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  • The salts-pans area in Nubia, Trapani
    The salt pan area in Nubia, Trapani
  • Citrons and tangerins at the market in Catania
    Citrons and tangerins at the market in Catania
  • A corner of the 18th century village of Marzamemi, Syracuse
    A corner of the 18th century village of Marzamemi, Syracuse
  • The stunning Scala dei Turchi near Realmonte, Agrigento
    The stunning Scala dei Turchi near Realmonte, Agrigento
  • A colorful wall again in Marzamemi, Syracuse
    A colorful wall again in Marzamemi, Syracuse
  • Local folklore in the Medieval town of Gangi, Madonie area
    Local folklore in the Medieval town of Gangi, Madonie area

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The Arab and the Norman dominations


The Arab invasion and conquest endowed Sicily with its splendour.

The Arabs, who already controlled the North African coast and Spain, considered Sicily a highly strategic step for their expansion towards the north of Italy and a safeguard to Mediterranean trade.

While the Greek and the Latin elements still prevailed in the East, Arab penetration was strongest in the West. Mazara del Vallo was the first Arab city, and Palermo which was conquered in 831 became the new capital. Commerce began to flourish once again and the quality of life improved, maintaining its high level thanks to new irrigation methods and the introduction of new crops and the coastal city became repopulated meeting places for Oriental, Jewish, Greek, Amalfitan and Pisan merchants.

The repercussion of the intestine struggles which lacerated the Maghreb (Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco), had its effect in Sicily, with the beginning of a slow and irresistible process of destabilization which made it possible in 1061 the conquest of the island by Roger I of Hauteville and the Normans.

It is certain that especially in the central and western parts of the island there was a full-scale process of arabization, which is still perceptible in the place-names and in agriculture, particularly with regard to techniques of garden and fruit-orchard management. Sicily at this particular moment was a sort of microcosm where Latins, Greeks, Arabs and Jews lived and worked together. The Norman conquest did not interfere with the rebirth of the island and its position, as intermediate in trade and culture between East and West, Europe and Africa, was strengthened. The Norman age in Sicily with its conquests and its artistic and literary creations, constituted an irrepeatable magic moment.

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