History of the Alliatas

The estate » History of the Alliatas

The Alliatas' origins are lost in legend, as it often happens to really ancient families. It seems they were invested with the possession of Candia island by Emperor Constantine, and that one Leone Alliata, commander of Emperor Michael the Palaeologist's army, defeated a horde of barbarians threatening the sack of Constantinople in 1274.

Leaving legends aside, unprovable as they are, the Alliata family is found well established in Pisa, coming from Milan, since the end of XIII century. It was known as the owner of one of the most thriving banks in its time, financing several business enterprises and influential interests in Sardinia island, which was then a property of Pisan Republic. When the Aragons conquered Sicily and the Viscounts began showing an interest in Pisa, one Filippo Alliata (or Agliata, as the family name was spelt in ancient times) moved to our island, which was then ruled by Frederick II of Aragon, and settled in Palermo, though still looking after his business in Pisa.

Among the family's foremost members, one Gherardo is worth mentioning. He was a Royal Protonotary, and belonged to feudal aristocracy as owner of Pietra di Amico feud, exchanged with Castellammare barony in 1468. One Pietro acquired Villafranca barony, and his son Antonio later built the town bearing the same name in 1499. One Giuseppe married Fiammetta Paruta and received Sala di Paruta barony as his wife's dowry, and his son was the first Prince of Villafranca (1609) and first Duke of Sala Paruta (1625), as well as Mayor in Palermo (1626).

Among the many others who followed and were invested with the highest offices in both Palermo and Sicilian Reign, we can mention one Giuseppe, field-marshal under King Victor Amadeus II and commander of Sicilian Body-Guards (1724), and then field-marshal under Emperor Charles VI, also crowned Great King of Spain (1722). Giuseppe's son, Domenico, was appointed Prince of the Holy Roman Empire, Major Courier of the Sicilian Reign, knight of Saint Gennaro's Order and field-marshal under King Charles III of Bourbon. Another Giuseppe fell out with the Bourbon's Court in 1810 and was therefore exiled to Pantelleria, from where he was called back in 1811 through the intervention of the English. He was later appointed Speaker of the Chamber of Peers. In 1820 he was at the head of Palermo City Council, and spared no effort to reduce the damage caused by a hopeless revolt.

In more recent times we can mention one Edoardo (1828-1898), who built the first family winery in Casteldaccia and imported from France the most advanced winepresses in his time, changing the family's amateurish enterprise into an industrial business, which now produces the renowned wines "Corvo di Salaparuta". Last but not least is one Enrico (1879-1946), eclectic example of Sicilian aristocrat with interests in different fields, famous for his valued recipe book and his activity as a wine producer.