Alia: the Sicilian fairy-tale village


Testo in italiano


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?

She: Aliesi

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?

He: Aliesi

Nar: What class are you?

He: From 1940

Nar: What is your name?

He: Salvatore

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


Smashing Local

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!

Goodbye Alia

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