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

DECEMBER 8, THE DAY OF THE FEAST OF THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION IN ENNA

The Feast of the Immaculate Conception marks the beginning of the Christmas holidays. The feast is celebrated in the Church of Saint Francis, also called the Church of the Immaculate Conception.

In front of the church there is a long line of market stalls. They sell lupines, bilberries, and another tasty fruit called holy oil.

In the square, which we citizens of Enna call Saint Francis Square, even though its real name is Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II, the city band plays their wind instruments, drums, and cymbals nonstop.

Th litter with the statue of the Virgin Mary on it comes out from the church. At least fifty brethren dressed in white robes and blue mantillas bear the heavy litter on their shoulders.

The city band follows the litter and everybody goes into the procession behind the band.

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 TOWER OF FREDERICK II OF SWABIA, THE KING OF SICILY

One of the most interesting monuments to visit in Enna (Sicily), is the Tower of Frederick II of Swabia (1194-1250). Besides being the King of Sicily, he was the Holy Roman Emperor, and the King of Jerusalem.

This great emperor was crowned King of Sicily when he was 4, under the regency of Pope Innocent III.

Since Frederick II grew up in Sicily, he was able to speak the Sicilian dialect as a native speaker. However, he also spoke Latin, Arabic, Greek, French, and of course German.

He was a man of extensive learning. Being thirsty for knowledge, he came into contact with the Sufis, the troubadours, esoteric schools, artists, and men of letters. He loved Sicily to such an extent that he wrote in his will that his body should be buried in Sicily. In fact, he rests in the Cathedral of Palermo.

He was the founder of the Sicilian School of Poetry and of the University of Naples. He also built several castles. Of note, Castel del Monte, in Apulia and the Tower of Frederick, in Enna.

Both these buildings are characterized by the number eight.

The plan of Castel del Monte is octagonal, the eight towers of the castle have also octagonal bases. There are eight rooms on each floor with windows facing on an inner octagonal courtyard. Somebody says that this unique castle was built to enclose the Holy Grail.

The plan of the Tower of Frederick in Enna is also octagonal. It is similar to the towers that form Castel del Monte. Both the monuments are made with stones of varied hues. It is said that Frederick II collected stones from various Pagan temples, which were particularly rich in energy, to build these structures. Besides having an octagonal base, the Tower of Frederick shows eight loopholes vertically and eight loopholes horizontally in one of the walls, while other sides of the tower are without loopholes or windows.

What is the meaning of the number eight, so dear to Frederick II? According to esoteric schools, the number eight symbolizes the union of Earth and Heaven. In other words it symbolizes the infinite.

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

SAINT ONUPHRIUS, THE SAINT OF LOST THINGS

Saint Onuphrius was an Egyptian monk that lived in absolute solitude in the desert for sixty years to purify his soul, feeding on dates and drinking water from a miraculous spring. His skin was parched and sunburned and his very long hair covered his whole body.

Saint Onuphrius is the protector of the city of Palermo. The celebrations in his honor last for one week every year.

The Sicilian girls who want to find a husband and those who have lost something address the following prayer to him:

Santu Nofriu, pilusu-pilusu

Tuttu amabili e amurusu

Pi’ li vostri santi pila

Facitimi sta grazia

Diccà a stasira

Saint Onophrius, hairy, hairy,

Very lovable, and loving.

By your holy hair,

Grant me this favor

By this evening.

Yesterday, I went to Lake Pergusa to do jogging. After I finished my workout and was about to open my car, I realized that I had lost the key. It happened while I was doing exercises with the apparatuses by the lakeside. At that moment, I was very worried. Then, I invoked Saint Onuphrius and asked him to make me find my lost key. Miraculously, I found it!

Was it a miracle by Saint Onuphrius? I think so.

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

RUNNING AROUND LAKE PERGUSA (SICILY)

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 20190814_143423.jpg

Lake Pergusa is the only natural lake in Sicily. It has neither tributary nor distributary. Perhaps its water comes from an underground spring or from the rivulets that run through the surrounding hills when it rains.

This lake is mythic, for Kore was abducted by Hades in this place.

These days, the myth has given way to a modern car race circuit which rings the lake. Since motor racing is less frequent, the racetrack has become a paradise for runners and cyclists. The air in the area is unpolluted, for the lake is surrounded by trees.

Today, early in the morning I went there. I covered the five kilometers of the circuit by running slightly. Every now and then, I stopped on the shore of the lake, near the reeds, and did some physical exercises.

Holistic disciplines claim that body and mind are connected. I agree. By taking care of your body, you also take care of your spirit.

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 LA MADONNA DELLA CATENA (OUR LADY OF THE CHAIN) IN SICILY

Every year, late in August, in Calascibetta, a town in the center of Sicily, there is the procession in honor of La Madonna della Catena (Our Lady of the Chain).

The statue of the Virgin Mary with Child Jesus, who hold a chain in their hands, is carried in procession. The women that follow it are dressed in black and bear heavy chains on their feet. Why do they drag those heavy chains?

To solve the mystery we need to go back to the year 1392. Sicily was under Spanish rule. The king was Martin the Younger and under his reign three criminals had been sentenced to death. The place of the execution was the Piazza Marina (Marina Square) in Palermo. At that time, capital punishments were carried out publicly.

The square was crowded with people. As usual, there were also street vendors who sold carobs, licorice, and the like. When everything was ready for the execution, a violent storm broke out. People left the square and the execution was postponed to the following day.

The guards and the criminals took refuge in the church of La Madonna del Porto (Our Lady of the Port). The violence of the storm didn’t allow them to leave the place. Therefore, they chained the condemned men to the altar and waited for the storm to end.

There was an image of Our Lady above the altar. The chained men looked up at it and begged the Virgin Mary to help them. Suddenly, the chains broke, the guards fell into a deep sleep, and the doors of the church opened wide.

The criminals went out but the next day they were caught to be taken again to the scaffold. Meanwhile, the news of the miracle of the breaking of the chains had reached the ears of King Martin who granted the pardon to the three men.

From that day on the devotion to the Our Lady of the Chain is widespread in Sicily. People consider her the protector of prisoners and immigrants.

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 MEANING OF THE TRISKELION

The triskelion is the traditional symbol of Sicily. It appears on the yellow red flag of Sicily, which shows a woman’s face surrounded by snakes, two little wings, three wheat ears, and three legs in rotating motion.

What is the meaning of such an enigmatic symbol? Before giving an explanation, a brief introduction on symbols is needed.

The term, symbol comes from the Greek word sunbolon, which means put together. In ancient times, the sunbolon was an identifying token. It was an object split into two halves. Only the person who possessed one half of the symbol was allowed to join the group or the tribe that had the other half. These days, the symbol has lost its original function; now, it is considered a veiled truth. Symbols are not the creation of the human mind but predate it. You can find the same symbol in very ancient populations of different continents, like the pyramid, the cross, the spiral, etc.

It is not possible to understand a symbol only with your intellect. A feeling is also needed.

That said, I will try to explain the symbol of Sicily with my mind and heart.

The triskelion is a religious symbol.

The image in the center depicts the face of a goddess or rather of the goddess mother (we cannot infer just from the snakes on her head that it is Medusa’s face).

The small wings symbolize the passing of time and the frailty of human life.

The snakes around her face mean wisdom. Since time immemorial, this reptile has symbolized knowledge.

The three legs in rotatory direction indicate a spiral, a very ancient widespread symbol that conveys the idea of the eternal becoming, and the never-ending cycle of life, death, and rebirth.

The wheat ears on the flag of Sicily don’t belong to the original triskelion. They have been added later to indicate the fertility of 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

ANOTHER SICILIAN TOMB

I stumbled upon a tomb of a friend of mine. We had been classmates in middle school. Her name, Katia, was quite uncommon in Enna. Her voice sounded like the chirping of a chick. I’ll never forget her. She had short black hair. Her eyes were as black as coal, but her complexion was as white as snow.

Katia and I followed different destinies in our lives. I was always looking for my soulmate, without being able to find it, while Katia married a doctor soon after she earned a degree in modern literature at the University of Catania. Her marriage didn’t last long, for she divorced her husband two years later.

After graduating, Katia got a job as a middle school teacher. She also wrote a book of poems. Unfortunately, at the age of fifty, while driving her car on a foggy road, she ran into a truck and died after slipping into a coma for a month. The tombstone in her tomb had been engraved with a poem of hers:

Love is a wandering knight.

He appears to you only once in your life.

Don’t let him go.

When he goes away, it is too late.

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

AN EPITAPH ON A SICILIAN TOMB

It was getting late. The keeper of the cemetery came and kindly asked her to head for the exit. Angela nodded. She took a sheet of paper from her bag and handed it to the keeper. It contained the epitaph she had written:

Death is a melter.

He gathers souls here and there.

Souls of the rich, souls of the poor,

Souls of the noble, souls of the plebeian.

Then he put them into its crucible where

All souls become ONE.

“Tomorrow, would you mind giving this sheet of paper to the stonecutter, please? He has already been informed. He will carve this epitaph on the marble wall above the altar,” Angela said.

The keeper of the cemetery bowed his head and said, “It will be done, my fair lady.”

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