“Sicily is the clue to everything” — Goethe
There is no future tense in the Sicilian dialect. Sicilians live only in the present or the past. But Sicily’s past is richer and more extraordinary than that of any other part of the Mediterranean.
Sicily has played a central role in Mediterranean and European history, and yet it has never dominated it. It is the living museum of all great Mediterranean cultures. The traces of those past cultures — Greek, Roman, Moorish, French, Spanish — are still a part of the vivid present. You can see them in the art and architecture, hear them in the language, find them in the place names, eat them in the food.
But Sicily’s historical past is only one dimension of its fascination for me. It is also a place of extraordinary natural beauty. True, much of the coast is buried beneath indiscriminate development, but even here there are bays, rocky promontories, stretches of shore where it is quite possible to believe that nothing has changed, and inland you can find great rolling sweeps of countryside, hills thick with oak and cork trees, where fat black pigs run free, and craggy mountain sides as easily as you can find a Greek temple or a Roman theatre.
Nino Cucchiaro, a lawyer based in Marsala, said to me “All the foreigners who come to Sicily end up by becoming Sicilians — Arabs, Normans, Germans, Spaniards. There is something about this island.” There is.