corpses of some notables of old Savoca.
The mummification process, deriving from Egypt, consisted of a natural method of desiccation through the use of vinegar and funguses.
"Per la mummificazione completa dei cadaveri si impiegavano circa sessanta giorni" (The complete mummification of corpses needed sixty days). The death was always been object of a special worship in Savoca. Until about 1870, during funeral processions was used to make walking six ”incamiciati” (men wearing frocks) holding burning braziers beside the funeral; last was the “prefiche” (crying women) with the grieved procession.
It belonged to the archimandrite, living there for some periods of the year.
Today you can only admire some parts of its walls and of the tanks.
The castle, with a very large inside area, is trapezoidal, and dominates the valley below. It originally was the ancient residence of the Pentefur, the mythical founders of Savoca, and, according to Fazzello, a historian, it yet existed in 1134, when Ruggero the Second founded the barony of Savoca.
The castle was strategically important in Middle Age. It was enlarged in 1480 by the archimandrite Leonzio Crisafi and restored in 1628 by Diego Requiesenz.
At the end of the Eighteenth Century it has gone on ruin.