ANNIVERSARIES: from the magazine Milazzo Nostra, number 21, December 2008.

Domenico Ryolo and the discovery of the prehistory of Milazzo


see also the Museum of Lipari (video)

On December 2, 1988 Eng. Domenico Ryolo, one of the greatest figures of the cultural milazzese of the twentieth century, renewer of the studies on geology, history and art of the city, author of his first "Guide", father of his archeology and discoverer of its prehistory. Twenty years after his death, the contribution he gave to the knowledge of the "Milazzo civilization" (not the battles fought in the territory, but the work of those who lived there and the historical and artistic heritage that left us) still appears more relevant. In particular, his contribution to the knowledge of the most ancient human settlements in Milazzo is fundamental: before him the reconnaissance and excavations of the archaeologists of the level of Paolo Orsi, Pietro Griffo and Bernab˛ Brea had not produced any results; Ryolo will be the one to discover the necropolid of the ancient, middle and late Bronze Age, of the protogreca and Hellenistic age, and finally of the Neolithic. Of this Bernab˛ Brea, who with Madeleine Cavalier directed the excavations and studied the finds, he always acknowledged with flattering expressions: "Why all this is known? why did he save himself? Because there was Ryolo. He has continued to represent us, for decades and decades, as a local Superintendent, because I had absolute and total trust, not only as a friend, but as a technician, as a person who knew the problems. I knew that when he wrote me something, it was that, determined as if I had seen it myself. "ing Domenico Ryolo
But if the archaeological sector is the one where its contribution is most shining, we can not overlook the exceptional importance of its long research and documentation on our cultural heritage, which culminated in the synthesis of the Guide and the Cards. Our magazine that, in these years, has reproposed his writings and kept alive the attention on his work (as did also "La CittÓ", "La Voce di Milazzo" and the Milazzese Society of Homeland History) dedicated a lot to him. part of this issue with the aim of contributing to a renewed awareness of the relevance of its contribution. and, therefore, to recall the city and its institutions to the duty of honoring its memory, illustrating its work, continuing its commitment and achieving the objectives that he pursued for Milazzo. We believe that the city owes to Ryolo at least one study of studies for a balance of his work in the various sectors in which he made his commitment; the publication in volume of his writings, scattered in magazines often unobtainable, or unpublished; the reconstruction of his library in a "Ryolo Fund" inside the Municipal Library of Milazzo -which was so dear to him and the custody of his manuscripts, notes, projects, to make them accessible to scholars; the naming of the Museo archeologico di Milazzo, which will be opened in the Spanish Quarter. In this sense we have repeatedly asked the municipal administration, even formally, by letters dated 22 November 2006, 11 May 2007, 7 May 2008, and finally 2 December 2008, the day of the twentieth anniversary of the death of Ryolo. We found informal manifestations of interest and availability, but without taking on concrete commitments, and even less, formal written answers. We hope that the reading of these pages, which document the active, disinterested and generous work of Domenico Ryolo, will induce the City Administrators, his political and cultural world, to plan the initiatives that our community has the duty to assume to render testimony of gratitude to the memory of those who have worked so hard for Milazzo.


ing Domenico RyoloNews about his life

Domenico Ryolo was born in Milazzo on 11 May 1895 from Cesare and from Carolina Di Maria Brunaccini. He completed his classical studies in the renowned Benedictine School of Montecassino and in 1913 enrolled at the Polytechnic of Milan. Called to arms at the outbreak of the First World War, he commands, as an artillery officer, the 609th battery, taking part in numerous military actions and signaling himself, in particular, during the dramatic withdrawal from the Karst. The war cross is awarded to him and he is dismissed with the rank of captain. Returning to his studies, in 1922 he graduated in Mechanical Industrial Engineering, and, having returned to Milazzo, practiced his profession and worked in agriculture, directing his mother's farm. Meanwhile, he is interested in geology and archeology, and is dedicated to historical research on Sicily (in particular on Milazzo and other centers of Messina), to studies of art and numismatics (in particular, of Messina and Mamertina coinage). He frequented the Municipal Library and handwritten "Melazzo Sacro" by Perdichizzi and pages of volumes from the Historical Archive, which were then destroyed by the bombings of 1943, and of which, therefore, only his transcription remains. His first publication that we could trace back to the beginning of 1940 and is dedicated to Milazzo, Tindari and the Aeolian Islands, whose nature, history, art and economy traces a rapid profile, anticipating what will be the themes of the whole his subsequent production. In the same year he has ready for the press a documented study on the location of the ancient Longano torrent and the place where in 269 a. C. the battle took place between Mamertini and Siracusani, but the outbreak of the war will postpone its publication.
In 1937 he collaborated with the archaeologist Pietro Griffo, who is doing excavations in Milazzo and defines him as a fervent and disinterested lover of homeland memories. "In 1941 he met Reperti della necropoli protovillanoviana di Piazza RomaLuigi Bernab˛ Brea, newly appointed Superintendent of Antiquities for Eastern Sicily, and among two is born a friendship and fruitful collaboration, founded on the great consideration that the illustrious archaeologist has for the competence and the passion of Ryolo, on whose initiatives and signaling will be based to intervene in the territory of Milazzo.In 1942, together, they discover the shelter of Sperlinga in Novara di Sicilia, in 1943, following the excavations carried out by the military in the Grotta di Polifemo, in 1950 - based on Ryolo 's research on the location of Longano - they discovered the remains of the town of Longane, in the municipality of Rodý Milici Then, in October 1950, both began the great season of the discovery of the Milazzo necropolis: two in Piazza Roma (the Proto-Greek one, which confirms what was handed down by the the Greek historiography, and the protovillanovian one, which moves back the first settlement on the castle back four centuries), and the third, to the Tono, belonging to the middle age of the bronze, which still brings back the beginning of that settlement. The systematic excavations, under the direction of Madeleine Cavalier, begin on 21 October 1951; the second excavation campaign, with a regional funding, lasts from 21 May to 9 June 1951 and the third from 25 February to 20 March 1952. In the same years, at the Borgo, finds traces of the Bronze Age finds in Vico del Re and finds of the classical age in the Rosario square and in the current Via Giovanni XXIII. Then, in 1954, he identified in the isthmus - the excavation of a new road that crosses Via S. Giovanni - another large necropolis, of the Hellenistic age, with Capuchin tombs. It would be time to realize the Museo archeologico di Milazzo, completing the triangle with Lipari and Tindari, but the deafness of the municipal administration frustrates the commitment and intentions of Bernab˛ Brea and Ryolo, who in '58 writes the project for recovery and the reconstruction of Palazzo Carrozza to be used as the site of the museum. The finds will go to Lipari, and our only museum will be the "paper" museum consisting of the beautiful volume "Mylai", by L. Bernab˛ Brea and M. Cavalier.

Meanwhile Ryolo continues his research on the ground and in 1960 he finds in Vaccarella, at the beginning of the new panoramic road, the remains of another necropolis, this time of ancient bronze, thus further moving the village on the crossroad of the castle. But this is not yet the period of the first settlement of man in the territory of Milazzo: between 50 and 52, he had found "inside the enclosure of the Castle" splinters of obsidian, and then, during the excavation of wells, had emerged fragments of pottery and obsidian blades, in the Piana, in the districts Badessa (1957) and Scaccia (1959), even a dozen meters deep, (a sign that there had been - he considers between the fourth and third millennium to C.- climatic convulsions with huge landslides and soliflussions from the hills that had raised the level of the central part of the plain). Finally, in La necropoli dellĺetÓ del bronzo nel podere Caravello, al TonoSeptember 1970, in the extreme northern part of the Promontory, between the Faro and Punta Messinese, traces of a "Neolithic village" that shifts the prehistory of Milazzo back to the "culture" of Stentinello and Castellaro for another two millennia. Vecchio (about 4000 BC) It is a pair of small fragments of impasto pottery, a nucleus of obsidian and some blades of tools made from it, testifying to a settlement that did not import from Lipari the "worked product", but it constituted a true "production center". The thirty years 1950-1980 is Ryolo the most fruitful period of results, not only for its archaeological discoveries, but also for the numerous publications on the history and art of Milazzo and other centers of the province. In recognition of this activity he was appointed Honorary Inspector of Monuments, Antiquities and Works of Art of the Province of Messina, a member of the Societies of History of Messina and of Palermo, a corresponding member of the Peloritan Academy, a member of the Study Center for the history of architecture in Rome. Bernab˛ Brea gives him the task of the project and the direction of the work of the buildings that will host the Museum of Lipari and the Antiquarium of Tindari, but also relies on him for what he calls "an intervention of archaeological engineering, of great commitment , of great responsibility "for the restoration of the" Basilica "of Tindari." Therefore, besides the aspect of scholar and researcher of the local antiquities, we must remember the technical, professional part of an engineer he has made available to archeology. " While he continues his studies on the artistic and monumental heritage of Milazzo, he tries, through formal interventions and with reserved letters, with all the weight of his authority as a scholar and professional designer and director of many public works (from the aqueduct to the Cemetery) , to defend it from the attacks of a senseless building boom, on the Cappuccini hill, in the Marina (Palazzo Cumbo, what remains of Palazzo Ryolo), in via Umberto I. For example, we focus only on one initiative, the one pursued with tenacity. to have four of the seven paintings returned to Milazzo, which had been requested on 12 September 1951 and withdrawn on 15 September 1953 for the "Mostra Antonelliana e del '400 Sicilian" held in Messina and which had not been returned, on the pretext of wanting to restore them . After talking to Prof. Vigni, from 16 January 1955 to 18 March 1961 he reiterated the reports and reminders to the Regional Superintendency of the Galleries, underlining - among other things - that these paintings are "owned by the Municipality of Milazzo" (and not by Archpriest of Milazzo, as he had written in a letter dated December 13, 1955, Monsignor Cernuto). Finally, the Superintendent Delogu, on April 5, 1961, instructs him to perform a "recognition and identification of the paintings" at the Regional Museum of Messina. On April 8 Ryolo reports in a "personal confidential" that the paintings "in good condition at the time of the loan" are almost unrecognizable, it seems "the remains of the paintings (in particular S Pietro and S. Paolo di Antonello de Saliba) taken at Milazzo by Dr. Caradente: this is their state of conservation ". He thus obtains that on October 5th Delogu orders that the paintings be restored "within the current year". In 1972 he wrote, on behalf of the Ministry of Education - within the European project of the Inventory of the European Cultural Heritage - the cards of the artistic and monumental assets of Milazzo.

Below: findings from the "Neolithic village" of the Cape 

Reperti del villaggio neolitico di Capo MilazzoHaving retired from his professional activity, he can devote more time to his writings, and in fact since the end of the 1960s his publications have grown. In the winter he moved to Rome, in a more comfortable residence for the cold months, in via Faiti 6, near the Lungotevere della Vittoria ("dedicated to my wife's name", he used to say with affectionate irony to his wife, who it was all the more expensive because, living alone, without children, they were inseparable). But, precisely because of such long periods of absence, these years are

"saddened - Giacomo Scibona writes - from two qualified thefts suffered in his villa in Barone.The first 'signed' occurs at the beginning of the eighties (in an essay written in 1984 he speaks of coins" that had been part "of his collection, editor's note), the latter involved an almost complete emptying of household household goods, about two years later ".
In November 1984, the Liceo classico di Milazzo organized in his honor a meeting to celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of the conclusion of the excavation campaign of the fifties. Bartolo CannistrÓ reconstructs the story of the excavations, and Bernab˛ Brea illustrates the extent of Ryolo's contribution, to which, at the end of the conference, a silver plaque will be presented by the teachers of the Institute. Ryolo's moving words of gratitude for this that will remain the only recognition given to him in life in his city constitute his last "public exit". Due to his advanced age, he left more rarely the villa of Camiali (which he loved very much and referred to as "the many palm trees" in the "Guide"), but he is always vigilant and busy: he convokes his friends who are interested in the problems of milazzese history ; discusses it with the passion of all time; wants to be in-formed on the building defeats that threaten the city's artistic heritage, on cultural initiatives, on the prospects of reopening the municipal library, to which it was linked since the years of youth. He proposes to one of the most devoted friends the realization of an "Archaeological and artistic guide of the province" (providing ideas, indications and texts) and launches the idea of ​​a "Milazzo society of homeland history", of which he discusses the Statute, the possible headquarters and the establishment of the library to which he intends to contribute with his books. Then his condition worsens, and, in the autumn of 1988, he remains immobilized in bed. On the evening of December 2nd, he died at the age of 93. The funeral is celebrated in the church of S. Papino. He is buried in the Milazzo cemetery, where his wife Vittoria will join him a few years later. The last years of the long life of Domenico Ryolo, a man who had always been at the center of the social and cultural life of his city, were years of secluded isolation and negligence on the part of the city institutions. A loneliness alleviated only by meetings with friends who after his death will form the Milazzese Society of Homeland History, which he had hoped for and together with them. While he was alive, he had no recognition from his city (except for the convention organized in his honor by the Classical Lyceum), nor was his disappearance public.

La signora Vittoria Ryolo riceve la targa della SocietÓ milazzese di storia patria al Convegno archeologico del 2003ö.But his memory, as is the case for those who left a significant cultural legacy, not only did not fade after his death, but, on the contrary -cultivated and placed at the center of cultural initiatives, by those who had commonality with him. interests and considered him a guide and inspiration for their commitment - it has gone more and more like one of the most important personalities of the twentieth century milazzese. Already on the first anniversary of his death, on 2 December 1989, the Milazzese Society of Homeland History, commemorates him during a conference in which they relate the president Bartolo CannistrÓ, the editor of the Guide of Milazzo Peppino Pellegrino and Luigi Bernab˛ Brea who, together with Madeleine Cavalier, she pays homage to the memory of Ryolo with a particularly dense and touching intervention. In 1993 the same company organized a conference on the theme "Archeology in Milazzo", which was attended by Pietro Griffo, Luigi Bernab˛ Brea and Gabriella Tigano, and whose Acts will be published by the journal Geoarchaeology directed by Claudio Saporetti. Opening the works, the president of the association dedicates the conference to Ryolo which goes "the memory, grateful and moved, not only of the Milazzese society of homeland history, but also of the most alive and conscious part of Milazzo", and, soon after, the vice-president Ernesto Buzzanca recalls the commitment uselessly lavished by Ryolo for the establishment of an archaeological museum in Milazzo. At the end a commemorative plaque is offered to Mrs. Vittoria Ryolo. In 1999 the weekly the City began the publication of the cards on the cultural heritage of Milazzo written by Ryolo thirty years earlier, and that still university students and scholars consult at the Milazzese Society of Homeland History that holds them together with other papers by Ryolo. In 2002 the Administration Nastasi gives the name of Domenico Ryolo to the Antiquarium of Milazzo, inaugurated in the presence of Madeleine Cavalier, and the volume "The necropolis of Milazzo" Ryolo con la Cavalier durante gli scavi del Ĺ52- edited by Gabriella Tigano and published by Rebus di Nino Ragusi- , in addition to a biographical card by Ryolo edited by Giacomo Scibona, the text of the report held by Bernab˛ Brea at the conference organized by the Lyceum in 1984. In May 2002 Milazzo Nostra published the project drawn up by Ryolo in 1958 for the restoration of Palazzo Carrozza and its use as the site of the Archaeological Museum. In August of the same year, the magazine published three writings by Ryolo - now untraceable - from 1940, 1955 and 1963 on the economic reality and the tourist prospects of Milazzo. Approaching the twentieth anniversary of Ryolo's death and the opening of the Municipal Library in the new headquarters of Palazzo D'Amico, MilazzoNostra sends repeated requests to the Municipality because
1) organize a conference of studies on the contribution of Ryolo to the knowledge of the history of Milazzo;
2) give the name of Ryolo to the Archaeological Museum of Milazzo, whose opening should be near;
3) promote the reconstitution of the library of Ryolo and the collection of works, unpublished works, notes and projects, in a section of the Municipal Library called "Fondo Ryolo" to implement his desire to make available to scholars the books on he had done his research and the results of them.


The webmaster, Claudio Italiano, sincerely thanks for the courtesy received from the editors of "Milazzo Nostra". 

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