For other uses, see Caronia (disambiguation).
Comune di Caronia

Location of Caronia in Italy

Coordinates: 38°01′N 14°26′E / 38.017°N 14.433°E / 38.017; 14.433Coordinates: 38°01′N 14°26′E / 38.017°N 14.433°E / 38.017; 14.433
Country Italy
Region Sicily
Province / Metropolitan city Province of Messina (ME)
Frazioni Canneto, Marina, Torre del Lauro
  Total 226 km2 (87 sq mi)
Elevation 304 m (997 ft)
Population (Dec. 2004)
  Total 3,555
  Density 16/km2 (41/sq mi)
Demonym(s) Caronesi
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
  Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Postal code 98072
Dialing code 0921
Patron saint Saint Blaise (San Biagio)
Saint day February 3

Caronia (Sicilian: Carunìa, Greek: Καλάκτα (Ptol.) or Καλὴ Ἀκτὴ (Diod. et al.), Latin: Calacte or Cale Acte) is a town and comune on the north coast of Sicily, in the province of Messina, about half way between Tyndaris (modern Tindari) and Cephaloedium (modern Cefalù). The town has 3,555 inhabitants.


Kale Akte (or Caleacte, Calacta, Calacte) derived its name from the beauty of the neighboring country; the whole of this strip of coast between the Montes Heraei and the sea being called by the Greek settlers from an early period, the Fair Shore (ἡ καλὴ Ἀκτή he Kale Akte). Its beauty and fertility had attracted the particular attention of the Zanclaeans, who in consequence invited the Samians and Milesians (after the capture of Miletus by the Persians, 494 BC) to establish themselves on this part of the Sicilian coast. Events, however, turned their attention elsewhere, and they ended with occupying Zancle itself.[1] At a later period the project was resumed by the Sikel leader Ducetius, who, after his expulsion from Sicily by Syracuse and his exile at Corinth, returned at the head of a body of colonists from the Peloponnese; and having obtained much support from the neighbouring Siculi, especially from Archonides, dynast of Herbita, according to Diodorus Siculus founded a city on the coast, which was called Kalè Akté (The Fair Shore or Beautiful Coast).[2] The date given by Diodorus is 446 BC, but in another passus the same author says that Ducetius colonised Kale Akte in 440 BC, the same year he died. In addition, recent excavations at Caronia, which is clearly the site of the Hellenistic and Roman town Kale Akte, have revealed only very sparse remains from the 5th century BC, and show that a Sikel settlement already existed here in the early 5th century BC.[3] It is possible that Ducetius founded the colony on the site of this already existing Sikel settlement, just as he had done at Menai and Paliké.

Some scholars have hypothesised that Ducetius returned without the consensus of Syracuse,[4] but this is very improbable.[5] He must have had the permission of Syracuse to end the exile at Corinth (the mother city of Syracuse), and he brought according to Diodorus partly Corinthian settlers for the colonising project at Kale Akte. Syracuse would have had an interest of establishing an allied Sikel-Greek colony on the north coast, without risking too much in a potentially hostile Sikel-dominated area.[6]

We have little subsequent account of its fortunes. It appears to have been in Cicero's time a considerable municipal town.[7] Silius Italicus speaks of it as abounding in fish, litus piscosa Calacte[8] and its name, though omitted by Pliny, is found in Ptolemy, as well as in the Antonine Itineraries; but there is considerable difficulty in regard to its position. The distances given in the Tabula Peutingeriana, however (12 M. P. from Alaesa, and 30 M. P. from Cephaloedium), coincide with the site of the modern town of Caronia, on the shore below which Fazello tells us that ruins and vestiges of an ancient city were still visible in his time. Cluverius, who visited Caronia, speaks with admiration of the beauty and pleasantness of this part of the coast, littoris excellens amoenitas et pulchritudo, which rendered it fully worthy of its ancient name.[9]

The celebrated Greek rhetorician Caecilius of Caleacte, who flourished in the time of Augustus, was a native of Caleacte, whence he derived the surname of Calactinus.[10]

Canneto di Caronia fires

Starting sometime in January 2004, unusual fires were reported in Caronia, more precisely in the village of Canneto. The exact date that the problems began was likely January 21, but a few newspaper articles cast doubt on this date by claiming that Caronia's electrical supply has been cut off since January 4.

Appliances, starting with a television and evidently including a cooker and vacuum cleaner, were reported to catch fire spontaneously. Fires also struck wedding presents and a piece of furniture, the type of which is unknown. One article also claimed that a water pipe caught fire, though this report seems dubious.

At least one person, either a police officer or, according to one report, a scientist, was said to have observed an unplugged electrical cable ignite while he was directly observing it. ENEL, the Italian power utility, cut off the town's power supply, but the outbreaks continued.

The authorities ruled out arson fairly early.[11]

English news articles were mixed as to the reaction of the villagers: most pegged them as blaming demonic forces, while some others cast them as blaming the railroad or other man-made agencies. A Catholic exorcist, Gabriele Amorth, suggested that the causes are supernatural; others, such as (according to some sources) the mayor, Pedro Spinnato, assume a natural cause.

Authorities seemed to agree that some sort of electrical anomaly was responsible, and many experts traveled to Caronia to investigate. A few people have blamed volcanic oddities,[12] others speculate that someone was intentionally creating an electrical phenomenon for nefarious ends, possibly including a con on the villagers, with a Tesla-type Magnifying Transmitter or similar device. (Although this raises the question of why the villagers have not heard the thunderous noise produced by it, unless it is very well hidden indeed, and the fact that no attempt at extortion has yet been reported seems odd.) Many aspects of the case were typical of poltergeist phenomena.

The phenomenon abated, but began again in April 2004. By August, it appeared to be gone for good. The cause remains unknown, but some electrical improvements were apparently made to the village's power system.

A subsequent investigation led the then head of Sicily's Civil Protection Agency, Tullio Martella, to offer: "The cause of the fires seems to have been static electric charges. What we don't understand is why there were these static electric charges." The report went on to suggest that the fires could have been caused by "high power electro magnetic emissions which were not man made and reached a power of between 12 and 15 gigawatts".

The fires prompted an investigation by scientists from the National Research Institute (CNR), with the support of NASA physicists.[13] In 2007 it was proposed that the phenomena are caused by intermittent electromagnetic emissions. A state of emergency was imposed and part of the village was evacuated.[14] On 24 June 2008, following further investigation by the appointed experts, the case was dismissed by the prosecutor of Mistretta. The conclusion of the consultants was that the fires were arson cases.[15]

Mysterious fires returned again in the summer of 2014.[16]


  1. Herodotus vi. 22, 23.
  2. Diod. xii. 8, 2.
  3. Lentini M C - Lindhagen, A - Göransson, K 'Excavations at Sicilian Caronia, ancient Kale Akte', Opuscula Romana 21, 2002, 79-108; Lindhagen, A, Caleacte. production and exchange in a North Sicilian town c. 500 BC-AD 500, diss., University of Lund 2006.
  4. Adameșteanu, D, 'L'ellenizzazione della Sicilia ed il momento di Ducezio', Kokalos 8, 1962, 190-196.
  5. Rizzo, F P, La repubblica di Siracusa nel momento di Ducezio, Palermo 1970.
  6. Rizzo 1970; Lindhagen 2006.
  7. Cicero In Verrem iii. 4. 3, ad Fam. xiii. 37.
  8. xiv. 251.
  9. Cluver. Sicil. p. 291; Tommaso Fazello i. p. 383; Tab. Peut.; Itin. Ant. p. 92; where the numbers, however, are certainly corrupt.
  10. Athen. vi. p. 272.
  11. Top 15 Bizarre True Stories, "13. Fiery Persecution",
  12. The Fires of Canneto di Caronia
  13. The Fires of Canneto di Caronia
  14. (Italian) Article on
  15. "Canneto di Caronia (Me): gli incendi? Opera degli uomini" [Caronia (Me): fires? Opera men]. (webpage) (in Italian). 12 June 2008. Archived from the original on 19 Sep 2008. Retrieved 10 October 2015.

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