On Being Sicilian
October 7th 2009

"Be patient now, Chevally, I’ll explain in a moment; we Sicilians have become accustomed, by a long, a very long hegemony of rulers who were not of our religion and who did not speak our language…

In Sicily it doesn’t matter whether things are done well or done badly; the sin which we Sicilians never forgive is simply that of ‘doing’ at all. We are old Chevalley, very old. For more than twenty-five centuries we’ve been bearing the weight of a superb and heterogeneous civilization, all from the outside, none made by ourselves, none that we could call our own. We’re as white as you are Chevally, and as the Queen of England; and yet for two thousand and five hundred years we’ve been a colony. I don’t say that as a complaint; it’s our fault. But even so we’re worn out and exhausted…

This violence of landscape, this cruelty of climate, this continual tension in everything, and these monuments, even, of the past, magnificent yet incomprehensible because not built by us and yet standing around like lovely mute ghosts; all those rulers who landed by main force from every direction, who were at once obeyed, soon detested, and always misunderstood, their only expressions works of art we couldn’t understand and taxes which we understood only too well and which they spent elsewhere; all these things have formed our character, which is thus conditioned by events outside our control as well as by a terrifying insularity of mind.”

Prince Don Fabrizio Salina

‘The Leopard” by Giuseppe Di Lampedusa