Sicilian Dialect Land Measurements

Sicilian Dialect Land Measurements

Whilst travelling looking for land in Sicily to build a house a little local knowledge of dialect and traditional measurements is required. It gets very complicated as different regions of Sicily use the same words for different sizes of land in Sicily.

When evaluating land in Sicily always get an Italian surveyor to document its size in hectares. Remember the crop and quality currently on the land is the principal product you are buying.

Most of the land is agricultural land with restrictive building permission. The restriction is that you can only rebuild a set volume of cubic metres based on the existing registered cubic metres of buildings on the land. Always check with the local Italian land registry, where it will be documented the official volume of buildings on the land. Remember some of the registered buildings may have been knocked down to cultivate the land, so you may have more volume than you can actually see on the land in Sicily. Once you know the existing volume in square metres divide it by 3 (the average height of a room is 3metres) and this will give you the square metres that you can rebuild.

Sqm = square metre : Sqf =square feet : 1sqm=10sqf : 1 Hectare=10,000sqm

Now for the Sicilian land sizes:

Un (one) tumolo = 2,143sqm (in the province of Trapani…remember it varies in different areas.)

Un (1) salma = 16 tumoli = 34,288sqm

1 tomolo = 4 mondelli : 1 mondello = 4 carozzi : 1 carozzo = 4 quarti : 1 quarto = 4 quartigli

So 1 hectare is just under 5 tumuli.

These are important measurements as they originate from the time that the Sicilian barons and land lords handed out land to the peasants to farm. Most farmers in Sicily were given a “Salma“, with a small farmhouse (rudere).

Many farmers are now struggling to work the land as the price of crops has dropped with the opening of European markets. Grapes once were sold onto the vineyard consortiums to produce the wine at 120 euros /kilo now the market is only paying 30 euros/kilo. With manual labour during the vendemmia costing 50 euros per day, they have to collect a lot of grapes for it to pay.

There is an increased trend for the farmers to consider selling on their land. MIPC is currently viewing farmhouses in the Sicilian countryside. Prices vary primarily depending on the crops and quality of the land and density of the crops. Most of the farmhouses are very old and need complete restoration.

Uncultivated land costs from 2000 euros/ tumolo which is 10,000/hectare. The more expensive land having quality grapes or olives can reach 5000 euros/tumolo or 25,000euros/hectare.

The actual farmhouses don’t have a market value as there is limited demand for them, but they still carry a symbolic price, depending on their size and structural state, from 10,000-50,000 euros.

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