THE THEATER CLOSEST TO THE STARS

The plateau on which Enna stands is not completely flat. There are three areas that are a bit elevated and gently slope down to the center of the city. Seen from above, the area looks like a triangle. On one tip is an old castle called il Castello di Lombardia (the Castle of Lombardy), which is still accessible, even though a few towers have fallen into ruin. On the other tip is the Franciscan Monastery of Capuchin of Montesalvo, and on the third tip is the cemetery, which lies on a hillock. In the center of the triangle is the Piazza San Francesco (Saint Francis Square) and Belvedere Marconi, the viewpoint of Enna. People stroll in these places in the evenings during the summertime, for the weather is mild and the view from Belvedere Marconi is unique. They can admire the illuminated towns as well as Mount Etna which occasionally releases fiery flashes from its central crater.

The Castle of Lombardy stands in the highest part of the city. It was a military castle. According to some authors, it took its name from the Lombard soldiers who stayed in the fortress during the Norman period. The best-preserved tower is called Pisana Tower. It was built by Frederick II of Swabia and was so named because it was manned by a garrison of soldiers from Pisa.

The Castle of Lombardy was considered impregnable. Later, it was converted first into a prison and then into an open-air theater, called the theater closest to the stars, due to its altitude. In fact, it was situated at an elevation of one thousand meters above sea level. These days, tourists come and visit the castle and climb the steps to the top of the Pisana Tower.

From up there, they can admire valleys, mountain ranges, villages, towns, Lake Pergusa, Mount Etna, and the Tower of Frederick on the other side of the city.

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

MAYFLIES IN LAKE PERGUSA (SICILY)

Today, I took a walk around mythic Lake Pergusa. Once, it was swarming with dragonflies, butterflies, and mayflies, and the croak of the frogs was audible. These days, things are different. However, this morning, while walking near the water, to my surprise, I spotted a few mayflies.

With me was also my son who had never seen a mayfly.

“A mayfly, also called an ephemera or dayfly, is an insect that lives for a very short time, it is born in the morning and dies that same day. What would you do if you were a mayfly with only one day of life?” I asked my son.

“I would spend my day of life sending petitions to the rulers of the world, asking them not to pollute the earth, so that mayflies can survive. And what about you, Father?”

I replied, “I would spend my only day of life praying to God and asking him to make me live one more day, and then another day, and then another day, until the end of time,” I replied.  

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

BLESSED GIROLAMO DE ANGELIS, A GREAT SICILIAN

An interesting thing to see in Enna (Sicily) is the skull of Blessed Girolamo de Angelis. The relic is kept in the Church of Saint Marc, in the center of the city.

At the beginning of the seventeenth century, this Jesuit son of Enna  landed in  Japan to preach the Gospel. Listening to his sermons, some Japanese converted to Catholicism. However, he ran into persecution against Christians and was burned at the stake. His body was reduced to ashes except his skull which miraculously remained intact. One of his Japanese disciples collected the skull which eventually reached Enna, the birthplace of the Jesuit martyr.

Meditating for a few minutes in front of the relic of Blessed Girolamo De Angelis gives strength and the courage to make love prevail over any other feeling.

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

BRAMBLES AROUND LAKE PERGUSA (SICILY)

In ancient Greece and Rome every god and goddess had a plant, fruit, or tree sacred to them. The oak was sacred to Zeus, the pomegranate to Hera, the olive tree to Athena, and so on. In Greece, anyone who dared to cut down an olive tree was liable to the death penalty.

Even Hades, the god of the underworld, had a tree sacred to him: the cypress.

What about blackberries? They too had their god to whom they were sacred. He was Saturn, the Latin equivalent of Cronus, the god of time in Greek mythology.

Lake Pergusa, the only natural lake in Sicily, is full of brambles. They surround the lake like a ring. The wild rabbits that live by the lake hide among the thorny brambles to escape their predators.

Blackberries are rich in therapeutic properties. They are anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory. Today, running around Lake Pergusa, I tasted some blackberries. I found them delicious!

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

EUNUS, THE REBELLIOUS SLAVE

One of the interesting things to visit in Sicily is the bronze statue of the slave Eunus. It is located in Enna, in the center of Sicily, at the foot of the Lombardy Castle.

Eunus was a Syriac slave who lived in Enna under masters. His dream was to be a free man. To pursue his dream of freedom, he rebelled against both his masters and Roman laws, giving rise to a slave war.

In 1960, the city of Enna placed a commemorative marble plaque near the statue of the slave. In summary, the plaque reads: Two thousand years before Abraham Lincoln abolished slavery, the humble slave Eunus uttered a cry of freedom in this fortress, claiming the right of every man to be born free and to die free.

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

ST JOHN HENRY NEWMAN AND SICILY

Cardinal John Henry Newman is well known all over the world, for he was a great English theologian.

During his second trip to Sicily, in early May of the year 1833, in Leonforte, a small town in the province of Enna, he caught a strong typhoid fever. He spent the period of convalescence in Enna, in a house in the city center. According to a friend of mine, who is a historian, it was in Enna that he felt the desire to convert  to Catholicism. Today a marble plaque on the facade of the house that hosted him commemorates his stay in Enna. Obviously, the writing is in Italian, but in summary its content is this:

St John Henry Newman stayed in this house from 6 to 25 May 1833. His steps led him not only to Enna, the heart of classical Sicily, but also to the center of his heart.

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

SICILY, ITALY, AND THE WORLD

If someone asked me today, “Since you were born in Sicily, do you feel more Italian or more Sicilian?” I would reply, “My country is the world. My hometown is the place where I am at the moment. In other words, if I am in New York, my hometown is New York, if I am in Moscow, my hometown is Moscow, if I am in Addis Ababa, my hometown is Addis Ababa, if I am in Seoul my hometown is Seoul, and so on.”

“How about human races?” he would ask.

I would answer,” There is an invisible thread on Earth that links all people who have the same spiritual feelings, regardless of their race or skin color. They belong to the same spiritual race. The real races are not physical but spiritual, and you can feel it clearly whenever you have the chance to come across someone with similar feelings and nature.”

“You are just a dreamer!” he would say.

I would reply, “If you keep dreaming, sooner or later your dreams will come true.”

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

NAPOLEONE COLAJANNI, A GREAT SICILIAN

Today, walking through the alleys of Enna, I came across the birthplace of Napoleone Colajanni.He was born in Enna on 27 April 1847 and died in Enna on 2 September 1921.

Napoleone Colajanni was a clear example of an honest and incorruptible politician. After he was elected to the parliament of the Kingdom of Italy, he unmasked the scandal of the Banca Romana which minted banknotes illegally. The scandal also involved members of the government. Following the precise denunciation of corruption by Napoleone Colajanni, the government was forced to resign. This great son of Enna was also a professor of statistics at the University of Palermo and an author of books on the Mafia and the problems of southern Italy.

I read a book written by him entitled Nel Regno della Mafia (In the Kingdom of the Mafia). It tells of Emanuele Notarbartolo, marquis of San Giovanni, an eminent nobleman who was stabbed to death while traveling by train in a tunnel on the Messina Palermo railway line. Strangely, he was killed a few days after he had accused the general manager of the Banco di Sicilia, one of the most important banks in Italy, of financial improprieties. The book by Napoleone Colajanni is one of the first on the issue of the Mafia. It denounces the collusion between magistrates, police, politicians, and mafiosi.

Even though I don’t like politicians much, I cannot exclude that there may be some politicians like Napoleone Colajanni who are honest and aim at the wellbeing of citizens.

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 ROLE OF SICILY IN UNIFYING ITALY

A marble tablet stands out on the facade of the historic Palazzo Varisano in my hometown of Enna, Sicily. On it are engraved the names of my fellow citizens who participated in the war for the unification of Italy.

To unify Italy it was necessary to topple the Bourbon kingdom which ruled over all of southern Italy. For this purpose, the patriot Giuseppe Garibaldi on May 5, 1860 set sail from Quarto, a town near Genoa, with two ships bound for Sicily, on board of which there were 1089 patriots.

During the crossing, arguments arose among the members of the expedition. The splinter group was disembarked in Talamone, a town in Tuscany. After that, only 752 patriots landed in Sicily.

Could seven hundred and fifty-two men, albeit valiant, ever defeat the mighty Bourbon army? Of course not!

When the two ships arrived in Sicily, immediately 10,000 young Sicilians joined Garibaldi and all together defeated the Bourbons.

This is the historical truth: without the contribution of the Sicilians, the unity of Italy would have been impossible.

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

LINDA’S REVIEW OF A HIDDEN SICILIAN HISTORY


A good book, like a good wine must offer some degree of complexity. A Hidden Sicilian History by Ettore Grillo does just that. It is not at all what I expected. It is certainly not a history of the island.
We begin with the story of an old scroll found nestled in a volume of the Inquisition in a library in Enna, Sicily. The finder expects, as I did, that this will be a history of the island, possibly during the time of the Inquisition. As he translates it he finds the scroll instead to be a single fictional memoir of loss, doubt, and longing for truth.
The scroll becomes the vehicle for philosophical pondering about the meaning of life and what may lie beyond. The author of the scroll is an actor, Vincenzo. Through his musings the daily life in the 1930’s and historical events of the town of Enna become alive for the reader. Even small details regarding cures, strict customs and, of course, religious activities are included. Vincenzo becomes quite obsessed with the story of his uncle, also named Vincenzo, and feels a special bond with him, his namesake. He is determined to find information about his uncle’s mysterious death, a death no living relative would discuss. The fact that Vincenzo is introduced as an actor in a church play perhaps has bearing on his insecure identity and his personal spiritual challenges. Additionally, the fact that the scroll was found embedded in pages referring to the Inquisition dramatizes the book’s theme involving the impact of religion in our lives and our attitudes about our after-lives.
As we travel with Vincenzo in his quest for information about the demise of his uncle, we enter many pages of rather graphic sexual situations. This did take me by surprise but is appropriate considering the ultimate revelation of the cause of death. In his quest for universal truth the author touches on several world religions other than Christianity. This combination of real-life grit and philosophical wanderings into faith results in an interesting and unique and multi-layered read. The author is clearly highly educated and has a way with words that is both succinct and descriptive.

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