Sicilia-Part one – Look and feel
“To have seen Italy without having seen Sicily is not to have seen Italy at all”. Goethe
Whatever Sicilia (Sicily) conjures up in your mind…it is probably correct. What a melting pot of ethnic influences from throughout the Mediterranean. Part one of our blog is about the look and feel of Sicily.
Sicily is the largest Island in the Mediterranean. It is roughly triangular in shape and is quite mountainous. It has Europe’s tallest and most active Volcano, Mount Etna.
It is principally an agricultural economy although tourism is now making its mark.
The population is over 5 million and the capital city is Palermo in the north west followed by Catania in the South East.
At its closest point, Sicily is within 3 km of the Italian mainland near Calabria.
While early human form can be traced back to 8,000 BC, the first major ethnic settlements were from the Greeks around 750 BC. Then the Romans took over around 200 BC. Other groups to rule Sicily were Germanic (400 BC) and Arab (900-1,000 BC), French (1200 BC), Austrian (1700 BC) and Spanish (1400 BC). In the 1860’s Italy become part of the Kingdom of Italy.
The Mafia (Cosa Nostra) grew in influence in the 19th century. In World War 2 the allies began their invasion of Sicily in 1943 and to help they revitalised the Mafia to aid them. The Mafia continues to operate in Sicily today with just under 100 clans and it is estimated that almost 70% of Sicilian businesses pay “protection” money to the Mafia. It is most dominant in the western part of Sicily.
Sicily is a large wine producer with its most famous production coming from Masala (a fortified wine called Masala) on the west coast. Nero D’Avolo (red wine) is the best known local variety.
The people of Sicily are proud of their island, culture and heritage and it is not uncommon to hear them call themselves Sicilian rather than Italian.
The following are some of the “look and feel” pics that reflect the towns and lands of Eastern Sicily. It should be noted that during our time in Sicily every day had rain. So if there are not many “sunny day” photos please excuse.
Looking south along the coast from Taormina
Taormina – one of the piazza’s and small Church
Taormina – another Piazza and Church
Caltagirone inland in the east of Sicily
Caltagirone, a typical Sicilian town
Caltagirone is the most famous ceramics town in Sicily. Here we have the “ceramic” stairs in the centre of the city
Caltagirone small stairs
Caltagirone fencing around a park with ceramic tiling and ceramic vases for plants on it as well as around lamp posts
Ragusa, a city of 70,000 people inland in the south east has a strong baroque influence in its architecture
Typical old town street in Ragusa. It even has some tourists…mmmm…is that Jacqueline and Dad off to lunch at Sicily’s top restaurant?
In the towns morte (death, funeral and anniversary of deaths) notices stuck on walls are quite common.
Ragusa – looking up at the old town
Just outside Randazzo in the south east of Italy. Randazzo is the closest town to the summit of Mount Etna and is 70km NW from Catania.
Rural scenes on our drive from Catania to Caltagirone
Catania fruit and vegie market
Allora, part one finito
Prossimo e part 2 about Sicilian food
Baci a tutti
Carolyna e Alan