Scicli (RG)

Away off the main tourist beat - but this delightfully sleepy baroque town is well worth a visit. My two calls, over a decade apart, revealed no change, except that the inevitable decay of fine buildings had advanced a little further. But Scicli seems a place that is content to decline gently - a nonagenarian who had fought in three wars told me that Scicli has the perfect climate - never too hot in summer, never too cold in winter: its senior citizens can snooze on their benches in the piazza all year round. In the UK, a building like the Palazzo Beneventano would be a heritage site with souvenir shop and tea-room. In Scicli it's just ageing beautifully and unselfconsciously. Note the small roped off area in the picture, where masonry could fall and maim you (not still there in 2005, though!); the rusting balustrade of the crinoline balcony, the eroding grotesques below it. Note the washing and the motorino. Here a fine old building is still very much part of the community - not segregated from real life.


Interior of San MatteoBut even here, things are changing. (Do I agree with Don Fabrizio in The Leopard who says "Se vogliamo che tutto rimanga come è, bisogni che tutto cambi" ?). Trying to exercise my Italian, I struck up a conversation with the son of the padrone in the charming trattoria where I was having lunch (La Taverna). Assuming that football would be a good opener - after all it was the only yesterday that Liverpool had beaten AC Milan to win the European Cup in Istanbul - I was amazed to find his interests were exclusively "pizza e computer". He and his sister were certainly a tribute to the calorific benefits of their father's pizze.

After lunch one takes a brisk stroll up the hill past the Palazzo Beneventano to the derelict church of S. Matteo. It soon becomes an overgrown track, as you pass a ruined chapel. The view is worth the effort, especially if you go on to the top of the Colle S. Matteo.


Use the table below to find your way around Sicily:

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