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Gratteri – Holy Grail and Normans

Gratteri is a small village of 850 inhabitants, located in the mountains above Cefalu. On the rocks forming a Holy Grail form looking from the right angle.

Normans dominated this area and built a fort, many churches and planted a socio-economical system. It became a multi ethical society. It is one of the most beautiful Sicilian mountain villages to visit.

Forza D’Agro – Godfather, failed investments and Normans

Forza D’Agro is a small village of 890 people and sadly depopulating. Famous for its Godfather movie scene with the wedding between Michael Corleone and Apollonia.

Also Normans has been here building a large castle on the mountain peak with loopholes and a secret passage. Unfortunately the panorama gets ruined due to a failed real estate investment where all equipment is just left there high and low.

Gangi – The Medieval art town on a golden hill

Gangi is the old Greek name of Sicily. A mountain town with Norman origins situated 1000 m.a.s.l. with 6100 inhabitants. Named themselves “The town of arts”. Tricky roads to drive too, but offers stunning views and originality. Here I also found a local tambourine shop still making tambourines the traditional way from goat skin.

Polizzi Generosa – D&G hometown, Scorsese and Madonie in the Norman footsteps

Polizzi Generosa was named by Norman king Federico II due to the territory’s richness. He also created a free and independent town thanks to his laws supporting equality and justice.

These areas are depopulating fast, now only 2900 inhabitants remained. Hometown of designer Domenico Dolce D&G, Martin Scorsese’s grandparents and a door to the Madonie mountains.

Caltagirone – The colourful Arabian “pot castle”

Caltagirone is famous for its ceramic and if you are going to buy original Sicilian ceramic, it has to be signed Caltagirone. Filled with Sicilian baroque, but has arabian origins with town name qal at-ghiran, meaning “The pot castle”.

Highlight is of course Scalinata di Santa Maria del Monte. Filled with ceramic stories from all eras passing this area. 142 steps takes you to a wonderful view. Main reason I stopped here was to visit my favourite Ragu restaurant, but it was closed for vacation. So I get a new chance to pass by again!

Monreale – Golden stories on the walls, in the Norman footsteps

The highlight in Monreale is the main church, Cappella del Duomo di Monreale. Built as a political statement and artistic show off, and is the most important Norman architectual monument in Sicily as it represent the whole Norman kingdom. 6340 m2 of mosaics to follow stories from the old and new testament. Built by William II.

Saint Agata festivities in Catania

Saint Agata is the most important celebration for Catanesi, the celebrate their city’s saint. Every year also a public function gets honored with Candelora D’oro for their important work, and this year is was the fire fighters. We were invited by the mayor to see the honor price to be received by the fire fighters the 2nd of February. That night they also leave flowers to the saint at main church. The 3rd of February we were invited again to the municipality to see fireworks and for some drinks and finger foods. After that we left for another invitation to Agata Terrazze where we could see the fireworks for Saint Agata better.

More photos and video after the Swedish text.

Svenska

Helgonet Agata ?r det viktigaste firandet f?r Catanesi, de firar deras stadshelgon. Varje ?r hedras ocks? en offentlig funktion med Candelora D’oro f?r deras viktiga arbete, och i ?r var det brandm?nnen. Vi blev inbjudna av borgm?staren att se hederspriset tas emot av brandm?nnen den 2 februari. Den natten l?mnar de ocks? blommor till helgonet vid huvudkyrkan. Den 3 februari blev vi inbjudna igen till kommunen f?r att se fyrverkerier och f?r lite drinkar och sm?plock. Efter det ?kte vi till en annan inbjudan till Agata Terrazze d?r vi kunde se fyrverkerierna f?r Helgonet Agata b?ttre.

 

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Then the festivities ended from my part, had to leave for work in Germany.


Och d?r tog firandet f?r mig slut d? jag reste till Tyskland f?r arbete.

 

Over the roof tops from Chiesa Badia Sant’Agata

Did you now that only in Catania city there are 23 Unesco sites? Here visiting the Badia Sant’Agata church where you can take the elevator to the roof enjoying a splendid view over the city and magnificent Etna. Not to miss when you are in Catania!

Svenska

Visste du nu att bara i Catania stad finns det 23 Unesco platser? H?r bes?ker jag Badia Sant’Agata kyrkan d?r du kan ta hissen till taket och njuta av en fantastisk utsikt ?ver staden och magnifika Etna. Inte att missa n?r du ?r i Catania!

Are Sicilians religious?

In public opinion I live in a very religious area, a catholic area. But in real life, are sicilians religious? My immediate reaction is No! By heart no, but by presence yes. This meaning that most people here are very much involved with church activities by masses, choir singing, sports, christmas activities like Presepe Vivente (living Joseph, Maria and bady Jesus in stable), spreading palm leaves for Easter and so on. Church is also a meeting point for many house wives and if you get married most people still chooses church wedding by tradition, even if civil marriages are increasing. Children are baptized because it is still something you do. Catholism is teached at school and in every public office, post, police, municipalities, hospitals ecc, you find a cross. People even have pictures of saints in their car to protect them in traffic, Padre Pio, but then you see children jump in the car, using no seat belts, in 140 km/hour. You find statues of Holy Mary in many house corners and walls and every city celebrates its own saint.

By heart sicilians are not in general religious. Most do not follow Jesus foot steps and cities like Catania is rated as a city where most people cheat on their partner…in whole Italy. I have in ten years met one true catholic who was also a priest. He had the respect for atheists and was very frank on church traditions admitting that many of them are just traditions and nothing to do with christianity. But he lived as much as he could following Jesus foot steps. He seemed to have peace in his heart and was an amazing person. By personal experience I have met people who uses religion when it suits them, in my case often to shame me. Women who shame me not being married and having kids (often the older generation) or when religious days come and most end in euphoria they often ask How I can cope with life not being part of these traditions, it must be lonely? Some even shaming me having my family far away.

There are som religious expressions used in life happenings like Santo Cielo! = Oh My God! that with direct translation would be Holy Sky!, or Porca Eva! / Porco Guida! = God Damn! that with direct translation is Shitty Eva! / Shitty Judas!, meaning when something is really bad and by Bible stories we learn that Eva deceived Adam and Judas deceived Jesus.

Just because Sicily is known to be a religious area does not mean you find more morality here or honesty. I would say it is the opposite. Sicily still has very much Omerta and things You Do Not Talk About. Cheating, lying, frauds, violence is a much present here as anywhere else. Religion seems to be for many a gate-way to have in reserve if…. Things are though changing fast in Italy as the church complains that they have fever priests and churches are empty (article 28 Marzo 2017, in italian) . Most people around me whispers they are atheists or fascinated bu buddism, but go to church the most important days to please their mother or for the beautiful traditions. Generation gap.

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Svenska

I den allm?nna opinionen bor jag i ett mycket religi?st omr?de, ett katolskt omr?de. Men i verkligheten ?r sicilianare religi?sa? Min omedelbara reaktion ?r Nej! Av hj?rtat nej, men genom n?rvaro ja. Det inneb?r att de flesta m?nniskor h?r ?r mycket engagerade i kyrkans aktiviteter med m?ssor, k?rs?ng, sport, julaktiviteter som Presepe Vivente (levande Josef, Maria och Baby Jesus i stall), sprida palmblad till p?sk och s? vidare. Kyrkan ?r ocks? en m?tesplats f?r m?nga hemmafruar och om du gifter dig v?ljer de flesta fortfarande kyrkbr?llop enligt tradition, ?ven om de civila ?ktenskapen ?kar. Barn d?ps f?r att det fortfarande ?r n?got du g?r. Katolismen l?rs i skolan och i alla offentliga lokaler, post, polis, kommuner, sjukhus ecc hittar du ett kors. M?nniskor har ?ven bilder av helgon i sin bil f?r att skydda dem i trafiken, Padre Pio, men sen ser du att barn hoppar i bilen, utan bilb?lten, i 140 km / timmen. Du hittar statyer av Heliga Maria i m?nga hush?rn och v?ggar, och varje stad firar sin egen helgon vilket ofta ?r stadens h?jdpunkt.

I hj?rtat ?r inte sicilianare i allm?nhet religi?sa. De flesta f?ljer inte Jesus fotsteg, och t.ex. Catania ?r rankad som den stad d?r de flesta ?r otrogna mot sin partner … i hela Italien. Jag har under tio ?r tr?ffat en sann katolik som ocks? var pr?st. Han hade respekt f?r ateister och var mycket uppriktig om kyrkans traditioner och medgav att m?nga av dem bara ?r traditioner och inget att g?ra med kristendomen. Men han levde s? mycket som han kunde f?ljandes Jesu fotsteg. Han verkade ha fred i sitt hj?rta och var en fantastisk person. Genom personlig erfarenhet har jag tr?ffat m?nniskor som anv?nder religion n?r det passar dem, i mitt fall ofta f?r att sk?mma mig. Kvinnor som sk?mmer p? mig att jag inte ?r gift och har barn (ofta den ?ldre generationen) eller n?r religi?sa dagar kommer och de flesta hamnar i eufori, fr?gar de ofta hur jag kan hantera livet, inte vara en del av dessa traditioner, det m?ste vara ensamt? N?gra sk?mmer mig ?ven f?r att ha min familj l?ngt borta.

Det finns som religi?sa uttryck som anv?nds i livets h?ndelser som Santo Cielo! = Herregud!, med direkt ?vers?ttning skulle vara Helig Himmel!, eller Porca Eva! / Porco Guida! = Helvetes Fan!, med direkt ?vers?ttning ?r Gris Eva! / Gris Judas!, Vilket betyder n?r n?got ?r riktigt d?ligt, via bibeln ber?ttas att Eva lurade Adam och Judas bedrog Jesus.

Bara f?r att Sicilien ?r k?nt att vara ett religi?st omr?de betyder inte att du hittar mer moral h?r eller ?rlighet. Jag skulle s?ga att det ?r motsatsen. Sicilien har fortfarande mycket Omerta och saker du inte pratar om. Fusk, l?gn, bedr?geri, v?ld ?r lika mycket n?rvarande h?r som n?gon annanstans. Religion verkar vara f?r m?nga en gate-way att ha i reserv om …. Saker f?r?ndras ?nd? snabbt i Italien, eftersom kyrkan klagar p? att de har f?rre pr?ster och kyrkorna ?r tomma (artikel 28 Marzo 2017, p? italienska). De flesta runt omkring mig viskar att de ?r ateister eller fascinerade av buddism, men g?r till kyrkan de viktigaste dagarna f?r att behaga sin mamma eller f?r de vackra traditionerna. Generationsgap.

The church with only female saints

In Militello Val di Catania is a church with only female saints decorating the walls and paintings.? Chiesa della Madonna della Catena is built 1541 probably for a female religious group.

Svenska

I Militello Val di Catania finns en kyrka med bara kvinnliga helgon som dekorerar v?ggarna och m?lningarna. Chiesa della Madonna della Catena byggdes 1541 f?rmodligen f?r en kvinnlig religi?s grupp.

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Inside you find an extraordinary decoration, art work by Antonino di Blanco of 1690, depicting the mysteries of the Holy Rosary and twelve Holy Virgins, framed by festoons and cornucopias. This church is the only feminine pantheon where some of the most important female saints of catholicism are portrayed: Agata, Agrippina, Anastasia, Apollonia, Barbara, Caterina, Dorotea, Lucia, Maddalena, Margherita, Marta, Orsola, each recognizable by respective iconographic attributes.


Inuti hittar du extraordin?r dekoration, konstverk av Antonino di Blanco fr?n 1690, som visar mysterierna av den Holy Rosary och tolv Holy Virgins, inramade av festoons och cornucopias. Denna kyrka ?r den enda kvinnliga pantheonen d?r n?gra av katolicismens viktigaste kvinnliga heligon ?r portr?tterade: Agata, Agrippina, Anastasia, Apollonia, Barbara, Caterina, Dorotea, Lucia, Maddalena, Margherita, Marta, Orsola, vilka k?nnetecknas av respektive ikonografiska attribut.

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