Throughout this series on Sicily, I have talked a lot about the tension that exists between the "beautiful" Sicily you see on postcards, and the Sicily that is described as "dirty," "ugly," and "run-down." To be honest, now that I've been here, I feel strongly that these negative reports about Sicily have been overblown, but it's impossible to deny that Sicily's urban areas have some grit to them. Okay, maybe a lot of grit. This makes for excellent photographs, but its socio-economic implications are definitely not positive. Indeed, Sicily's struggle as been unique amongst the many regions of Italy, and it is one that continues to this day. With the Italian government essentially sharing economic and administrative influence in the region with the Mafia, growth has been stagnant, and little up-keep has been given to cities like Catania and Palermo. They are still gorgeous cities... but they are also gritty.
So are you a "glass half full" or a "glass half empty" kind of person?
I think that your opinion on Sicily will pretty much answer that question for you. I like to think of myself as somebody who is able to look on the bright side of things, and to me, Sicily was beautiful. But it was also real. Some parts of Italy—like Venice or Cinque Terre—are so beautiful that walking around them feels almost too good to be true. So it's not surprising that when people come to Italy and visit Venice, Florence, Como... and then Palermo, they will come away thinking that Sicily is a giant ghetto. In truth, it's just a very different place. It's got it's own story, it's own challenges, and it will never feel the same as mainland Italy.
I loved Sicily, because even at its grittiest, it still found ways to surprise me, and to make me feel like I belonged. To me, this is no small thing. I'm a big believer in the idea that cities have emotions and traits that transcend the people who happen to be in that city at any given time. I'm Sicilian by blood, so I was looking for points of commonality, and from an emotional standpoint, I really feel like the cities that I visited in Sicily went out of their way to make that connection. And I could preach to you all day about all of the objectively beautiful things that Sicily has to offer, but now that we've arrived at the end of our series, I want to take a minute to show you what beauty looks like in the grittier portions of Sicily. Here are a few of my favorite pieces of Sicilian street art that I saw during my trip...
Although we also traveled through Syracuse, Taormina, Gangi, and Monreale, all of these photographs were taken in Catania and Palermo—mostly Palermo. In my research to find the artists responsible for these paintings, I have come up short, so if you know who we have to thank for these pieces, get in touch and let me know! I'd love to be able to give credit where credit is due.
In the meantime, it's time for us to say "ciao" to Sicily. This is the last article in our series. If you recall, this trip began in Rome, and took us through Algeria, Tunisia, and Malta before landing us in Sicily. It's been a long road, but I know that I'll be back in Sicily one day, hopefully soon. But for now, it's time to get back on the plane and shoot off into the sunset.
Buona sera to all! And to all a good night!