History of Paceco


See Paceco guide for highlights and historic monuments

Ancient times at Paceco

Paceco is a farming town, inhabited since the Paleolithic and Neolithic era, with a landscape that bears witness to the persistent presence of an ancient civilization and a Mediterranean vegetation in picturesque scenery.

The antiquity of the site of Paceco is proven by excavations, the remains of which refer to the presence of settlements dating back to the Iron Age, with finely carved pottery of the so-called 'Elim' type.

The ancient civilisation of the Elims

We must say that the complex issue of the “Elims” (who, according to Thucydides (460-395 BC), were a people of Asian origin) has shed new light not only on the life of this ancient people, but also involved the small town of Paceco.

Scientists until now have suggested that the “Elims” were essentially "mountain men", but new archaeological excavations have proved their presence in the plains, and in fact some remains of the Elims civilization have recently been found at the site where Paceco is situated, which receives a new importance, not only from a historical but also from a tourist perspective [1].

The area was also inhabited by Arabs, whose presence is confirmed by the local place names such as "Misiligiafari" or "Emir Giafar’s house."

Paceco had a remarkable economic development in Roman times and especially in the Age of Augustus, although as regards the Middle Ages we have only a few documents, referring to traces of settlements in the 10th century AD.

We must however consider the fact that the wars waged during the reign of Frederick II of Swabia (1194-1250) against the Arabs led to a considerable abandonment of rural settlements. This phenomenon was only reversed in the 14th century, "when  a slow process of colonization of the countryside resumes" [4].

Current Paceco

Despite the antiquity of the site, Paceco as we see it today is quite a new town, which (like San Cataldo) dates back to the early 17th century; also like San Cataldo it was founded in order to re-populate some vast uninhabited areas, dedicated to agriculture, particularly in times of serious and difficult food supply for the population. Hence the town was founded by Marquis Placido Fardella (1592-1623) in the early 17th century.

Placido Fardella wanted the New Town to have the surname of his wife, Anna Maria Pacheco and Mendoza, granddaughter of the Viceroy of Sicily, Don Juan Fernandez Pacheco. From the Spanish name "Pacheco", with the loss of the "h", derives the Italian name “Paceco”.

According to surveys by Francesco Benigno, who has studied the origins of Paceco in depth, the foundation of the city was almost "forced":

“a settlement built against the will of the majority of the ruling class of Trapani, a sort of “internal fight” between the Fardella  family and other members of the local nobility for the political control of the town and its region” [2].

At the end of a long fight, by a series of successful circumstances, the noble Fardella succeeded in its objective of founding a new village.

In terms of town planning some rational techniques were adopted, so Paceco is an example of a smart and modern town foundation, with a plan formed of wide and straight streets, converging on the main square. Pierluigi Nocella, professor of history at the University of Alcala de Henares in Spain, noted that:

"[...] Paceco was formes in a pattern similar to other urban locations at that time; with a plan of an orthogonal grid shape, with parallel and perpendicular streets 12 meters wide, to the sides of which the settlers built rectangular houses, sometimes with a single room, others with two, and they took advantage of two roof slopes to build a loft with wooden planks. The urban design had the advantage of not being forced to make changes in case of expansion of the village, it was only necessary, repeating the system, to widen the roads to form new districts […] " [3].

During the 16th century Paceco had a surplus in the population, while things became very difficult in the following centuries, with very high mortality rates, particularly in the 17th century [5].

In the years until the Unification of Italy (1861) the population grew dramatically, but with it, towards the end of the 19th century, so did the emigration to America. Today the city is renowned for its fine agriculture and tourism, which in recent years, thanks to an enhancement of the territory and services, has increased considerably.

See also the Paceco gode for visitors.

References

1. to explore the question of the Elims see Maurizio Vento, “Viaggio nella terra degli Elimi” , Trapani, 1998 

2. See Francesco Benigno “ Una casa, una terra. Ricerche intorno a Paceco, paese nuovo nella Sicilia del Sei e Settecento”, Cooperativa Universitaria Editrice, 1985:  12

3. See  Pierluigi Nocella, “La nascita di Paceco, Case e Conflitti” ["The Birth of Paceco. Houses and Conflicts "] in “Paceco tra Spagna e Sicilia” ["Paceco between Spain and Sicily"], by Alberto Barbata, Il Sole, 2008]: 60

4. See Antonino Filippo, “Archeologia del territorio di Paceco”, in “Paceco tra Spagna e Sicilia”: 44

5. See D. Ligresti, “Dinamiche demografiche nella Sicilia”, ["Demographic Dynamics in Sicily"], Angeli, 2002