Corleone (Sicilian: Cunigghiuni) is a small town and comune of approximately 12,000 inhabitants in the Province of Palermo in Sicily, Italy.
It is known primarily as the birthplace of several Mafia bosses, both fictional, such as The Godfather's Vito (Andolini) Corleone, and real, such as Giuseppe Morello, Michele Navarra, Luciano Leggio, Leoluca Bagarella, Salvatore Riina and Bernardo Provenzano.
The local mafia clan, the Corleonesi, led the Mafia in the 1980s and 1990s, and were the most violent and ruthless Mafia clan ever to take control of the organization.
After the Arab conquest of southern Italy and during the Emirate of Sicily, the town was dominated by Arabs, who gave it the name Qurlayun. The Normans later achieved prominence after the Norman conquest of southern Italy.
A lookout tower built between the 11th and 12th century, known as Saracena, still stands, in reference to the Arabs who were known as Saracens. The view from the tower includes the Cascata delle Due Rocche, a sheer drop following the path of the Corleone river.
At one time the town was surrounded by defensive walls that connected the Castello Soprano and Castello Sottano. The Castello Sottano is better preserved than the Soprano, but it cannot be visited since it serves as a Franciscan retreat.
Corleone was known as “Courageous Civitas” because of its position on the front line in all wars fought in Sicily. Halfway between Palermo and Agrigento, the town controlled one of the main arteries and was therefore one of the most strategic locations on the island.
Corleone was largely repopulated by Ghibellines from Alessandria (modern Piedmont), Brescia and elsewhere - "Lombards" led by one Oddone de Camerana - when it became obvious that the German Emperor Frederick of Hohenstaufen ("Stupor Mundi") could not prevail over the Guelph-leaning Lombard communes in the middle of the 13th century.
Corleone became a royal property around the end of the 14th century, and later passed into the feudal holdings of Federico Ventimiglia.
Remarkable demographic growth was reported in the 15th and 16th centuries, following the arrival of several religious orders.
In 1943, the Duke of Aosta created the title of Count of Corleone, awarded to Arturo Faini for his merits in the Italian occupation of Ethiopia.
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