LogoLogo

Mascalucia, Province of Catania, Sicilia

Located in the southern part of the Etna volcano in the Catania hinterland, until the early 1970s was a small agricultural and holiday centre, then a huge demographic expansion took place because of migratory flows from Catania.

Info

  • Altitude: 420 m a.s.l
  • Population: about 31,000 inhabitants
  • Zip/postal code: 95030
  • Dialing Area Code: +39 095
  • Patron Saint: san Vito, celebrated on 15 June
  • Demonym: mascaluciesi or mascalucioti

Genealogy research

Demographics - Number of Inhabitants in Census Years

1861: 3293
1871: 3107
1881: 3230
1901: 3569
1911: 3308
1921: 3426
1931: 3006
1936: 3058
1951: 3176
1961: 3580
1971: 4446
1981: 10547
1991: 19286
2001: 24483
2011: 29984
2023: 31894

Etymology

There are various theories on the origin of the toponym. One derives it from Massalargia, which literally means "gift village" in Latin, and would refer to donations made between 304 and 335 AD. by Emperor Constantine to Pope Sylvester I. In the 15th century historian Lorenzo Valla denied the donations made by Constantine to the Holy See, and later the historian Matteo Gaudioso advanced the theory of a derivation from "Maniscalchia", royal areas intended for breeding and shoeing horses.

Documents dating back to the 16th century mentioned Mascalucia as "Terra di Santa Lucia" or "Masca di Santa Lucia". Historian Santi Correnti, in his "Donne di Sicilia" believes that the origin of the toponym is linked to the figure of Santa Lucia, and that it derives from "Masseria di Santa Lucia".

History

According to tradition, the town was founded in the 8th century BC as a village of the Ombri, a population of presumed Celtic origin, that arrived in Sicily with the Sicels and the Pelasgians. The site of the original village would correspond to today's Ombra district, which was a municipality under the Romans. Ombria was later abandoned by its inhabitants, who moved further south and founded a new village in one of the "massae", or farmhouses, near Catania, donated in 324 by the Emperor Constantine to the Holy See. Recent archaeological reconnaissance carried out in the area revealed several Roman settlements in the Trinità, San Rocco, Cisternazza, Crocifisso and Soccorso districts. A settlement in the Mompilieri district was buried by a lava flow in 1669, though most of the Roman hamlets survived until the early Middle Ages.

In the 8th century, under the Byzantines, Mascalucia was incorporated into the Empire, and under the Saracen domination of Sicily it was administratively included in Val Demone. After the expulsion of the Arabs from the island by the Normans, in 1088, under the Grand Count Roger, the Diocese of Catania was restored with all the hamlets close to Etna, including Mascalucia. In 1169 Mascalucia was hit by a very violent earthquake that destroyed Catania and the surrounding villages. After 1239 it came under the civil and judicial administration of Catania, which lasted until 1640.

In a census of 1602 Mascalucia had around 1,150 inhabitants; in the Spanish era it was sold at auction and in 1645 purchased by banker Giovanni Andrea Massa. It subsequently passed under the feudal dominion of Niccolò Placido Branciforte, prince of Leonforte, who received the investiture of Duke of Santa Lucia.

In the 17th century the town was hit by two catastrophic events: the eruption of Etna in 1669, which led to the flight of many of its inhabitants towards Catania and other centers such as Francofonte and Militello; and the Val di Noto earthquake of 1693. A part of the Mascalucia refugees settled definitively in Catania in the area made available to them by the city, and together with other refugees from Misterbianco they gave rise to the Borgo district of Catania.

With the abolition of feudalism in the Kingdom of Sicily the Duchy of Santa Lucia was suppressed in 1812. In the 1817 census Mascalucia had 2,506 inhabitants, mainly farmers; on February 20, 1818, another earthquake caused huge damages and several casualties. In 1819 Mascalucia became a municipality and head of a district which included Gravina, Massannunziata, Pedara, Trecastagni, Tremestieri and Zafferana.

The population actively participated in the anti-Bourbon revolutions in Sicily of 1848-49, bloodily repressed, and of 1860, led by Baron Gaspare Rapisardi, the lawyer Vito Scalia and the brothers Matteo and Santi Consoli. In the period between the two world wars, Mascalucia was a quiet provincial town, populated by just over three thousand people. During the Second World War, the bombings of the Anglo-American air force devastated Catania, and this pushed many of its inhabitants to find refuge in Mascalucia.

On 3 August 1943, one of the first insurrections against the German soldiers of the Wehrmacht in Italy occurred in Mascalucia; the anti-German armed revolt by the people of Mascalucia was triggered by the murder of Giovanni Amato, 81 years old, an armorer from Catania displaced in the town, who opposed the theft of his horses by three Germans, and the murder of an Italian soldier, Francesco Wagner, 22 years old from Mantua, who had opposed the theft of his comrade's motorbike by a German. The Amato family provided weapons to many citizens of Mascalucia, and their revolt against the German garrison was organized by Onofrio Catania. Finally on 7 August British troops entered Mascalucia.

Until the first half of the 20th century, Mascalucia maintained its characteristics of a small agricultural centre, but subsequently was affected by a radical process of transformation with the construction of several residential complexes on agricultural land, the creation of new roads and new neighborhoods.

ItalyHeritage on Facebook
Family History
Genealogy ResearchNeed help in your research?
Contact us with details and priorities.
Provinces of Sicily
Sicilia region
Surnames in the Provinces of Sicily
Top