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Giarre, Province of Catania, Sicilia

Located halfway between Catania and Taormina, its territory extends from the sea to the foot of the volcano. Corrently Giarre, Riposto and Mascali are almost contiguous in a populous and lively conurbation in the Ionian-Etna hinterland.

Info

  • Altitude: 81 m a.s.l
  • Population: about 26,000 inhabitants in 2022
  • Zip/postal code: 95014
  • Dialing Area Code: +39 095
  • Demonym: giarresi (giarroti in Sicilian)
  • Patron Saint: Sant'Isidoro Agricola celebrated on 15 May
  • Frazioni: Altarello, Carruba, Macchia, Miscarello, San Giovanni Montebello, San Leonardello, Santa Maria la Strada, Sciara, Trepunti

Demographics - Number of Inhabitants in Census Years

1861: 13265
1871: 13490
1881: 15967
1901: 20075
1911: 15210
1921: 17680
1931: 17939
1936: 18501
1951: 18830
1961: 20259
1971: 23211
1981: 26881
1991: 26853
2001: 26357
2011: 28114
2021: 26685

Genealogy & Links

History

It is believed that in the territory of Giarre in the 7th century BC the Chalcidians founded the city of Kallipolis, later destroyed in 403 BC by Dionysius I. Archaeological excavations place the location of the ancient site between the hamlets of San Giovanni Montebello and Santa Maria la Strada. The tradition says that another Greek settlement, Kalkis, was established by some former inhabitants of Kallipolis who escaped Dionysius' destruction, and later a Roman settlement known as Bidium - which is disputed however also by the neighboring municipality of Mascali. Discoveries of clay materials and Greek and Roman coins have also been reported over time in the center of Giarre.

The etymology of Giarre would likely be connected to the "giare", terracotta containers, for some as yet unidentified reason. The current town rose in the 16th century as a village within the County of Mascali and and was populated mainly by settlers from Acireale and Messina, and grew greatly following the Val di Noto earthquake in 1693, which cause a Roman consular road with all its traffic between Catania and Messina to be moved nearer to Giarre.

In 1815, with a royal decree of Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies, the town obtained autonomy from Mascali and included the villages of Riposto, Torre Archirafi, Macchia, San Giovanni Montebello, Dagala del Re, Sant'Alfio, Milo and other smaller places, some of which later also became autonomous administrative entities.

During fascism, in 1939 Giarre was merged with nearby Riposto first under the name of Giarre-Riposto and then, in 1942, as "Jonia". The two municipalities were restored in 1945.

What to see

  • The church of Sant'Isidoro, a neoclassical building, with a façade entirely in white Comiso stone, in Piazza del Duomo.
  • Oratory of San Filippo Neri, an example of baroque architecture in the province of Catania, built in the second half of the 18th century after the settlement in the city in 1762 of a congregation of Philippian Fathers, who dedicated mainly to the education of the youth. Inside, some aintings of artistic interest including the Virgin of Purity, to whom the church is dedicated, and a Saint Isidore in prayer.
  • Sanctuary of Santa Maria la Strada, in the hamlet of the same name, the oldest church in the municipality, dating back to 1081. According to legend, it was built by the Norman Count Roger I of Sicily, for having escaped an ambush set by the Saracens as a sign of thanks to the Virgin Odigitria - the Hodegetria is one of the three icons painted by the third evangelist when the Virgin was still alive, and later brought by Eudosia, wife of the emperor Theodosius the Younger, from the Holy Land to Constantinople. This image was considered the 'conductor, guide of the way' of the city and of the entire Eastern Empire.
  • The church of Calvario, where the statues of Our Lady of Sorrows and the dead Christ were preserved and traditionally carried during a solemn procession into the city's cathedral on Good Friday. In 1871 the church was dedicated to Saint Camillus de Lellis, protector of the sick, and in 1935 the Camillian order established their headquarters here.
  • At the northern entrance of Giarre, in Santa Maria la Strada, the Pozzo (well) of Roger I, dating back to the year 1081 adjacent to the sanctuary.
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