Sicilian History & Facts
The symbol of Sicily is commonly perceived to be the Trinacria, but it is in fact the Triskeles meaning three legs or three sunrays. Over time the two words have been united, and Trinakria is now understood to be the symbol of the three corners of the island and the name. The regional crest features a head of a woman, probably that of Gorgone, a mythological monster who changed her enemies into stone, with three legs attached, representing the three corners of Sicily. During the Roman occupation the ears of grain were added as a symbol of the islands fertility. Sicily has been called "the land of the Cyclops", "the granary of Rome", whereas poets have dedicated it to Ceres, the Goddess of the harvest.
With a total surface area of 25460 sq. km, Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean basin. Around it lies a number of smaller islands: to the north the Aeolian islands and Ustica, to the West the Egadi, and to the south the Pelagie islands and Pantelleria, making a total surface area of 25.708 sq. km. Sicily boasts around 1.000 Km of coastline, mostly rocky in the north and sandy in the south.
The landscape is varied, prevalently mountains and hilly, but with an expanse of plains around Catania. In the eastern part of the island Mount Etna (about 3.330 m) is Sicily's highest mountain, the whole of which is a protected area within a national park. Still active, it is the biggest volcano in Europe. Along the north coast, from east to west, lies a stretch of the Peloritani and the Nebrodi and Madonie Mountains, some of their peaks reaching 2,000 m.
The area to the West of the river Torto has an irregular lime-stone formation, patchy or continuous, alternating with low rolling hills. Over to the east of the island, between Messina and Mount Etna, lies the easternmost tip of the Peloritani chain, very similar to the mountains of Calabria. The Southeast corner comprises a series of high plateaus made up of lava, tuff and above all limestone, and features a number of impressive gorges carved out by water erosion through the centuries. The innermost part of the island is predominantly hilly, consisting mainly of the so called Altopiano Solfifero (literally the sulphur uplands), with altitudes ranging from 500-700 m. Its summit, however, with the snow, rises to almost 1.OOO m.
Throughout history Sicily has gone through extraordinary change. From the beginning of time at least 800BC Sicily formed out of Greek culture and lingered well into 200BC until the Roman emprire conquered the then Greek culture.
I don't want to bore the reader with names of conquerers and rulers of Sicily in the BC era because the role of my insight is based on the psychological evolution of todays Siclian.
Obviously war, corruption and dictatorship has always been the main common denominator that brought Sicilian tradition to what it is today.
In his early twenties my Father imigrated to North America in early 1950. He lived povetry and war and helped raise 12 brothers and sisters in Sicily. I call him the last of the great Siclians. I looked up to him much like todays generation looks up to super heros. My Dad was my Superman. He had minimal education growing up but lived by the following rule: Respect, honesty, integrity, hard work.and discretion. In the 50 years he worked and raised our family in North America he gained respect from everyone he encountered in his business and social activities. All these myths about Sicilians and their gangsterism is purely false. The Sicilians I grew up with were all honest and hard workers.
The birth of the Mafia can perhaps be traced to the 16th century, when Sicilians adopted a code of silence - omerta - as a defence against all the prosecution and corruption they suffered throughout history. Obviously every nation has their good and bad citizens. Unfortunately the target has always been the Italians and the Sicilians. Hollywood movies increased the myth of the bad Italian with movies like The Godfather, Mobsters, Casino and many more.
By studying the history and evolution of Sicily I will have a better understanding of what the make up of a true Sicilian really is. I'm proud to be Sicilian and this site is a dedication to my ancestors and their struggles. If you have information that is relative to this website, please contact me.
History notes on Sicily:
The birth of the Mafia can perhaps be traced to the 16th century, when Sicilians adopted a code of silence - omerta - as a defence against prosecution. No respite during the 17th century, as repression continued apace and any attempt at protest was brutally slammed down, especially the revolts of Palermo and Messina. In 1713 the Treaty of Utrecht assigned Sicily to Savoy, which went on to exchange it for Sardinia with Emperor Charles VI.
During the War of Polish Succession, Don Carlos of Bourbon (later becoming Charles III of Spain) re-conquered the kingdoms of Naples and Sicily. The year 1815 sees the defeat of Napoleon and the British (administrators from 1806-1815) abandon Sicily to the Bourbons. Ferdinand IV of Naples (Ferdinand III of Sicily) officially merged the kingdoms of Sicily and Naples in 1816 and titled himself 'Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies'. A popular uprising in 1820 forced Ferdinand to concede a constitution, but Austrian intervention in 1821, post the Congress of Laibach, saw his absolute power restored. Sicily and Naples were to fall to the forces of Garibaldi in 1860, and, in 1861, Gaeta, the 'Two Sicilies' became part of the Kingdom of Italy.
Post unification, Sicily continued to be largely ignored by central government, and economic and social problems remained unattended. New and important industries came to be developed in northern, not southern Italy, with a resultant inversion of emigration patterns. Northern Italy used to be an area from which people emigrated, but the 20th century reversed this trend, and the increasingly poor south of Italy saw millions leave for the Americas between 1890 and 1930. In 1943, after years of depression and poverty, Sicily welcomed the Allies as liberators.
The decades following 1860 witnessed Sicily's slow economic decline as important new industries gradually emerged not in the South but in the North. Some of this was economic happenstance, but much was the result of punitive taxation and other national economic policies detrimental to the South. Until the 1860s, the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies (i.e. Naples and Sicily) was clearly the largest, wealthiest and most industrialized of the various Italian states. While Italian immigration prior to about 1870 had been primarily from the poorer northern regions, henceforth it was to be from the increasingly poorer South. Between 1890 and 1930, millions of southerners left for the Americas.
During the First World War, an inordinately high number of southerners died for their young nation, and the Fascist government that came to power in 1922 did little to alter an unbalanced conscription policy that granted exemptions to those employed in northern factories. It is true that the regime's harsh laws sent serious criminals such as Mafiosi to prison, but they punished journalists and other innocent citizens as well. Even before the advent of Fascism, the Kingdom of Italy could not be said to have been a truly free or democratic nation, and by the 1930s life for many people was worse than it had ever been, despite the institution of old-age pensions and low-cost public housing --benefits which made many Italians overlook the less pleasant (and far less convenient) facts of torture by police officers and postal censorship by a special office.
Fascism's atrocious foreign policy led to Italy's becoming the first country ever cited by the United Nations for crimes against humanity (in connection with the invasion of Ethiopia). At home, the government disgraced the brilliant Arctic explorer Umberto Nobile, who left for America. (Today, most Italian high school students don't know that the second man to fly over the North Pole was an Italian.) Disgusted with Fascism, the gifted conductor Arturo Toscanini emigrated, choosing to live in New York. The racist laws prohibiting Jewish Italians from holding teaching jobs or government posts prompted Enrico Fermi, whose wife was Jewish, to emigrate, followed by a lesser-known Jewish Italian, Emilio Segré, the Nobel laureate who taught physics at the University of Palermo, where he discovered the first artificially produced element, technetium (Tc), in 1937. Both worked on the Manhattan Project. A number of citizens who remained in Sicily actively opposed Fascism, and at great personal risk; the writer Vitaliano Brancati was an outspoken opponent, while Luigi Pirandello was an advocate of the regime, and owed his Nobel Prize for Literature, at least in part, to Mussolini's coercive efforts with several members of the Nobel Foundation.
The Second World War was a disaster. Following years of poverty and oppression, and in the absence of the miracles Mussolini had promised, the Sicilians welcomed the Allies as liberators in 1943. Anticipating defeat, many Sicilian Fascists had already burned their party membership cards, a tactic less effective for those who held public positions. General Alfredo Guzzoni, the Fascist whose job it was to defend Sicily, fled across the Strait of Messina and was quickly forgotten; most of his troops had already abandoned him. The victory was a costly one, as Operation Husky, the largest amphibious invasion yet undertaken, took longer than the Allies had predicted. General George Patton's American troops landed at Gela and advanced with comparatively little effort; thousands of Italian troops had already surrendered at Lampedusa without a fight. Field Marshall Montgomery's British forces met the brunt of German resistance on the Plain of Catania. (Patton later dedicated a plaque in Palermo's Anglican Church to commemorate American lives lost during the fighting, though the presence of ex-Fascists in Italy's government seems an affront to their efforts.)
It wasn't only Allied troops who perished. Though thousands of Sicilians had lost their lives, either during the bombardments or in combat, the Allied victors were viewed as a benevolent force and warmly embraced by the population. They immediately set about the task of reorganization. Political prisoners were freed from jail, journalists were allowed free expression and, most importantly for the average citizen, food was distributed.
Despite Fascist propaganda condemning Allied nations such as the US and UK as evil societies, thousands of Italians found homes in those countries after the war. This included, ironically, many men who had been prisoners of war in Allied countries, where they experienced living conditions superior to those which then existed in Italy.
In 1946, a popular referendum, in which Italian women voted for the first time, established the Italian Republic. The monarchy was thereby abolished, while titles of nobility were no longer recognised by the state. The Senate became an elective body, no longer a group of political appointees, and a genuinely democratic constitution was enacted in 1948. Following two decades of imaginary economic "progress," real economic development was so rapid that the world's economists coined the phrase "the Italian miracle" to describe it. Italy is today one of the world's eight most economically important nations. Its economic-political system is essentially socialist, though most Italians seem happily unaware of this, and many harbour strong views regarding Italy's eclectic political scene. Certain industries are gradually being privatized and investment is being encouraged.
The standard of living improved during the post-war years, when the uncontrolled construction boom of the 1960s transformed cities like Palermo and Catania into vast concrete jungles. But funds sent under the Marshall Plan to rebuild the parts of Palermo destroyed by Allied bombing were misappropriated, and problems with organized crime persist today. Visitors often ask why, in stark contrast to its historical areas, the newest sections of Palermo are so plain. Architectural evolution aside, the main reason is that during the 1960s and 1970s the officials responsible for issuing building permits actually sold them (illegally, of course) to unsavory investors, with little regard for the kind of urban planning that results in pleasant parks and attractive streets. Old Palermo was planned by kings and aristocrats , New Palermo by mafiosi and bureaucrats.
However, historical preservation is once again an important priority for Sicilians, and serious efforts are being made to save the island's unique past. This broad cultural movement's goals focus not only on obvious assets like buildings and other monuments, but less tangible ones like the local language and pre-unification regional history (especially a more balanced consideration of the period from 1700 to 1860).
Most Sicilians are keenly aware of their island's ancient and medieval past, and many study Greek and Latin in high schools dedicated to classical subjects. Ironically, most Sicilians born after 1940 know little of historical events which occurred in their nation after 1920, since these are not taught in great detail in most Italian schools. Despite a certain degree of political autonomy, government in Sicily seems inefficient (even corrupt) to an extent far worse than that of northern Italy. This won't spoil your trip, but it results in poor traffic control and generally poor public services.
Whatever your reasons for visiting Sicily, you'll find a fascinating land full of beauty and charm, complexities and contradictions, ancient dignity and medieval splendor. If you've never thought of history as anything more than a routine academic exercise, a trip to Sicily could bring it to life. Thousands of years of history await your discovery. It's a discovery you'll cherish for a lifetime.
Gastronomy and Oenology
It begins from the volcano, Etna. In past centuries it has given place to a particulary fertile and a rich variety of products. The sea with its vast species of fishs. Here is how our kitchens of Catania have sprung: an agricultural kitchen essentially and with seafood, but always genuine, that contains in oneself thousand tones. And the interferences of so many foreign populations, that have dominated archives in our history, have contributed to enrich of new you introduce and of unusual tastes the range of the dishes typical of the place.
Favorable environmental conditions have allowed cultivations as that to the development of seculars of the chestnut tree, of the core, of the almond tree, of the olive tree of the pistachio and the grapevine. From this last they originate the wines of the Etna, know and appreciated in the whole world and that anciently they were settled by Plinio: the red, the white ones, the rosy ones, the greatest part of wich, today they are to denomination of checked origin.
Close to these cultivations, for their importance, the citrus fruit can be put. The lemons are spread above all on the coast of Acireale, the oranges (dark, tarot, red) they enrich with their garish colors the countries of Adrano, Paternò, Biancavilla, Santa Maria di Licodia, Palagonia, Mineo, Militello Val di Catania and Caltagirone. To south in Catania the so-called triangolo agrumicolo is famous, that included the agrumetis of Lentini, Carlentini and Francofonte.
An area of cultivations, that is placed between the cominis of Paternò, Ragalna and Biancavilla, entertains the most intense productions of the olive tree. The olive garnishes colored flat of appetizers that can be admired on stands or from the retailers of the whole zone, with chili pepper, pickled and oreganum. It is kept under salt, in jars of glass or in the big "prunies", the typical earthenware containers. The Pistachio is vivacious complement for numerous preparations, from the first dishes, to the sweets, to the ice cream, that this delicate seed makes more pleasant and appetizing.
The vegetables and fruits are found everywhere in gardens and thick market garden to family management: peppers, eggplants, artichokes, that are at the base of so many savory and juicy dishes. Pears, peach, apples, (perfumed the "puma cola" of the Etna), fig trees and fichidindia. These the most important crops, which are cooperated, not less luxuriant, all the qualityes of vegetables and dry fruit and almond, that grow plentiful in the hilly territories and in the mountains. It is been every kind and type of mushrooms and their names they take characteristics assonances: "muss i voi", "fungiu lardaru", "fungiu siddu", "fungiu d'ogghiu" and so many others. Numerous cultivated fungaies go meanwhile rise. A sign apart it deserves Honey.
In the populous center of Zafferana Etnea it has developed, in the time, a real industry for the production and the workmanship of this jewel nectar. It is perfumed by the flowers of zagara, from those of "sulla" and of the chestnut tree. Already in the appetizers it a tasty kichen and it varies: "alivi", bread warm of oven, seasoned only with oil of olive, salt and pepper. The vegetables, of which the bittersweet confers particular aromas; in the "parmigiane" of eggplants of fried courgette, with firm eggs, tomato, cheese and basil; in the "bastardu affucatu", a little of cauliflower, stewed with onion, cheese, black olives and anchovies. The peppers are full, fried or roasted on the charcoal; the artichokes, very much, they are prepared in thousand ways (even in "caponata"). The sweets are tied to the big recurrences and in the numerous parties and feasts they are in foreground. In the Christmas time, the range is vast: cooked "mustazzola" in the most, the most elaborate i "cucciddati" and nougats of varied type. A whole series of typical biscuits: the "bersaglieri" or "sciatori" (covered of white "liffia" or of chocolate). The almond and pistachio biscuits, little crisp delights of the palate. We can not forget the "torroncini", "fruit-shaped marzipan" diffused in Italy and in the world.
Etna came from the Greeks (the name Etna cam from Aizo "to burn", Aitina "who burn"). Is the most important active volcano of the world and the biggest of Europe. Is situed on the eastern coast of sicily, region of Italy. The activity eruptive well-know from another crater and from another small crater situated on the slope of the Etna. The most disastrous eruption was the one of 1669 and the 1928, the last one to date back to the end of 2001. Today the Etna attract to many tourist from every part of the world in any during of the year. To benefit by this event the town next to the Etna who to take advantage of this natural event they are with tourism facilities and many hotel and typical restaurant. The craft take advantage of this event, making from the rocks of Etna various object. Frequently the visit from the studious from every part of the world, they cam for study the activity of the Etna. On the base of the Etna there is a observatory who keep on a eye on Etna.
If you have information concerning sicilian history, please share with us. If you have questions regarding this web page, please fill out our online contact form and it will be our pleasure to respond.
Home | Advertising Information | Contact Us
Copyright ©2002 Italian Recipes Trinakria Development. All rights