Giuliana: the magic of quietness among the Julia gens

Testo in italiano


In this episode: Julius Caesar, Minchialino, the bandits, ca cucuzza pasta, a castle and lots of flowers!


Perched on top of a fortress 750 meters above sea level, overlooking the underlying Sosio valley, stands an ancient Sicilian little town which in the past belonged to the descendants of Aeneas, the so called gens Giulia, the Roman class which boasts illustrious personalities including none other than, Julius Caesar!

And when the sun begins to set in Giuliana and the little lights of the town illuminate the narrow stone alleys and the low houses, one has the impression that the Romans could suddenly appear back, catapulted into the future by who knows what sort of time machine !

But luckily it is daylight now, and we have just arrived in Giuliana, in Piazza della Repubblica.

A small group of local elderly people have found their meeting point in this staircase and as usual, seeing new people arriving, the moods are opposite: there is the one who turns away because he doesn’t trust anyone, as if he is accustomed to these tourist encounters from morning to night; than there is the one who scrutinizes us from head to toe but doesn’t say a word; and, eventually, the one who finds someone else with whom to talk about new things and not always the usual topics that sometimes spread to lifelong companions for entire weeks.

“My grandfather served in the army in the North of Italy and since he was thin they called him Mingherlino that is skinny in Italian. When he came here to Sicily and told his friends they changed Mingherlino in a more Sicilian, Minchialino and this is our nickname”

“This is a country for old people now, we’re enjoying our retirement”

Good morning

Here’s a nice group of gens Giulia to chat with

“They call me Cozzolone”

“Because he has a big head”

“And we call him a flag, go and understand where he comes from”

“Come and interview him”

“My grandfather always walked with a bag of beans and they called him Sacchina, that is little bag in Sicilian”

I have heard that there were famous bandits here in the past, the so called Briganti.

“The most famous brigand was Praia and in fact the saying remains that whoever steals is Praia”

“Come, I’ll show you the local old club”

How beautiful and what a beautiful floor!

Here are the newspapers

“This is the Club of the civil, in the past it was reserved only to the noble or important people, but today is open to everyone.”

Look at this beautiful billiard table.

We go back to walking.

What quiet, what serenity.

Here is the sign for the 13th century castle.

How beautiful are these stone alleys of Sicilian villages.

Look at those two falconers, we are truly catapulted into the Middle Ages.

Here is a panoramic point over the beautiful Sosio river valley.

Sicily, the granary of ancient Rome.

And even today wheat is largely cultivated in the countryside of our hinterland.

We climb through a stone labyrinth, see where it takes us.

Uhmmmm I think this is the famous castle built in the 13th century by King Frederick II of Swabia, the so called Stupor Mundi, famous for having written a treatise on falconry as well as for his great culture and ingenuity.


Now I understand what those two were doing with the buzzards!

We are in the highest part of Giuliana and at the top of the castle there is a telescope that encompasses half of Sicily.

Uhmmmm where does this music come from?

Splendid Local

Francesco Scarpinato, Mayor of Giuliana

Giuliana is a medieval village rich in traditions that we still maintain. Beyond this castle we also have a cuba dating back to the Arab period which was used to quench the animals’ thirst. Here we have respectable and honest people, here you can find serenity and a beautiful dimension of life. We happily welcome anyone who comes to visit us.



Here it is Stefania Arcuri of the touristic office

“As in all places rich in history there are many legends around this castle. It is said that this trapdoor was an escape route that led to the river in the valley below. We know for sure that tunnels communicating with each other have been found underground in the town and therefore I really believe that there could have been this underground circuit of escape routes from the castle.”

Let’s go back to town.

These beautiful red flowers welcome us.

Silence, stillness, poetry.

An open door, our favorite prey!

“We decorate ceramic objects with passion: chandeliers, plates, ladles, everything. This is a typical Sicilian Moor’s head, this is the male and there is the woman. Legend has it that at the time of Arab domination, in the 10th century, a Moor fell in love with a beautiful Sicilian woman. When she realized that he was cheated her, she cut off his head, she emptied it and she planted basil in it!”

Mamma mia: never cheat on a Sicilian woman!

Better go back for a walk.

Still beautiful red flowers.

And here are some white flowers.

They have a green thumb in Giuliana!

Good morning, what about the bandits?

“No, no, nothing about bandits, I don’t know anything. I’m a good person.”

“This is my home”

What are you eating today?

“Ca cucuzza pasta that is pasta with zuchini. And do you know why I eat pasta ca cucuzza? Because here lived such Doctor Bella who always ate pasta ca cucuzza and lived up to one hundred years old”

Here is another house full of plants and flowers.

Let’s see who lives there.

What a beautiful house.

“For me it is important that there are books and paintings”

What beautiful doors and how many embroidered paintings and sofas.

“My sister and I did everything”

What a beautiful typical Sicilian bedroom, there is also a crib and above it a plethora of stoups.

“My name is Giuseppina, my husband Giuseppe and my son Joseph”.

Here we are in the kitchen, also full of objects.

“You should come for Christmas”

And we imagine it!

(we say goodbye to the lady and walk along Via Beethoven and then enter a church)

“This is the church of San Nicolò di Bari and this is the statue of Saint Joseph and Jesus, which traditionally is brought to the bride and groom’s home in March and placed on the bed. The future spouses make these propitiatory ribbons of blessing and future offspring”

A big dog invites us to follow him.

And actually he is absolutely right: what a beautiful table set!

A classic Sicilian outdoor table with singing birds and the inevitable black olives.

Grandma made fresh pasta.

“These are cannolicchi with ricotta, typical of Giuliana”

The table is set up: let’s eat.

We start with the caponata: olives, aubergines, pine nuts, raisins, onion.

In the meantime, the homemade pasta is ready to go into the pot and after a while, it is ready to come out and meet the fresh sauce, always rigorously homemade!

And then we add two aubergines picked from the garden and we start eating.

Then we enjoy a nice omelette and there is also a Sicilian red watermelon.

And finally the cannolicchi with ricotta.

Even the dogs had a nice meal and grandmother Giuseppina is ready to confess everything to us!

“My husband was becoming a priest and I changed his mind. We met here in the village. In that period, a friend of ours, a half-relative, got married and we were both invited to the wedding and so we danced together and then got engaged. For the All Saints’ Day, her mother came to my house to declare herself. We got married in 1957.”

What a beautiful day today in Giuliana, what peace and serenity.

Thank you Sicilian friends!




Author: Rosanna Paternostro (Cultural Department of Splendid Sicily)


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