A Travellerspoint blog

"CINEMA PARADISO" and more...

Palazzo Adriana

The movie "Cinema Paradiso" was filmed in Sicily, and released in 1988. It was a great hit, and justifiably so. Part of the film was shot in the very lovely town square of Palazzo Adriano. Infact, the cinema itself was constructed as a temprary structure in this piazza. The piazza is rated by many as being one of the most beautiful in Sicily.

Piazza

Piazza

Most tourists visit Palazzo Adriano because of its association with 'Cinema Paradiso' as well as other less well-known Italian movies.

We visited the place for quite another reason, which I will describe below.

During the Ottoman invasion of the Balkans during the 15th century, many Albanians (and other Balkan people) fled westwards, settling in many parts of what is now Italy ranging from venice down to Sicily.

In the mid- 15th century, a group of Albanian mercenaries and their families settled in Palazzo Adriano. Some of their descendants still live live there. Unlike Piana degli Albanesi, where the majority of the population speak an archaic form of Albanian, there are few speakers of Albanian in Palazzo A.

Two large churches dominate the vast piazza. One is Roman Catholic, and the other is 'Greco-Byzantine' - a form of Eastern Catholicism very similar to Greek Orthodox. On the external wall latter, there are plaques commemorating Palazzo's Albanian 'connection'

George Castrioti Skanderbeg, who held back the Turks valliantly during the 15th century, is the Albanian national hero. The Circolo Skanderbeg on the piazza commemorates him. It is a place where old men gather to meet, chat, and play cards. None of those with whom we spoke, knew even a word of Albanian despite the fact that their 'circolo' was decorated with Albanian mementoes!

The museum of Arberesh culture is worh visiting:

Arberesh costume

Arberesh costume

Situated in some rooms under the Bourbon Castle that overlooks Palazzo Adriano, this museum contains some artefacts relating to Palazzo's Albanian (Arberesh) community and its past. In addition to mannequins dressed in traditional Arberesh folk costumes, there are copies of several interesting paintings by the French artist Jean Houel. Painted in 1782, these were part of a collection of paintings of Sicily that he did, and the originals can now be seen in the Hermitage in St Petersburgh in Russia.

Address: Catello Borbonico
Directions: Ask for directions at the Municipio on the main piazza.
Website: http://www.comune.palazzoadriano.pa.it/it/ArteStoriaCultura/Musei.php

Posted by ADAMYAMEY 02:45 Archived in Italy Tagged sicily albania arberesh albanians scanderbeg Comments (0)

Albanians in Sicily for hundreds of years

Piana degli Albanesi

Arberesh (Sicilian Albanian) costume in museum in Piana degli Albanesi

Arberesh (Sicilian Albanian) costume in museum in Piana degli Albanesi

Today, many refugees from the Middle east, Africa, and elsewhere, have been landing in Sicily in search of a safe haven.

Back in the 15th century when the Ottoman armies were invading the Balkans, many Albanian-speaking Christians fled across the water from Albania and the Morea (Peloponnese) to seek refuge in Italy and Sicily.

In about 1480, the Archbishop of Monreale gave a group of these Albanian refugees an area of de-populated barren land on condition that they set up a town and farmed the lands. The hardworking Albanians set up a town south of Palermo. This place, which used to be called 'Piana dei Greci', is now called PIANA DEGLI ALBANESI. incidentally, it was Benito Mussolini who re-named it in the 1930s.

Piana lies on the northern slopes of Mt Pizzuta and has its own lake

Piana lies on the northern slopes of Mt Pizzuta and has its own lake

The curious thing about Piana is that even today about 95% of its population have an archaic form of Albanian (Arberesh) as their mother tongue. Most of them can neither read or write in Albanian or Arberesh, but it is with this language that they converse. In addition, many traditions - including the Orthodox Church rites, which the first inhabitants of Piana brought from Albania, still survive. Although from day to day, the Pianesi dress in modern style, they slip into traditional folk costumes on special occasions.

bilingual shop sign

bilingual shop sign

The Arberesh in Piana degli Albanesi are Christian. Most of them worship according to the Orthodox rites, BUT, unlike Greek, Russian, and Serbian Orthodox worshippers, they acknowledge the Pope as the head of their church. Recognition of the Pope was probably a condition made by the Archbishop of Monreale in 1488, when he gave land to the Albanian refugees who had fled from the Ottomans,and had landed in Sicily.

cleaning the cathedral in Piana. NOTE: the iconostasis

cleaning the cathedral in Piana. NOTE: the iconostasis

I attended a service in Piana's Cathedral, and it resembled Orthodox services that I have seen in Greece, Serbia, and even in Kerala (where the Syrian Orthodox Church has many adherents). The service was conducted in Greek and Italian. Unlike Roman Catholicism, the worshippers in the Arberesh Orthodox churches (Eastern Catholics) make great use of icons to focus their minds on the meditation of spiritual matters.

Central Piana by night

Central Piana by night

For those who want to know much more, I have published a book called "FROM ALBANIA TO SICILY"

Posted by ADAMYAMEY 01:34 Archived in Italy Tagged sicily albania palermo refugees migrants Comments (0)

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