With the November number of the Best of Sicily Magazine we are publishing the first article of our Historic Families series. These are profiles of families that left a mark on Sicilian history. In most cases, the obvious trace still visible is a castle or palazzo. In an effort to avoid glorifying present-day personalities (there are gossip rags for that), the families described are now extinct and are - for the most part - medieval. The point of this series is to shed some light on the people behind certain landmarks and to present a bit of history with a "personal" touch.
The first family profiled are the infamous Chiaramonte clan. Their castle, Palermo's Steri, is shown here.
A point sometimes raised is that historians direct more attention to aristocrats than to the ordinary people who actually built the Steri and cultivated the land that made the nobles wealthy. The response is that little has been recorded about these people in the other social classes as individuals. Until the 19th century the history of Europe is largely the history of the aristocracy.