Comune di Grotte

Grotte is a town in the Province of Agrigento, Italy. The origins date back to the ancient Sicilian city called “Erbesso”, colonized by the Greeks after the 7th century BC. The name “Erbesso” seems to derive from the Greek “érebos”, which means “underground darkness”, which refers to the caves of oxen. During the First Punic War, Erbesso was used by the Romans as a center for gathering food and supplies for the army during the siege of Agrigento in 262 BC. However, after the subjugation of Agrigento in 261 BC, Erbesso passed into the hands of the Carthaginians and the inhabitants were deported into slavery. During the Roman era, there were the settlements of contrada Falcia and contrada Racalmari in the territory of Grotte, arose for the extraction of sulphur. In the Byzantine period, near the “Petra”, a large rock used as a fortress for the defence of the territory, a residential settlement was built. The inhabitants of the farmhouses of Falcia and Petra took refuge in the existing caves on the nearby rocky hillside to protect themselves from Muslim attacks, giving birth to the settlement that will be called Grotte. In the year 840 A. D. , Grotte was sacked by the Muslim army directed against Castrogiovanni (today’s Enna), and again in 868 it was ironed and set on fire by the Muslim army directed against Girgenti (today’s Agrigento). In the 12th century, the “Terra di Grotte” belonged to the Bishop of Girgenti. During the Middle Ages, Grotte was a feudal territory and several noble families alternated in possession of the feud, including the Sanches, Ventimiglia, Montaperto and Castrogiovanni. In 1471, John II of Aragon granted Baron Federico Montaperto permission to build a defensive tower to protect the inhabitants who worked in the feud of Grotte. The town is characterized by its churches distributed along the main road leading to Calvary, a charming place that comes to life during the Easter celebrations. The current symbol of the ancient settlement is the Torre del Palo, dating back to the 15th century. In 2018 the Municipality entrusts the Tower to “Pro Loco Herbessus” which makes it its headquarters, making it the centre of the cultural activities taking place in the country, and ensuring that it is open for the enjoyment of visitors every day of the year.