Lat: 38° 9' 2.070547" N - Long: 14° 55' 50.43869" E
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It is not easy to reach the summit of Mount Meliuso, the last part of the climb is particularly difficult, but it is still worth venturing to visit the fascinating remains of Gioiosa Guardia, also called Gioiosa Vecchia, surrounded by one of the most beautiful landscapes in Sicily.
From here the view embraces an immense and grandiose territory that includes the Madonie, the island of Ustica, the Aeolian islands, the Tyrrhenian coast of Sicily, with Capo d'Orlando and Capo Milazzo, the Aspromonte of Calabria, Capo Peloro and the Etna.
The town was built in 1364 around the castle built by Vinciguerra of Aragon, a very influential lord of Sicily in the 14th century, and thanks to its position was a very important point of observation and lookout, hence the name "Guardia".
The town grew thanks to the flourishing agriculture and the displacement of the populations from the coasts inland to escape the frequent pirate raids.
It was populated by about three thousand inhabitants and was surrounded by walls.
During its last fifty years it was hit by four earthquakes: that of 1783 razed it to the ground; the following year there was a terrible famine and an invasion of locusts; these factors, combined with the decline of the silk trade, which until then had made an important contribution to the economy of Gioiosa Guardia, led its inhabitants to leave the country.
So they settled downstream, once passed the danger of pirate raids, and founded Gioiosa Marea.
In about twenty years the old town was totally abandoned and became a real "ghost town".
The last inhabitants of the town were the nuns of St Anna, who abandoned it in 1801.
Today, ruins of neglect remain in Gioiosa Guardia, whose solitude nevertheless emanates a mysterious charm.
The main road is still legible, in a north-south direction it departed from the mother church and reached as far as the fort, which has now completely disappeared, except for some fragments of walls.
Some finds from the ancient town of Gioiosa Guardia can be admired in the antiquarium of Gioiosa Marea.
Today we discover...
The oldest dam in Sicily
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