Hiking to Castello Santa Caterina on Favignana Island

Castelo di Santa Caterina - on Favignana Island Sicily - the terrace at the top

Castello Santa Caterina on Favignana Island today stands as a historic castle, or more of an abandoned fortress in somewhat of a deteriorating state.  Originally built as a Saracen Watchtower (an Arab or Muslim, especially at the time of the Crusades) around 500 or 600 it was enlarged into a castle at a date suspected around the eleventh century.  It’s dungeon once housed political prisoners.  Walking through the Castello Santa Caterina is like stepping back into a war-torn abounded structure.  The debris filled rooms have molding stucco falling to the ground, rusted generators, iron post beds, Military barrels, ceramic toilets and baths.  On top of the fortress, we saw a rusted old satellite blown over that looked like the wind had beaten it badly.

If you have an adventurous bone in your body, I highly recommend hiking to the top!  Walking through the castle is like stepping back in time.  The view from the top is absolutely stunning!  From the top of Castello Santa Caterina you see a 100% panoramic view of the island of Favignana.  Looking down at the boats arriving into the port, the amazing azure colors of the sea jumping out at you.  Not too mention the 800 calories or so you will burn on your journey!  It’s a beautiful place that is drenched in history.

Castelo di Santa Caterina - Favignana Sicily view from the top

Castelo di Santa Caterina – Favignana Sicily view from the top

Getting There:

A steep Hike up 1030 Ft (314 metres) to Castello Santa Caterina, ( Castle of Saint Catherine in English) on Favignana Island takes about an hour plus depending if you find the path the first time up!  Be prepared because it is a steep hike up and it gets warm in the summer with no foliage or trees to offer protection from the sun!  But then again bring a sweater because the wind at the top will blow you away!  Take special note to look closely for the path up at about mid-way, keep looking back or else you will miss the stone path.  If you are feeling half-adventurous, you can drive a scooter up to where the stone path begins, but from there its only walking because of the steps along the path.  I didn’t think we were going to arrive to the top because of the heat and the steep; but after only an hour and really not that tough of a hike, we arrived to the top and were mesmerized by the view from the top of Castello Santa Caterina.  Its a feeling of achievement, of really being on top if the world.

Castelo di Santa Caterina - Favignana Sicily old baths from the military base

Castelo di Santa Caterina – Favignana Sicily old baths from the military base

Il castello di Favignana, già in rovina al tempo di Fazello, e stato radicalmente trasformato dalla costruzione del forte diSanta Caterina tra il XVI e il XVII secolo.
Impossibile, in assenza di uno studio completo, ricostruire 1’aspetto del fortilizio medievale: non si puo escludere che esso fosse soltanto una grande torre.
La cronologia delle principal! fasi storico-costruttive, non è precisabile.
Notizie storiche:
1185 – Favignana e chiamata in arabo gazirt al-rahab (L’isola del romito’), “cosi detta da un romito dimorante su la sommita, in una specie di castello che v’ha” – Ibn Giubayr, in Amari 1880-81,1, p. 167- si tratta sicuramente di una leggenda, gia riportata da un autore arabo del IX secolo (cfr. Maurici 1992, p. 296; Maurici c. s.).
1272 – tonnara – I Registri, IX, p. 43.
1274 – castello demaniale: castrum Favinnane per castellanum Palmerium Abbatem – Sthamer 1914, p. 140.
1281 – castello demaniale: castrum Favognane custoditur per castellanum militem ad expensas suas – Sthamer 1914, p. 156.
1355 (ante) – Riccardus Abbate e castellano di Favignana – Cosentino 1886, p. 126.
1355 ca. – l’insula Famignane cum castro e annoverata nella lista di terre e castelli feudali – Librino 1928, p. 209.
1356 – Nicolo Abbate è castellano di Favignana – Cosentino 1886, pp. 149-150, doc. CLXXIII.
1398 – Favignana appartiene al demanio reale – SMDS, III, p. 224.
1409 – castrum con castellano e quattro serventi – ACA, Real Patrimonio, Maestro Racional 2506 (Maurici 1992, p. 296).
1556 – castello in rovina – Fazello 1817, I, I, I, p. 20.
1578 – “nel piu alto e un castello antico però di buona fabbrica” – Spannocchi, c. 118.http://www.castelli-sicilia.com

We hiked up in a group of four.  The first in our group was all about the exercise, so he climbed up at a fast pace.  The second in our group kept finding shortcuts through the brush instead of following the switchbacks of the path.  I followed the Shortcut leader!  We hiked through sticker bushes and climbed a bit, but nothing too dangerous.  The ShortCut Group arrived to the top of the castle within an hour. The exercise fiend completely missed the path up to the Castello Santa Caterina and hiked to the top of the nearby mountain top.  OOOOps!  He had to climb back down the wrong mountain, and then hike back up to the Castle.  He took an hour and a half walking very briskly.  There was also another couple who did the same thing.  There are no signs that tell you to take this path to arrive to the Castle, so just take the first path up about mid-way to the castle. Mental Note ~ Don’t miss the path!

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