Fact is sicily will never change…

Fact is Sicily will never change.
Something funny about Sicilians.
They built great castles, churches, towns, but no roads to take them around.
To this day.
Di Lampedusa thinks it’s because Sicilians think they are gods. (The Leopard)
They are not.
All those invasions broke their back.
And the latest is being part of Italy…forced to be part of Italy.
Sicily is Sicily: Arab/black/Spanish with a touch of Normans.
It will never change.
Each neighborhood thinks it is the center of the universe.
It isn’t.
I have been back many times.
The people there wither within.
Lonely and lost…to make something of yourself you have to leave Sicily.
As I did.
As many others have. (“Cinema Paradiso”)…

Emanuel Di Pasquale

Prince of Salina, Scene from The Leopard
Emanuel Di Pasquale
Emanuel Di Pasquale
Emanuel di Pasquale has published poems in American Poetry Review, Sewanee Review, and many anthologies and textbooks. He has also translated numerous poets from English into Italian and from Italian into English. A poet, whose family hails from Ragusa, he is also a professor at Middelsex College in New Jersey. "Out of Stars and Sand and other Sicilian poems" (Gradiva publications) and "La Vita Nuova" (Xenos books) are di Pasquale's most recent publications.

Related Articles


  1. Dear Mr. di Pasquale,
    We are honored to publish your thoughts and convictions about Sicily. Since you are a widely published poet, your artistic point of view is quite insightful.
    My non artistic viewpoint, however, convinces me that after spending more than a decade away from my homeland advancing my career, my heart still belongs to Sicily. As far as I’m concerned, it is a magnificent land ensconced in the magical Mediterranean Sea. That’s why I’ve returned home.
    I refuse to accept di Lampedusa’s words drooling with ethnic self-hate. I firmly believe that this is the best location on earth to raise my children. It is a place where the values of life have remained strong. I’m sure there will be a time when my children venture out in the world to pursue careers. When they do, they will proudly hold their heads up high as they deliver the unique beauty of our culture to the rest of the world. In their travels, they will always know that there is a paradise waiting to welcome them back when they choose to return home. That paradise is Sicily and as children of Persephone’s Isle, they’ll always feel like Gods.
    Please continue sending us your thought-provoking poetry.

  2. I agree …To build yourself you have to leave but you have to leave only to come back – because you cannot help BUT come back … Yes this land is full of contradictions and unrealized dream…but it is still an amazing attraction to all of us who have been exposed to it….I have a slightly different take – while my children come here occasionally – I know I cannot bring them here to live permanently because if I did I would both bless and curse them …the curse is that if you have lived here you will ALWAYS come back….I recently re-read Wuthering Heights and Sicily reminds me of Heathcliff…It is you , it is me – it is love and hatred – it is passion and it is ultimately what you will live and die for!

  3. Dear Mr. di Pasquale,
    Thank you for this elegant shot of ristretto. I admire a man who takes his existential coffee straight and black. But despite its seductive myths of stasis, Sicily is also a land of change. Empedocles taught us this lesson 25 centuries ago. The four elements of the cosmos, he believed, are eternally united and eternally divided by two divine powers: Love (Eros) and Strife (Eris). These two powers war in every Sicilian heart.

    To claim that Sicily “never changes,” however, ignores recent trends. Political demonstration and community rallies are becoming more common. Mobsters are more vulnerable to arrest. Environmental groups such as Driaidi are protecting forests and restoring beaches. Social enterprises such as Sicilian Experience are reviving depopulated villages. Sicilian matrons carry placards, not wooden spoons, and a new generation of Sicilian internet uses refuses to subscribe to the code of omertà.

    This is hardly Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa’s Sicily, and Sicilians at home and abroad should adjust their attitude and actions accordingly. Rather than complain that no roads connect our castles, churches, and towns, we should solicit bids from contractors and raise money through crowdsourcing. Rather than accept the racist belief that we are incapable of progress because we are actually Arabs and Africans, we should welcome immigrants from the developing world who are eager to help us rebuild Persephone’s island.

    Sicily was the classical world’s America, a dynamic melting pot of innovation and abundance. It may or may not be so again, but we will never know until we try. Sicilians cannot afford the luxury of fatalism, whatever its literary merits. As Bertold Brecht said: “Art is not a mirror held up to reality, but a hammer with which to shape it.”

  4. As a writer, translator and eternal student of Sicilian literary history, I would like to add my two pennies worth to the debate. As you can probably tell from my name, I’m in the unique position amongst these responses of having no blood ties to the island, but I have a home there and spend as much time as I can in Sicily. I’m English and, although I don’t like to believe it of myself!, islanders seem to have an innate fear of change, a sense of preserving the status quo – but, crucially, this does not mean they are incapable of it. During my many sojourns in Sicily I have encountered a vibrant, helpful and decent populace striving for its own place in the twenty first century – far from withering from within, Sicilians have a great deal to teach the English about marrying those often mutually antagonistic concepts of family life and the modern pace of living. I’m not blind to the difficulties, but don’t believe it is a society set in stone – a multicultural heritage is a gift not a disadvantage and Arabo-Spanish culture is not to be dismissed lightly; despite the imperialist traits of Spanish viceroys. Furthermore, as someone pointed out, what about the Grecian influence. The Sicilian has many ‘selves’ to content with – shades of light and dark, but, then, don’t we all; your average Englishman is not a reserved, bowler hat wearing ‘toff’ with an aloof sense of sang-froid.

Comments are closed.

Stay Connected

Digital nomads? Time off? Retiring? Here your place.. in Sicilyspot_img

Latest Articles