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Ciao Sicilia what's on. Palazzolo Acreide, scrigno ancestrale



N° 1 January 1991 - Pagg. 40-42


(Text and photos by Francesco Alaimo)

If you think about it, Antonino Uccello could not have been called any other way ("uccello" means bird); all poets have wings and fly. He flew, on the wings of memory, in memory, and as, if you are a poet today, and a poet of the "lost desired" or, worse, an idealistic declaimer of trees, in times of crimes, there is a risk of falling (someone "pushing" you down) – they cut Icarus wings. As, for example, often happens to doves. And not that Icarus flew too high, no, it was the others who crept too low. The "House of Icarus" by Antonino Uccello was (today is) the ancestral house, the "place where everybody finds once again something they thought lost for good; the house of one's own infancy, of one's parents, of one's land". (S. Nigro). A mysterious cave in which to keep, intact and forever, the "objects" of memory, and perhaps, oh Utopia!, the breath of the Iblei mountaineers, the sweat, the suffering, the joy, the sorrow, the hopes. In a word not only the life story but, oh Utopia!, the meaning of of life that Uccello – I believe – felt to be deposited on the "objects" of his museum-house. Yes, because that house was (today is) as ethno-anthropological museum, or more exactly a collection of precious testimonials to Sicilian folk culture, but for him it was certainly something more: not a place where objects are mummified (and isn't this the dominating culture in museums?) but a precious casket in which objects, things, are not simply things: they have life – at last – and vibrate, under the gaze of those who have (want) memories to (re-)discover. Each of these – here living objects, storehouses of experiences to refer to, cristallysed memories to reflect on – has stories to tell because each has been entrusted with all the time and the meaning of life as mediators between the magic cavern of memory and the present. Uccello – I believe – felt that objects, those poor objects collected around – where, perhaps, the very matter of recollection, its concreteness; having no memory may mean having no chance for possible futures! Today, after years of ainful vicissitudes and misundestandings (the "others" crept low), Antonino Uccello dead, the museum-house at Palazzolo Acreide, having recovered its collection, is opening once again to the public. This splendid town does justice to the singer of its people and opens up another of its caskets to the fortunate visitor, as its richness, obviously, does not reside only in the museum-house. Wasn't Palazzolo the ancient Akrai, the first sub-colony of Syracuse, when there began the great, mythical, unrepeatable adventure of Sicily? Then let the visitor feel emotion – truly intense emotion – at sitting on the steps of its complete late Hellenistic theatre, and imagine seeing the little senate mansion (some traces of which remain) or the agora, the houses at Akrai, the bouleuterion and its streets with the very fine decuman (extant) in lava stone, one of the best preserved ancient streets on the whole island. And let him not fall to admire (and be moved as he does) the famous and mysterious "Santoni", fine rock sculptures from the 3rd century B.C., the most important and richest complex devoted to the cult of the Magna Mater, Cybele, in which the Greek cult probably blended with oriental elements. Let the visitor wander through the alleys and fine streets of Palazzolo, where there are clear signs of the past and the colours of history are made up of moss and lichens on peeling pastel plaster and the gold-red of the tufa of its churches. It is easy (and sweet), then, to be amazed and touched amid the old buildings (the eighteenth century Zocco, Iudica-Cafici and Ferla mansions and the Cappellani one from the early twentieth century) and the old churches (San Sebastiano, San Nicolς, San Paolo), first and foremost the Annunziata Church, on whose Baroque portal, there rise four very light but magnificent twined spiralling columns. Here, while I photograph the sinuous tufa volutes, a dove, hidden among the capitals, suddenly takes off and that beating of wings miraculously remains impressed in the photogram. I know, it is not by chance, today Icarus has started flying again!

Visit the website

Inclusion in the prestigious World Heritage List UNESCO "Late Baroque Towns of the Val di Noto": Caltagirone, Militello Val of Catania, Catania, Modica, Famous, Palazzolo Acreide, Ragusa Ibla, Scicli.

An archaeological zone between most ancient in the Italian panorama, with a beautiful greek theatre, roman-hellenistic road.

One of the most famous and appreciated attractions of Palazzolo Acreide is certainly "House-museum of Antonino Uccello). During the years of passionate and hard work, the Sicilian ethnologist, has collected and put in order interesting testimonies and precious materials about the life and folk wisdom.

The site hosts 12 large reliefs called "Santoni". It is the greatest sanctuary to date uncovered, dedicated to the cult of the oriental goddess of fertility Cibeles.

The ruins of the Norman castle and the surrounding medieval urban planning structure.

An historical center of great architectonic value, strongly characterized from a Baroque architecture, fruit of the reconstruction post-earthquake of 1693 and, subsequently,  from the season of the Art Noveau.

The religious manifestations like the festivity of S. Paul and S. Sebastiano, known in all the Sicily.

International Youth Festival of Classical Theatre.
Every year, during May, at greek theatre many groups of highschools students from all over Italy and the rest of Europe perform tragedies and comedy by classical authors.

The several exhibitions proposed by the House-museum "Antonino Uccello", the agricultural and food- Review of the products and typical food... and more...

Carnival is very lively in Palazzolo Acreide and is one of the oldest in Sicily. As well as the parade of the allegorical cars and groups dressed up, you may taste in various food festivals the typical Palazzolo's food products like the sausage, trout pastry, macaroni, cavatieddi (a typical local pasta) and cannoli.

A extremely varied landscape, with the  Natural Reserve of Cava Grande and the Natural Reserve of the Anapo-Pantalica.

The presence, in the beam of little kilometers, archaeological and historical important archaeological zone like Kasmenai, Ancient Avola, Castelluccio, Pantalica, the several bizantine churches, etc.

The St. Lucia watermill, is one of the four water-mills started by the torrent Purbella. It dates back to the XVI century. It is perfectly kept, plunged in an uncontaminated valley, shaded by oak-trees and walnut-trees.Inside the building is the Museum of the Millstone where permanent displays and millstones of different shapes illustrate the development of the cereals grindind technique, from pre-history up to hydraulic energy.









Centro di documentazione multimediale su Antonino Uccello e sull'area Iblea e le province di Siracusa e Ragusa. Visite virtuali dei beni archeologici, artistici, etnoantropologici, storici, naturalistici.


Andrea Latina


Centro Studi Iblei


Istituto Studi Acrensi