We are in Nicolosi, a small village in eastern Sicily about 700 meters above sea level, made of lava stone, pine trees,…
In this episode: little doors and small windows; broom handles; caves and arches; the boyfriend of San Giovanni Gemini; the man-horse; the pitirri
Brooms and clothes
Among the waving green mountains of the Sicilian hinterland, suddenly a small village appears, lying at 700 meters above sea level: it’s called Alia.
We greet these two cows at the entrance of the village and we go.
Alia is a magical village, which seems to be inhabited by elves, frogs, fairies and witches of Sicily.
If this place were in the vicinity of the Glengariff forest in Ireland, well … then there would be no doubt that some witch could come out of some house.
Instead we are at the center of Sicily and there is not even the shadow of woods!
But there is a lot of wheat and a lot of history that is lost throughtout the millennia.
Jack Jackfly, our drone, is unleashed on the roofs of the town.
Ummmmmm, let’s go from here … let’s see where this stairway made of pebbles and river stones takes us.
It is covered with moss which makes it even more fairytale .
How many small wooden doors.
The witch is in!
If you pass through this door you will be put in the soup broth!
Hey, look at those clothes hanging up high, do they belong to the house on the left or to the right?
In my opinion, by the clothes hanging two men and a woman live in that house.
Let’s try to ask.
Ummm, I guess they went out.
How many little houses and how many alleys.
Hey Alice in Wonderland, come out!
Streets and stairs and alleys chase each other at breakneck speed.
As in a fairy tale, in fact.
Look at this bench :It’s a little dangerous, actually!
What a beautiful view from here!
Uhmmm, how many brooms out of the houses!
Will they be flying?
Nar: Good morning Ma’m, but why are there all these brooms outside?
She: Just like that, we keep them out!
Nar: In my town we keep the brooms inside
She: And we keep them out!
I understand … actually it seems right: it is certainly more hygienic!
Although I’m sure these brooms are used for flying!
This house is for sale: if you want to become a wizard you can give it a little thought.
The town of the little doors
Look how beautiful this other little door: I’m sure it will enter some underground that will lead to a secret passage that will reach a river inside a forest.
Hmmmm, Alia’s alleys play tricks!
They tell us that that men down there he’s a poet.
Let’s hear him.
He: Alia is my town, in the mountains you hide small and peaceful Alia: you are my town …
Uhmmm let’s see if that gentleman in that house he’s a wizard
Nar: Hello, what a beautiful house. Is it ancient?
He: It’s from around 1860!
Nar: Listen, with these doors and windows it feels like living in a fairy tale
He: Yes, but now I have to refresh them
Nar: I understand
Okay, let’s continue.
What a nice smell it comes from that door
A nice bakery!
She: Next year it will turn fifty years
Fresh bread and cookies!
Jack Jackfly flies over the rooftops of Alia.
Be careful dont hit a flying broom Jack!
From up here you can see the roofs of the houses, the green hills near the town, the mother church and a beautiful noble palace.
Smoke comes out of that chimney: certainly someone is preparing a magic potion.
Another house with clothes hanging: I think there are three men and two women living there.
Let’s see if I guess this time.
There is the usual broom at the door: blue
Nice color for a flying broom.
Nar: Hello ma’am sniff sniff what a nice smell … let’s see if I guess … pasta and beans?
She: No spaghetti with tomatoes
Nar: Are you from here? How do you call yourself alieti, alioti?
Nar: Look, she also has a broom at her door. Do you need it to fly?
She: No. Instead now I’ll take it away because every time a tourist passes, takes pictures.
Nar: Listen, let’s see if I can guess: in this house I think, by the clothes hanging out, three men and two women live here
Nar: Almost. Right now there are two men and one woman.
Alioti or Aliens?
Down there … an elf grandfather!
Nar: Excuse me, you are an alioto, alien … what do you call yourself?
Nar: What class are you?
He: From 1940
Nar: What is your name?
Nar: Did you start working at 30?
He: At 10 I started!
Nar: And what did you do
He: What ever there was to do: with cows, with sheeps, in the farm
Jack Jackfly, our four-legged drone, flies in the historic center of Alia, right above our head.
We arrive at the ethno-anthropological museum, one of the most beautiful in Sicily.
There is a fascinating exposition of Sicily of one time.
Another nice little door, but this time without a broom.
There are no witches here!
Perhaps it belongs to an Irish leprechaun on a study trip in Alia.
Let’s take that street
How many arches!
Legend has it that they were built in the middle of the night to connect the houses between them
Perhaps there was an alchemists summit!
Nar: Hello ma’am, excuse us does a wizard live in here with all these arches?
She: No, what are you saying?
Another Alia fairy arrives
Nar: Hello ma’am, excuse me, what are you cooking today?
She: Actually I still don’t know … I still have to see …
A bar and a half horse
A bar, let’s see what is there is to eat.
Nar: Hello ma’m, what a beautiful face?
She: Thank you, very kind.
Nar: What is there to eat?
She: Arancini, sfincioni, pizzette
Nar: In eastern Sicily the arancino al ragù is pyramidal, instead over here it’s round
She: I prefer it round. Do you want to taste a pastry?
Nar: Thank you
She: This is typical of Alia, it’s crunchy
Nar: Are you the daughter?
Nar: Did you meet your boyfriend here?
She: No, in San Giovanni Gemini, a town nearby.
Nar: And you didn’t find no one here?
She: No, there were none
Ok goodbye nice bar
Check out those guys out there
Nar: Listen, I heard that you said that he’s a horse?
He: Yes, he is strong and 80 years old
Nar: It must be the air of Alia
He: We eat genuine stuff
Nar: A purebred horse
He: And this one has 79
Nar: So you’re a horse from Alia too?
He: In short, half a horse
Felice Guglielmo, Mayor of Alia
Hello everyone, and I hope you will come to visit us in Alia. In our town, besides beautiful monuments and splendid views, it is still possible to enjoy genuine food and be welcomed by simple and friendly people. Furthermore, you cannot miss one of the great masterpieces of Sicily that are the caves of Gurfa. I’m waiting for you in my town!
Mistery is solved: Gurfa cave!
Ok, now I’m hungry!
And we are going to eat inside the hideout of the wizards and witches of Sicily!
To get there first you pass by this sculpture by the Sicilian Croce Taravella: a mural composed of five walls, two meters and seventy centimeters high and more than twelve meters long.
We see strange figures performing strange rituals.
Then we borrow a broom and go to the magic hideout.
The Grotte della Gurfa are right next to the village of brooms and small wooden doors; of arches and hanging clothes.
They are a masterpiece of mystery.
According to some, it is the tomb of Minos, the mythical king of Crete.
No one has ever succeeded perfectly in understanding what this spectacular complex of six cavities arranged on two levels carved in a yellowish sandstone is.
The evocative power of this monumental troglodyte complex is nothing short of poignant.
It will only be a coincidence, but the obvious bizarre aspect of the village, which immediately catches the eye of the visitor, finds an ally in this equally mysterious rock of excavated stone
The elves and the fairies of Alia prepared our lunch right here.
They are the products of the rural tradition.
Nar: Today you will eat as our ancestors ate
Among the various preparations there is the pitirri, a chickpea flour with a very good taste.
Soups, pitirri, cheese and wine.
Fairy tale stuff!