Here it is the Cannolo Report, fortnightly current affairs programme by the Cultural Department of Splendid Sicily. Art, culture, sun and food!
In this episode: A Gentleman behind a window, cats on the rooftops, Rosa and her husband and much more. Have a Smashing Sicily!
Montalbano Elicona: A village of one time among big thumbs, accordions and dolphins!
A beautiful sunny day of November: There are about 20 degrees even up here at almost 1000 meters of altitude.
Montalbano Elicona is suspended between the sea of Sicily and the Nebrodi mountains, but its inhabitants feel more from the mountain than from the water.
Many Sicilians who live the inland feel children of the mountain and not of the waters.
Jack Jackfly, our drone, is having a nice patrol flight in one of the most beautiful villages of Sicily or, better, more beautiful in Italy!
Someone is horseback riding… and this tells you a lot about the slow rhythms of Montalbano Elicona.
Here is the real Sicily, the one made of sunshine and peace.
No stress here!
Uhmmm …lets see what that gentleman that has taken his shoes off and sitting in the sun will tell us
Nar “Good morning, how come you took your shoes off?”
He “My big toe hurts and I was massaging it”
Ah ah… you have to know that the Sicilians, especially those of one time, call the thumb the big or long finger of the foot and never thumb!
He “Once here we were 7000 and now we are not even 2000. If you come later you will find a lot of people. In the afternoon the Dolphins fill up”
Nar “What dolphins… I don’t understand?”
He “Those stone chairs beside the wall of the church are called Dolphins”
Nar “And why?
He “And what do I know.. like that ..they’re called dolphins”
Uhm okay we’ll be back later to see who sits on these dolphins.
Lunch time, the people at this hour are resting
We are in Piazza SS. Maria della Providenza, the heart of Montalbano Elicona.
From here depart the quads that lead the visitors to the forest of Malabotta where strange monocytes with zoomorphic and anthropomorphic forms still find no answer among the students: are they just games of fantasy or signs of the past?
The stone in this area of the forest called Argimusco, has taken on the forms of the eagle, baboon and others.
You can also see ponds for the rearing of leeches and strange stone balls.
A place with a strong natural energy also supported by the presence of mysterious and ambiguous characters, in the past, at the court of the castle…
The houses around the square have hung on their balconies the ancient coats of arms of some noble families to remember the high-sounding past of this place.
In fact what makes Montalbano a pearl of Sicily is its ancient village, which develops just at the foot of its imperious castle of ancient origin.
And we, from the square, are going in to the past.
Welcome in the Middle Ages
Right at the entrance of the village there is a house with a nice ceramic picture.
It represents a chivalrous scene.
The Middle Ages begins to get wide between the alleys of the village.
Let’s see if anyone can explain the meaning of this scene.
I see someone inside, he’s eating a soup.
Maybe the television is a little high.
Nar “Sir can you hear me?”
Well, we’ve made it!
Nar “Good morning sir, excuse me but what does this picture hanging out of the house mean”
He “It indicates that we are at the beginning of the village and invites people to continue upwards”
And so we’re ready to go too inside this time machine…
What a nice thing the time machine, huh?
I’m sure one day they will invent it.
The village of Montalbano Elicona is a maze of stone and beautiful portals that have survived over the centuries.
Here is a house of 100 square meters that can be purchased with 20 or 30 thousand euros.
The ancient village is dominated by the splendid castle on the fortress that was founded at the time of the Normans, towards the eleventh century.
The houses we see today were the humble dwellings of the populans who once lived at the foot of the castle.
People were looking for protection under the manor’s wings, in exchange for work in the camps, grazing cattle and other services to the nobleman on duty.
Inside the castle rests one of the most ambiguous characters of the XII Century: Arnaldo da Villanova, a middle way between doctor and warlock who stood against the church having prophesied that in 1376 would come the antichrist to clean up everything and everyone.
And Arnaldo was again and again housed in this castle until he stayed there for eternity.
We walk among the silences of the village.
Here there is a small church, that of Santa Caterina and inside is preserved a precious marble statue made in the 1500 by the talented Sicilian artist Gagini.
Jack Jackfly, our drone, flies over the roofs of the village.
Hey kitties, don’t worry Jack is good!
The stones on the Copps indicate that there must be a strong wind here from time to time.
A paradise of alleys, glimpses of woods that appear among the low stone houses, smoking chimneys, stone streets, flowers hanging from the railings and an infinite peace.
Two children on the doorstep of a house.
He “I do nautical in Messina and I leave in the morning at 10 to 6 and then I take another bus to Falcone. But I like to stay here, there are other guys and we go to the gym or play soccer”.
Fortunately they invented the table football and only takes a few people to play!
The village wraps us with its endless stone.
At night here I think there are ghosts?
We arrive in a little square.
There is a beautiful church, a house for sale that will not cost more than 30 thousand euros and a museum of photographs showing a splendid glimpse of the past of Sicily.
Tarantella and the house of Giusy
Uhm an open door. Never leave the doors open when we’re around.
Nar Good Morning how are you doing?
He Please enter… we are waitng for my son to eat
Nar Good morning ma’am. What are you cooking?
She As soon as my son comes I put the spaghetti. And then we eat these chili peppers that I made. Please taste one.
He How is it? Laugh
He Sit down and eat your bread
Nar Good uhmmm. Listen, did you guys do the Fuitina?
He Actually…yes we did.
She It just had to happen to me that you would come to my house?
He My name is Franco and she’s Pina. Here, drink some wine
She Do you want another chili pepper? If you want it you can take it with no problem.
Nar No thank you they are waiting for me to eat in a family nearby. You’re very kind. But look at these Sicilians, the symbol of brotherhood and hospitality. And while we are there, Franco plays for me music with his beautiful accordion.
Dear Franco and Giuseppina, thank you for this wonderful moment that you have made us live.
To say it like Flaubert would: The Journey, which is:. the bitterness of rapture sympathy
But a sweet bitterness,of a sweet memory.
The chili pepper has put me a certain hanckering and luckily there is a family of the place waiting for us for lunch.
The La Bella family has a nice little house in the part of the village that overlooks the middle ages both on Montalbano and on the Aeolian Islands.
Giusy, the daughter, wanted this house at all costs.
It’s just beautiful, a little mermory box in the Mediaevel times.
Here’s mamma Rosa, with her kitchen apron on
Nar “Good Morning mam”
Also her husband comes, Papa Antonino, and now we are all here.
She “We are making tagliatelle with porcini mushrooms picked up by my husband here in the mountains of Montalbano”
Papà Antonio takes me out and shows me his miraculous tree.
He You see this tree makes both grapes and cherries . It is a cherry tree but also the grapes clibs on it
Giusy in the meantime is tosting some bread on the fireplace that is seasoned with the famous cheese of Montalbano Elicona, a master here in Sicily.
Here is Mamma Rosa ready with the pasta.
A scent from the past!
They tell me the story of their lives.
She My name is Rosa Maiorana
He And I’m Nino La Bella
He We met in Montalbano. We were neighbors.
She My father agreed for him, but my brother was jealous.
Darn it a jealous in Sicily there must always be!
He And then we did the Fuitina. I called a friend who had a car and went to Messina.
Then they went to Switzerland and they made some luck and because the land of Sicily always recalls their children they came back.
it was a beautiful experience by the lovely family La Bella.
We go back into the village.
This little road that runs along the valley leads, suddenly, to a lookout.
The spectacle of the Aeolian Islands, today, is wonderful.
There is a lady who is watering the plants.
Sensationally she anticipates me
She Come in I will show you the house and offer you a coffee!
Perhaps the voice of our curiosity has spread!
It’s time to go.
Slipping through the alleys of the village we return to Piazza SS Maria della Providenza.
We enter the Elders club and they are playing cards.
The dolphins are now filled with people.
These elders will be my prey.
But this is for another episode .
The beautiful Montalbano Elicona has given us another smashing Sicilian day.
And also of course a beautiful provola of the place.
SPLENDID LOCAL: Attorney Carmelo Mobilia, Consultant of the mayor for tourism development
“Who goes to Sicily in search of beauty can not come and not visit Montalbano, one of the most beautiful villages in Italy. But besides, the wonderful ancient town, with its medieval alleys in Montalbano is the nature that makes it a master: The vision of the Aeolian Islands, Etna, and the wonderful Malabotta forest the most ancient in Sicily. Montalbano is a mystical village, a sacred place and soul endowed with a strong astral energy that is emitted certainly in the mysterious megalith of the Argimusco ”