Foundations of Poggioreale: Introduction


Poggioreale, with a view of ample plains that are adorned alternatively with hills and valleys,

L, Lo Presti

….A name that lasts longer and is more honored.

Dante, Purgatorio XXI.85

After 22 centuries of life and battles on Mount Elima the overlapping of various peoples and civilizations (1184 + 1071), a lengthy period of ups and downs, sacrifices and glory for a good 571 years, (which is how many years passed between 1071 and 1642) the mountain was abandoned. In that period of time the soil was considered rough, exploited only by shepherds who were the inhabitants of Gibellina, in the territory of the former feudal estate of Bagnitelli, part of the rural lands belonging to Master of that Marquisate. the Marquis lived in Bagnitelli as its most important tenant.

In 1642, the life of a new community began, to which the name “Poggioreale” was given. In their dialect, its inhabitants called Poggioreale Poggntriale-poggiorealesi or poggiurialisi.

This new community’ arose under the Pontificate of Pope Urban VIII, during the reign of His Majesty’ Philip IV of Spain, King of Naples and Sicily. The highly esteemed Genovese Cardinal Giovan Domenico Spinola was the Bishop of Mazara del Vallo, who King Philip IV had already transferred there in 1636, with the consent of Pope Urban VIII.

Poggioreale is not a town, but it is a small, yet attractive, community. “Poggio,” is an apt moniker as “a small mountain, a place of high ground” and it is called “Reale “Royal,” for its position that allows one to enjoy an extensive panorama which for its variety of soils and of agriculture presents a magnificent natural beauty’ to satisfy even the eyes of a king. In fact, the most ancient history of the town of Poggioreale expresses it thus: “the Marquis ordered that the building of houses begin in Bagnitelli for the populous new land which was situated under a hill, naming it “Poggioreale” because of the delightful view of ample plains, that are adorned with alternating hills and valleys.

In addition, the name is connected to the Noble Family “Morso Naselli,” whose crest is displayed on the central arch of the Matrice Church of Poggioreale (the name Morso, meaning “bite,” is derived from a hand in front of a dog whose head is erect and whose nose is in the pose of picking up a scent-under the dog are three balls in a horizontal line).

This primary relationship greatly honors our community and adds to the privileges conferred since its earliest days. the town can be proud of such a name that links Poggioreale with a rich line of history that has rendered fame to the very noble lineage. In fact, the history of the illustrious double name was written and documented by Baronio, Mugnos, Minutulo, Testa, and by Inveges in his “Noble Palermo” with titles of nobility, of the glorious service of those who were well-deserving of the honor, due to their ancient origins, all consecrated in the certificate of King Federico, issued in Erma June 26, 1336, and by King Alfonso, issued at Castronuovo di Napoli February 1, 1466, as well as in the various decrees of investiture and of privileges that have often decorated the illustrious Family along its centuries-old and dazzling genealogical tree.

The name Naselli appeared in Sicily with the esteemed Periconio, as Mugno affirms, granted privileges by King Ferdinand II. The Noble Family takes its originated with Luitprando King of the Longobardi.

On account of the conspicuous acclaim of the Morso Family, its name has been joined with the most important Families of the upper Italian continent.

Canauli, Fucci, Marchesani, Salvini, Uberti, Vitelli from the Sicilian pronunciation of Morzo it ended up becoming “Morso.”

Fiorello Morso, much esteemed by King Ferdinand I, came to establish his seat in Sicily, and from this family founder began the honored Dynasty.

Naselli and Morso are names at the summit of importance at the Courts of Spain, Naples and Sicily, decorated with the highest responsibilities, privileges and favors, such as: Prince of Aragon, Count of Comiso, Barons of Mastra, Castronovo, Castellammare del Golfo, Marquis di Gibellina, Signori of Abita, of Diesi, of Tonnare di Castellammare del Golfo, of Milazzo, of Pumo, of Finistrelli, Ravanusa, Mondello, Torretta, Macaluba, Imbrici, Bagnitelli, Mandra di Mezzo, Prince of Poggioreale, Grandi of Spain, Gentiluomini of Camera of S. Maesta, Colonel of his armies, Captain of the Royal Guard of Alabardieri of the reign of Sicily, Vice King of the province of Abruzzo, etc. tanto nomini impar elogium.

The illustrious Signore D. Francesco Marchisio Morso, son of Blasco, brother of Antonino Morso First Marquis of Gibellina, had assumed the investiture of said Marquisate on the date of February 4, 1639. He maintained his own palazzo hear in Bagnitelli, the former feudal estate included in the assets of the Marquisate.

A good number of vassals and farmers from nearby Gibellina depended on Marchisio Morso, cultivating this land of Bagnitelli and caring for the entire agricultural holding, and had requested the convenience of housing to accommodate them and their families who resided in Gibellina. In order to address this desire and to ingratiate himself further in their hearts, Marchisio Morso turned to His Royal Majesty Philip IV King of Spain and of Sicily asking permission to be able to construct houses here in Bagnitelli, where his vacation palace was located.

The Vice King, with a decree of May 17, 1642, gave the generous concession so that in the execution of the aforementioned privilege, the esteemed Signor Marquis D. Francesco M. Morso ordered the construction of the houses on the upper plain underneath the hill, giving it the name of “Poggioreale.”

With the subsequent Decree of February 4, 1643, the 23rd year of his Reign, the His Majesty the King ennobled the new town and elevated it to the status of a Principality. This same decree consecrated the concession of the title of Prince of Poggioreale to the Marquis D. Francesco Marchisio Morso, in recognition of his part in promoting the construction of the new town. The title could be passed to the heirs and successors of D. Francesco, according to the order of primogeniture, and with the benefit of all the rights and privileges and actions on the land of its territory, vassalage and revenues.

In the same decree explains the origin of the ancient and noble Morso Families of Sicily, to wit: Morso, Barresi, Platamone, and Agliata.

It does not seem off the subject to mention that this same illustrious genealogical tree includes Giovannello Morso, son of Giovanni the First Baron of the Land of Gibellina, who, on October 30, 1488, was invested with the title of that Baronate.

This second Giovannello’s second marriage was to the noble Contissella of Poggio, who was from Poggio (site of the modern Poggioreale), and privileged as contissella, and this happened a good two centuries before the advent of Poggioreale.

The illustrious Name “Morso,” is additionally ennobled by the presence of a Saint in the family, the Sister Elisabetta Maria of the Passion, widow of the Marquis Antonio Morso, having died without having left any heirs. The very respected Signora, daughter of Ottavio Lanza, Prince of Trabia, ensconced herself in the Monastery of Santa Maria delle Grazie, and lived an extremely virtuous life enriched by the gift of miracles. She died January 3, 1639. The Sacerdote D. Francesco Sclafani of the Counts of Ademo has written about her.

The well-known Noble Family of Naselli has a no less intimate relationship with Poggioreale. We have authentic proof of it in the public register submitted by the notary public D. Francesco Scardino, July 14, 1779, in consequence of the communal resolution, of the same date, which is not to be found on account of its destruction in the flames that destroyed the municipal archive in the year 1820 VI.

The noble Signora Stefania Morso was one of the five daughters of Giovanni Francesco Morso Fardella, unwed and virginal and, according to the laws of the times, since she was single, she enjoyed preference over the four other married sisters. When her father died on March 9, 1737, the investiture of the Marquisate of Gibellina and of the Principality of Poggioreale fell to her. She married Luigi Naselli-Morso, Count of Comiso and gave him the title of Marquis of Gibellina, while the title of Prince of Poggioreale was given to her own uncle Girolamo Morso Fardella.

Her title, Princess of Poggioreale, and as proprietor of the assets of the territory of the community. She was closely tied to the town of Poggioreale.

[This webpage is excerpted from the book: “The History of Poggioreale, Sicily – From 1640 to 1956.” Originally written in Italian by: Canonico Dottore Francesco Aloisio in 1956. Adapted and translated by: Dr. Jeremiah P. Spence, Ph.D. of Austin, Texas. 5th Edition. International Order of Genealogists Publishing. Ireland. 2019. ISBN: 9781072403371. The book can be purchased online at: ]