To have seen Italy without having seen Sicily is to not have seen Italy at all, for Sicily is the clue to everything.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832)
I vividly remember walking the streets of Florence and Rome, discovering the canals of Venice on a gondola, enjoying dinner somewhere in the Tuscan countryside, soaking up the sun on beaches by the Adriatic Sea, visiting San Marino (technically not Italy, but an independent state), taking a ferry from Genoa to Sardinia to discover the island (in a recent post I said I had never been further south than Rome but by that I was referring to the mainland). And these are just part of my memories.
That said I'm afraid I cannot quite agree with Goethe, at least not today. But I will give him the benefit of the doubt. If I find myself in Sicily one day, which I hope I do, and discover that 'clue to everything' I will know that he was right.
It was never my plan to post images from Sicily today or, when I think of it, ever. Before leaving the house this morning I was about to post that bottom photo (which happens to be taken in Sicily) with other pink/peach coloured images when all I could think about were peaches, big juicy Italian peaches, the best I have ever tasted in my life. Then I saw the Italian map spread out on my table (see yesterday's post) and I was reminded of Goethe's words. That was it. I abandoned my plans, left the house and decided to keep my mind open to Sicily today, and hoped that I would find some nice travel photos when I got back home.
Enter photographer Giuseppe M. Galasso, the owner of the first seven images in this post. To my delight I found his old profile on TrekEarth. (If you are interested in travel photography then check this guy out; he has been almost everywhere, even in Iceland.)
All day long my mind was drifting off to Sicily and I was thinking about what I know about the island. I knew that Palermo is the capital and as I have a friend from Messina, I'm familiar with that city, a seaport that used to be a major commercial port in the past. I knew that it had a few UNESCO World Heritage sites, and as someone brought up in a country with volcanic activity, I hadn't forgotten Mount Etna.
When thinking of Sicily the word fusion comes to mind. I think of rich Mediterranean culture blended with Greek temples, Norman churches, Byzantine mosaics and baroque architecture. As I food lover, I'm aware of its culinary culture.
When I was younger the ideas of Sicily I had in my mind were probably connected with what I had seen when watching The Godfather trilogy by Coppola. That and Dolce & Gabbana. I'm afraid 'the Corleone family' image is still alive and kicking in the minds of many. I think Dolce & Gabbana have changed some people's ideas about Sicily and maybe we can thank those two for putting it back on the map. Not that I think it ever fell off the map completely.
Villa Romana del Casale at Piazza Armerina, in the province of Enna. This is the brief description of the place on the UNESCO website:
Roman exploitation of the countryside is symbolized by the Villa Romana del Casale ... the centre of the large estate upon which the rural economy of the Western Empire was based. The villa is one of the most luxurious of its kind. It is especially noteworthy for the richness and quality of the mosaics which decorate almost every room; they are the finest mosaics in situ anywhere in the Roman world.
There are a few photos on their website too that show the ancient mosaics.
In the province of Trapani, in the south-west part of the island, is the Greek archaeological site of Selinunte. In the photo below, from an article in the August 1995 issue of National Geographic, you see the stately ruins of the Greek Temple of Hera.
On Persephone's Island: A Sicilian Journal and added it to my Amazon picks. She moved to Sicily back in 1962 and knows the heartbeat of the island.
If you care more for novels then maybe you should get a copy of The Leopard by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa. And if you care for Goethe you can, of course, read his Italian Journey, 1786-1788 (translated by W.H. Auden).
1-7: Giuseppe M. Galasso (1: San Giorgio cathedral, Modica, 2: Cefalu, 3: Modica, 4: windmill on the west coast, 5: Avola cathedral, 6: Palermo, 7: Palermo) / 8: Victoria Yarlikova (Messina) / 9: William Albert Allard for National Geographic (Greek Temple of Hera, Selinunte) / 10: Vita Nostra on Etsy