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February 11, There are many love stories associated with the island both fact and fiction. From stories of nymphs and river gods from Greek mythology, love struck Hollywood movie stars, books written by some of the worlds most famous literary authors of all time, films about Sicily and filmed in Sicily and dramatic operas that depict lives of lost loves and loveless marriages. Some with happy endings and some with not so happy endings.
Sicily is a place where once you visit you are immediately seduced by its beauty, food, culture and its people. I myself first visited Sicily after reading an article in a magazine. The article was called "Alternative Valentines Weekends Away". After a lot of research I booked a flight to Catania and a villa in Taormina and immediately fell in love as soon as my feet touched the tarmac at the airport, so much so that two years later we bought our Sicilian house. So with love and romance in mind and with it being the most romantic month February, in no particular order, here are 12 tales of Sicilian love, fact and fiction.
Aci and Galatea In ancient Greek times there once lived Aci, a handsome shepherd boy who fell in love with Galatea, a beautiful sea nymph, with whom Polyphemus the Cyclops, who lived on Mount Etna was infatuated with. Polyphemus was jealous of the two lovers so he murdered Aci by throwing him against a large rock.
In appeasement of the Gods, Aci was transformed into a river so that Galatea could swim in it and be with her beloved Aci forever. Aci's name was also given to the three towns on the eastern coast, Acireale, Aci Castello and Acitrezza. Where to go In the beautiful town of Acireale you will find in the public gardens a beautiful sculpture of Aci and Galatea. Il Gattopardo The Leopard by author Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa is a novel that chronicles the changes in Sicilian life and society during the period when Garibaldi swept through Sicily with his forces to overthrow the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies.
The novel's main character is Prince Fabrizio of Salina.
During the book we learn about the romance between the Prince's nephew Tancredi and the beautiful Angelica. Whilst staying at the families country home in Donnafugata, Tancredi falls in love at first sight with the local mayor's daughter Angelica at a dinner hosted by his uncle. This devastates Prince Fabrizio's daughter Concetta who is also in love with Tancredi. Later in the book the author gives us every detail about the young romance between Tancredi and Angelica.
The two of them love to wander through all the secret rooms of Donnafugata and meet for secret trysts amongst the citrus trees in the surrounding land.
A grand ball is held for the Prince's aristocratic friends and it is here that Angelica is presented as Tancredi's bride to be after the Prince watching them dance happily together comes to realize and accept that whatever happiness the couple feel should be celebrated. The novel was made into a movie in staring Burt Lancaster, most of the movie was filmed in the beautiful Villa Boscogrande in Mondello a seaside resort north of Palermo. Michael Corleone and Apollonia The Godfather Part I. Whilst walking he encounters a breathtakingly beautiful Sicilian woman and falls in love at first sight.
His bodyguards comment that in Sicily women are more dangerous than shotguns and exclaim that he has been hit by a thunderbolt. After stopping for a drink at Bar Vitelli the trio enquire about the beautiful girl with a purple ribbon in her hair that looks more Greek than Italian. The owner of the bar says "NO" and it becomes apparent that the girl is the bar owners daughter. At this point Michael asks for his permission to court his daughter and offers his hand in marriage, thereafter a grand wedding is held.
Tragically, Apollonia is killed by a car bomb intended for Michael planted by one of his trusted bodyguards. At the end of The Godfather Part III an elderly Michael sits alone thinking of his life and lost loves suddenly slumping over in his chair and falling to the ground. Don Corleone takes his name from the town of Corleone however the town in Sicily's mountain interior was not deemed suitable to be used as a movie location.
The scene of Apollonia's death was filmed at the Castello degli Schiavi in Fiumefreddo. The film Cleopatra is best remembered for the love affair between Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton who fell in love on set. Whilst filming the blockbuster movie the couple snuck away and no one knew where they had gone. They were in fact sipping cocktails in Taormina's glamorous bars and cafes whilst staying at the Grand Timeo Hotel where it is said that on another visit Elizabeth broke a guitar by smashing it on Richard's head during a row. In a excerpt from his diary written in Taormina on 30th July he wrote "A slow day, marking time, with a walk in which we bought sunglasses at a little shop.
As we left, the crowd which had gathered applauded us. Elizabeth thought it very sweet, which indeed it was. We dined in somnolence and some self-satisfaction as we compared our ancestors and former wives and husbands. Elizabeth has become very slim and I can barely keep my hands off her. The most.
I mean the dishiest". The writer fell in love with Taormina and once wrote in a letter to a friend "We love Taormina and in particular our house, I like this place more than any other, I love the sunrise over the open sea to the East". It is said that he wrote Lady Chatterley's Lover here after drawing inspiration from an English noble lady living in Taormina who fell in love with her Sicilian gardener. Visits are by appointment only. Alpheus and Arethusa Greek Mythology. Arethusa was a Greek nymph who fled from her home in Arcadia beneath the sea and came up as a fresh water fountain on the island of Ortigia in Syracuse.
The myth of her transformation begins in Arcadia when she came across a clear stream and began bathing, not knowing that stream was in fact the river god Alpheus whose waters flowed down from Arcadia to the sea. Alpheus fell in love with Arethusa but she fled after discovering his presence and intentions as she wished to remain a chaste attendant of the goddess Artemis. After a long pursuit by Alpheus, she prayed to her goddess to ask for protection. Artemis hid her in a cloud, but Alpheus was persistent with his love for her.
Arethusa began to perspire profusely from fear and soon transformed into a stream. Artemis then broke the ground allowing Arethusa another attempt to flee. Her stream travelled under the sea to Ortigia but love struck Alpheus followed her through the sea to reach her and mingle with her waters so that he could be with his love forever.
The fountain of Arethusa is a natural fountain on the island of Ortigia boasting abundant papyrus plants and a variety of ducks happily swimming in the fresh water fountain where Arethusa returned to the earths surface. In this Academy Award winning film Salvatore Toto a filmmaker recalls his childhood when falling in love with the movies at the cinema of his home village and forms a deep relationship with the cinema's elderly projectionist. About a decade into the movie Toto now in high school is operating the projector at the Cinema Paradiso after a tragic accident leaves his mentor blind.
Their friendship has strengthened and Salvatore often looks to him for help and advice. Salvatore has been experimenting with film, using a home movie camera and he has met and captured on film a beautiful girl with blue eyes, Elena who is the daughter of a wealthy banker.
Toto woos and wins Elena's heart only to lose her due to her fathers disapproval. As Elena and her family move away, a heart broken Toto leaves town for compulsory military service. His attempts to write to Elena are fruitless and his letters are returned as undeliverable. After returning to Sicily without Elena he decides to move to Rome to pursue his dream of being a film maker only returning to Sicily for the funeral of his old friend the projectionist. Whilst in Sicily he is reunited with a now married Elena. Cinema Paradiso is one of the most beautiful, moving and memorable movies ever made and is a must watch.
The fictional town of Giancaldo is based on Bagheria near Palermo. The town of Castelbuono is the location for the school that Toto and Elena attended. The seaside town of Cefalu was used to film the scene where the outdoor screening of Ulysses is interrupted by rain and Toto is surprised by a kiss from Elena.
Much Ado About Nothing is a comedy play by William Shakespeare thought to have been written between and as Shakespeare was approaching the middle of this career. The play is based in the north eastern Sicilian town of Messina in the 16th centrury.
Messina is a bustling sea port but its climate makes it agricultural as well, meaning the male characters of the play returning from war viewing Messina as a welcome respite from the battlefields of northern Italy. Claudio falls in love with Hero and their marriage is agreed upon.
Beatrice and Benedick despise love and engage in comic banter. The others plot to make them fall in love with each other by a trick in which Benedick will overhear his friends talking of Beatrice's supposed secret love for him and vice versa. Meanwhile Don John, the prince's evil half brother, contrives a more malicious plot with the assistance of his follower Borachio. Claudio is led to believe that he has witnessed Hero in a compromising situation on the night before her wedding day.
In fact it is her maid with Borachio. Claudio denounces Hero during the marriage ceremony. She faints and on the advice of the Friar, who is convinced of her innocence, Leonato announces that she is dead. Beatrice announces that Benedick should kill Claudio. After a policeman overhears Borachio boasting of his exploit the plot is exposed.
Claudio promises to make amends to Leonato and is then required to marry a cousin of Hero's in her place. When unveiled she is revealed as Hero much to Claudio's joy.
Beatrice and Benedick declare their true love for each and Beatrice agrees to marry him. In Shakespeare's play we learn a lot about society in 16th century Messina. Messina is the third largest city on Sicily and is well worth a visit during your stay on the island. In Piazza Duomo a clock tower with mechanical figures comes to life each day at noon. Filmed in on the Aeolian Island of Stromboli and directed by Roberto Rossellini, Stromboli stars Ingrid Bergman who plays a displaced Lithuanian in Italy who escapes the internment camp by marrying an Italian POW fisherman, whom she met on the other side of the barbed wire.
He promises her a great life in his home island of Stromboli.Lonely wife Aci Castello
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