PUBLIC BROTHELS IN OLD SICILY

There was a public whorehouse in Enna until 1958. Afterwards, all brothels were suppressed throughout Italy by an act of the national parliament. Enna’s public whorehouse was located in the upper town, which looks onto the nearby town of Calascibetta, but it was not far from downtown. Of course, Enna is a small city lying on a plateau, and the distances between one side and another are not long.

The brothel was run by a brothel keeper, but the building belonged to a wealthy Enna family and had been leased to an ex-prostitute who had made enough money from her “work.” Brothel keepers were often called queens, and were usually unmarried. If it happened that one of them was married, her husband was called the “king.”

One room of the whorehouse was left for a police officer, who had the task of keeping order and checking the personal documents, above all the ones regarding the customer’s age. In fact, entrance was forbidden to young men under eighteen years of age. Nevertheless, the brothel keeper controlled everything in advance and kept order. She was always present at the entrance, and was very strict with both the prostitutes and the customers.

The brothel’s main door was kept ajar till late into the night. A wide red curtain separated the entrance from the rest of the house. Over the curtain there was a hall. The queen’s room was on the right, and on the left two steps led to a corridor. At the bottom was the room for the policeman; on the left there were two wide bedrooms, and on the right two waiting rooms.

From the hall, a staircase led upstairs where there were three more rooms for the girls, the medical room, and another waiting room reserved only for high-class people or someone that wanted to hide his identity, like a priest, a monk, or a married person. The entrance to this waiting room was regulated by the queen, who ordered the doors to all rooms shut, except the one reserved for the police, in order to let in the person that had asked to remain anonymous.
The meeting between the girls and…

This is an excerpt from A Hidden Sicilian History

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 DURATION OF MOURNING IN OLD SICILY

In Sicily, the duration of mourning varied according to the kind of relationship with the dead person, but usually were observed the following criteria: if the dead person was an uncle, a cousin, or someone not a close relative, the woman dressed in black for three months. If a child had been lost, the woman dressed in black for five years. If a sibling passed away, his or her sister dressed in black for three years. If the dead person was the husband, the widow dressed in black the rest of her life. I never saw my grandmother dressed in anything but black. She lost two children and her husband.
As for men, the duration of mourning was shorter than that of women. They usually didn’t dress in black suits for a long time, but confined themselves to wearing a black tie, an armband, a narrow band around their jacket collar, or sometimes they wore a black button on it.

This is an excerpt from A Hidden Sicilian History

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

DECEMBER 13, THE DAY OF THE FEAST OF SANTA LUCIA IN SICILY

Today is the feast of Santa Lucia, a saint from Syracuse who was martyred under the emperor Diocletian. She is the patron saint of the blind and people with limited eyesight.
As usual, there are processions on her day, and the statue of the saint is carried on a litter along the streets of
Enna. On this day, many families in Enna make a special meal called cuccìa. It is a ritual meal that was made in ancient Greece on the day of the commemoration of the dead. Nowadays in Sicily, the cuccìa is cooked on the day of the Feast of Santa Lucia. It is made from boiled wheat seasoned with chocolate or sweet ricotta, honey, and pieces of candied fruit. My sister Carolina used to cook cuccìa in a big cauldron and then invite all our neighbors to taste it.
Even though I don’t like cuccìa, I really enjoy the coming and going of our neighbors who crowd my home all day long.

This is an excerpt from A Hidden Sicilian History

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

AN OLD COURTROOM IN SICILY

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The day of the discussion of the case came. The courthouse was located in an ancient palace that had belonged to Andrea Chiaramonte, one of the most powerful noblemen in Sicily, who lived in the fourteenth century and fought against the Spaniards to preserve the independence of Sicily. But he was allured into a trap and captured. After the Spaniards captured him, they beheaded him in front of Palace Steri, his prestigious residence in Palermo.

The ceiling of the courtroom was frescoed with figures depicting the glories of the Chiaramontes. The bench of the judge was carved with the motto ALL MEN ARE EQUAL BEFORE THE LAW and the figure of the blindfolded goddess of justice holding a balance in her hand.

The table for the defendant and that for the plaintiff were in the center or the courtroom. Behind them there was a wooden barrier beyond which the public stood.

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

THE TOWN OF CALASCIBETTA (SICILY)

Sunset view of Calascibetta village in central Sicily, Italy.
Sunset view of Calascibetta village in central Sicily, Italy.

A short distance from Enna stands the town of Calascibetta. As the crow flies, the distance between the two places is about two kilometers, but the winding road that connects them is about seven kilometers long. They both are located on the summits of two small mountains. While Enna has an average height of 1000 meters, Calascibetta is a bit lower, about 900 meters above sea level.

They have almost the same climate, cool in the summertime and cold in the winter. The fog, which is caused by low clouds, envelops them very often. A valley dotted with olive groves and almond trees lies between the two mountains. It is green for most of the year and golden yellow during the summer months due to the lack of rainfall and the scorching sun.

The geography of the two places is quite different. While Enna stands on a plateau with sheer cliffs, Calascibetta rests on the slope of Mount Xibet.

Both of them have been inhabited since very ancient times as it was evidenced by archaeological findings. But it is believed that the real foundation of Calascibetta took place during the Arab period. As Enna was an impregnable stronghold, the Arabs settled a military camp on Mount Xibet, waiting for the right moment to launch an attack on Enna, which was occupied by the Byzantines. The siege lasted for a long time. While the Arabs remained camped on Mount Xibet, they boosted the tiny town situated there, developing the commerce and agriculture. Furthermore, they built mosques and palaces.

Seen from Calascibetta, Enna appears inaccessible. The steep rocks conceal some paths through which you can walk up to the top of the mountain. It is said that the Arabs were able to break the siege thanks to the help of a traitor banished from Enna, who showed them one of those concealed, dangerous, narrow paths through the rocky slopes, in the nighttime.

A further growth of Calascibetta took place during the Norman period. As the Arabs had done two centuries ago, the Normans also camped in Mount Xibet during their thirty-year siege on Enna, which was an Arab fortress this time.

The Normans built churches, monuments, a castle and the city walls in Calascibetta.

The Aragonese came to Calascibetta after the Normans. King Peter II of Aragon, who became  the king of Sicily, built the Royal Palatine Chapel in 1340. He loved Calascibetta and died in this town in 1342.

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

NAPOLEONE COLAJANNI’S TOMB

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One of the most important things to visit in the cemetery of Enna is the grave of Napoleone Colajanni, a great statesman and also a good writer. He was born in Castrogiovanni on 27 April 1847 and died in Castrogiovanni 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 had 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 noblemen 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 of financial improprieties the general manager of the Banco di Sicilia, one of the most important banks in Italy. The book by Napoleone Colajanni is one of the first books on the issue of the Mafia. It denounces the collusion between magistrates, police, politicians, and Mafiosi.

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

 

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

AN ANCIENT FUNERAL CEREMONY IN SICILY

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The coffin was carried by my grandfather’s friends on their shoulders to the Church of San Cataldo nearby, and after Mass it was set on a hearse dragged by two black horses.
There were thousands of people at the funeral, and all of them followed the hearse to the cemetery. At that time there were not many cars in the streets, so whenever there was a funeral the streets were closed to traffic. Sometimes the municipal band played a funeral march for very rich or special people.

After the funeral we had a tasty dinner. For eight days we were served breakfast, lunch, and dinner by our close friends. All the families gathered around the table. In Enna, you could not make the time of mourning at your will. It had to last eight days. During this time, besides being served delicious food by our relatives and close friends, we received visits from our neighbors and acquaintances. The food we received was more delicious than anything I had ever eaten before—so much so that a doubt arose in my mind: “Is this a time for mourning or a party?”
After eating, we returned to the double bedroom to show our grief as the visitors came in little by little. I sat close to my mother and observed the scene. The visitors entered the room and gave condolences to the family members, starting with my grandmother, and then they sat on the chairs scattered across the room and remained silent or talked with some of the family members.
Every family member was dressed in black. As soon as a new visitor came in, my mother and Aunt Carolina put a sad expression on their faces. Then they started chatting with the newcomers. While they chatted their faces were quite relaxed, but whenever a new visitor came in, they stopped chatting right away and reassumed a sorrowful look. In fact, it was mandatory to show a contrite face; otherwise folks might think that they didn’t mourn the loss of their father.
Since then I understood the difference between “to be” and “to look like.” The change in my relatives’ faces in showing grief meant that appearances had great importance in people’s eyes.
The custom of judging by appearances was widespread in Enna. Even today we tend to judge by appearances and fail to see what is really hidden inside every human being.

This is an excerpt from A Hidden Sicilian History by Ettore Grillo
Ettore Grillo, author of these books:
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
-Travels of the Mind
http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

A TASTE OF SICILIAN HISTORY

FOT

Enna is a small town, but over the years it has fostered the hopes of great spirits and people that have devoted their lives to missions in faraway lands, like Blessed Girolamo De Angelis (1567-1623), a Jesuit friar who left his hometown to follow his spiritual path. At the beginning of the seventeenth century he went to Japan to spread the Gospel, but fell into fierce persecution against Christians and had his life ended by being burnt at the stake. Enna is the birthplace of good writers like Nino Savarese and Napoleone Colajanni—the latter was also an honest politician and sociologist—and musicians like Francesco Paolo Neglia. The spiritual path followed by the main character of this story is worthy of note, though minor in scale.
Not many towns in the world can boast so peculiar a lifestyle. It is possible that if I hadn’t published A Hidden Sicilian History some of Enna’s oral traditions would have been lost forever.
The events happen because they had to happen, not by accident. 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. Through that scroll, the author wanted to create an invisible chain of spiritual beings, which he intended to become broader and broader.
Here is the translation . . .

This is an excerpt from A Hidden Sicilian History by Ettore Grillo
Ettore Grillo, author of these books:
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
-Travels of the Mind
http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo