Sicily, an island unique
Sicily is the Mediterranean’s largest island and, placed right at its centre, it is also the most richly influenced by those civilizations that have reached its shores, from the Greeks to the Arabs and all those European dominators – who at times were also smitten by it – that have held the crown, from the Norman and Swabian to the French and Spanish. It is the southern shore of Europe, and in the words of the writer Gesualdo Bufalino “its destiny through the centuries was to act as a hinge between the grand western culture and the temptations of the desert and sun, between reason and magic, tempering sentiment and the heat of passions”. And it is these opposing influences that have forged the culture, customs, and landscape, together with the eternal contradiction of the Sicilian spirit, those two forces that Bufalino calls “light and loss”. The Sicilian author from the province of Ragusa writes that we need to “remind tourists that they are not only crossing the threshold of a paradise, but also a place of shadows (…). It is here, in peril of these contradictions, that Sicily awaits you. It is as if sailing between the devil and the deep blue sea, two sirens emerge in the wake of the ship luring you with two contrasting calls: one heavenly, speaking of Arabian jasmine, moonlit nights, and beaches like golden cheeks; the other, grim, infernal, with the noon sun beating down upon ancient country roads and blood slowly drying at the foot of an old olive tree. It is in the relationship between these two voices, in their encounter, consonance and dissonance that lies the painful secret and richness of our history”.
It is a history that, together with a fortunate geographical position, makes Sicily so much more than just an island, it is almost a continent where not only can you find testimony of all the great seasons of European art and culture, from the classic to the renaissance, baroque and liberty, but in which also nature, from one place to another, changes its features completely.