The Spanish governed Sicily from 1479 until 1713, and certainly not well. Queen Isabella of Castile starts the Inquisition as a domestic policy to secure control. After her husband Ferdinand becomes king of Aragon, she exports the inquisition to the entire kingdom.”In 1492 the Jews are expelled from Spain; and on June 18 of the same year the order of expulsion also arrives in Sicily and Sardinia. Was a very dark period for Sicily as in the entire catholic countries. Using the religion as an excuse the Spaniards got rid of political opponents expropriating vast estates, torturing and killing anybody was against them.
After a long restoration, completed in 2006, at “Palazzo Chiaromonte Steri” is possible to observe all signs of these terrible years of darkness left by prisoners, written sometimes with their own blood on the walls.”Il Trionfo della Morte“ “The Triumph of Death” is one of the most impressive painting exhibited, according to some expert inspired Pablo Picasso, when visiting Palermo, in the making of the famous “Guerninca”.
However, they do deserve the credit for reinvigorating the cultivation of vineyards and the production of wines all over the island. The resulting wine was strong, full-bodied, and minimally refined, but it filled the barrels of the most important of the numerous taverns that were cropping up in the cities during that era, including the city of Palermo.
Artists, along with patrons of every type, frequented these rowdy and promiscuous locales,”taverne“, and very often, as happened in many other European cities, such as London, Paris, and Naples, drew inspiration for their works from them: imagine the places described by A. Dumas in “Les Miserables”, for instance.
Several poets, in Sicilian and Italian language, praised and gushed over Sicilian wines, describing, among other things, their production processes from the grapevine to the cellar. To quote one of them, the great historian and Sicilian scholar, Domenico Scinà (Palermo, 1765-1837), wrote: “…Several species of our grapes can be called subtle”, as did Cupani (another Sicilian poet), “and the vine, trimmed well, was cultivated by us”.
But the wine is not drawn with the diligence it might be. Every sort of grape is mixed together, mature with immature, and is allowed to ferment arbitrarily, at the will of the ignorant farmer.
Yet our wine is rich and robust, and makes famous the workers of Bagaria and Abbate” (Bagheria e Villabate).
Another famous Sicilian poet, Giovanni Meli (1740-1815), dedicated much of his writing to Sicilian wine and its virtues. Among these writings, we will cite:
Lodi ai vini Siciliani di Giovanni Meli
(Ode to Sicilian Wines, by Giovanni Meli)
“ This will be a delight
Restoration of mortals
Remedy for sadness
Balsam for ills
It will bring balance,
In spite of destiny,
Among the rich and the poor
Among the greats and the commoners…”
“ Live live at full steam Moscato
of Catania or Syracuse… for wine you’ll drink Resalaimi…”
“…Live the garnish of the Ficarazzi
for we who drink bubbling wines”
“…Oh Castelvetrano, my love?
Oh Carini, Carini, oh what wine
That entraps my heart with sweetness…
Oh Alcamo, Oh Ciaculli! Oh Bagheria
Recipes for true contentment…”
In the second half of the 1700s, during the Bourbon Dynasty, wine cultivation was experiencing a full resurgence in Sicily.
Many wines were beginning to come into their own, reaching northern Italy as well as several foreign countries and the largest wine-producing cities, where, by that time, they boasted international quality, which: Alcamo, Avola, Castellamare, Castelvetrano, Marsala, Mascali, Vittoria.
It was in that same period that several large proprietors of vineyards, such as Salaparuta, Ganci, and Mortillaro, began to produce more refined wines, according to the French model. One of the largest producers of Sicilian wine, Giuseppe Alliata Moncada Colonna, Prince of Villafranca and Duke of Salaparuta, was also convinced by this method. Don Giuseppe, who possessed a vast expanse of vineyards
at Carini, Terrasini, Bagheria and Casteldaccia, oversaw his vineyards personally, and according to the particular manner of the Corvo di Bagheria district. Reserved for his family, as well as a few more illustrious guests, he bottled the first bottles of Corvo (beginning in 1800), creating the famous reserve known around the world.