Mussomeli (in Sicilian, Mussumeli) is a
relatively large town of about 16,000 at the near-center of Sicily. It was the birthplace of
Salvatore Lanza and his wife Paolina Bellanca, and their
son Vincenzo (Jim) Lanza. Their daughters
Giuseppa (Jessie) and
Teresa were born in America.
Also born in Mussomeli were
Pietro Barca and Anna
Fasino, parents of Vito
Barca of Belgium and his siblings
Mary Lanza and
Anna Fasino were third
cousins, both descended from Carmelo Faldetta and
Marianna Piazza of Mussomeli.
The name Mussomeli
may be derived from the Latin 'mons mellus', 'or
'mount of honey' Its modified modern form is often
translated 'mouth of honey, or 'honeypuss' .
outstanding feature is a fortress-like castle, the
Castello Manfredonico, built by Manfredo Chiaramonte,
a Sicilian nobleman, in 1391, about a mile from the town.
The castle is comprised of prototypical Medieval elements: a
drawbridge; a dungeon; a trap door that dispatched foes into
the 'camera delle morte' (room of death); a
torture chamber; 'stumbling blocks' in doorways; crenellated
outer walls for guards and archers, and so on. It even
has a legend of princesses imprisoned in a tower room, and a
ghostly knight who haunts the castle still. The only
element lacking is a moat, which was entirely unnecessary,
since the castle was built on a huge monolithic outcropping
of rock that was virtually unscalable.