November 28, 2021
Lercara Friddi is an Italian town of 6 379 inhabitants in the metropolitan city of Palermo in Sicily.
Lercara Friddi rises almost on the slopes of Colle Madore and its Sican archaeological site, between the Landro valley and the Fiumetorto and Platani valleys. It is located on the Palermo - Agrigento route, at an average height of 670 meters above sea level.
It was founded, as part of the new cities established by the Spanish administration of King Philip to repopulate the abandoned fiefs, with the licentia populandi of 22 September 1595 granted to Baldassarre Gomez de Amezcua who, having married Francesca Lercaro, daughter of Leonello, had in marriage dowry the fiefs Friddi, Friddigrandi and Faverchi, dedicated to the production of wine and wheat.
Leonello Lercaro was a Genoese entrepreneur of Armenian origin who came to Sicily in 1570 in search of better fortune, and thanks to whose initiative the original city nucleus arose. His family was Catholic of the Greek rite, and in this fact the presence in Lercara of the icon of the Madonna of Constantinople found by the eleven-year-old Oliva Baccarella in 1807 is justified: the graffiti effigy bearing the date of 1734 presumably came from a church Lercarese who followed the Lercari rite; lost due to the ruin of said church, it was found outdoors near a nearby stream: popular tradition handed down that event as miraculous, from which the patronal feast and the church of Maria Santissima di Costantinopoli (which preserves the graffiti, painted at the end of the 19th century).
For a long time the major urbanistic evidence of Lercara Friddi were above all places of worship: after the church of San Gregorio d'Armenia, built by Lionello Lercaro between 1573 and 1580 in the area of via dei Martiri, there was the church of the Madonna del Rosario, built by Baldassarre Gomez de Amezcua between 1595 and 1604 in via Pucci; the church of Sant'Anna, built by Francesca Lercaro between 1605 and 1610 in the same street of the same name; and the church of San Gregorio Traumaturgo, initially built by Raffaella Lercaro de Amezcua between 1627 and 1640 and then rebuilt several times until the early nineteenth century, corresponding to the upper part of Corso Giulio Sartorio (all disappeared over time).
The initial development of the town was affected by the severe conditions imposed on the settlers, but found impetus in 1618 with the arrival of Francesco Scammacca Gravina, heir to the Lercaro barony, who, in addition to residing in the nascent center, favored improvements such as new roads, drinks and further churches. In 1708, the barony of Lercara was elevated to the rank of principality.
In the book Della Sicilia Nobile, written in 1754 by Francesco Maria Emanuele Gaetani, "Lercara delli Friddi" is "Baronial land with a mere and mixed Empire (...) inhabited by 1536 souls, so there are 483 houses (...) six churches".
In 1801 the poet Giovanni Meli cites Lercara Friddi (with the toponym of Alcara de 'freddi), in a passage of his Reflections on the present state of the Kingdom of Sicily regarding agriculture and pastoralism: ". villages, attached to their little families, finding themselves weak, and poorly fed, or fall into rafania (terrible disease, described earlier by cel. Linnaeus) which, between weakness and contraction, deprives them of the use of their knees and legs or they do not have the strength to resist the aerial vicissitudes of autumn, or the rigors of winter, hence the frequent epidemics, which depopulate the villages and the countryside; as we have seen in this year that in Alcara de 'freddi alone, between space in a few months there were a thousand missing, half dead and half escaped from misery and debts. And oh the great loss, which is this for the State! ... "
With the Sicilian Constitution of 1812 and the abrogation of feudalism, Lercara Friddi was also given the title of "Free University".