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The old Vucciria Square and the house on the rock

More than in books, the history of Gratteri lies in its streets, alleys and squares. This is the case of the square of Vicolo Notari, once the street of the “Bucciria Vecchia” or the ancient market, the beating heart of the commercial activities of the medieval village. Its name derives from the French etymon “bucherie”, which notoriously distinguishes the place where the meat is slaughtered and sold.

According to the 16th century archival documents – the Revelations of Goods and Souls that are preserved at the State Archives of Palermo – it would seem that it is located in the district of la Scala, on the edge of a vineyard. With reference to these data, it is possible to locate this district as the widening of Via Notari with Via Pergola, where is a square and an alley connecting Via Roma (formerly Via Maestra) to Via Carlo Alberto (formerly Via della Santa). The”strata” or wrinkle of the Bucciria Vecchia was the area of the ancient market attested in Riveli until 1748:

Antonino Bellomo is 63 years old and the head of the household, Primavera is his wife, Johanello his son and he is 23 years old, Jacobo is his other son and is 18 years old, Catrinella his daughter reveals an house located in this land in the street of the “old vucciria”, adjacent to the house of Catrinj Schimmenti (Archive of State-Palermo, Riveli Tribunal Real Patrimonio, V. 1166, year 1584).

Bella di Polizzi is the household, Giulio Polizzi, her son, is 25 years old and reveals an house in the wrinkle of the old bucchiria, which is adjacent to the house of Dominico Intolisano and to the house of Giacobo di Bartholomeo (Archive of State- Palermo, Riveli Tribunal Real Patrimonio, V. 1166, year 1584).

Salvatori Gianlombardo has a house in the district of the Scala and in the district of the old bucciria, which is adjacent to the house of Vin zo Rustici and to the house of Agata d’Antoni (Archive of State-Palermo, Riveli Tribunale Real Patrimonio, V. 1172, f. 341, year 1636).

Through he centuries the neighborhood maintained this commercial vocation until the vitality of the “Vucciria” disappeared with the recognition of a new district in a new area of the town, across the river.

In a small space, in the midst of colourful stalls full of all kinds of merchandise, sellers and buyers probably flocked in an explosion of colours, sounds and smells that characterised the frenzy of a small medieval village. The sellers’voices (which were very oriental) and the incessant hustle and bustle of the people created that magic and unmistakable atmosphere.

Nowadays, an old house built on top of a majestic rock doesn’t go unnoticed in this square, making us imagine what the medieval architecture of the historic centre must have looked like before the progressive modernisation of streets and houses, which are now in a state of desertion,  due to gradual depopulation,.

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