• 52'
  • Author : Fabrice Turpin
  • 12-09-2021
  • Master : 3086


It’s the best-known and most touristy island in the Mediterranean. And yet… Sicily, because of its insularity, its mentalities and its highly specific code of honour, remains the most secret for all those who come from the outside. Through its people, its traditions and its sometimes-violent history, we take you to discover another Sicily, off the beaten track. A Sicilian society that is changing, emancipating itself… Despite the weight of the sacred and the family. In summer, the island obviously attracts with its priceless ancient heritage, and for its sun-drenched beaches. However, by searching carefully, you can discover other gems here. Such as that pearl of Baroque architecture dating from the 17th century: the Palazzo Gangi right in the centre of Palermo. They shot scenes for Visconti’s film “The Leopard” here. Today, to pay for the maintenance work, Princess Carine Vanni Calvello charges visiting tourists, whom she herself guides. In Palermo, the magnificent often rubs shoulders with the squalid. For Giovanni Moncada, the battle is the piles of garbage strewn all over this great Sicilian city. Every day, he tirelessly roams the town alerting the authorities to this sore. In some neighbourhoods, people have become so accustomed to it that they prefer to shut their eyes. To look away… To avoid trouble. A Sicilian tradition that provided the hay days for the Mafia. However, for some years now, some have stood up to the omerta. Men like Fabio and Vincenzo Conticello, two restaurateurs who, despite the threats, have refused to pay the Mafia protection money, the pizzo. They run one of Palermo’s institutions. “L’Antica Focacceria San Francesco” which offers a Sicilian speciality that has been unique since 1834: a sandwich made with beef spleen. In their cooking they use the whole range of local produce, because Sicily is one huge garden: tomatoes, olives, citrus fruit. Even if recent years have seen the introduction of some novelties. With global warming, some producers have moved into the cultivation… of exotic fruits. Today, the brothers have become a tourist attraction, the stars of a Mafia Tour that criss-crosses Palermo in the visible tracks of the Mafia. According to Maurizio De Luccia, one of the foremost anti-Mafia magistrates, under permanent protection, “the Mafia has been weakened, but it is still there.” Less visible, it is the very opposite of the island’s other star. Mount Etna, Europe’s highest and most active volcano! One of the most visited too. 3,000 tourists a day. But not everybody takes the simplest way up, via the cable-car. Some prefer to climb up by the north slope, more difficult and more secret. A path between streams of lava and a chapel that, by some miracle, has survived… Because religion is inseparable from the life of Sicilians, as witnessed by the festival in honour of Saint Calogero, the hermit who evangelized the region in the 5th century. On this island, priests don’t always restrict themselves to the role of spiritual guide, some become whistle blowers. As in Augusta, in the south of the region, where Father Palmiro Prisutto denounces the pollution spilling from the industrial port that is thought to have caused the premature deaths of dozens of people. Religion also accompanies Sicilians at the important moments of their lives. We head to Monterrosso Almo, one the most beautiful villages in Italy, for a Sicilian-style wedding where the family and the in-laws bleed themselves for the occasion. In Italy, there’s no need to go to the Mayor, the priest is enough. However, little by little, Sicilian society is becoming more modern. To prove it, today’s bride and groom, Vito and Annamaria, didn’t wait for the ceremony before living together. Unthinkable, just 10 years ago… So, anything can change. Even in Sicily…

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