Montalbano Elicona

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The historical origins of the inhabited area of Montalbano can be traced back to around the year 1000. In the Norman and the later Swabian era, the town became a property of the State. The Emperor Frederick II of Swabia gave it as a gift to his wife Costanza of Aragon, and chose it as one of his Imperial residences. Under the King Manfredi, Montalbano was raised to the rank of a Contea (earldom). This was a particularly splendid period for the town, with a number of monuments attributed to it, such as the TORRE DEL FONDACO tower, which can be visited within the Argimusco complex. Once the Swabian period was over, Montalbano's fortunes were tied to King Frederick II of Aragon, who was responsible, amongst other things, for the realisation, on the pre-existent foundations, of the renewed CASTELLO (castle). The old Swabian castle walls became the wall of the façade of the new castle-palace, and the fortress of Montalbano is today, in Sicily, the only royal palace still remaining from the thirteen hundreds. The Aragonese sovereign was to stay often at Montalbano during his transferrals to Palermo, in the company of his own personal doctor, Arnaldo di Villanova. These healthy stopovers seemed, to the monarch, to be an excellent remedy for his gout which could (according to Arnaldo) be cured by the "medicamentosa" waters of the FONTE (spring) DEL TIRONE (which may, still today, be visited). Upon King Frederick's death, the domain of Montalbano was passed over to his son, the Duke of Randazzo, to then become the feudal patrimony of the Bonanno Colonna family. And so it remained until the end of the XVIIth century. In the meantime, although the urban layout of the town remained unaltered, some buildings in the centre of the town had taken on the fascinating elegance of Sicilian baroque. Take a look at agility of the PORTALE BALLARINO, as well as the numerous other portals of the buildings of nobility which are still visible today. The CHIESA MADRE, also, has not been immune to restorations precedent to, contemporary to and following the Baroque era (and it has been enriched by the works of such artists as Gagini and the Caravaggio-influenced Ponce de Leon). Returning to its history, in the first years of the 1800?s, Montalbano is passed to the Jesuits, and will remain in their hands until 1860, or rather, until it becomes property of the State. The last marker will be, in the finally unified Italy, its constitution as a Comune (municipality).