Day 5 meant my Italian class would finally get some Pirandello thrown into the mix. Right before my eyes and the camera lens of my iPad I discovered an original draft of one of my favorite Pirandello short-stories, ‘La Giara.’ La Giara explores class relations in Pirandello’s Sicily, all the while articulating man’s relationship with other humans and with the nature that Sicily encompasses man with. Some characters are compared to gnarly old trees and spend their days in the fields while others begin to value power and material wealth, and Pirandello sees these roles as static or staple, often pessimistic in the conclusions he reaches through the voices of his own characters. Seeing Pirandello’s “tomb” and learning about his odd death/burial story and a lack of coordination in meeting his demands was both poignant and fascinating, and, oddly, perfectly fitting to Pirandello’s legacy.
On Day 4, the gang checked out the gorgeous Cathedral of Monreale. This cathedral is one of the finest examples of Norman architecture on the planet, and its adjoining old cloisters are among the most well-preserved cloisters in all of Italy. To my delight, I found many lizards hidden in the cloisters, and I enjoyed following the various biblical and mythological stories engraved into the cloister’s framing column work. Pictured above is a hardworking man set on fixing up some of the old geometric tiles the church is famous for. As we have already noted, Sicily is a crossroads of civilization and thought, rendering it possible for there to be Muslim influences in buildings that have been used for Christian and Norman purposes. The thought artists put into the placement, creation and color of each individual mosaic tile, even during restoration, really inspires me.
During our walking-tour of Palermo, our attention was directed towards various ruins and abandoned floors of buildings that had been left in this state following WWII. In observing the architecture around Palermo, I am constantly reminded of the endless history surrounding much of Sicily. Within one day, we can see gorgeous Ancient Greek ruins followed by giant cathedrals marked by Ionic, Doric and/or Corinthian columns, juxtaposed with the bombings of World Wars and the ominous presence of the Mafia even within cathedrals, as was pointed out by our guide from Adiopizo.
After a wonderful day of traveling, the group needed a fine Italian appetizer to finish the day. We had seen old churches laden with Islamic mosaics and an incredible puppet show following the tale of countless knights who wished to win over the heart of a certain Angelica. Seeing old Islamic mosaics was particularly exciting for me because, growing up, I have visited the Alhambra, the Seo, the Mesquita de Córdoba, and other mudejar architectural sites in Spain, but never did I realize Christian and Islamic architecture had combined in other parts of the world. Plus, geometrical mosaics create some of the most beautiful art I’ve ever seen. Pictured above are fine Italian cheeses, salami, mortadella, lard and jams that we devoured in seconds, despite severe jet lag. Boy is it good to be back!
This is huge. Adamo and I studied abroad in Bologna, Italy together, and we never thought we would return after our time in Bologna was up. Little did we know we would end up in Sicily together, especially after I had missed a flight to Palermo that would have been with Adamo while we were in Bologna. We are so #blessed to be returning a mere three months later, and we are so #excited to eat Italian food, visit historical locations and take in the land that created the artists we are currently studying. Sicilia here we come!