Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Corleone is a small town of approximately 12,000 inhabitants in the province of Palermo in Sicily, Italy. It is mostly known as the birthplace of Mafia boss Salvatore Riina and his bloodthirsty faction. Even though the name of the city means "Lionheart", mafia has had a stranglehold on the local community for decades, and only recently segments of the population have found the courage to rebel.
Carefully developed, encircled by cliffs that constitute a geologic unicum that time has modeled in shape of fortifications and towers, Corleone never ends to astonish with its charming landscape dominated from the "Twin Rocks."
The natural scene, made even more evocative by deep gorges and resting falls, counteracts with the city where the bundled houses, the warp of court-yards, alleys and narrow lanes lapping noble churches, convents, palaces and humble houses, and the civic museum center propel the local culture.
Religious life affected the history of Corleone, "City of One Hundred Churches", much more than the civil events. The statues, the paintings, the precious architectures, traditional "cursa ri Santu Luca" (San Luca race), are the symbol of the thin wire that always combined here love for art, feeling, faith and legend.
Maze of stones, faces, emotions, Corleone today watches to its splendid and once glorious past in order to construct its future.
The city was once dominated by the Arabs, who brought about a remarkable economic and political growth, and then the Normans.
Still present is a lookout tower built between the 11th and 12th century known as Saracena. The vista offers the opportunity to admire the Cascata delle Due Rocche, a sheer drop along the course of the Corleone river.
At one time the City was surrounded by defensive walls that connected the Castello Soprano and Castello Sottano. The Castello Sottano is better preserved than the Soprano’s but it cannot be visited since it serves as a Franciscan hermitage.
Corleone was known as "Courageous Civitas" from its position on the front line in all wars fought in Sicily. Midpoint between Palermo and Agrigento, the city controlled one of the main arteries and was, therefore, one of the most strategic locations of the island.
It became a royal property around the end of the 14th century and later passed into the feudal holdings of Federico Ventimiglia.
A remarkable demographic growth is reported in the 15th and 16th centuries following the coming in town of several religious orders.
The "Chiesa Madre" (Mother Church) dedicated to St. Martin Bishop was initiated in the late 1300’s. Its present look is the result of numerous changes and refurbishments. Its interior has nave and aisles divided into various chapels containing precious pieces such as a 1600’s wooden statue representing San Filippo d’Agira, a 1500’s statue representing San Biagio and a fine 1500’s marble panel depicting the Baptism of Christ.
The church dedicated to the Basilian abbot and patron saint San Leoluca, the 1700’s Chiesa dell’Addolorata, the 1600’s Chiesa di Santa Rosalia and the small Sant’Andrea’s, all with engaging fresoces and paintings, are also worth-visiting. A final mention must go to the Santuario della Madonna del Rosario di Tagliavia, a religious building from the 19th century, now destination of pilgrims on Ascension’s Day.
In the city surroundings are sites of naturalistic interest. The Bosco della Ficuzza is one of the richest and charmest woods in all Sicily. King Ferdinand of Bourbon himself in the late 16th century made Ficuzza his hunting lodge. It has The vegetation is highly varied comprising oaks, ashes, cork-oaks, maples; it is home to an as much as rich wildlife including small mammals, countless species of birds and wild-boars. Some buildings, among which is the Palazzina Reale, also lie amidst the wood.
In modern times, starting from the 1960s, the town became famous (or perhaps infamous) for its Mafia, being the town in which some familiar clans had their basis and are named Clan dei Corleonesi. One of the known mafiosi is Toto Riina.
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