An ancient monastery, between the Simeto river and Mount Etna, rich in history and charm
Welcome to our home, the place we hope will lead you to discover the essence of Sicily
During the Roman domination, along the course of the Simeto river, from Maniace to Catania, several bridges were built to join the two banks of the river for the passage of soldiers and caravans of pack animals laden with grain.
During the barbarian dominations, they were almost entirely destroyed due to lack of maintenance.
Given the torrential regime of the Simeto, in periods of low water it was easy to identify fords or passes, but in periods of flood either one did not cross or one risked being carried away by the current. With the flourishing of agriculture and commerce in the Arab age, they began to use rafts or boats called “giarrette” which were placed at the mouth of the most popular trazzere on both sides of the river to allow the ferrying of people, animals and goods . These were secured to the two banks of the river by large hawsers called “libani” which served as a guide and as a foothold through the eddies of the current.
On the eastern bank of the river, there was a kind of slipway with a large haystack where the boatmen and tools were kept: logs, planks, ropes and pitch for the boats. These were owned by the sovereign or noble who had received them with the feud; they were managed in gabelle for periods ranging from 3 to 6 years. The gabellato corresponded to the feudal lord or one of his vassals an annual fee in money or provisions and in turn claimed against the ferrymen, collecting particular “iura” or rights of way from massari, shepherds, etc.
The best known giarrette were three: that of Adornò or Mandarano, that of Paternò or della Poira and that of Catania not far from the mouth of the Simeto.
Of the Giarretta of Adernò we have news from letters from Count Francesco Moncada dated 27-08-1564. In this contract it is stated that, by disposition of the count, the proceeds of the boat were to be received annually by the prosecutors of the Mother Church to spend them on the purchase of wax, oil, etc. From 1564 to 1636, the Matrix excised the boat, receiving an annual fee of 10 onze from the excisemen who demanded the following rights for their services: from the bourgeois who made farms, four mounds of wheat per day of ploughing; from the shepherds a cantharo of cheese for iazzo as well as kids, ciavarelli and ricotta.
This heavy burden weighed on for many years and complaints were often raised by farmers and shepherds who did not intend to pay such heavy fees. In turn, the prosecutors of the Matrix complained about the thinness of the fruits of the boat which yielded less than what was needed for repairs, therefore they granted with an act dated 05/27/1718 to a baron the right to hold on his behalf the boat in the river in the same way in which the Matrice had kept it for centuries and all for an annual fee of 10 ounces to pay which, the baron placed a mortgage on all his assets. The repairs and reconstruction of the boat in the event of a shipwreck were all the responsibility of the concessionaire.
Tenuta Giarretta was also a point of reference for the neighboring farms, so much so that inside it was present, and still is, as evidenced by the stoup still present in a room, a chapel where religious rites were from those monks who lived inside the “monastery”, where on the upper floors they slept in cells of which we have kept the dimensions unchanged and in one in particular also the original floor of the time, on the outside it is still visible and in its original state the well from which they drew water for daily life and the lava stone wash house. During the hot days of August mixed with the scents of the Sicilian countryside, it still seems to feel the smell of incense spreading in the air from the combustion of tiny simetite beans burned in religious silence by the monks before celebrating the holy mass.