Sicily is the island of the Myth… Ulysses, Homer’s epic hero, landed on the island attracted by sirens’ singing, during his long back home journey .
This island has always exerted a strong magnetism, maybe due to its triangular shape or because of its position at the heart of the Mediterranean sea. However, what attracts at the most is the great variety of landscapes, from valleys to hills, from seas to mountains, up to the vigorous and sour volcanoes which offers to visitors a hellish and heavenly scenario at the very same time..
Its three sides face Africa, Asia and Europe. Sicilians are not easily recognizable by their physical features; they can be dark, eastern, Arab or blond, tall, with green eyes and red hair.
Literature is various, numerous, lengthy, and baroque but it cannot be called “Sicilian”, instead European; Sicily is dry and vigorous like described in one of its fathers’ prose, Giovanni Verga. He reinvented Italian language with a taste of dialect, a language that animates, lives, rejoices and suffers with the characters of his works: Mastro Don Gesualdo and Cavalleria Rusticana. These are the two works that best represent his Sicily.
Together with Giovanni Verga and Federico De Roberto, he created a new movement, the Verismo (the Italian version of Realism) which partly brings together the themes of French Naturalism. An example of this style is found in the novel “I Vicerè“, in which De Roberto describes minutely Catania and its life, carefully examining the Uzeda family of princes.
Those born in Sicily seem to suffer from a sort of “incontinence” of thought and writing which, coupled with Sicilians’ historical pessimism or melancholy, makes this people disillusioned and resistant to change but curious about novelties and permeable to the influences carried by the wind! Càlati iuncu ca passa la china! (Lean over, little cane, as the river is in flood!)
Drawing a rich geo-literary map of Sicily, tracing an itinerary of writers, it is like outlining a Baroque plot.
The writer Vitaliano Brancati was born in Pachino, near Syracuse. He was the father of the saga gallismo, as he made fun of the myth of the fascist super-man. Stefano D’Arrigo was born in Ali Terme, near Messina, and wrote Horcynus Orca, a detailed portrait about Sicilian fishermen’s hard life.
Palermo, sleepy and royal capital, is a world itself: contradictory, Catholic and Muslim, cosmopolitan, anarchic and regal (Federico II, Spain’s viceroy), ostentatious of ancient beauty and opulence. All the Sicilian nobility wanted to have their home there.