Encyclopedia of Southern Italy – S

Sgraffito: a decorative technique in which a layer of plaster is scratched to form a pattern or design. It became very popular in Italy during the 16th Century.

Shakka: Arabic name for the Sicilian city of Sciacca.

Siano (SA): A commune in the province of Salerno.

Sican (Sikan): Ancient ethnic group in central Sicily.

Sicania: an ancient name for Sicily, derived from that of the Sicans.

Sicels (Sikels, Siculi): Ancient ethnic group in eastern Sicily, after whom Sicily is named. They are believed to have crossed into Sicily several centures after the Sicans. Some researchers connect them with the Shakalsha or Sheklesh, a people who had emigrated from ancient Anatolia, perhaps Phrygia, and who numbered amomg the Sea-Peoples.

Sicignano degli Alburni (SA): A commune in the province of Salerno.

Sicilia Citeriore: “Sicily on this side.” A name used for the kingdom of Naples, i.e. the mainland portion of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies.

Sicilia Ulteriore: “Sicily on the other side.” A name used for the kingdom of Sicily, i.e. the insular portion of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies.

Sicilian: A dialect group centered on the island of Sicily. Also known as Calabro-Sicilian, it had 4,680,715 speakers in 1976.Classification: Indo-European, Italic, Romance, Italo-Western, Italo-Dalmatian. Dialects: Western Sicilian (Palermo, Trapani, Central-Western Agrigentino), Central Metafonetica, Southeast Metafonetica, Eastern Nonmetafonetica, Messinese, Isole Eolie, Pantesco, Southern Calabro. It is distinct enough from Standard Italian to be considered a separate language. Pugliese and Southern Calabrese are reported to be dialects of Sicilian. Some linguists would prefer that it be classified as Southern Romance instead of Italo-Western.

Sicilian foot of Archimedes: A unit of length measurement used in ancient Greek Sicily. It was the equivalent of 0.73 of an English foot.

Sicilian Vespers: The name given the rebellion staged by the Sicilians against the Angevin French domination of Sicily; the rebellion broke out at Palermo at the start of Vespers on Easter Monday, Mar. 30, 1282. The revolt quickly spread over the island; nearly all the French in Sicily were massacred. Although basically a move for Sicilian independence, the insurrection was instigated as part of a widespread conspiracy against the Angevin ruler of Naples and Sicily, King Charles I, who dreamed of establishing an Angevin empire in the East. Byzantine Emperor Michael VIII financed the plot, hoping to preoccupy Charles and thus avert the Angevin’s imminent invasion of the Byzantine Empire. John of Procida, a loyal supporter of the Hohenstaufen, and King Peter III of Aragon, who claimed rule of the island as the husband of Constance, heiress of the Hohenstaufen claim there, also joined the intrigue. Peter accepted the throne offered by the Sicilians, and a 20-year war for possession of Sicily followed between the Angevin kings of Naples and the Aragonese kings of Sicily. The uprising secured Sicilian independence for more than a century, with the house of Aragon keeping Sicily and the Angevin dynasty holding the S Italian mainland kingdom of Naples. The two territories were finally reunited (1442) under Alfonso V of Aragon.

Sicily: The island’s name derives from that of its ancient inhabitants, the Sicani and Siceli. The meaning of the sic– root of these names in unknown.


Location: A region in southern Italy. Sicily is that largest region in area of Italy.

Name: The name derives from that of the Sikels, an ancient people who had settled on the island prior to the arrival of the Phoenicians and Greeks.

Capital: Palermo.

Area: 25,707 km˛ (mi˛) (the 6th largest island of Europe and the 44th largest island in the world). It has a length of 180 miles and a maximux breadth of 130.

Number of Provinces: 9 (Agrigento; Caltanissetta; Catania; Enna; Messina; Palermo; Ragusa; Syracuse/Siracusa; Trapani.).

Number of Communes (Municipalities): 390.

Population: 5,016,861 (2007)

Population Density:  195.2/km˛ (2007).