The story of Sicily told by the storyteller: from year Zero to nowaday
In this episode: flying cradles; two people in white; three saints in harmony; stella, stelluccio and stellario; u cunigghiaru and Harry Potter
The little town above the canyon
Cassaro, eastern Sicily, a small village in the countryside.
At its slopes begins the amazing Pantalica, for the most part still unexplored or, better, in some areas no longer visited for hundreds of years.
If you are an aspiring Indiana Jones then, you are welcome.
Thousands of prehistoric tombs are still waiting to be discovered!
Pantalica is a Unesco heritage site, a mixture of nature, stone man and a little train that is now no longer there.
A little train that ran inside this canyon, among cliffs, a river, flying birds of prey and 5000 excavated tombs, it is not known how in the vertiginous cliffs of the mountain.
Here in Cassaro there is a stop for that magical little train.
Harry Potter Stuff!
If this is not platform 9 and three quarters, that mysterious station where trains left for the fantastic world of fantasy, then what should it be?
Uhmmm… But we’ll talk about it soon: a little patience and you’ll know everything!
We arrive in Cassaro after having passed woods and going up and down repeatedly between valley floors and small hills.
There are not even 1000 inhabitants.
It is a Sicily of traditions and peace.
Jackjackfly, our drone, sniffs Cassaro from above and catches a lady who hangs out clothes on the terrace.
There are houses with different colors and many have roofs with characteristic Sicilian roof tiles and stones resting on top for the wind.
Many houses have their roofs uncovered, but it was not the wind in this case, but the decennial abandonment.
Do you want to move to Cassaro?
With not even 20000 euros you can find a house of a 100 square meter already renovated.
The forest surrounds and wraps around the small village.
The naca and the delicious oil of Cassaro
Very few cars and a football field that has never seen the series A.
We started from Piazza Matrice and we walk around Cassaro.
We meet a lady who has just cooked the rabbit and she is taking it to her son in a hurry.
Show us the dish Ma’m!
She: I’m sorry, but I’m in a hurry… Good bye…
We arrive at the ethno-anthropological museum.
It is a beautiful noble palace of a nobleman who no longer is alive.
Aristocratic Sicily …
There are many tools dedicated for the harvesting of olives.
The oil of Cassaro is among the best in Sicily which is equivalent to saying, among the best in the world.
There is a bedroom typical of the past: Sicilian faces, panties of our grandparents and the Naca which is the cradle, suspended in the bed on the side of the mother that, as soon as the son was asleep, stretched her arm without opening her eyes and rocked the whinig sicilian baby.
There are also the typical instruments of a musical band, a characteristic feature of the Sicilian open-air festivals.
A family in white
We continue the walk and arrive in a town square where there are two palm trees and a couple of people chatting.
We see a lady dressed in white
Nar: This is a beautiful square Ma’m.
She: Who are you?
Nar: Sicilians who visit Sicily and tell it to the whole world
She: Come I’ll show you my house.
These Sicilians are truly incredible.
They have the front door always open for travelers.
She’s returning home with a plate of food.
She: The neighbor gave me peppers and caliceddi. Here we use to exchange the things to eat between the families.
The caliceddi are a typical wild grass that grows thriving, like many others, in the Mediterranean climate of Sicily and usually you it with pork sausage.
Her husband also shows up dressed in white!
There are coats hanging: naturally white!
Nar: Do you like white?
She: We made a vow.
He: I am a miracle I was dying.
We go down into the kitchen
He: I was an atheist I did not believe in God. I had a bad disease and I promised the Lord that if I healed, that me and my wife would dressed in white all our life.
She: We do everything at home: tomato sauce, jam, vegetable stock . These are the orange peels
Let’s go upstairs I’ll show you the rooms. We host for free anyone who wants to come.
They are such nice people, we leave with an heavy heart.
Jack Jackfly resumes his flight over the roofs of Cassaro and heads towards the church of Sant Antonio Abate.
It is decorated with wonderful angels one of which, curiously, is turned upside down.
Reminds everyone that the world was on the contrary before the coming of Jesus, Bonfiglio the traffic cop tells us , a kind of ethno-anthropologist in uniform!.
There is also a beautiful organ on a green stage.
The only woman mayor in the history of Cassaro, Mirella Grasso, explains that in Cassaro there are three patron saints: Sebastian, Joseph and Antony.
One for every 300 inhabitants.
She: Since the the township cannot afford to finance three fests during the year, then they work as shifts: once every three years, for everyone’s peace.
We’re out again.
An abandoned house: we enter
A philosophy notebook.
This one has some cooking recipes.
So here lived a professor and a cook!
There is a woman at the door, clothes hanging and a dog barking.
She: Her name is Stella, she stays out all day then when my husband comes back she comes back also.
We leave while Stella keeps barking.
Speaking of Stella, it looks like it’s a common name around here.
Returning to the mother church, the traffic cop and the local historian Professor Stelluccio were waiting for us with his grandfather called Stellario: crazy stuff!
In other words the situation is the following: the dog is called Stella, which means star; the professor is called Stelluccio, that is little star; and his grandfather Stellario, always meaning something with the stars.
He: Cassaro was born in the valley at the bottom, in the midst of rivers and woods and there was the old castle, then gradually the town moved up here.
The door of the mother church is open.
Stuff for Splendid Sicily.
We can’t as usual, not climb the bell tower.
Here is another step ladder.
It brings to the clock connected to the bells!
Soon it will ring: we better sneak out
Smashing Local (Mayor)
Cassaro is the smallest town in the province of Syracuse. It is located in the Anapo valley, a kingdom of unspoiled nature that allows you to hear the sounds of plants and animals. Coming to Cassaro is a journey into the past, where life is still regulated by the rhythms of the sun, where people are hospitable and where food is genuine. And then, let me tell you, Cassaro oil is the best in Sicily. We are waiting for you with open arms.
We are in the main course, if the main course can be defined this way.
There is a bar on the left and the sun on the right. And Sicilians, like lizards, chase the sun.
Inside you play cards.
We continue on foot.
Let’s go in.
There are monumental tombs!
Buildings inhabited by ghosts!
It’s a real city of the dead!
Here Lovecraft would have put a chair and his typewriter!
In the house of Silvana
Hmm, all these deceased people made me hungry.
Let’s see who’s Hosting us today!
A red House… Hey but that is the sindaco, I mean, the Sindaca what It means is that the sindaco is the male mayor the sindaca is the female mayor .
She: Pleasure, Silvana. Take a seat.
She: This is our wedding photo
Mamma mia what a wonderful table!
She: This is a very good pasta: sausage and broccoli. Then we have rabbit in a diluted version,whicht is with olives, vinegar, onions. Wild fennel meatballs. Apple quince jam. Cannoli. Chickpeas stewed. Broad beans and borage, picked up in our countryside.
The mayor is next to me and kindly serves me from time to time.
She even drops some olives on my pants!
She: Mrs. Mayor you are not suited to serve guests!
The meal proceeds in a big way and we talk about a lot of Sicily.
Silvana’s aunt, in front of me, has emigrated to Australia and must leave tomorrow.
She remembers her youth in Sicily.
The nicknames that all Sicilian men had come to mind.
Silvana’s father, for example, was called the sergeant.
Angelo, to my left, is known as u cunigghiaru, the rabbit man
He: Maybe because my grandfather was quick to work.
At the end of the lunch we conclude with a toast of the place launched by the mayor: …
Now it’s time to dispose of this diabolical lunch!
Here is the strong, powerful dish of Cassaro: nature.
We take via Anapo which starts from the center of the town and bears the same name as the river we are going to meet.
We are excited: We are about to enter the world of fantasy.
Ehy, that’s probably a Sicilian wizard!
He: I’m picking asparagus: they are great for omelette!
No, he wasn’t a wizard.
Here we are at platform 9 and three quarters of Cassaro!
Harry Potter is certainly around, along with some prehistoric Sicilian gods!
Here is the ancient railway station that will soon become a place where you can sleep
Sleeping in the kingdom of nature: beautiful dreams guaranteed!.
But on foot!
We dive into the Pantalica canyon, a Unesco heritage. site
We pass a series of tunnels, we sneak into tombs of the past, we pass other stations on platform 9 and three quarters, we take a footbath in the river and go up to the prehistoric village!
Amazing Sicily, fantastic Cassaro!
Have a Splendid Sicily everyone!