Rafts and ferries on the the Simeto: “The Giarrette.” During the Roman domination, along the course of Simeto from Maniace to Catania, were built several bridges for the passage of troops and the caravans of beasts of burden laden with wheat. During the barbarian rulers, they were destroyed for lack of maintenance. As the Simeto has a torrential regime, in lean times, it was easy to find fords or steps, but in busy periods, there was a risk of being carried away by the current. With the flourishing of agriculture and trade in the Arabic Age, it began to use some rafts or boats called “Giarrette” that were placed at the mouth of the busiest narrow streets to permit the ferrying of people, animals and merchandises.
These were secured to both sides of the river from huge hawsers called “libani” that served as a guide through the vortices of the current. On the eastern bank of the river, there was a large haystack where there were the boatmen and tools: logs, planks, ropes and pitch for boats. These were the property of the sovereign or nobleman that had received with the feud; they were taxed for periods that ranged from 3 to 6 years. The passed off corresponded an annual rent in money or in victuals and in turn taxed on the wading, gaining special “iura” or rights of way by stewards, shepherds, and so on… The most famous Giarrette were three: that of Adorno or Mandarano, that of Paternò or Poira and that of Catania, not far from the mouth of Simeto.
Fron the Giarretta of Adernò we have news from the Count Francesco Moncada’s letters. In this contract it states that, by provision of the Count, the proceeds of the boat had to be collected annually by the prosecutors of the Mother Church to spend it in the purchase of wax, oil, etc.. From 1564 to 1636, the matrix rated the boat perceiving an annual fee of 10 ounces by passed off that for their performance demanded the following rights: four mounds of grain from the civilians that were farms; by the shepherds cheese, goats, and ricotta cheese. This heavy carge, weighed down for a long time and often raised complaints by farmers and herders who didn’t want to pay so strong rights.
Tenuta Giarretta was a point of reference for the neighboring farms, so much that it was there, and still is, a chapel where religious rites were consumed, celebrated by those monks who lived in the “monastery. “They slept in cells of which we kept unchanged in size, and in particular also the original floor of the time. Outside is still visible the original well from which they drew water for everyday life and the sink in lava stone. During the hot days of August, mixed with the scents of the Sicilian country, it still seems to feel in the air the smell of burnt incense when it was burnt, in religious silence by the monks before celebrating the holy mass.