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Di Pilo Lace and its craters

A true experience among the clouds, to touch the sky with a finger and dominate the Tyrrhenian coast from above. This is the stunning view that you will enjoy from the top of Pizzo di Pilo, at 1385 meters above sea level. A dome-shaped relief, where in the past the kite (nigliazzu) and the vultures (vitùra) nested, Pizzo di Pilo has always aroused the imagination of the villagers who considered it as a good giant but to be feared of like as if it was a god who protects the wonderful landscape from above.

Moreover, at the feet of the naked mountain, a prosperous valley with crystal clear streams and a lush fauna of deers, fallow deers, roe deers and sheeps that – as written by Passafiume – had golden teeth. The Abbot of Cefalù in the seventeenth century – quoting Ptolemy – still named that mountain “Craton“, probably before a terrible fire destroyed the dense woods, making it arid and stony.

For this reason it was renamed Mount Pilato – from the sic. pelato, ‘shaved’ or ‘without trees‘ – then passed, around 1700, in Pizzo di Pilo. In fact, the woods of Gratteri were already used, with serious damage, from the beginning of the fifteenth century, for the provision of wood for cooking reeds in the towns of Brucato, Roccella and Trabia (Di Francesca P., Gratteri, Palermo 2000, p.19).

The rocky reliefs of calcareous nature, which make it head, are characterized by rocks and cliffs strongly marked by karst phenomena that have given rise both to epigean forms (polje, sinkholes, swallow holes) and hypogean (Ciacca abyss, Puraccia well, Panni cave, Cula cave, Fonda cave, Stefàna cave, Grattàra cave), relevant from the geological and speleological point of view (Di Francesca P., Gratteri, Palermo 2000 p. 11).

Also the wells have great importance, made by craters of volcanoes extinguished over the millennia as suggested by the historian Scelsi (Scelsi 1981, p. 31). In this area there are in fact abyssal chasms – the Puraccia Well, the Ciacca Abyss and the Panni Cave – but also sinkholes with labyrinthine entrance and spectacular fragments of phreatic fossil pipelines bared by erosion (Grotta Grattara).

Caves and Craters

Ciacca (abyss)

(IGM 259 II N.E.) çiacca, sciacca ‘slit, fissure’. Item associated in ESR I 203 to ciaccare ‘split, smash’, taken from the other scholars, but not in agreement, from the latin flaccus, ‘fiacco‘. Pellegrini 273 prefers for ciacca, sciaccal’etimo ar. saqqah ‘slit‘, from which it draws our toponym, both ‘a Sciacca, in various places of which it declares erroneous the origin from ar. sahah ‘pine’ and equally unfounded is the origin from ar. sciàq ‘high, elevated’ proposed in Trovato 123 for Sciacca, alpine locality in the territory of Gratteri (Caracausi II, p. 1487). Indicated as a vertical crater and deep 110 meters called çiacca abyss.

Cula (cave)

Prob. from Kala ‘rockslide‘, voice of the substratum (Caracausi I, p. 238); also from Culià ar. qulay ah dim. qual’ah ‘culla’ or ar. qullah ‘top of a hill or mountain’ from which Kala ‘fortress’ (Caracausi I, p. 481). District attested in the former feud of San Giorgio and cave placed between the crest peaks of the Gattarelle where there is a source of frozen water.

Isabella and Antonina Climenti, sisters of this land of Gratteri, reveal other olive trees in this territory in the feud of Sto Giorgio and qta of the Cula near the olive trees of Vispisiano Culotta and the olive trees of the Venle Capa of the Blessed Sacrament (State Archivies-Palermo, Deputazione del Regno, Riveli 2945, f. 88, year 1748). The Venle Church of S. Giacomo has six feet of olive trees in the feud of S. Giorgio qta della Cula near the river of Rindinella and the lands of the above mentioned feud (State Archivies-Palermo, Deputazione del Regno, Riveli 2945, f. 117, year 1748).

Dì pilo (mountain)

It is an independent relief 1385 meters high, gravitating towards the northeastern area of the Madonie. It slopes northeast towards the reliefs of Purato (Prato) and Puraccia (Praci) with the peaks of Pizzo Punti (m.1387) and Macabubbo mount (m.1204). The mountain with the typical conformation of a volcano is mainly naked and consists of bristling and grayish rocks of calcareous and dolomitic nature.

It shows visible traces of karst phenomena, whose best known examples are the Panni cave at an altitude of 1190 meters and the Appesa cave on the terrace ground at an altitude of 900 meters. The toponym could be incorrect in its cartographic transposition, it would be clear in the mouth of the speakers, who would not pronounce Dìpilo as in the official cartography but split (and with advanced accentation) in ‘Pizzo di Pilo‘, explaining that its top, because during the winter season is always covered by a white blanket of snow, similar to the hair of the sheep fleece.

The local historian Isidoro Scelsi, however, provides us with a further explanation, which would seem to be the most accurated, taking the name of the mountain – commonly called ‘Pizzo di Pilo’ – back to its actual meaning, that is Mount Pilate, after that in 1600, a terrible fire destroyed its wonderful woods, rich in game, of which the whole mountain was covered.

Fonda (cave)

(IGM 260 IV N.O.) already valley Rottafonda from it. cave ‘fond’ or ‘deep route’ from it. rótta ‘break, breach and open of the banks’ (Caracausi II, p.1387). is located a short distance from Grattara Cave, placed in the same massif of Purato, whose meanders and underground paths run several kilometers until you reach near Collesano.

Grattara (cave)

Prob. from ancient greek kràter ‘cup, mug’ in the geomorphic meaning of ‘hollow, basin‘ (Caracausi I, p. 754). Passafiume makes go up the toponym “cratos” (Passafiume, p. 53) from the natural stone crater located in the cave, in the inner part of which there is a column (16 feet high and about 10 wide), and at the top of it there is a crater-shaped hollow produced by a perennial dripping of water that fills it (Ibidem). Natural cavity of karstic origin that dominates the village of Gratteri, some historians suggest that the same etymology of the village derives from this Cave.

Macabubbo (mountain and well)

(IGM 260 IV N.O.) From ar. mahbub ‘beloved’ participle of habba (Wehr 179, Caracausi II, p. 895); also from sic. macabubbi ‘pit with water that boils and scrambles’ from ar. maqlub, passive participle of qalaba ‘voltare’ (Caracausi II, p. 895) and from macabuba ‘natural emanation of methane and salty mud in Sicily’ (DEI). Mountain top and deep natural cavity with vertical course, identifiable in the territory of Purace (1166 m).

Nasca (valley)

From sic. nasca ‘nose, nostril’ (Caracausi II, p. 1098). It opens the northern direction of M.Puraccia, between the rock Stefàna to the north and the rock Giampietra to the west, dominating the districts of Malagirati, Utturo, Giardino Grande and Suro. Also indicated as the Berillo valley.

Panni (cave)

(IGM 260 IV N. O.) From the pl. of Cloth or cloth (Caracausi II, p. 1159) The Panni of altitude 1190 m., placed in the western flank of Pizzo di Pilo and that sinks into the subsoil, hardly exportable.

Puraci/Puraccia (mountain and well)

(IGM 260 IV N.O.) pl. of Placa from. medieval greek ‘smooth and flat rock’ (Caracausi II, p. 1253); from the resolution N. 156 of 31.07.1911 also vicinal road, via Purace (1.000 m.). Crestiera of the mountains of the rocky massif that, from the mount Pizzo Dipilo, arrive to the territory of Galefina in the territory of Isnello. Also an abyss of about 50 meters (not completely explored) that opens like an immense chasm in the Prace plateau. The vertical walls of the Puraccia well host the most spectacular Madonite population of Asplenium scolopendrium, the “cervine tongue”, a very elegant fern that needs a cool and humid climate for most of the year, climatic conditions that in Sicily relegate the species to a few shady and humid valleys and some karst cavities entrances.

Rossa (cave)
Located in the district of Nasca valley, in the mountainous massif of Purace, to which you enter from a narrow path and which offers beautiful and vast halls full of stalactites and red stalagmites.
Stèfana (cave and rock)

(IGM 260 IV N.O) from m. Stèfano (Caracausi II, p. 1580). Prob. italianisation of the ancient personal name f. Tifana, as found in the archival documents. Contrada attested in the territory of Malagirati.Antonino di Brocato keeps a lock of mounds six of vacant lands and no. 6 olive trees in this territory in the Communi qta of Rocca Tifana (State Archives-Palermo, Deputazione del Regno, Riveli 2944, f. 303, year 1748).

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