Castroreale is the “faithful”, as Frederick II of Aragon called it, is a medieval village located in the north-western Peloritani Site, near Messina.
Castroreale is believed to have been founded by Artenomo, a Middle Eastern king who established a city named after his daughter Artemisia. Castoreum, husband of Artemisia, built Krastos. This new settlement was later renamed in Crastina or Crizzina and survived until the beginning of the 14th century. It played a significant role in the Sicilian Vespers. Frederick II of Aragon awarded the diploma of 1324 to the Vespers for their loyalty in the fight against the Angevin.
The real story of the town begins at this point: Castro, then Castroreale was the first name given to the town.
There was also an active Jewish community in Castroreale until the 15th century. Today, we can only see the arch behind Monte di Pieta. Castroreale was home to many buildings built in the late Baroque style after the 1693 earthquake.
Piazza dell’Aquile is the starting point for your tour of the old town. The mother church from the first three centuries of the seventeenth century is visible with its main façade closed to the right by a 16th-century bell tower. There are many works inside by Antonello gagini and Francesco Cardillo. As you enter the church, the meridian line will run transversely across the floor to the middle of your nave. This indicates the North-South direction. The Meridian has not been damaged by either men’s work or disastrous earthquakes. It was built by Nicholas Perroni Basquez of Castroreale in 1854, but was never completed.
Now, a curiosity… The meridian at Castroreale is a so called meridiana, a camera oscura. A beam of sunlight is projected onto the floor in the form of a bright, circular ellipse. This intersects with the meridian line on the floor at mid-day due to diffraction. This beam of light is produced by a tiny gnomonic hole, approximately 6mm in diameter, within the tiled roof (10 meters high) of right isle. The true solar noon is indicated by the point at which the center of an ellipse crosses over the meridian. You will find silverware made by Messina masters from the 17th century in the Mother Church.
The side square of the church is where an breathtaking view of the Aeolian Islands, Longano valley, and the portal made of marble from the seventeenth century was constructed. Many Ashlar portals dating back to the 16th and 17th centuries, as well as many wrought iron grilles, are examples of the historic splendor of this road which was once a major city resource.
A small but important heritage is housed on the Moschita ancient road, which was once home to many convents and churches. Piazza Pertini is home to the Town Hall, the Peculio palace and the Monte di Pieta (17th-century); the side facade of S.S. Salvatore with its bell tower, dating back to 1560. The arch from the Jewish synagogue is visible in the background. Continue on to the Church of St. Maria degli Angeli. It houses an Art Gallery with works from the fourteenth through sixteenth centuries. You will also find arches of ancient convents like St. The Monastery for Benedictine women and Nicholas. The Civic Museum contains many works of great value. These include a Salvator Mundi from PolidoroCaldara da Caravaggio, a painted cross from 14th century, a wooden Crucifix from the 15th century, the funerary memorial of Geronimo Rosso, Antonello Gagini’s altarpiece of The Lady with Saints, Gaspare Camarda and three Filippo Jannelli paintings. Also, you should see the altarpiece of The Lady and Child With Angels by Antonello De Saliba from the late 15th century.
Let’s also see the Church of St. Filippo Neri, built in the seventeenth century and annexed Oratory. This is the home of the Civic Museum. The architectural complex Santa Marina and Santa Agata is interesting. This latter combines Norman elements with Aragonese fortification to create a building of the sixteenth century. The famous statue of the Christ is found inside the church of St. Agata. It is carried in procession during Holy Week from August 23 through 25. Porta Raineri is a reconstruction of the northern walls of the church. The Church of Candelora dates back to the fifteenth century and has a special Arab dome. Also, there’s the Frederik I of Aragon tower which is the only remaining trace of the castle that he built in 1324.
Let’s now think about… Gastronomy!
Apart from the famous dishes of Sicilian tradition in Castroreale there is also a famous specialty: cookies. The cookies are known as u biscottu catricianu, u biscottu de badissa. For a long time, the secret recipe was kept under wraps by the Poor Clares at the Monastery Santa Maria degli Angeli. It was finally discovered that someone had the recipe and decided to share it. Two cookie factories were created to produce this deliciousness. The festival of these goodies takes place in the second quarter of August. Ingredients include aniseeds, cinnamon, sugar, cloves and vanilla. Preservatives are prohibited.
Also, make sure to try the homemade macaroni or the black rice in the Christmas season. They are prepared with sugar and toasted and ground almonds.