FERRAGOSTO (AUGUST 15) IN CALASCIBETTA, SICILY

Calascibetta is a charming town in the center of Sicily. Instead of going to an overcrowded beach, we opted to spend a lovely afternoon in this small city.

After enjoying a delicious ice cream at a bar overlooking the main square of Calascibetta, Piazza Umberto, we headed for the Royal Palatine Chapel. It is located in the upper town. King Peter II of Aragon built it in 1340. The colonnade shows a series of enigmatic bas-reliefs. The most mysterious is the one at the base of a column on the right. A local stonecutter made it. Of course, he had a knack for creating works of art.

On the way back to our car, we saw a sundial. It is the smallest sundial I have ever seen, and it is still working!

A short distance from there, we visited some caves. There were about one thousand caves in Calascibetta, most of them hidden by the modern buildings. Perhaps, people lived there in ancient time.

We enjoyed a very quiet, peaceful, and happy holiday. Happiness is inside, not outside! We do not need to search it outside ourselves!

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 (edizione in lingua italiana)

– Viaggi della Mente (edizione in lingua italiana)

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

MY REVIEW OF NOT FOR SELF BY JOSEPH CACIBAUDA

The novel, Not for Self, is set in the American state of Illinois at the time of the mass emigration from Europe to the United States, at the beginning of the last century.

A few immigrants move from Sicily to Marion, Illinois, to work in the coalmines. The work is hard, dangerous, and harmful to health, but it is better than starving. One of these Sicilian immigrants, Jack Valenti, does not like the job in the coalmine. He opens a bar where he serves soft drinks and alcoholic beverages.

Business is very good for him, but before long, he runs into the law that prohibits the sale of alcohol in the United States of America. He starts bootlegging alcohol, but has not come to terms with the Ku Klux Klan, a secret society that leaves him no way out.

Joseph Cacibauda’s novel is compelling and well written. It is also an insight into the American history of that time.

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 (edizione in lingua italiana)

– Viaggi della Mente (edizione in lingua italiana)

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

THE SPECIAL SKY OF ENNA (SICILY)

When a person visits a new place, he is usually attracted by something interesting to see: historical monuments, leisure places, beautiful landscapes, museums, and so on. It is quite unusual to find someone fascinated by the color of sky. Nevertheless, if you come to Enna, you will see that here the hue of the sky is different.

In my life, I have traveled across all continents, from north to south, from east to west, but I have not seen in other places the same sky as that in Enna. It has something magic and special.

If I were a painter, I would try to paint it on a canvas, but it would be difficult to find a mixture of colors to paint Enna’s sky.

What is the cause of such a peculiar color? The citizens of Enna think that Our Lady watches over them, as Demeter did in ancient times. They think that Mary’s blue mantle envelops the city. “Blessed are they who live in the city of Enna,” once a seer said. Who knows! Anyway, I love to see the sky of Enna. Whenever I see this magic sky, I feel blessed. I become a part of the universe!

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 (edizione in lingua italiana)

– Viaggi della Mente (edizione in lingua italiana)

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

THE STATUE OF SAINT FRANCIS IN ENNA (SICILY)

A small green area has recently been attached to the Church of Saint Francis of Assisi, in Enna, with an olive tree and a statue of the saint surrounded by white doves. While we were going back home and passing by that green, we noticed a fragrance emanating from the area.

We turned in all directions but could not spot a flower or a tree from where that subtle scent might be emanating. The following days we passed by the same place again, but we could not smell anything.

After that, we went to the crypt of the Basilica of Saint Francis, in Assisi. We sat on a pew facing Saint Francis’s tomb. As soon as I sat down, I had the sensation that a kind of energy was telling me something: “Purify your heart, mind, body, and actions, and then you’ll see God inside you!”

What was Saint Francis telling me this time? He meant that the real kingdom of God is inside every living being, but we cannot find it if our mind is contaminated by too many materialistic desires or our actions are not directed towards the well-being of our fellow creatures. I also inferred that prayer and meditation are a good way to purify my mind and get close to God, as long as my actions aim not towards an egoistic goal but to the love of all creatures.

Were my contacts with St. Francis the fruit of hallucinations? I cannot know. I can just say that what I have written above is the truth!

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 (edizione in lingua italiana)

– Viaggi della Mente (edizione in lingua italiana)

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

THE MYTH OF SCYLLA AND CHARYBDIS

On our way back to Sicily, we stopped by the nice town of Scilla (Calabria), which faces Sicily.

In the square of Scilla, stands out the fine sculpture of the nymph Scylla.

She was a very beautiful girl that ran into the envy of the witch Circe who turned her into a monster, half fish and half woman, with six heads of ferocious dogs.  

In Sicily, there was another monster, Charybdis. He sucked water from the sea and then spit it back, giving rise to dangerous whirlpools. Whoever passed through the Strait of Messina had to confront one of the two monsters. According to Homer, Charybdis was more dangerous, for Odysseus preferred to face Scylla that, however, devoured six of the men of Odysseus’ crew.

Nowadays, neither Scylla nor Charybdis exists anymore. The crystalline sea by Scilla invites us for a swim. Like all Greek myths, even the myth of Scylla and Charybdis has a deep meaning: Sometimes, in our life we confront difficulties. Not always, we are able to overcome them. In this case, as Odysseus did, it is better to choose the lesser of the two evils!

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 (edizione in lingua italiana)

– Viaggi della Mente (edizione in lingua italiana)

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

MY REVIEW OF JANE EYRE BY CHARLOTTE BRONTE

Three sisters – Emily, Charlotte, and Anne Bronte – were excellent writers. I have read Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte and just finished reading Jane Eyre by her sister Charlotte. Someday, I hope to come across something written by the third sister, Anne Bronte.

In Jane Eyre, the main theme is love; the immortal love that disregards wealth, physical beauty, age, and social status. Do you think we can find this kind of love only in novels or also in real life? Can unalloyed love exist? Is it just the dream of artists, writers, poets, painters, sculptors, and music composers?

What also struck me was the nobleness of Jane Eyre’s soul. Her uncle bequeaths to her twenty thousand pounds – a huge amount of money at the time – , but instead of pocketing it all for her, she shares the bequest with her cousins who have been disinherited by their uncle. Can such a thing also happen nowadays or does it only exist in literary works?

Overall, Jane Eyre is a superb, thought provoking novel. It prompts us to act well in life, for, in the end, Providence always comes to the aid of the righteous.

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 (edizione in lingua italiana)

– Viaggi della Mente (edizione in lingua italiana)

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

THE FEAST OF SAN CALOGERO, IN AGRIGENTO (SICILY)

Although the city of Agrigento has its own patron saint – San Gerlando, a Norman saint –, the citizens of Agrigento love San Calogero more than any other saint. He was a hermit who probably came to Sicily from Africa or the Middle East.

The celebrations in his honor last one week, from the first to the second Sunday in July. The brethren carry in procession his statue, and people crowd around it.

When there was leprosy, San Calogero took care of the lepers. At that time, people threw loaves of bread at him from the balconies and terraces of the houses, so as not to come into contact with him and run the risk of being infected.  The loaves of bread were for him and for the lepers too. Even today, during the procession, people throw loaves of bread at the statue of the saint.

While we were spending a three-day vacation in San Leone, near Agrigento, I had an irresistible urge to visit the church of San Calogero. We went there, sat on a pew, and meditated for a little while. I felt an atmosphere of sacredness and had the feeling that he was really a great saint, who fully deserves to be loved by his people: the citizens of Agrigento!

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 (edizione in lingua italiana)

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

THE RIACE BRONZES IN REGGIO CALABRIA

On our way back to Sicily, before taking the ferryboat, we visited the Museum of Reggio Calabria, which houses finds from Hellenistic period and, in particular, the Riace Bronzes.

They are two big bronze sculptures, dating back to the fifth century BC, that were found in the sea of Riace Marina, in 1972. Their perfect bodies embody the “harmony of forms” so dear to the Greeks.

For the Greeks, beauty was “the smile of the earth”. While building a temple or making a sculpture, they had in mind the idea of “harmony of forms”. It was not possible to find a Greek sculpture that was not beautiful.

Aphrodite was the ideal of female beauty as Heracles was the ideal of male beauty. Everybody, both gods and humans, fell in love with Aphrodite. But, all rules have their exceptions!

Aphrodite (the goddess of beauty) was jealous of Psyche (the goddess of the soul). Sometimes, Psyche outshone Aphrodite, for some fell in love with Psyche. They preferred the beauty of the soul to that of the body.

Do you think the same happens nowadays?

Ettore Grillo author of these books:

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

A Hidden Sicilian History (English version)

The Vibrations of Words(English version)

Travels of the Mind (English version)

– Una Storia Siciliana Nascosta (versione in lingua italiana)

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

THE HORSE AND ANXIETY

“When I lived in Germany, I had a horse that was frightened by his shadow. The horse didn’t know that the shadow of his body couldn’t threaten him. It was not easy to convince him not to get scared. At last, he understood that his shadow was an image projected by his body. After understanding, he calmed down.
“Therefore, whenever anxiety tries to take over you, take a rest for some minutes and sit silently. Watch your breathing, watch your mind, watch your body, watch your thoughts, and watch your anxiety. Gradually, your mind will be purified, and your anxiety will vanish! You can’t find it anymore because it comes from an impure mind.”
This is an excerpt from Travels of the Mind

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 (edizione italiana)

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


THE HERMITAGE OF SANTA ROSALIA IN SANTO STEFANO DI QUISQUINIA (SICILY)

Santa Rosalia was born in Palermo in the XII century. Around the age of fourteen, his father, Count Sinibaldo, promises her in marriage to a prince. Santa Rosalia refused to marry and fled into a cave amidst the woods of Santo Stefano di Quisquinia, a place where nobody could find her. Obviously, near the cave there was a church or a convent where she received help and support. She lived in the cave for twelve years, and then she returned to Palermo to spend the rest of her short life in another cave in Monte Pellegrino.

The former cave of Santa Rosalia is quite long and narrow. Yesterday, I walked almost to the end of it. I felt that it was charged with spirituality.

Visiting the hermitage, I saw the cells of the friars. They were all oriented to Palermo, the city of Santa Rosalia.

In front of one of the cells was the photo and the ID of one of the last monks that lived in the hermitage.

A holy book stood out on a table of the dining room. Somebody told me that while the monks were eating, another monk stood and read aloud. Of course, he had eaten in advance.

On the ground floor was the room where the monks placed the dead. They eviscerated the corpse and, after six months, they moved it into a glass cabinet. The novices that wanted to become monks had to stay in the skeleton room for one week, drinking just water.  It was a good way to meditate, indeed! Don’t you think the rules of the world would benefit from meditating in such a room for one week?

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 (edizione italiana)

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