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map There were older Sicanian settlements nearby, and Sciacca's thermal springs were known to the Greeks of Selinunte, but it was under the Romans that the town reached its greatest level of development during the ancient era. Diocletian made it a focal point of the imperial courier service for the province of Sicily.

The early Middle Ages ushered in a period of slow decline as the town fell prey to Gothic invasions. Sciacca's population fell during the Byzantine era.

It was during the Arab-Berber occupation of the ninth century that Sciacca grew and prospered as it never had, emerging as an important port for trade. Sciacca became the principal Sicilian port for the export of Sicilian grain to North Africa. Indeed, on a clear day, you can see what seems to be the African coast from high ground around Sciacca, whose very name is of Arabic derivation --possibly from a phrase meaning "seaside cliffs." or "rocky heights."

Under the Normans, Sciacca's feudal rights were assigned by Roger I to his daughter, Juliet. She had Christian churches and monasteries founded alongside mosques. In the fifteenth century bloody feuds broke out between rival families The Luna family figured prominently in this unrest. Their castle was erected in 1380.

Sciacca's cathedral was built in the twelfth century by the Normans and later modified.

For Visitors: The town, located west of Agrigento, has has several interesting churches. Its ceramic art is interesting. The annual carnevale (mardi gras) is very popular. There are nice beaches (the San Marco and Contrada Sobareto) nearby, and the thermal and mud baths are among the best of their kind in the Mediterranean. As you would expect of a fishing port, the seafood is exceptional.

Last revision April 2008.

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