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

ANCIENT AND NEW TOMBS IN ENNA (SICILY)

Enna has always been a city devoted to religion. In old times, the people of Enna buried the dead by digging small rooms in the rock, usually facing south. In the room, painted terracotta vases were placed next to the corpse. Tombs have been excavated that included well-preserved skeletons and red- and black-figure vases. Sometimes in the mouth of the skeleton was found a coin. The Greeks believed that to get to Hades (the kingdom of the dead), souls had to pay a fee of one coin to Charon, who ferried the dead across the Acheron, a river that divided the world of the living from that of the dead.

These days, the tombs in Enna look like small houses with niches inside. Sometimes an epitaph is engraved in the tomb. Here is one:

         Death is a melter.

         It gathers souls here and there.

         Souls of the rich, souls of the poor,

         Souls of the noble, souls of the plebeian.

         It then puts them into its crucible where

         All souls become ONE

This is an excerpt from November 2: The Day of the Dead in Sicily.

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

ARCANE DRAWINGS IN THE SKY OF ENNA (SICILY)

Since I have lived in Enna, I have never seen such mysterious signs in the sky.

My apartment faces west. Therefore, it is natural for me to watch sunset.
Each sunset has its own charm but a few days ago, the fantastic sunset scene, observed by me so many times, took on a mysterious air: The sky was furrowed with strange drawings.

At first, I thought they were flocks of birds. However, I immediately ruled out such a hypothesis because in Sicily we do not have this kind of both sedentary and migratory birds that can gather in such large numbers.

The drawings could have been a kind of chemtrails, but no civilian or military aircraft has ever made such strange and extended swirls in the sky.
So what were those signs? I do not dare to give any interpretation, but I think they were a form of language that conveyed a warning to humans. If any of you readers know more, let me know!

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

EASTER CELEBRATIONS REAPPEAR IN ENNA (SICILY)

After two years of interruption, due to the reasons we all know, the confreres walk again the streets of Enna, wearing the ancient procession garments that date back to the time when Sicily was a Spanish colony.

One of the most ancient confraternities is that of Maria SS. Del Rosario. It was founded in 1542 under Spanish rule. Only they who belonged to the noble class were admitted to the confraternity. Their task was to assist those condemned to the stake and bury them. At the time, heretics and homosexuals were burned at the stake in large numbers.   

In Enna, death sentences were enforced in the largest square, which is called Municipality Square. Near the scaffold was the small Church of the Lady of Sorrows, where the convict received the confession of sins and Holy Communion before filing towards the stake. Recent excavations in the Church of the Lady of Sorrows brought to light a crypt where those condemned to death spent the last hours of their lives.

These days, the confraternities have lost their original meaning. Do the confreres perform a folkloristic show or truly feel the religious meaning of Holy Week?

Ettore Grillo, author of these books:

– November 2: The Day of the Dead in Sicily

– A Hidden Sicilian History (English version)

–  Una Storia Siciliana Nascosta (versione in lingua italiana)

– The Vibrations of Words

– Travels of the Mind

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

THE SEVEN GATES TO ENNA (SICILY)

There were seven gates to get into the city of Enna. Over time, all but one either collapsed or were demolished for urban planning needs.

The only gate still existing is Janniscuru Gate. It stands on one of the slopes of Enna, a mountain city in the center of Sicily.

Enna did not need fortified walls to protect itself against enemy attacks, for the sheer cliffs that surrounded large part of the city, being natural strongholds, were enough to prevent the enemies from taking it.

What was the function of the seven gates in a city without defensive walls? They were there to check people and goods that entered the city and above all to collect taxes on incoming goods. At the time, the most profitable tax for a city was that called by the Romans portaticum (gate tax), but it also existed in ancient Greece. The tax collectors collected it at the gates of the city.

Near Janniscuru Gate, there is a small cave, where the publicans most likely collected taxes and kept accounts.

Since the world began, taxes have always existed! Unfortunately!

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 CHURCH OF SANTA CHIARA IN ENNA (SICILY)

If you come to Sicily, do not miss visiting the Church of Santa Chiara in Enna. It has a long history.

For two centuries, it has been the chapel of a Jesuit monastery. After the Jesuits left, above all for political reasons, the cloistered Sisters of Santa Chiara took over, and then they too left, this time because of lack of vocations. After the end of World War II, the chapel was converted into a shrine of fallen soldiers. The altars and the holy statues and pictures were removed. In the walls were placed burial niches where the bodies of the soldiers who died in the war are still kept.

What makes the Church of Santa Chiara unique is the fact that the citizens of Enna placed in the niches not only the bodies of the Italian soldiers, but also those of the foreign soldiers: Germans, British, Americans, and Canadians. who died near Enna.

On one of the walls, there are tombstones that read IGNOTO (UNKNOWN). This is because the people of Enna at that time found it difficult to read and then transcribe the names in the identity tags of the foreign soldiers. They buried them in the church in the same way as they had done with the Italians.

While visiting the Church of Santa Chiara my thoughts went to the war in Ukraine. How many young soldiers on both sides are dying without knowing why! I hope that someday the world will change and no more young soldiers will die for nothing!

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 BURIAL PLACE OF THE HEART OF CHOPIN

Before dying, Chopin requested that his heart be explanted and taken to Warsaw upon his death. Adhering to his will, his sister Ludwika put her brother’s heart into an urn filled with alcohol and took it to the Church of the Holy Cross, in Warsaw.

These days, Chopin’s body rests in Paris, while his heart is buried in Warsaw.

When we entered the Church of the Holy Cross, the melodious sound of the organ flooded the atmosphere. There was a tombstone in a wall of the church, which read in both Polish and English: here rests the heart of Frederick Chopin. We took a seat near Chopin’s heart and stayed there for a while, meditating on the spiritual heart of Chopin. Yes, music and art are universal languages; we should use them to communicate each other, I thought.

Now we are back home, in Enna, Sicily. I love to play a piece from one of his nocturnes.

While playing, I think of him as a piano teacher and hope he will forgive me for my amateur performance of his immortal music.

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