Lucio Dalla mourned in Milo

For more than ten years Lucio Dalla was living in a house over mount Etna, in Milo, on the slopes of the volcano. The Bologna native singer-author founded a winery and developed a red and a white wine calling it “Etna’s little bastard”, giving him some recognition by enologic critics. Born in Bologna, Lucio Dalla was a nature lover, a sea lover and a lover of Sicily.

Last August the singer held a lectio magistralis at the “Castagno dei Cento Cavalli” (the Hundred Horses’ Chestnut Tree), one of the most ancient trees of Europe. The theme was “Myth and legend between past and present: The social padagogical function of the fantastic and fictious”.

Presented by the poet Angelo Scandurra, the singer was accompanied at the piano by the artist Marco Alemanno who also read passages taken from travel in Sicily and Malta by J. Houl, Ricordi del viaggio in Sicilia (Remembrance of the travel in Sicily) by E. De Amicis, Travels in Italy by J.W. Goethe and Il Polifemo Innamorato (Poliphemus in Love) by Santo Calì. Dalla closed the affair with two “most beautiful” songs of his great repertoire: “Itaca” and “4 Marzo 1943”.

 Among his most popular songs is “Caruso” (1986). The song is a tribute to the emblematic opera tenor Enrico Caruso, and has been covered by numerous international artists: by Luciano Pavarotti who sold over 9 million copies, and Andrea Bocelli first international album Romanza, which sold over 20 million copies worldwide.


On one of his last stays in Sicily Lucio Dalla had lived in Castel di Tusa, a province of Messina, at Antonio Presti’s Atelier over the Sea. The singer-author was thinking of making an art room in the inner part of the hotel. A bond, between Dalla and Sicily, celebrated in the song “Siciliano” (in the inner part of Luna Matana, 2001), as he explained to Vincenzo Mollica an interview broadcasted by the RAI: “From centuries artists, poets and painters go to Sicily to find an ideal way to rigenerate their spirit, to feel every scent and to live close to a civilization which one does not know when it started and when it will end: It is enough to think of the Phoenician, the Greeks, Empedocle of Agrigento, the Arabs, the Normans, the Italian poetry, which started in Sicily, Frederic II… I had the privilege to live there for ten years, in summer, and I had the urge to tell the utmost happiness that one feels stepping onto this land which represents an historic reality, and, I believe, one cannot find anywhere in the world… I like this people’s behavior, their civility, even among the lower class of them, they are very kind…, just like the oranges and the scents that one finds there. And beside they have an historic sense that encapsulates even Northern Europe, because Sicily has been a capital center of Europe and a reference for many people.

So this song represents the need to be Sicilian, for all who love those places. I find Sicily easily communicaytive, the Sicilian diaspora in the world forwards some of the scents of their land”.

Lucio Dalla’s last appearance on television was quite recently at the San Remo Festival hosted by Gianni Morandi.

Today is a time of mourning for the citizens of Milo in Sicily. The singer died on Thursday in Montreux (Switzerland), during an European tour. There are flags at half mast and shops closed in the village on the slopes of Etna, the “Sicilian home” of Lucio Dalla.

The funeral will be held today in Bologna.

Translated by Nino Russo


La lava in fiamme scende la collina
mi lavo i piedi, è domenica mattina
il sole picchia in testa come un assassino
la piazza è in festa, la festa del patrono
il mare scuote il letto, è un collare intorno al collo
satelliti nell’aria caduti tutti intorno
e tra un rosario e un lutto cittadino
mi siedo e aspetto di parlare con qualcuno
son siciliano… mezzo africano…
un po’ norvegese… un po’ americano

La prua della barca taglia in due il mare
ma il mare si riunisce e rimane sempre uguale
e tra un greco, un normanno, un bizantino
io son rimasto comunque siciliano
Carmelo è biondo e ha in bocca un orecchino
si sente già europeo, europeo palermitano
e tra le case ancora da finire
noi continuiamo, continuiamo a far l’amore
sono siciliano… un po’ saraceno…
un po’ finlandese… ma più catanese

Guardo fuori l’oblò c’è una luna d’argento
l’aereoplano si scuote nel vento, io lo so
che tra un po’ atterrerò e qualcuno mi attende
e mi sorriderà, appena mi vede
Carmelo dorme ai piedi del vulcano
il vento che aveva tra i capelli adesso lucida le stelle
negli occhi ha un sogno metropolitano
e un vulcano piano piano che si accende
sono siciliano… nord-africano…
un po’ norvegese… ma comunque siciliano


Down the hill runs the burning lava,
While my feet I wash, it is Sunday morning.
The sun hits with homicidal rays,
the town is festive for the patron’s day.
The sea rumbles the bed, it is like circling the neck.
From the sky satellites have fallen down
and you hear the rosary all around the town
I wait and seat to talk to someone,
I’m Sicilian…Half African…
a little Norwegian…even American.

My boat bow by two divides the sea
Only to unite again just behind me.
Among Greeks, Byzantines and Norman
I still am and always will be Sicilian.
Carmen is blond, he has a lip ring,
He feels European, but from Palermo only,
and among the houses decayed,
we keep on loving and to make love.
I am Sicilian…a little Saracen…
maybe from Finland…but more from Catania.

The silver moon I see from the porthole,
I feel it, flaps the plane in the wind,
Someone is waiting for me to land,
will smile to me and take my hand.
Sleeps Carmen at the volcano’s base,
the wind from him now glazes the stars.
Sparkle his eyes dreaming metropolitan
as a volcano fire lights up his eyes
I am Sicilian…North-African…
Some Norwegian… for sure Sicilian.

“Siciliano” translated by Nino Russo

The Editor
The Editor
Times of Sicily | Sicily in English

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  1. Sono triste che non sapevo di quest’artista meraviglioso “SICILIANO”.
    sono di Brooklyn, NY ma oggi mi sento un po piu di siciliano
    grazie Signor Lucio

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