A very Sicilian Situation


There are many lovely valleys that I have had the pleasure of discovering and the Fiumara is one such. Here in a beautiful house I have practiced with Fiore before we decided to give our concert.
In another lovely home, who’s owners are my generous host for my valley retreat, I have marveled at the ease with which they live without conventional power.

A little further up, there are some very old almond trees, huge and majestic. Someone has decided that they would sell well as logs and has simply gone in and, distressingly, started chopping down the whole grove. It is not his to destroy, but when my piano friends rang the Carabinieri there was no response, furthermore, they watched as their telephone lines were cut. To identify the culprit could be dangerous, and the police are intimidated from going after them anyway. Everybody knows who it is.

When Giovanni confronted the guy who employs the shepherd who trespassed the other day with his large flock of sheep and goats, to complain about the damage to the stone walls, he was met with a stony “I am not here to clear up your rubbish”. You don’t mess with people because you can never be sure who you are messing with. He wisely walked away.

Last night, sitting in front of the fire with my friends I heard more. Receipts and the system and how everyone sidles around it. The grocer takes say €5 but gives you a receipt to say he only received €2. he slips in an extra piece of pumpkin. He is only just keeping his head above water, so why would anyone ‘denounce’ him? His supplier does this and so on.
Whole houses get built with the ‘little extras’ that builders who daren’t declare their real earnings manage to stash away, for instance, and everyone is in on it. I gather that I could be in a spot if I am not carrying my receipt…. No one ever checks, but IF they did……..

I went on a stealth mission the other day, trespassing to take photos of the entirely illegal mound of earth that has been bulldozed to make a shooting range, as well as a bonfire that is burning toxic waste. The project has been stopped for the time being and the ugly scar of earth mound is just sitting there. During the torrential rain it seemed the mound was channelled to allow water to drain off. The white, suffocating silt has flooded a neighbour’s olive and almond groves and is lying in pools. I was not quite at ease, but sympathise completely, and would like to see the case built that has the project abandoned. I gather it will be a hard task, as the hugely wealthy man who wants his range has his hands in several administration pockets, and so it goes on. I genuinely fear for my friends safety if she succeeds.
I often hear the phrase “the only thing to do is to kill them” …. in other words, the only solution is extreme.

The other side is the beauty of the place, the wonderful climate, the ease of living close to the land with it’s abundance of fruit and vegetables and the generosity, warmth and friendship that spring up so easily. “mind your business and live a long life”
I do wonder if corruption with it’s many faces isn’t more widespread than I care to think. It just seems especially entrenched here.


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2 Responses to A very Sicilian Situation

  1. beverley says:

    Thanks Jenny. Sad but very illuminating. It’s not good, is it? What can be done and who can help, I wonder? I’m sure I’m not the first to ask that. I can only hope that it will ease off in time but sadly much damage can obviously be done meanwhile. Hey ho. Could so nearly be paradise. I hope there are enough positives to balance things out and that it doesn’t dampen your spirits too much. Love from Beverley xxxx

    • jennyquick says:

      Yes, it is sad, and the saddest thing is the helplessness and resignation ” it has always been this way”. No, not dampened, but rather more careful. The climate and the beauty help, and I feel less weight of darkness than in Hungary with its totalitarian and vicious control. There is more joie de vivre here to be sure!

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