Tuesday, 23 October 2012

A Siracusan Ghost Story for Halloween!

Buongiorno a tutti! With our memories of the long, hazy days of summer fading fast and the dark evenings setting in, it seems that the time has come again for my traditional Halloween ghost story! Those of you who have visited rural Sicily in the winter months will be aware of the eerieness that descends on the towns as the flocks of tourists leave. As the seasonal mist shrouds the rustic villages, the atmosphere changes and a drive through the Sicilian countryside brings you across many abandoned homes and isolated towns.

This particular legend is set in the province of Siracusa, to be precise, on the road that leads to the town of Ognina. If you travel along this road you will come across an old dilapidated house - which is known in local dialect as 'la casa re spiddi' (the house of the spirits). You will also notice that fellow motorists will sound their car horn three times when passing by this house.

Many legends and local stories surround the house but the most famous version is that of the three sisters who lived in the house in the 9th Century. These sisters lived their entire lives waiting to find potential suitors for them to marry but unfortunately they were deemed too unattractive to pursue. These young girls turned into bitter women who stopped going into the outside world and spent their final years in loneliness within the four walls of their home. Out of their bitterness was born an evil curse which condemned anybody who passed by their house without acknowledging them and sentenced them to death in a brutal car accident.

All motorists who pass by must sound their car horn three times in recognition of the women and to this day sightings are still noted of mysterious hitchhikers outside the house who simply vanish into thin air.
If this story hasn't already sent a shiver down your spine, you can watch this documentary video about the legendary Capuchin Catacombs of Palermo, or 'le Catacombe dei Cappuccini' -

These catacombs are also featured in the novel by Trinacria: A Tale of Bourbon Sicily by Anthony Di Renzo at http://www.indiegogo.com/trinacria.

So, Happy Halloween to all of my Sicilian Connections friends worldwide ........ don't forget to sound your car horn three times if you find yourself on a dark, Siracusan road!

A presto,


P.S. If you enjoy reading my blog please become a follower by registering at the Google 'Join this site' icon on the right of the blog page. Grazie mille for your support!!

Monday, 1 October 2012

Sicilian Pride and Passion Across the World!

Buona sera amici! We are now into October which, in the USA, is celebrated as 'National Italian Heritage Month'. Throughout America there will be numerous celebrations highlighting the sense of pride and loyalty felt towards Italy by the many immigrants who left the peninsula long ago.

Between the years of 1861 and 1965, almost 25 million Italians left the peninsula in search of a new life. This is considered to be the biggest mass migration of contemporary times and, in Sicily, was partly due to the drop in economy and over-population experienced after the unification of Italy.
In 1906 alone, 100,000 Sicilians emigrated to the United States of America and in 1920, 87 percent of Sicilian immigrants were still headed for the US. Other countries with a significant number of Sicilian immigrants were Venezuela, Brasil, Mexico, Canada, Australia and other countries throughout Europe. Some of the main cities in America where Sicilians settled were New York, Boston, Chicago and San Francisco and these immigrants tended to reside together in groups depending on the area that they came from. For example, in New Orleans there was a district called ‘Little Palermo’.
These Sicilians were so passionate about their homeland that they took many of their traditions and values with them. They believed in these customs so much that many aspects of Sicilian life have become an intrinsic part of communities worldwide and are still very much in evidence today. Throughout the year there are festivals across the world to celebrate different Sicilian traditions. The island’s way of life is echoed daily in neighbourhoods worldwide through their cuisine, language and culture, such as the music listened to or the plays seen at the theatre.
An example of a tradition which has been taken to America is the ‘Festa di Santa Rosalia’ in Brooklyn which is dedicated to the Patron Saint of Palermo. This annual festival originally took place in the first Italian parish in Brooklyn, the Sacred Hearts and St. Stephens Church in Carroll Gardens, and has since been moved to the community of Bensonhurst. The procession originally involved followers walking barefoot through the streets of the neighbourhood to show their devotion to the Saint.
Every year Italian-American merchants set up stalls at the various festivals around the country selling Sicilian specialities such as ‘cannoli’, zeppole’ and ‘arancini’ and entire communities come together to celebrate their heritage and tell stories about their ancestry. It is viewed as a real honour to belong to such a loyal and devoted community and it is this devotion that will ensure that the respect for ‘u paese vecchiu’, or the old country, will stay strong long into the future.
I created Sicilian Connections because over the years I have met many people of Sicilian origin that, for various reasons, have emigrated and live in different locations worldwide, but the passion that they feel for their homeland has remained strong. It was my aim to create a community where Sicilians could come together and share their wonderful stories of the island and memories of their ancestors and, thanks to the pride and devotion of our Sicilian Connections friends worldwide, this is now a reality.
A presto,
P.S. If you enjoy reading my blog please become a follower by registering at the Google 'Join this site' icon on the right of the page. Grazie mille for your support!!