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Truvature, the hidden treasures in Sicily

Ancient vase with gold coins, i.e. the truvatura

When there was no television, people used to meet in the evening to listen to those who told cunti, that is, the stories. My family has maintained this tradition despite the advent of TV, and I remember very well how much I liked to listen to my grandparents, who told of episodes related to their youth and legends. Among these, the one on the truvature.

These are findings of treasures that were hidden inside caves, in the area of churches or holes dug in the ground, and that the owners were no longer able to recover – in some cases because they forgot about it.

Like all the legends, the origins of this phenomenon are unknown. It probably started in the days of the pirate or Arab invasions, when it became necessary for the inhabitants of the island to hide their money and precious objects to prevent the conquerors from stealing them. Smart, huh?!

The loot could also be that of the brigands, who perhaps hid it, but then they were arrested, thus losing their treasure forever.

Painting depicting a brigand with his rifle in his hand
Painting of a brigand

It appears, however, that some truvature date back to more recent times, when people tried to protect their belongings in wartime.

Free and bound truvature

Truvature could be of two types: free and bound. The former were discovered by chance by the peasants, who suddenly became rich and thus had the opportunity to redeem themselves. The latter, instead, were a challenge to the finder since they had to be freed by resorting to rituals or magic formulas.

It usually was a relative who passed away or a fairy who appeared in a dream and revealed both the location of the truvatura and the magic ritual to follow. Those who received this revelation would have to keep it secret and go to the place at midnight and when there was a full moon.

Requirements to be able to take possession of the truvature

Whoever wanted to take possession of the treasure, first of all, did not have to invoke neither God nor the Saints and then had to carry out various tests, for example, to eat a pomegranate without dropping even a grain on the ground.

However, if something went wrong during the ritual, the treasure would disappear or turn into snail shells.

Pietro di Lorenzo, called Busacca

It could also happen that the finder had to promise something if he wanted to be wealthy for life. One of these promises was to make charity. That seems to be the case of Pietro di Lorenzo, known as Busacca, a character who existed and who left his enormous inheritance to the inhabitants of Scicli. But how had he managed to accumulate that wealth? The father of our friend Erik told us the legend. Busacca was said to have sighted three donkeys, and each of them carried a saddlebag full of gold coins. He secretly left Scicli to reach Palermo (where some of his relatives lived) together with the three donkeys, and here he became one of the principal businessmen. With some of this wealth, he built the Busacca Hospital and the Busacca Palace in Scicli.

Be careful, because if the finder did not respect the rules, the spirits would reach him at night and beat him black and blue!

The truvature nowadays …

By now, almost nobody talks about truvature. There is, however, someone who claims to have ancient maps that lead to hidden treasures. These maps are part of their inheritance, but obviously, you must have specific requirements, such as being born on a definite day, having a particular name, and more. If the finder takes possession of the treasure without having the requirements, he will have a life marked by misfortunes.

So be careful if you get a treasure map… 🙂

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