The return of his uncles from Germany to Sicily in the 70s and the unfortunate love of a young Syracusan “Pillirina”
‘U sennu – stamu piddennu’ u sennu – ti ni stai accuggennu- unni stamu jennu a finiri ‘ccu stu munnu ca sta’ mpazzennu – luceunu ‘i stiddi dda – la’ luntanu supra ‘u mari li so dear parunu cchiù beddi – nan sacciu cchi was seen yesterday ‘a motti – addummisciuta’ nda ‘na gnuni – nan si uosi arrusbigghiari.
Hindsight – we are losing our wits – you are noticing where we are going – with this world going crazy – the stars were shining – far above the sea – dear things seem more beautiful – I don’t know it was yesterday – yesterday I saw death – asleep in a corner did not want to wake up. Franco Battiato The sympathy of Aunt Maria and her family triggered an atmosphere of expectation that took all Ragusan relatives. Even when the time for summer holidays was approaching, an atmosphere of expectation was created for the arrival of summer. Unfortunately, the era of consumerism often risks overshadowing the memory of the simple and genuine good times of the past …
Every year Aunt Maria with the whole family returned to Ragusa, to her hometown. Many years ago, she and her young husband of Syracusan origin Vincenzo, had had to leave their homeland and take the train that would take them after a long journey to a foreign state where they had found unknown people who spoke a language they did not know a language. word… (German…). It had been very difficult to get used to living away from the family, from their land, from the people of their own city and region (Sicily …) that they knew and loved. Little by little, however, the aunt had managed to fit into the new environment. But despite living in a country so different from hers, aunt Maria and her husband had not abandoned their traditions and, above all, they had never missed the annual appointment with relatives who remained in Sicily both in the city of Syracuse and Ragusa. .
When Aunt Maria’s arrival was a couple of months away, the atmosphere of expectation in the relatives’ house became more and more perceptible day by day. The telephone calls between Italy and Germany multiplied. – Yes, yes, everything is fine – said Aunt Maria in a reassuring voice – Don’t worry, we arrive for the appointed day. Little Constantine no longer has a fever!
– I’m really happy! – answered a voice from Italy (it was my mother Pina … with the black telephone installed in the corridor near the front door …) – We are waiting for you all, please. And recommend your husband to run slowly! Who goes Slow and steady wins. In the meantime, Aunt Maria’s family members fixed the holiday calendar, according to the traditional rules of hospitality: one day for lunch here, then for dinner there, the day after a trip to a locality, the following day in another and so on.
Aunt Maria knew she could count on a large family that awaited her return every year with ever increasing enthusiasm and surrounding her with so much affection and sympathy that gradually involved the two cities to which both Uncle Vincenzo (Syracuse) and Aunt Maria (Ragusa) belonged. ). This is why the return to the two hometowns became an obligatory appointment for Aunt Maria and Uncle Vincenzo. How could they give up the love they received from so many people? Even for her Sicilian relatives, that appointment with her meant going back many years, remembering so many people who were no longer there. In short, making a full of memories and love that lasted a whole year. And the gifts that Aunt Maria brought? Because she remembered everyone: from the last born to the oldest person. The gifts were welcome, of course, but only because inside the colored packages, in addition to the gift, there was the love of Aunt Maria and Uncle Vincenzo.
The day Aunt Maria arrived in Ragusa, the youngest of her relatives escorted her home with cars and motorbikes, while the little ones walked around the neighborhood giving the announcement: – Aunt Maria is coming to German…! Uncle Vincenzo is coming…! It was the 70s. But in the evening when everyone was tired and almost asleep for the long day full of invitations, banquets and recalled memories … Aunt Maria, as usual, dedicated a little to me; of her time and delighted those moments with tales and stories concerning the life she led in Germany and other stories of our beloved land of Sicily … (Aunt Maria was an excellent teacher and had an excellent oratory ability … not common to all rest of our family). She told me that the Sicilian territory was full of ancient legends and fascinating stories. And right now, the undersigned tells you a story that my aunt gave me on 5 August 1967 for my tenth birthday, a legend linked to our territory.
The legend of the Pillirina
It was the legend of the Pillirina (i.e. the Pellegrina) connected to a cave located on Punta del Gigante, the extremity of the Maddalena Peninsula, reachable through the paths from via Capo Passero. This corner of Sicily was characterized by crystalline water and uncontaminated nature. The aunt told me that according to the legend, handed down from her aunt nun (of the order of the Sacred Heart of Jesus) of the monastery of Caltanissetta …, a long time ago … a young woman fell in love with a sailor, but their love was thwarted from her parents, who wanted a wealthier man. In the nights of full moon, the two met in secret, right in the Pillirina cave, and they loved each other on a carpet of seaweed, carried inside by the current of the sea. At a certain point, due to the very rough sea, the sailor was no longer able to show up for appointments. The young woman waited in vain for her beloved until the calm of the following days, but he never returned. She wounded in love, she decided to throw herself into the sea, taking her own life. Since then, the sailors have told that during the nights of the full moon, when the rays of light enter the Pillirina cave through a hole in the wall, a woman appears waiting for her beloved. The legend of Pillirina told to me by her aunt … aroused a thread of sadness in me, which she aroused a loud laugh in the aunt … exclaiming that it was only a legend and that it should remain so in my mind.
A reflection and a current look at the legend …
La Pillirina is a story that wants to go beyond social conventions. Love is unconventional, but it goes beyond all criteria. It is a feeling that cannot be repressed by a mentality that sees a woman without deciding for herself. Pillirina managed to circumvent patriarchy and classism, in this case on the part of her family. In fact, the woman wants to decide what is right for her and for her children. Pillirina in the extreme choice showed all the love she felt and was a courageous woman. She followed the impulse within herself. She decided to commit suicide by refusing a life imposed by the family, it would have been the death of her soul for life. The legend of the Pillirina is an example for all young women to follow their dreams, not necessarily linked to romantic relationships. Cultivate your dreams even if you have many obstacles ahead.
A news story linked to the legend of the Pirillina
One day I read in a local newspaper that there had been a discovery in the Grotta della Pillirina. The fact intrigued me so much that I documented myself to find out more … I had never forgotten that legend … it had been placed in a small drawer in my memory … among the most cherished memories of my youth. Reading the newspaper I found that a hiker had found a skull, some bone fragments and two shells in the cave located on the outskirts of Syracuse, on the Maddalena peninsula and near Capo Murro di Porco. It was thought that they were from prehistoric times and that, therefore, they were placed in an ancient burial.
The man who found them had entered the Pillirina cave out of curiosity. An archaeologist friend put forward the hypothesis of him, mainly on the basis of the presence of the shells. The carabinieri, who had intervened on the spot, were alerted. The soldiers of the Ortigia station, right in front of the Pillirina, in turn warned the carabinieri of the Cultural Heritage Protection Section and an anthropologist of the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage of Syracuse.
The experts, during a subsequent inspection in the cave, took those remains which were later subjected to more in-depth investigations. The Pillirina cave is very large and well known to archaeologists and hikers. It is located in one of the most evocative places in the Syracuse area and everyone knew about the ancient legend. Later, the experts declared that certainly the remains found did not date back to the prehistoric period but had a much more recent dating and that it was necessary to wait a little longer … for the certain dating. The news of the finding of the remains in that cave aroused a certainty among the most romantic and sentimental in the area, among which I will also include myself … those remains were certainly from Pillirina and the legend had become History … (the arduous sentence to posterity …) .
Salvatore Battaglia President of the Academy of Prefi