SICILY “an indescribably beautiful country“
Sicily’s history spans some 4000 years. Since prehistoric times different peoples landed in Sicily attracted by its beauty, fertility and luxuriant vegetation. The island has seen many different cultures flourish on its soil, which have left behind a trail of impressive monuments, buildings and works of art which still today inspire wonder and admiration.
Many of these peoples felt at home in Sicily, the land Homer described as ” the wonderful island of Helios” the God of the Sun, the dream land of the ancients where “everything grew without being sown”. It was a supremely desirable land, an exceptional crossroads of history where different races and civilisations merged.
Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Normans, Swabians, French and Spaniards have all left in their wake their mark on its appearance. It was a supremely desirable land, an exceptional crossroads of history where different races and civilisations merged.
All this is recognisable even today in the physical appearance of Sicily’s inhabitants as well as in its customs, in the names of its towns and in the same language of the Sicilians. In Siracusa, Agrigento, Selinunte, Imera, the Greeks raised their temples in Doric style. The Normans erected the majestic Cathedrals of Cefalu, Monreale, Palermo.
Byzantine mosaics confer their supreme perfection on churches and cloisters. The Swabians built up in a perfect geometric style their imposing castles and towers. To the Spaniards is due the baroque of churches and noble palaces which still today is source of astonishment in Palermo and in south-east regions of Sicily.
Whoever comes to Sicily today can discover and enjoy millennia of civilisation, culture, and history. Following you can find the comments of famous travellers who have visited our island, admired its natural and artistic beauties, experienced the warmth and hospitality of its inhabitants and who, simply, have …fallen in love with it.
“From two special points of view, however, Sicily should attract travelers, because its natural and artis- tic beauties are as singular as they are wonderful […]
But what constitutes, above all, a land unique and most interesting in this world, is that it is, from one end to the other, a strange and divine museum of architecture.[…]
After seeing these monuments, which, though belonging to different periods and being of different origin, still have the same character, the same nature, one can say that they are neither Gothic, nor Arabic, nor Byzantine, but Sicilian.
One can assert that there is a Sicilian art and style, forever recognizable, which is assuredly the most delightful, the most varied, more highly colored and full of conceptions, than all the other styles of architecture”.
Guy de Maupassant
“The loveliest region of Italy: a stunning orgy of colours, scents, and lights …a great delight!”
“I was enchanted… the limpidity of the sky, the relentless splendour of the sun, the beauty of the countryside, a certain excitement of the fantasy … which brought to mind the time when in the fields one encountered the divine.”
“Sicily reminds me of Asia and Africa; to find oneself in its wonderful heart where so many rays of the universal history converge, it’s no small thing. But now Sicily and Magna Graecia Make me hope in a new life of youth,. And now I forsee That the day I shall leave, I shall want to return.”
Johann Wolfgang Goethe
“Palermo […] was lovely. The most beautifully situated town in the world – it dreams away its life in the concha d’oro, the exquisite valley that lies between two seas. The lemon groves and the orange gardens were […] entirely perfect”.
“This is the homeland of the Gods of Greek mythology. Near these places, Pluto abducted Persephone from her mother. In this wood we just walked through, Ceres ceased her swift running and tired of her fruitless search, sat on a rock, and despite being a goddess, she wept, the Greeks say, since she was a mother.
In these valleys, Apollo pastured his flocks; these groves, stretching down to the seashore, have echoed with Pan’s flute; the nymphs got lost under their shade and breathed their scent.
Galatea fled from Polyphemus and Acis, close to succumbing to the blows of his rival, enthralled these shores leaving his name here … In the distance you can see the lake of Hercules and the rocks of the Cyclops. Land of gods and heroes!”