Friday, September 13, 2013

Sicily:Where the Landscape yields a dazzling dialogue with the Baroque and the Beautiful

I think it was the Nobel Prize winning Italian poet Salvatore Quasimodo who was quoted as follows: “The poet finds day and starts a diary that is lethal to the inert. The dark landscape yields a dialogue” On a recent visit to the south east of Sicily, I had occasion to visit the town of Modica where Salvatore Quasimodo was born and having noticed a commemorative plaque there on the house where he lived, I decided to read up about the poet on my return. The quotation referred to above stuck a special cord with me for although in a different context, I feel that the bright but certainly not dark landscape of south east Sicily does indeed yield a wonderful visual dialogue with the visitor. As the UNESCO plaque in a central square of Scicli informs us, at least eight towns in the region were completed rebuilt after the devastating earthquake of 1693. Many of the larger civic buildings and churches were constructed in a dominant Baroque style and perhaps because of the relative lack of resources in this poor area of southern Italy, they are not characterised by the excessive decoration and arrogant style of some of the Baroque impositions elsewhere in Italy. In fact, each of the towns that I visited had a unique character and offered a rich cultural experience to the visitor. Although many of these towns are perhaps more popular in the public eye in recent times as settings for the television series Inspector Montalbano, it would be a shame if they were only visited for this reason. In reality, the landscape of the towns themselves, their food restaurants and indeed even the settings used as background to the Montalbano series all offer an opportunity for great enjoyment. However, on the basis that a picture says more than a thousand words, I am posting a few pictures taken in these towns to whet the appetite as it were. They may not quite represent a visual diary of the type alluded to by the famous poet by they at least illustrate some of the many attractions in this region. One final thing that puzzled me is whether the journey by foot from Ragusa New Town to Ragusa Ibla should be classified as a walk or a climb. Whichever, it is certainly a stairway to Heaven! As to the great taste of the local cuisine, I’m afraid that you will have to sample that for yourselves.

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