"Libbirtati e saluti cui ha, e riccu e nun lu sa."
(Who has health and freedom, is rich and does not know it.)
Courtesy of Wikipedia
Sicilia, one of 20 regions of Italy, is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea and is directly adjacent to the region Calabria, via the Strait of Messina to the east. Throughout much of its history, Sicily has been considered a crucial strategic location due in large part to its importance for Mediterranean trade routes. In terms of land size, Sicily is the largest of all the Italian regions and currently has just over 5 million inhabitants.
A Brief History
The original inhabitants of Sicily were three defined groups of the Ancient people of Italy. The most prominent and the earliest (around 8000 BC) were the Sicani from the Iberian Peninsula. The next tribe to migrate from the Aegean Sea were the Elymians. With the last group following around 1200 BC from mainland Italy, the Ligures. It was not until about 750 BC that the Greeks began to colonize Sicily and it was with relative ease that the existing tribes of Sicily absorbed the Hellenic culture. Greece began to make peace with the Roman Republic in 262 BC, and with this alliance, in 242 BC Sicily became the first Roman province outside of the Italian Peninsula. This period as a Roman province lasted from more than 700 years in total. As the Roman Empire fell apart, the Germanic tribe known as the Vandals took hold of Sicily in 440 AD. Between this time and 1130 AD, Sicily was under the control of the Vandals, Goths, Byzantines, Arabs, and Normans.
It was under the Normans control that Sicily was ultimately able to raise the status of the island to a kingdom in 1130 AD. The Kingdom of Sicily was prosperous and politically powerful, and was one of the wealthiest states in all of Europe. After the Normans, came the control of the Austrians followed by the Bourbons. It was under Bourbon reign that Sicily and Naples formally merged as the Two Sicilies in the late 1700s. It was not until 1848 that a major revolutionary movement was successful and resulted in a period of independence for Sicily.
However, this independence was only short lived, as in 1860, Sicily became part of the Kingdom of Italy. Italy became a Republic in 1946 and as part of the Constitution of Italy, Sicily was one of the five regions given special status as an autonomous region.
While Italian is the national language, most Sicilians are bilingual in both Italian and Sicilian. The Sicilian language is an entirely separate Romance language taking influence from Greek, French, Arabic, Spanish, and others and has a vocabulary of over 250,000 words. Today, there are probably more speakers of Sicilian than any other Italic language besides standard Italian.
Have a look to the special Sicilia menu available throughout the month of September.
*Ask you waiter what "MANGIARE" means and receive a free homemade dessert!
The flag of Sicily was first adopted in 1282. It is characterized by the presence of the triskelion (also known as the Trinacria, which is an ancient name of Sicily) in its middle, the winged head of Medusa and three wheat ears. The three bent legs are supposed to represent the three points of the island of Sicily. The colors respectively represent the cities of Palermo and Corleone. It finally became the official public flag of the Autonomous Region of Sicily in January 2000.
Sicily has been noted for over two millennia as a grain-producing territory. The chief agricultural products include wheat, barley, corn, olives, olive oil, almonds, oranges, lemons, and cotton.
In the last decades the wine industry has had a strong improvement, and the Sicilian wine,
Nero d'Avola has become very famous.
"Opera dei Pupi"
Marionettes became popular in Sicily during the fifteenth century, and are still considered
an important part of Sicilian folk culture. Typically the marionettes and their theatre depict medieval characters and legendary events based loosely on history. As folk art, the
productions are usually expressions of the popular perception of people and events
rather than exact chronicles of history and literature.
The marionettes, usually 3 ft. tall, are made from chestnut and dense cypress wood and
are covered in cloth and metal. The puppets are carved, painted, and decorated. Only a
handful of marionette makers still work in Sicily, as it is a demanding field requiring
numerous, highly developed skills. Nobody is born a puppet master or puppeteer,