Virginia Woolf

Did you know that some of the most important and brilliant writers came to Sicily and enjoyed the Sicilian atmosphere?

They were captured by the freedom and the beauty of the cities, they were surpised by the amount of monuments, by the kindness of the people, by the warm welcome that they received.

Virginia Woolf, one of the greatest and most influential English authors who lived in London throughout all the XX century, claimed in one of her letters sent to her beloved sister Vanessa Bell that she was falling in love with Italy, especially with Palermo and Rome.

She said: “I’m rapidly falling in love with Italy. I think it’s much more congenial than France – All men must be womanisers!”.

She even described what she did the night before with her husband Leonard in Syracuse: “Dearest Vanessa, last night we explored Syracuse by the moonlight. But how am I to describe without boring you, particularly as you won’t have drunk a bottle of wine, and be half tipsy as I was – the bay, the schooners, the blue sky, with the white pillars, like paper, and clouds crossing, and people sauntering, and a man on stilts- no it can’t be done. One’s mind is such a hotchpotch of different things, always on the bubble – I dare say painters are more concentrated, but less amiable and lovable in the marmoreal chastity than we are!”

In another letter sent to Angus Davidson, a friend of hers, she expressed her love for our country, explaining that she would never come back to England: “It is perfect here. We are almost decided never to come back to England again!”

She also told her friend about a typical Sicilian evening: “Happily we have pitched on a purely Italian inn – rather humble; W.C’s fair; no English spoken, and we sit drinking coffee with Italian sailors and officers after dinner. We have been all day among the ruins of the Greek theatre; where they are getting up a play to act next week before the King and Queen; so we saw Medea in a sulphure-coloured wig, and Alcestis in a bowler and overcoat, shouting their pants. It was rather beautiful. In fact, everything is charming!”

Even Virginia Woolf found Sicilian towns astonishing, so it is essential that Sicilian people enjoy them too! Sicily is where you can witness different types of cultures, such as the Greek one, the Arabic one, the Roman one. Everywhere you turn you can see a piece of history, a glimpse of human life throughout the centuries. It is literally an open theatre!

Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde, an Irish playwright, novelist, poet and critic, was a “guest” in Sicily, too. When he finally left jail, after being imprisoned for gross indecency (he was “guilty” of loving a man instead of a woman), he decided to move to Paris and then to Italy.

He first visited Naples and Capri but, even if he travelled under a fake name, he was recognized and considered as a bad person. He eventuallly decided to visit the southern part of Italy, travelling through some amazing cities.

One of the most important destinations was Taormina, which he described as “A heaven for lovers”. He slept in the famous Hotel Victoria for almost all of his journey. In Taormina he also found lots of painters and a certain love for art. It was his private heaven, where he met a popular photographer called Wilhelm von Gloeden and he posed in some of his photos.

After Taormina, the next step was Palermo where he fell in love with The Palatine Chapel; he was impressed by the gold and its shape.

He described Palermo as “the most beautifully situated town in the world – it dreams away its life in the Conca d’Oro, the exquisite valley that lies between two seas”.

He became a friend of some charioteers from Monreale: Francesco, Salvatore and Giuseppe, who used to show him several Cathedrals in Palermo. Oscar Wilde loved Giuseppe in a very different way, more than the others.

As we can see the Trinacria is loved and praised by anyone, it is a real gem and it should be protected. Sicilian people have the duty to pass on their traditions and customs to the new generations in order to preserve them. Sicily is and will always be a comfortable home for authors or for anyone who is able to appreciate it!

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Marco Livolsi


IV A Liceo Classico


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