The Uzeda Door and Sicily’s Viceroys
Catania’s Uzeda Door is named after the noble family of one of the viceroys who ruled over Sicily for the Spanish kings between 1412 and 1830.
His full name was Juan Francisco Pacheco Téllez-Girón, Duke of Uzeda, and he was viceroy from 1687 to 1696 – and the only member of the Uzedas to take on the role.
The Door was opened in the 16th-century walls created by Charles V just as Juan Francisco neared the end of his term, and was named after him for his efforts to rebuild the city after the 1693 earthquake.
One 19th-century chronicler noted, however, that the end of his term “made the people of Sicily happy, as they were tired by then of his harsh rule”.
The Spanish dynasty will remind fans of Italian literature of “The Viceroys”, a masterpiece by Verismo author Federico De Roberto (1861-1927) that revolves around the Uzedas, “a family of high-handed and eccentric aristocrats”.
However, De Roberto’s beautiful novel is set in the 19th century and uses the historical name just to hint at other powerful men of Catania, known for their own high-handedness and eccentricity.