I’ve got to admit, I teared up a bit seeing how beautiful the landscape on the island is. The green, blue, yellow and every other color present in my surroundings made me emotional. After an intense hike, we made it to a Greek theatre present at the top of the hill. In addition to seeing many Greek temples, the theatre was one of my personal favorite sites because of how the theatres location came with its own natural back drop. I don’t think I’m in love with arancini and that is ok. I tried them. I had no cannoli on this day.
What stuck with me today is Sicily’s history of being constantly conquered by a new group of people. There were the Greeks, the romans, the Arabs, the Spanish, the French, the bourbons and then the Italians that settled into the island to claim it for its many riches and key location. This picture, I believe, shows how powerful these influences were and how they were able to coexist with one another and not simply be a new version that destroys what came before. The beautiful Arab patterns on the floor around the water source, the Arab wooden carved ceilings, the paintings on the wall and the ability to have water in this church depict these influences well. It was crazy to see how water running to the church and an internal air conditioning system was possible centuries ago. I had 2 cannoli. Listened to Lana del Rey.
We had just gotten out of the recreation of Giuseppe di Lampedusa’s home featured in Il gattopardo(The Leopard) when Professor Gavioli(<3) noticed that this sight depicted had been opened for the first time in a while. She bolted over and we followed. Not so sure about the background, but apparently there was some sort of parade that would occur from the street and from up at the height that we were at, only widows were able to view the parade. The widows would be dressed in black just watching—distant, yet present. From the location they were at, I would not be complaining, the beautiful palm trees and the brilliant blue waters splashing against the coast. It’s nice to see how nature played a role for Sicilian writers. It is impossible to not notice the mountains in the back and the water surrounding the island. I’m happy. I had two cannoli.
First day here in Palermo and I can already feel myself melting, the sweat pooling in undesired locations. Never thought I would miss the rather stable cold winters I got in Maine. Also my feet hurt, but none of this information is relevant to what I got out of today in reference to day 1 in Sicily. Today we explored the financially neglected part of Palermo, where we were able to learn about Mafia relations with the community at large. For decades, the Sicilian mafia groups have had a controlling atmosphere over shop owners and families as they require these shop owners to pay what is called a “pizzo”. “Il pizzo,” is a small percentage of what these shop owners make and in return the mafia group being paid decides to offer protection as long as the pista is paid. If the pizzo is not paid, mafia groups tend to threaten the lives of shop owners by gifting them with animal carcasses, by breaking into and ransacking their shops. In a way, the mafia controlled the financial standings of many families. However, in the early 2000s a group of antimafia activists went around collecting signatures from shops that would collectively agree to no longer paying the pizzo in order to liberate themselves. Since, the mafia’s presence has decreased, so has the number of those refusing to pay the pizzo. I had 1 cannoli.