The story of Sicily told by the storyteller: from year Zero to nowaday
In this episode in Maniace: two Generals, a castle, Hugo, a sheriff, a brace, cows and pigs in the wild and an obelisk.
Maniace: The infinite and poaching beauty of history and nature in arm-by-arm.
Maniace, eastern Sicily, a small town between the volcano Etna and the Nebrodi Mountains.
Here the air is healthy and life goes on peacefully.
On the banks of its river fought Arabs against Normans and 8 centuries after general Horatio Nelson, himself , tamed a revolt.
And in return they gave him this castle that belonged to his family until a few decades ago.
Interview with a Nelson descendant
In the inside between parks and architectural splendors, there is a twelfth-century church with the columns at the entrance showing monstrous creatures: animals with two bodies and one head, roosters with men heads, and naked women…
They represent the evil that the visitor leaves behind once he enters the kingdom of Jesus.
The inside is a triumph of pointed arches, lava stone and sandstone.
It seems to be back to the dark times of the Middle Ages, when the witches were burnt.
Ehy here they are barbecuing sausage.
He “It’s lunch time… We’re hungry… We’re gardeners…”
How many stories could be told by this castle!
Perhaps in 3857, in the vicinity of Betelgeuse, millions of light years from Earth, an alien scientist will invent a microfone that will allow the stones to speak and then even this castle will make its extraordinary tale!
Sniff sniff … What a good smell?
How many good things…
I’ll get some bread
Nar Can I put the bread on the fire?
He “Sure… please do so . Here, take it with this”
At the Nelson only remanined the family cemetery, a few meters after the castle, and here there is also buried the Scottish poet William Sharp that strangely he made himself be called Fiona Mac Leod, and came to Maniace to find inspiration and surely to eat sausage !
Here we are.
This is his tomb with the Celtic cross.
There are also servants, administrators and the last Duke, my favorite: Rowland Artur Herbert Nelson Hood died on July 25, 1969.
In front of his tomb is buried his beloved dog Hugo.
Splendid Sicily loves the pets and indeed we have one that is one of our best reporters: the infallible Pedro!
It’s true, Duke, what the Sicilians say: tetter a dog for a friend than a dog friend!
A woman and the Zuzzu
We start to walk again in the heart of Maniace, with the nice scent of the woods that wraps the air.
We are in the town, in via Fondaco.
A Sicilian at the doorstep of the house.
It will be our prey!
Nar: Good morning how does it feel to stay here in Maniace.
She: Good… Fresh air
Nar: Did you eat?
She: I have the pot on the stove
Nar: What are you cooking?
She A little bit of pastina with an egg and cheese beaten.
Nar: Do you remember the Duke?
She: Yes… I worked there.. I washed their clothes … I used to take my young children and the Duchess gave us candy.
Nar: Listen, did you do the Fuitina? (elopment)
She: Yes… but then I got married right away… Not like the young people do today! Now I have to say goodbye before the pasta overcooks!
Nar: Goodbye. I give you a kiss?
She: No, just the hand!
Ah, here is: a butcher shop!
At home they kept reminding me not to forget to bring some products from Maniace, famous for the genuineness of meat and cheese.
She: You have to get the black pig. Here they come from all over Sicily for these pigs, they are bred in the wild of our woods. If you go there you meet many that are free.
Nar: I take a little bit of everything, you take care of it ma’am.
She: Here have a taste of the Zuzzu: pork chops in gelatine, seasoned with salt, lemon, pepper and bay leaf. A Sicilian specialty!
SPLENDID TIP: The pork jelly or Sicilian liatina, but also suzu or zuzzu is a typical dish of the Sicilian cuisine, diffused mainly in eastern Sicily. It is prepared by boiling the poor parts of the pig, such as the skin, paws, head, tail, tongue and ears. The procedure also includes the addition of bay leaf, lemon, vinegar, chill pepperi and black pepper. In short, dear friends: If you come to Sicily, go to a butcher shop and get a nice slice of Zuzzu!
Those three nice folks
Here we are again around Maniace with people watching with curiosity our troupe and Jackjackfly, which continues to fly cheerfullly around the little village.
We arrive at the ethno-anthropological museum where there are three former young men waiting for us.
And, for the occasion, we light up the ancient stove of Sicilians: the Conca.
He When there was no television we all stayed around the conca, we talked about the day and this and that.
One is called Filippo, another Bastiano and another, listen to this, his name is Signorino (young gentleman)!
I mean signor Signorino,!
The three nice maniacesi tell us about their life and when it is Bastiano’s turn , he stands up, and tells us: I am the sheriff, everyone knows me with this name, because when I was a Ranger I used to make people respect me. If you want to make my name then you must say: the sheriff sends me!
Mr. Filippo shows me an ancient watch that he has in his breast pocket.
Nar: It doesnt want to come out?
He: He is embarrassed
Then they show me the shoes of one time.
He: They were made with the skins of the cow. While these, during the war, were made with the tires
We are intrigued by the fact that everyone has a double lastname.
He is Filippo Sanfilippo Frittola, called excavation, maybe because his ancestors dug the land.
This is Bastiano Parasiliti Rantone, called the sheriff.
And this one is Signorino Liuzzo Scorpo, called Ficara, perhaps because his ancestors liked figs!
Nar: Are you all noble here with these double lastnames?
He: But what nobles… We all work the land and with the animals! We have the double lastname to distinguish one family from another since we are all relatives here!
At some point the Sheriff stands up and proudly shows us his beautiful stick, made by him.
As soon as we finish the chat the three friends do not want to leave us any more and lead us to see the nativity of their town .
The nativity is really amazing, one of the nicest I’ve ever seen!
There is all Sicily in this small world of lights and characters.
The traveller, the baker, the zampogna player, the shoemaker, the barber…
Nar: Here’s the farmer that’s you Mister Filippo
He: Yes its true
He: Here is the one with the cows
Nar: That one is shearing the sheeps
He: The woman made clothes with it.
Nar: Look here is the charcoal burner!
He: The coal served to heat the houses.
He: Here also came the storyteller and stayed two days. I liked the story of Salvatore Giuliano, he started like this:
What a romantic experience inside this beautiful nativity.
SPLENDID LOCAL (Giuseppe Sanfilippo, head tourist office)
We invite you to our territory, rich in history and traditions, where you can find genuine food, hospitable people and good air, immersed in nature and woods. I ‘ll wait for you in Maniace
We continue our walk.
A traffic cop, lets ask something.
Nar: Good morning, do they take fines here?
Nar: We had a chat with the elders and there was also the Sheriff
If you come around here, don’t forget to say that you’re a friend of the sheriff.
Here we are now in the highest part of the town, the district of Petrosino.
People pile Wood on the street: here in the winter, almost 800 meters above sea level, it’s really cold.
You don’t see a living soul.
There are young people sitting on those stairs, looking at us with curiosity
Uhmmm I see a lady among the colored curtains of the entrance.
He: Ma’am, ma’am… Excuse me?
He: Well… We’re curious people going around the town. What did you do in your life?
She: I worked in the farm. I picked up the hazelnuts.
She: You have a beautiful face, you must have been a very beautiful women when you were young
She: If you say so
He: And your husband how did you meet him, how did he conquer and approached you . At that time it was difficult
She: It wasn’t easy, but in the end somehow we made it.
He: Is it true that in this parts if a foreigner knocks you will have him as a guest to eat?
She: Yes, we are very hospitable.
What a nice lady.
Let’s keep walking.
He: Hello ma’am how is it staying here in Maniace?
She: I am a caregiver of Romania!
There are few inhabitants here …
And who do we catch: a foreigner!
Look at these two antique cars: in these towns you can really find memorabilia from the past at every corner.
We arrive in Piazza San Gabriele.
There’s a little church.
Let’s see if it’s open and if we can go up to the bell tower as usual.
Damn it’s closed.
Uhmmm I’m peckish.
And right around here they are waiting for us to eat.
And I think its the right time.
What a gorgeous meal and fabulous stroll
A trail of odorous smoke leadss us to a house.
Here we are! Mamma mia, the Sicilian barbecue!
Local sausage, Genuine!
We enter the house of those who host us
Ehy, what a surprise!
It is Mr. Filippo and his friend sign.. Signorino.
Nar: Is the sheriff here, too?
He No, the sheriff could not come.
Mr. Filippo makes me go around the house and shows me the photographs of the past.
Just before the meal sig. Signorino makes us a riddle:
He: The morning with two feet, at noon with three feet and in the evening with four feet. Who is it?
Uhmmm… I really don’t know… Too hungry at the moment…
He: It is the man! The morning is youth and the man walks with two feet. The noon is old age and the man needs a third foot, the stick. The evening is death: and on all fours we go under the ground.
The pasta is ready!
Macaroni and homemade sause!
There is also a nice form of bread, dried tomatoes, olives, salami and cheese.
And the inevitable red wine of Sicily.
He: When we were young he used to learn the songs he heard on the radio and then sang to me and I played them with the accordion.
Mamma mia, what a good meal!
Mr. Filippo concludes with a poem that he composed that means so much for him to recite .
He: I’m a 90 years old man …
It’s a poem against the government, of course!
Well, thanks for the hospitality, but now it’s time to digest.
The trail of the springs of Maniace is waiting for us a charming naturalistic walk.
It’s the real strong dish of the place!
It starts and it ends right from here, near the house of Mr. Filippo: Piazza San Gabriele, where before we visited the closed church .
Now we immerse ourselves in the woods among wild cows and black pigs.
Jackjackfly, our drone, flies happy.
Here we are in the kingdom of the real God of the world: Mother Nature.
The soul marries with beauty and poetry.
This is the real essence of man.
We arrive almost 1600 meters crossing one spring after another, pastures and enchanting views, with the majestic figure of its majesty Etna in the background.
We also arrive at the so-called Nelson Obelisk, which was erected by the Duke of Nelson to delimit the Ducea in 1905.
A bit like the one in Trafalgar Square, dedicated to the illustrious ancestor Horatio!
Once again the panorama steals the stage.
We go back to the woods and descend again to the starting point: Piazza San Gabriele.
Maniace has given us an amazing Sicilian day.
And if you come around here, say hello to these three wise guys!
Have a Splendid life dear Sicilian friends.