Cassatella di Agira De.Co.


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Agira is a Sicilian village with ancient origins that are lost in mythology. In Agira, birthplace of Diodorus Siculus, time is stopped and it has kept intact and alive some unique traditions and a lot of overwhelming flavors.
Agira is erected on Teja Mount, it dominates the surrounding hills and valleys of Salso and Dittaino, her landscapes are lost among the endless blue of the sky, the interminable hills that surround it and the clear waters of Pozzillo Lake.


Brief historical excursus

Agira boasts of a millenary history. Its origin lies ever since the first human presence in the inland area of Sicily and its history interacts with that of the most interior village of the island.
Its name denotes Greek origin, as several scholars sustain,it derives from the greek Argyrion or Agyrion which means silver. In its territory, in fact, there were a lot of mines of silver visible until the sixteenth century.
The village, originally inhabited by the Siculi, during the greek period it played an important role, as Diodorus Siculus writes, in the struggle between Syracuse and Carthage. This fact allows the residents to obtain citizenship of Syracuse. During the same period the city is covered with beautiful temples and public works as some theater, and it assists to a flourishing cult of Herakles.
Recent archaeological excavations have unearthed the magnificent ruins of the ancient Greek acropolis of Agyrion. Another clear testimony of the Agira’s greek period is constituted by the fact that the imposing churches of St. Maria Maggiore and of SS. Savior are based on Greek temples. Several signs suggest the existence of a beautiful theatre that lies below the Rosselli descent.

Agira holds a considerable importance during the Roman period, during which Cicero describes it in his Verrine.

Afterwards the village gets through under the jurisdiction of the Eastern Empire. In the Byzantine period it seems to have developed an important Basilian monastery, whose importance is demonstrated by the words in the hagiographies of Italo-Greek saint monks and by recent studies on the life of St. Philip, attributed to monk Eusebio. Of this monastery with Greek rite there would be no trace, since most likely it was abandoned in the ninth century without any apparent reason, even if it can be recognized in a famine or an unlikely Arab repression.

In 1063, in the territory between Agira and Nicosia, there was a major battle between Arabs and Normans during which the nephew of Count Roger, named Sano, was killed (for this reason the land took his name), while the Count Roger is housed in the Agira’s monastery for a few days. In 1094 the Benedictine monks repopulated the Agira’s convent, which is broadened and enriched by donations of furnishings, income and estates, and it is dedicated to St. Maria Latina.

In the Norman period, several churches were built; among those St. Maria Maggiore and SS. Savior deserve particular mention. The Swabians happen to Norman and, in 1215, they built the church of S. Daisy on the ruins of a Byzantine church dedicated to St. Sofia with a chapel in honor of St. Sebastian.

Charles V, in 1537, awards Agira with the title of city and, after the payment of fifteen "form", with the privilege of «meno e misto impero», while the territory is aggregated to the royal land and it can not be sold or disposed of, nor seized, nor granted in barony. The city also gets the right to hold the gonfalon, which is red with a two fronts eagle while the middle there is, on a blue background, the figure of St. Philip in priestly vestments.

In spite of the imperial privilege in 1625 Philip IV sells Agira to some  Genoese merchants, but the people tax themselves to pay the ransom that allows it to regain their ancient privileges.

The wealth of Spanish Agira age and gender in the XV-XVII centuries is attested by the fact that most of the churches were restored and expanded and assume greater splendour. Among the buildings of worship erected in this period we must remember the churches of St. Anthony of Padua and St. Peter the Apostle. Even the religious life is flourishing due to the presence of various religious orders both male and female. The economic prosperity of the country is evidenced by the presence of a major fair in the period 1-18 May, during the feast of St. Philip, who draws large numbers of strangers from the surrounding areas. During this century, even the cult of St. Philip hires new splendor and in 1599, during the extension work of the church of St. Maria Latina, are found the remains of the saint along with those of other saints.

In the nineteenth century the population size and the wealth of Agira begin to decline for various reasons such as lack of public funds, the exorbitant duties on essential items, the greed of contractors of taxes, depopulation due to migration and the fact that many children start to an ecclesiastical career, lack of roads.

During the Risorgimento also Agira reveals a certain revolutionary spirit through the presence of some Carbonari who bring together at the home of Baron Zuccaro, while the passage of Garibaldi arouses, as elsewhere in Sicily, more momentary enthusiasm than real change.

Between the late nineteenth and early twentieth century the scourge of emigration is becoming wider. In this period it has as goal the two Americas, whose lands seem to promise the possibility of life more prosperous and peaceful.

During World War Agira has many fallen. In the fascist period a monument is erected in Fortunato Fedele square, it is dedicated to young people died in battle in distant lands. During the Second World War, the village risks being bombed as a result of resistance from some Germans who did not want to surrender to the Americans.

If in the past Agira was a big town with a presence of more than twenty thousand inhabitants, today the number of population is significantly decreased around seven thousand units.

Prosciutto crudo di Agira
Prosciutto crudo di Agira

Salsiccia di Agira
Salsiccia di Agira

Bassorilievo San Filippo di Agira
Bassorilievo San Filippo di Agira

Bassorilievo Persefone e Ade
Bassorilievo Persefone e Ade

Capocollo di Agira
Capocollo di Agira


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