Sunday, May 20, 2007

Sicily (Italy): Home of the ‘Mafioso’

Lying at the ‘toe’ of Italian peninsula, Sicily as some wrongly believe is not a province but an autonomous region of Italy. It is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, with a population of 5 million inhabitants.

With early settlement going back to some 8century BC, Sicily has a long and rich cultural diverse history. The very first settlement was at Syracuse in 734 BC. The first settlers were the Phoenicians and early Greeks.

From its early times, Sicily has seen tug of war over its possession by many empires of the region. It has swayed between Roman and Greek empires, between Italy and even Spain. It even changed hands from the Byzantine Empire into Arab conquerors during the ninth century AD.

The island is hence, dotted with architectural treasures and monuments, a testament to its rich history. It is also quite famous for being the ‘home’ of the Mafia or Mafioso.

Due to its rich historical background, it was only natural that the land gave birth to many artists of various types. Many poets, writers, artists, and sculpturers were born here. Notably among them were Luigi Pirandello, Giovanni Verga, Salvatore Quasimodo, Gesualdo Bufalino, Sigismondo d'India and Salvatore Sciarrino.

The other famous Sicilians were: Archimedes, ancient scientist; Frank Capra, actor and director; Giuseppe Sergi, anthropolist; and Vincenzo Bellini, opera composer.

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