Gesualdo Bufalino wrote about Sicily’s many different faces. He was fascinated by the multifacited nature of the island, filled with many paradoxes and contrasting elements that often exist side by side.
The complexity and instability of the island’s cultural history has created an engimantic place which is difficult to define.
Bufalino says how there are so many Sicilies, we can never finish counting them.
There is the green of the carob trees, whites of the salt pans, yellow of the suplhur mines, the golden colour of Sicilian honey, the purplish colour of the lava flows of Etna.
There is a certain Sicilia ‘babba’, so layed back as to seem stupid, a Sicilia ‘sperta’ or sly, capable of unspeakable acts of violence and fraud.
There is a lazy Sicily, a frenetic one, one that is fixated on the accumulation of property and wealth, one that acts out life like a Carnival character, one which lives in a whirlwind of delirium.
Why so many Sicilies? Because Sicily has had the destiny to find itself on the edge of great western and eastern cultures near to the temptations of the desert and the sun, between reason and magic, the climate of sentiment and the heatwave of passion.
Sicily suffers from an excess of identity, unsure if it is good or bad. Certainly for those born here the happiness of feelinke like you are sitting on the belly button of the world doesn’t last long, and is quickly replaced by the suffering of not knowing how to untangle yourself from the thousands of twists and knots of bloodlines that make up the thread of its destiny.
This is not all, there are so many other Sicilies, we will never finish counting them all.
So many different colours, textures, contexts, stories, landscapes and histories to witness the island has a boundless personality which is both exhausting and enthrawling at the same time.
Sicily is a wonderful font of inspiration but it can also be tiring and overwhelming at times. Sometimes you need to stop, close your eyes and have a break from being constantly stimulated. Like when you need to take a step back from social media, it’s a good idea to step back from the island and think of something else.
I usually have a holiday from Sicily around this time of year, changing time zones, hemisphere’s and seasons by going back to Australia. This year, like last year I have been unable to take a break. So I haven’t had a pause from Sicily, so I’ve been feeling a little sad and burnt out.
I’m not complaining about anything, just saying how I’ve been feeling kinda sluggish. But like most other people in the world I just need to be patient with myself, after all we are living through a quite extra ordinary period of history.
Our worlds have shrunk a little bit, stripped back to something more basic. Some of us are stuck in our houses, others who are able to go back to something a little more ‘normal’ are still forced to live with certain precautions in their lives that have never really existed before now.
We are all missing out on a certain freedom to explore through tourism and travel (eventhough Italy has opened up for the summer). We no longer able to hop on a plane and go where ever our hearts or budget desires.
I will not be able to visit my friends and family in Australia, or become reacauqinted with a nation that has become like a long lost friend to me.
I’m in Sicily, trying to navigate its schizophrenic personality, sometimes clashing with some big culture shock moments as always and trying to give myself permission to rest, fail, learn and grow through life.
I hope you are surviving this difficult moment of world history that is touching and affecting all of us collectively.
I’ll be here in Sicily, struggling, overthinking, waking up each day with something new to see and share with you. And trying to learn something from this journey.