THE SULFUR MINE OF FLORISTELLA, ENNA (SICILY)

Near Lake Pergusa, there is the ancient Sulfur Mine of Floristella, now abandoned. It is part of the Floristella mining park, which includes the ancient Pennisi Palace, named after the owner of the mine. The palace houses a permanent exhibition of pictures dating back to the time when the mine was live. It is also possible to see the ancient entrances to the underground and the Calcheroni furnaces where they smelted the ore.

I have described a sulfur mine in my book, A Hidden Sicilian History. Here is a little excerpt:

After about half an hour of riding, I saw a long line of men, young men, boys, and ragged children walking slowly on the road with the acetylene lanterns in their hands. They looked as if they were souls heading for the Valley of Jehoshaphat near Jerusalem on the day of the Last Judgment.

It was almost dawn when we arrived at a place with many cylinder-shaped stone mounds that gave off smoke on the top, while below a yellow liquid leaked through a crack in the stones_

Ettore Grillo, author of these books:

– November 2: The Day of the Dead in Sicily (English edition)

– A Hidden Sicilian History (English edition)

– The Vibrations of Words (English edition)

– Travels of the Mind (English edition)

– Una Storia Siciliana Nascosta (Italian edition)

http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

LA SCALA DI SAN GIACOMO (THE STAIRWAY OF ST. JAMES) IN CALTAGIRONE (SICILY)

Caltagirone is a charming city in the Sicilian hinterland. It is famous for its sumptuous Baroque style buildings, the artistic Christmas nativity scenes, and above all, for the art of ceramics, which seems to date back to the Greek period.

The most beautiful palaces were built in the Bourbon period. This denotes that the city must have been thriving at the time of the Kingdom of Naples.

A few days ago, I happened to visit this beautiful city and was mesmerized by the breathtaking view of the Scala di San Giacomo. It leads to the Church of Santa Maria del Monte. The symbolic meaning is clear: to reach the divinity you have to strive a little bit; in this case, you have to climb a quite long stairway. The easy way leads nowhere.

The fronts of the steps are tiled with ceramic. On the sides of the stairway are workshops that also sell nice ceramic objects.

Caltagirone with its Baroque style palaces and the Stairway of St. James is really worth visiting!

Ettore Grillo, author of these books:

– November 2: The Day of the Dead in Sicily (English edition)

– A Hidden Sicilian History (English edition)

– The Vibrations of Words (English edition)

– Travels of the Mind (English edition)

– Una Storia Siciliana Nascosta (Italian edition)

http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

A LIST OF FORTY-TWO BOOKS TO TRANSFORM YOUR LIFE

It was July 2000. While I was admiring the vault of the Church of St. Paul Outside the Walls in Rome, a gray-haired guy about forty-five years old, with a southern Italian accent, came up to me. We talked about religion for a little while and then parted ways.

After about half an hour, I saw him again, sitting on a bench in the subway and waiting for his train.

“You are here again! Well! Since we meet again, it is not by chance. So, I want to give you this gift,” he said.

He took from his pocket a sheet of paper, a little bit crumpled, with writing on the front and back, and handed it to me. Meanwhile, the train arrived. Getting on the train, he waved his hand to me and smiled from ear to ear.

The train left. I have never seen that man again in my life, but the precious sheet of paper is still with me.

The listed books range over many subjects: literature, philosophy, meditation, cultures, and religions. There are books about Sufism, Gurdjieff, Saint Augustine, Plato, Osho, and so on. The titles are handwritten, so difficult to decipher. Some are almost impossible to read. Yet, there is a bookseller in my hometown who helped me to read the titles. Finally, we deciphered all the titles except two.

From time to time, I give a copy of the list to some friends of mine.

Ettore Grillo, author of these books:

– November 2: The Day of the Dead in Sicily

– A Hidden Sicilian History

– The Vibrations of Words

– Travels of the Mind

http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

THE FEAST OF ST. PHILIP IN AIDONE (SICILY)

Aidone is a town in the center of Sicily. It is near the ancient city of Morgantina, and houses the statue of Venus that the Paul Getty Museum in Malibu gave back to Italy.

Aidone is renowned for the pilgrimage that takes place every year on May 1 from nearby towns and villages to the sanctuary of St. Philip the apostle. It can be considered a small Santiago de Compostela, for pilgrims travel on foot, covering long distances (my hometown of Enna is about forty kilometers away).

My grandmother, who was a fervent catholic, told me that, after walking all night, she climbed the stairs to the Sanctuary of St. Philip on her knees. She also told me that some people went up the steps licking them with their tongues.

On this day, it is customary to buy some ribbons, called zagaredde in Sicilian, and rub them on the statue. This way the ribbons are charged with divine energy.

As a child, I used to wear a ribbon tied to my arm, which my grandmother gave me when she returned from the pilgrimage to St. Philip.

Is the feast of St. Philip based on superstition? Who knows, sometimes simpletons see reality better than scholars do.

Ettore Grillo, author of these books:

– November 2: The Day of the Dead in Sicily

– A Hidden Sicilian History

– The Vibrations of Words

– Travels of the Mind

http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo