Rus Articles Journal

Mediterranean triangle. Part 1

Sicily - the “aircraft carrier“ which dropped an anchor in the center of the Mediterranean with which it is convenient to start in any point of this cradle of the western civilization. To Spain from Sicily approximately as much, how many to Istanbul, and to Africa though far away, than to the Italian “boot“ lying in three kilometers, but too nearby. Besides, it is possible “to depart“ also to island history depth: from Archimedes to Garibaldi, and at desire - to lay a route on space of the world literature: from Homer`s “Odyssey“ to “Godfather“ Mario Puzo.

the Falcone and Borsellino Airport bears a name of two judges who died in fight with cosa nostra. So from first minute of stay on the island “the mafia subject“ declares itself. Sicilians hate to speak about it. One on a centuries-old habit observe a silence vow - an omerta, other of patriotism: “Why to blacken an island reputation?“ But many are just irritated that foreigners, having believed in film literary cliches, are not going to penetrate into a problem essence, and want to tickle only to themselves nerves talk on “horrors of mafia“.

the Taxi driver carrying you from the airport to Palermo will not tell for anything what is meant by a red stele at the highway. Here, about the town Kapachi, Giovanni Falcone was killed on March 23, 1992. Under a cloth of the up-to-date high-speed highway “specialists“ of mafia put 320 kilograms of explosive: together with the judge the wife and three bodyguards died. The stele flashed and remained behind - the thought of death seems inappropriate in paradise surrounding you: the majestic mountains, flowers, orange groves running to the sea. As Sicily was lucky with the nature! The spring, “a primaver of a sichilian“, the best season on the island, entirely captures all thoughts and feelings.

Starting point. Palermo

of Palermo approaches as threat, there is no wish to drive in closeness and a dullness of city suburbs. The chaos of traffic shakes even got used to the Moscow lawlessness. At once you understand that Sicilians live under the laws. The traffic light as an exchange of views of participants of the movement is not so important: if the pedestrian understood that the car will go, then it will stop and if the pedestrian is adjusted to go, then it is better for driver to brake. The paradox, but at such constant “a duel vol“ is not present feeling of aggression - in any case, thought that if that not so, then you will be whacked on the head mount, to this mind does not come.

of Palermo - the city, where, despite straight lines as an arrow, prospectuses, first of all are evident exotic lines. In his heart - the huge market surrounded with slums. During World War II the center of the capital of Sicily was strongly destroyed English - the American bombings, and the poor which - as dollied up houses lodged in ruins. In recent years reconstruction of historical quarters is actively conducted, but there is enough “exotic of ruin“ still.

In architecture of Palermo all styles mixed up, reflecting the confused and rich history of the city. This only place in the world where all main civilizations of the Mediterranean - from Phoenicians and Greeks to Arabs and Normans were noted. And as the hallmark of the city it is possible to consider the Christian churches topped with the red “Mauritian“ domes reminding mosques. Such is well-known San Giovanni of Eremiti`s dea, such is San Kataldo. In Western Europe “an Islamic deja vu“ you test similar unless in the Spanish Andalusia. To be surprised there is nothing - Sicily was two centuries Muslim.

Flashback 1. Treachery


on June 17, 827 the emir of Kairouan (modern Tunisia), costing on the coast, watched disembarkation of the army to the earth unapproachable hitherto for howl it is new Islam of Sicily. He was not afraid of the Byzantine ships: the former commander of fleet in local waters Evfimy invited to the island of Arabs. Its mutiny against Constantinople Aglabidam furnished kayruansky the clue to a stronghold of Byzantines in the Mediterranean Sea. The emir despised the traitor and considered an oath about the help to incorrect as the trick pleasing to Allah. In a year Arabs killed the unlucky candidate for the East Roman throne and step by step began to move ahead in depth of Sicily. In 831 they took Palermo and made it the capital of the island. Arabs brought to Sicilians oranges, algebra, paper and many other things. 100 years later the last centers of resistance of Christians fell. Palermo from 100 000 inhabitants and 300 mosques became the city of the Mediterranean, the fourth in size, after Constantinople, Cairo and Cordoba.

Best of all you understand importance of the saratsinsky page of history of Sicily, sitting at a little table of restaurant. Local cuisine very sharp and very sweet. Pepper and sugar - the Arab gift to the island. As well as snack from eggplants without which it is impossible to present the Sicilian feast. Especially I advise to try a kaponata - ragout from eggplants, olives and capers.

As any other city of Palermo gives an idea of mixture of cultures on the island. Not without reason it is called Sicilian New - York. Looking at the faces of citizens, you see how “natives“ and waves of immigrants and conquerors fancifully mixed up. In old quarter all names of streets are given in Italian, Yiddish and Arab. Absolutely organically the East in the image of the city merges with the West, disproving Kipling`s words that to them to meet never. On the antique column which is built in a ceremonial portico of a Gothic cathedral on a main square the inscription the Arab ligature glorifying Allah is cut. Even at centuries-old domination on the island of the Spanish inquisition came to nobody to mind it to force down.

However doubts that Sicily belongs to the Western Catholic world now no. In public gardens there are monuments to Francis of Assisi who is strongly looking like the actor Sean Connery as the monk Wilhelm from the movie “Rose Name“. As once standard bronze Lenin in the USSR, such Francis - Connery is available in any Sicilian town. And in general, despite separate saratsinsko - the Byzantine lines, architectural appearance of Palermo are defined nevertheless by the baroque style dictated in the 17th century by papal Rome.

this are Especially good

the fancy, generously decorated with a sculpture palaces and churches at night. Skillfully illuminated against Xing - the black southern sky, they are reflected in the plates of Palermo pavements polished with pedestrians from a volcanic lava. In such effective scenery stormy night life of Palermo organically looks. At a statue of the Mother of God on the square in front of San Domenico`s church “remove“ clients of the prostitute, and in the market of Vuchcheria the competitors restraining all working day - dealers fight. Shouts of women, the torn apart shirts, blood: the Sicilian passion is in full swing.

Modern Sicilians are not less interesting to

at all, than creations of their old ancestors. You admire a Palermo cathedral - and suddenly knock of “wooden“ steps on a pavement is behind distributed. Some the fat man conducts down the street a meter doll - the knight`s puppet, gathering crowd of children around. So we got acquainted with the hereditary puppeteer in the fifth generation Vincenzo Argento.

the Sicilian theater of puppets - a tremendous example of interference of “scientific“ and national cultures. In the 16th century the great Italian poet Ariosto a lofty style told the story of the knight Orlando “overheard“ by it at national singers - storytellers. Three centuries later successors of these bards, vagrant Sicilian puppeteers, shifted “Violent Roland“ Ariosto to language of folk theater of puppets. Roland - Orlando returned from aristocratic drawing rooms on the square and became the main star of Opera dei Pupi - “The doll opera“, the peculiar “soap opera“ of a dotelevizionny era.

“My great-grandfather told a story to Orlando for 394 representations - and the audience was not tired. The father reduced it ten times, and I squeezed all in an hour and a half“, - Vincenzo complains, without letting go a puppet who as if by itself dances at his legs. Today Opera dei Pupi lost fight to modern TV series and survives only on interest to it of children and tourists. But so far such people as Vincenzo create, the enchanting world of this theater will not die.“ I do not even remember when I began to do dolls - it seems, I did them always. My children grew up in theater too: it is our life“.

the curtain, and small Opens, the person on 50, teatrik is moved apart in a magic way by some to the sizes of the boundless Universe of the fairy tale. An armor of knights - the paladins, without fear and reproach entering fight from saratsina, dragons and the devil shines. Swords ring, the chopped-off heads fall, the great princess throws the arms round a neck to the conquering hero Orlando, the royal clown pours jokes. In Vincenzo`s final the incredibly strong hands of the puppeteer picks up the boy from the first row and puts it on a scene near Orlando. In eyes at the child such delight and pride shine that I understand how the well-known Sicilian fidelity to traditions is born.

Great Greece

these Traditions go to an extreme antiquity. Once you drive off from Palermo on 80 kilometers in Segesta, get already even not to the Middle Ages with knights and saratsinam, and to Antiquity. In Segesta the Athenian architects so he is almost an age-mate to the well-known Parthenon began to build the temple in 426 BC.

Flashback 2. Deception

When the temple was already built under a roof, Segesta`s citizens asked powerful Athens for the help not only in construction, but also in fight against the next Selinunte. These both Sicilian cities were founded by colonists, arrived from - for the seas. Segesta - the elima from Asia Minor which were considered by descendants of Trojans, and Selinunte and its “senior“ city of Syracuse - Greeks from Corinth, the ally hated to Athenians of Sparta. Elima and the Corinthian Greeks - immigrants competed for the power on the island, and Carthage located nearby in Africa also interfered with their fight. Not to get confused in this political labyrinth, Athenians sent envoys to Sicily - to understand on the ground. They were met with unprecedented honor and luxury. Especially strike lo Greeks what in each house where they came, owners ate on silver. Having assured of wealth and power of future ally, the Athenian Areopagus voted for military expedition to Segesta`s support. Athenians did not know that cunning segestinets transferred the same silver plates from home to home along the line of ambassadors. Athens was got involved in the Sicilian adventure, did not get the promised support, suffered terrible defeat under Sirakuzami and could never come to the forefront in the Greek world any more. Segesta was ruined by enemies, and its new temple was not complete.

Paradox of history, but this unfinished and even unnamed temple remained better than the glorified Hellenic sanctuaries of continental Greece, Asia Minor, Italy and the Sicily. It was never plundered and enemies did not burn down, it was spared by earthquakes. Did not change in millennia and a surrounding landscape. The temple towers on the flat hill from three parties surrounded with a rocky ravine. It as if the actor who stepped on the stage as which scenes serve mountains, a wall rising kilometers in three behind it. Getting closer to him, you go among agaves and flowers, and each step gives new “stage setting“. This kaleidoscope of types is still scrolled in the head when it appear in the wood of columns, and over the head improbably blue sky swings open. Segesta costs a little away from a tourist track and though and here is enough for the people, you have a chance to come to be under this antique sky all alone.

But of any loneliness do not even dream in Selinunte and Agrigenta. These two most advertized ancient monuments on Sicily are located on the southernmost tip of the island, opposite to Palermo. Crowds of people go on a heat from the temple to the temple, and in Selinunte also go on pass - avtomobilchik which can be hired. Temples were destroyed by wars and earthquakes, for the millennia were forgotten - neglected, and only in the last two centuries restorers gradually lifted the fallen columns and set up on them pediments. If once Goethe wrote about “noble silence of desolation“ of these ruins, then now from it there is no trace left also.

not to become deaf from shouts of school students, I advise in Agrigenta to go out of the car below, on the road and to survey silhouettes of three main sanctuaries of the city at distance. In Selinunte it is the best of all not to rush about together with all between the ruins spelled the alphabet, and to sit down on the stones heated by the sun at the temple “E“. From here the panorama on all Selinuntsky archaeological park opens: the sea, the sky, ancient columns and walls scattered among the wheaten fields worrying under wind with impregnations of red poppies. This look helps to understand why Magn Greece, Great Greece - as in the ancient time was called by the Greek colonies on Sicily and the South of Italy - was considered at Greeks as the fairy land of eternal idyll.

the Count oasis

after “an antique sortie“ us was waited Next day in Palermo by a meeting with the countess Franca Taska d “Almerita. This name is familiar on the island to everyone. The family of Task d“ Almerita owns vineyards where about ten the famous brands of wine become: from cheap white to expensive “Count red“. Having appeared at gate of huge park with a country house, we were surprised to how the similar oasis can exist in the center of the capital megalopolis. However when these gate for us were opened by the hostess, we were surprised even more. Tiny, very mobile and vigorous countess met us without ranks, home-style. Any cosmetics, any jewelry, white trousers and blouse, easy “student`s“ tone of conversation. And only in the head the thought of something imperceptibly French in shape and style of the interlocutor as the countess mentioned that roots of a family disappear dominions on the island of Burbons flashed.

Flashback 3. An ingratitude

the King of Naples Ferdinand IV landed with the yard on Sicily - the last of the possession remaining to it - in December, 1805. This Bourbon in which the French blood mixed up from the Spanish ran on the island from Napoleon who took Italy. His wife Maria - Carolina was a sister of the queen Maria executed in Paris - Antoinette, and the family neapolitano - the Sicilian Burbons did not wish to repeat a fate of the French relatives. Ten years spent by one of the most brilliant European yards on the island which was considered then as a remote place gave to Palermo an aristocratic luster. In the city new country houses and palaces were constructed and old are repaired. When after Napoleon`s crash Ferdinand returned to Naples, in acknowledgement renamed the state into Two Sicilies. On a twist of fate, the rescuer Sicily was a mogilshchitsa of the Neapolitan Burbons through two generations. In 1860 on the island from 1000 supporters Garibaldi enthusiastically met by the population landed. The revolutionaries dressed in the red shirts symbolizing readiness to win or die expelled the king`s soldiers. Soon Two Sicilies - one of the main opponents of association of the country fell. On the map of Europe the new state - Italy appeared.

the Family of Task d “Almerit did not fall

into oblivion together with Burbons. Counts were zealous owners and managed to organize model wine-making production.“ Enterprise at us in blood, all Task have to study, and then work. Brothers and the father are engaged in wine, and I do not allow to be empty to our country houses and palaces now. Even this house where several times in a year all 99 members of family gather, sometimes surrenders for holding big parties“. From the garden forcing to remember the Arab fairy tales with palm trees and ponds where swans float, we passed into the building of a country house. Under legs a tile floor of amazing beauty, on walls of a picture of the 16th century and a fresco began XIX. Answering a question as the family managed to survive in political storms of the last century, the countess became serious. “Right after war land reform began and surplus of the earth was subject to confiscation. My grandfather declared that he will shoot the first stranger who will step into our fields. The family was horrified, but nobody dared to contradict. Then to the grandfather the priest came and told: “Having killed the person, you will ruin the soul, however it is your choice. But having killed him from self-interest, you will ruin honor of a family, including those her members who were not born yet. Unless you are a God to decide destiny of not been born babies?“ And the old man postponed the gun“.

the Servant in white gloves brought to

a tray with “Red count“, and we drank for common sense of the grandfather of Task d “Almerita. Already saying goodbye at gate, the countess showed on the ugly high-rise buildings adjoining the estate.“ In 1960 - e it too, and the girl I rode there. It from us was taken away by one of bosses of mafia: the grandfather already died by then, and we are too civilized to shoot from the gun. But nothing, then this villain was sent nevertheless to prison for murders, and we celebrated this event a grandiose party“.

the Unexpected remark of Task d“ Almerita reminded

in search of mafia to us of the Sicilian mafia again. We decided to go to Corleone`s town representing it around the world at last to understand in what a secret of her power over islanders. And whether still mafia in general is live? Too many inhabitants assured us that Sicily absolutely got rid of this filth, and all in the past.

Flashback 4. Beyond the law

the Past of mafia is also mysterious

, as well as the present. Whether it arose in the X century as community defense volunteer squads against pirates whether as the guerrilla movement against Spaniards in XVI. The word is interpreted by differently. Some consider that it is the Sicilian call of the avenger for the scolded honor of the daughter before killing the offender: Ma fia (“My daughter“). Others conduct its origin from the Arab word mahias (“impudent“) which aggressors - Muslims called insurgents - Christians. The third are convinced that it is an abbreviation of the slogan risen against French in the 13th century: Morte Alla Francia! Italia Anela! - M. A. F. I. A. (“Death of France! Sigh, Italy!“ ). The fourth believe that so in secret language of robbers the mountain shelter was called. Anyway “mafia“ means something, beyond the law. It became the thought-over rule in the 18th century. Its support were “gabelotto“ - managing directors in estates of aristocrats, prototypes of future mafia tones. On the one hand, they helped the senor to squeeze out a rent of peasants and did not allow them to steal the domonical wood and water, and with another - limited appetites of landowners. The balance of the mafioso was supported by “extra legal“ methods, that is simply killing “violators of the convention“. The omerta - the mutual responsibility which was not allowing to break under no circumstances a vow of silence and to speak about mafia to the authorities was the most important element of system. Gradually there was a criminal organization which her members called cosa nostra (“our business“). Agrarian mafia at the end of the 19th century transferred the orders to the city - there was a racket (“pizza“). With emigration the Sicilian mafia got into the USA where in the magnificent color blossomed during the Prohibition. In the homeland, on the contrary, cosa nostra was necessary in 1920 - 1930 - e years hardly. Mussolini declared that he will not suffer the state in the state, and threw against “our business“ of the fanatical fascists. Thousands of “business“ died, ended up behind the bars or ran to colleagues - relatives in the USA. New “Golden Age“ cosa nostra came after disembarkation on Sicily of allies in 1943. By hearsay, FBI agreed with the American tones that those will help to seize the island. Anyway, but the mafioso in an aura of glory of fighters against the mode, having gone out of fascist prisons, became the first elective mayors in 1945. And they achieved the autonomous status of Sicily a year later in the Republic of Italy which the island uses still.

Historically mafia arose in the west of the island in a triangle between Palermo, Agrigenty and Trapani. In its middle there is also Corleone`s city, in the translation - “heart of a lion“. The road goes not along the highway there, and winds among mountains. By the way, roads on Sicily are good. Their laying was controlled too by cosa nostra. However, claim that billions, but when them you go were stolen, all the same there is a wish to tell mafias thanks.

of the Name of towns force to remember the Hollywood cinema about mafia: except Corleone from “Godfather“ we passed Prizzi, and right there recured the movie “Honour of a Family of Prizzi“ with Jack Nicholson as the killer to the memory - the mafioso (the truth, did a picture in America). To the director Francis Ford Coppola of the power of Corleone did not allow to remove the city too, and he looked for nature in other place.

Having seen the legendary homeland of Don which is built up with modern houses of Corleone, we began to doubt: what to the director of “Godfather“ was to fight for shootings in this uninteresting place? Our opinion changed at a view of Corleone from above, from the rock topped with a cross. Real mountain shelter of robbers.

To an observation deck us was kindly brought by signor Ciccio. Having forgotten about the affairs, he with great feeling convinced journalists from Russia that Mario Puzo and Francis Coppola slandered the city and caused damage to its inhabitants. However very much advised to buy strong tincture on herbs under the name “Don Corleone“ to which production, seemingly, was related. We bought tincture in the bar on a main square opened nearly day and night what you will not tell about the Center of fight against mafia. There was not a soul, only shelves with copies of cases of crimes cosa nostra for the last half a century stood in a corridor.

Abandoning Corleone, I thought: if signor Ciccio is right and in the town where all know each other, just there is no place of the mafioso why exactly here several decades the boss of bosses cosa nostra of Bernardo Proventsano by nickname the Bulldozer disappeared? He managed to be arrested only in 2006. He directed the criminal empire from an imperceptible lodge on Corleone`s suburb, sending “notes - malyava“, through faithful people. The Bulldozer did not trust phones and the Internet. And if mafia is dead with whom his founder - the former mayor at whom the godfather Proventsano so well felt in Corleone decades struggles in the Center for fight against mafia?