what does via Materassai have to do with English families

We are in the heart of the “Mercantile Lodges” and it is always nice and stimulating to walk these roads full of history linked to the work activities that arose there

In the maze of narrow streets that intersect in the historic center of Palermo and which constitute the natural border between the various districts of the ancient city, it should be evident an intertwining of streets that over the centuries will assume a fundamental importance for the birth of the high business middle class of the late ‘800 and early’ 900.

We are in the heart of the “Mercantile Lodges” and it is always nice and stimulating to travel along these roads, each of which is full of that specific history of individual work activities.

Since the past centuries the district of the Lodges, represented today by Vucciria, was a strategic point for the city, since in it, in the various trading stations of the “Foreign Nations”, business was signed, politics was talked about, commercial relations were intertwined, including foreign ones, in short, money was made.

Professor Beatrice Pasciuta in “Medieval Palermo” describes the expansion of the seaside districts from the notarial documents of Bartolomeo de Citella in the fourteenth century.

A profound transformation that from the subdivision of the traditional four quarters of Muslim tradition passes to six districts with the addition of “Patitellorum door“(Church of Sant’Antonio Abate alias Ecce Homo) and the enigmatic”Wrinkle Miney “.

In truth, the two districts were originally one as “Contrata Patitellorum” and the other as “Ruga” (ie corruption of “rue” – via) and both falling within the “Loggia Mercantile” area, therefore in the south-eastern part of the cities, and densely populated.

The passage from individual streets to neighborhoods it is short, thanks above all to the thrust of the economic development of the “Lodges” and the increasing importance of the economic activities connected with the port of Palermo.

Another issue is the presence of “Foreign Nations”In this thriving part of Palermo. The lodges they managed developed within this social and economic fabric, uniting but never mixing with the indigenous population, to preserve that “National” respect of origin.

As far as our article is concerned, I am examining above all two nations with their own lodges: the Genoese and the Catalan ones.

Both lodges were located next to each other in the Garraffello square but they developed along different lines: that of the Genoese follows via della Loggia and via Argenteria Nuova, the other, that is the majestic one of the Catalans and which interests us most, developed until reaching via Materassai.

From the descriptions it seems that the Loggia dei Catalani was magnificent with its finely decorated stone decorations, with an internal courtyard and seats for businessmen. The Lodges of the merchants represented the fulcrum of the three main streets: ruga Catalanorum, Pisarum and Miney and stretched from Piazza Garraffello up to planum Fere Veteris, the current Revolution Square.

A reconstruction of the road structure of the district, through notarial documents, it is not possible to develop it with accuracy but scholars have proposed interesting hypotheses, including that via Materassai coincides with the ruga Catalanorum and, consequently, also the development of the district called Matrachynorum (Materassai), near the Vucciria market.

In short, dear readers, since ancient times everything was linked to the existence of the Lodges, the merchants, the markets and the port which then, centuries later, gave the possibility – precisely in via dei Materassai – the possibility for three exponents of families to create a huge economic fortune by taking the first steps from this neighborhood.

I am obviously talking about the neighbors and the market: Florio, Ingham and Wainhouse.

In conclusion, in addition to the usual discourse on the origin of a street name, we exquisitely discussed a neighborhood that has always been a commercial and economic development point of the city, but which is now left to itself and is far away. by its splendor and its power.

A slow and secular decline which, in return, has left us a historical center diversified in different architectural styles and an articulated and fascinating history. Let us leave with the hope of greater attention from the municipal administration for the revitalization of the district and its market.