24
Jun
2020

Marianna Manzella Vitale: the princess of the Mulinazzo tower

Testo in italiano

 

by Giovanni Vallone and Rosanna Paternostro

 

Cinisi: the tower and the tangerins!

Intro by Giovanni Vallone President of Splendid Sicily Cultural Department: Welcome everyone in this episode of my life in a movie, we tell you about the story of Marianna Vitale and his family who left for America in late 60s. It’s a story in which are involved many people and many situations: the mafia, a tower, an airport, and many lily fairies. It’s a wonderful story and we are proud to restore dignity to the Sicilians who were forced to leave their beloved island, looking for a better life. Let’s restore dignity to them

 

Cinisi, in the province of Palermo.

A town near the sea.

Here is a tower, built in the 16th century, which warned the Sicilians of the pirates attacks: it is called Torre del Mulinazzo.

The whole coastal perimeter of Sicily presents these towers that at that time communicated with each other about the imminent danger, through fire and smoke signals.

The centuries pass, the pirates are gone, and the tower of the Mulinazzo is found immersed among the fragrant tangerins, lemons, olive trees and vegetables of Sicily and close to a marvelous cliff.

The pirates, a tower, the sea and the tangerins!

A fabulous place, isn’t it?

And, as in all fairy tales,  unfortunately  even in this one the bad man arrives.

And tha’s how  the Mulinazzo tower , with all its tangerins, its fairies and its princes is imprisoned and today remains only an unreachable dot, visible only in the distance: either through iron grates or from a distant beach.

He: They were all land cultivated with olive groves and vegetables.

He: It was a wonderful cliff then they built the airport. And this cut Cinisi’s legs, we remained like the man without legs.

Here in Cinisi, near this magical tower, right in this house, Marianna was born.

Our fairy tale woman, who still didn’t know  that she was one.

She was born here but spent her childhood in the street, in her beloved grandfather’s house.

Marianna: Mio nonno era un cantastorie … fino a quando dice che c’era una splendida vista della torre e del golfo di Cinisi.

Playing on the street, in Sicily, is what happened to all of us!

In the street the mothers all sit around chatting, as if they were in the living room; dogs lie in the sun and children play.

Marianna: Ho dei ricordi che non dimentico mai in Sicilia. Quando avevo otto anni, sono andata per un mese alla colonia, a Corleone. Li` ho scoperto per la prima volte la bellezza delle ninfee in una fontana, che si trovava in un bel giardino. I ricordi di questi fiori meravigliosi, mi hanno ispirato a scrivere il mio primo libro che ho pubblicato: The Water Lily Fairy, che e` anche in lingua italiana col titolo: La Fata delle Ninfee. 

After a difficult search, we were able to trace the colony, in Corleone, the town of the film The Godfather, about 60 kilometers from Palermo.

The fountain is still there, even if everything has changed and the water lilies have disappeared.

But what will remain forever impressed in the mind of our Marianna, besides the water lilies fountain of Corleone, is the sea and the land of Cinisi.

And above all a place, which in the head of the small and lively Marianna crystallizes forever: the tower in the district of Mulinazzo where the family had a land and where Marianna spent her happiest days.

A tower that in a child always triggers a flood of emotions: kings, princesses and witches! And where Marianna spent her happiest days.

Here is the prelude of poetry, of the future writer Marianna, here is the spark that develops like an eternal imprint in the mind of little Marianna.

 

Vanedda Mulinazzo

Marianna: Mio padre aveva della terra al Mulinazzo, due tummini in Vanedda Mulinazzu. Questa era il posto dove ci recavamo durante l’estate per 11 anni, fino a quando ne hanno espropriato meta` per fare la pista trasversale per l’aeroporto. Nel 1968 il terreno venne espropriato per fare la pista dell’aeroporto.

L’altro pezzo di terra si trovava alla Vanedda Scalidda, questo era un lascito di mio nonno. Credo che era 3 o 4 tummini di terra, che si trovava proprio al confine del mare, alla Scalidda, dove c’era una bellissima spiaggia, e tutti si recavano li` al mare. Questo era il mio posto preferito, un paradiso in terra. Mio padre aveva tutto li`, alberi di frutta di tutti tipi, e essendo al confine del mare, spesso ci recavamo li` a farci i bagni. Qui io facevo i miei piani di fabbricare ristoranti, hotel e di arricchire, perche` capivo il valore di questa terra, anche se ero piccola. Mio padre, a parte di queste terre che furono espropriati, prendeva altri terreni in gabella per tanti anni, dove produceva gli ortaggi: pomodori, cetrioli, zucchine, piselli, fagioli, un po` di tutto, e noi vivevamo con queste terre. Prendeva anche gli uliveti in gabella ed anche le terre con le mandorle. Noi piccoli da quattro anni fino a quando siamo partiti in America, aiutammo a mio padre nella raccolta di questi vegetali come adulti. Un lavoro troppo pesante per bambini piccoli.

He: My mother lost 2 hectares of land and I was forced to go to work in Germany.

He: The land was expropriated in the 60s and the airport was built in the 70s

He: : They also took away the land  from us

Nar: Did you leave?

He: No I stayed, I found a job and I stayed. But many were forced to leave. The land was taken with little money.

He: In those days there was the boss who was in charge of everything and nobody rebelled against the expropriation.

The land expropriated to make the airport means that the family has lost practically everything and Papà Pippinu decides to leave his homeland and try the American adventure, the dream of a new life, a better life.

Then you pack your bags, plan the mystery, find yourself brave.

Papà Manzella must have had great courage but, above all, a great love for his family.

“We have to go … we have to do it … we have to create a future for our children”,  that was what he said to  Mamma Agata.

As I write this story I think of the courage that this man must have had.

And I admire him.

I admire you Pippinu Manzedda!

It was January 4, 1969 when the transatlantic Michelangelo welcomed his whole family and brought them to America: the dream of a new life, the world that suddenly changes.

Marianna Manzella is a woman who was stolen from this land.

But Sicily is a mermaid whose song you will never forget.

Marianna was little more than a child and as a child lived that long journey.

Between charm, fear and exploration.

A ship that took her away from her friends, from her street, from her sea, from her habits.

 

Ciao ciao Sicilia

Marianna: On January 3rd 1969 … Ricordo nel buio della notte, di allontanarci dalla nostra cara Sicilia e guardarla da lontano. Non sapevo quello che lasciavo e cosa andavo incontro. Questo era il mio primo viaggio sulla nave. Mio padre aveva preso le cabine di seconda classe, cioe che si trovavano in basso, immersi nell’acqua dell’oceano. Questo mi causava una paura immensa. Li` c’era sempre il ben di Dio, mangiare in quantita e di tutti orari. Mi piaceva tanto visitare la libreria e leggere i libri. Nel nostro paese, in quei tempi, non c’era una libreria per soddisfare la fame di leggere per i piccoli come me. Li` ho comprato il mio primo libro che ancora tengo conservato: La Signora dalle Camelie, di Alessandro Dumas, che costo` 350 Lire. Mi piaceva andare ogni giorno a guardare i film, e di sera andare nella sala di ballo, ad ascoltare la musica e ammirare quelli che ballavano, vestiti molto eleganti.

It is really hard to be a child sometimes.

But a child creates and transforms with the skill of a magician.

If on  one hand events overwhelm without being able to do anything about it, on the other they give great emotions, an endless source of food for young and untouched minds.

January 17, 1969 this  is how Cinisi, a small town on the outskirts of Palermo, turns into New York after 13 days of travel at sea!

Marianna: Siamo arrivati nel porto di New York il 17 di Gennaio 1969, nel pieno dell’inverno.

Prima di sbarcare un giornalista ci ha intervistati ed ha scattato tante foto della nostra famiglia, che poi doveva mettere sul giornale. Non so il nome.

Il mio primo ricordo li`, qualcuno ci offri` la pizza Americana con i pepperoni. 

Subito abbiamo preso il treno per St. Louis Missouri. Mentre eravamo nel treno, avevamo fame. Un signore di razza Africano Americano ci chiese delle domande, ma noi non capivamo neanche una parola. Poco dopo si presento` con una colazione americana, pane tostato con la marmellata per nove persone. Noi eravamo molto grati della sua gentilezza.

Siamo arrivati il 18 di Gennaio 1969 a St. Louis Missouri. Ci hanno accolti i miei zii, Paolo Evola, la moglie Giuseppa Di Maggio con i loro figli. Hanno aperto a noi la porta della loro casetta a Virginia Street con tre stanze. Ci siamo accomodati nel salotto con i materassi a terra per un mese. Subito aiutarono i miei genitori a trovare un lavoro, mio padre in una fattoria a fare la pasta  e mia madre in una fattoria a cucire vestiti d’uomo. Dopo un mese ci hanno aiutato a trovare una casa che mio padre compro`.

Ci hanno aiutato i parenti, gli amici e delle persone della comunita` italiana e della chiesa Santa Cecilia, che lasciarono attendere la scuola gratis alle mie sorelle e fratelli più piccoli. Abitammo in St. Louis per quasi quattro anni, poi mio padre sentiva la nostalgia della sua patria, e decise che tutti ritornassimo in Sicilia.

 

A better future

Nel mese di Giugno del 1972 ritornammo in Sicilia con la Raffaello. Rimasero solo una sorella che gia` era sposata e un fratello che era piu` grande. Io gia` ero fidanzata e decisi di sposarmi in Sicilia, subito dopo che siamo ritornati in Sicilia.

So our Marianna returns home, but with clear ideas: we get married and come back.

For a better future.

This is the mother church of Cinisi, where the marriage took place.

And soon after, Marianna and her husband return to America.

For a better future.

She becomes a grandmother   and at age  50 the emotions of a lifetime, which is the sea, the tower of the Mulinazzo, the water lilies of the summer colony, the cultivated land, the street outside the grandfather’s home, the stories told by the grandfather, the parties with friends and relatives, the trips with the ship, the pain of abandonment, all together become a source of poetry.

Marianna starts writing stories for children, inspired by her grandchildren.

Fairies and dreams come into his life.

Marianna has recently finished writing a book in three languages: Italian, English and Sicilian.

It is no longer a book for children but it is a kind of autobiography and other true  stories , funny and full of humanity and Sicily.

A real written museum of memory.

Long Live life!

 


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