Quotes about Sicily

Sicily - Painting a Picture with Words

Sicily has enchanted visitors for millennia. Beginning with the Greeks, we have written documentation - keen observation and articulate descriptions of awe - that visitors felt compelled to write. My collection began years ago, with a fascination for the consistency of message. There are jewels and gems on the pages of many books to be sure, and one could quote Lampedusa’s “The Leopard” almost in its entirety, but I hope this assortment will  paint a vivid picture of Sicily that will inform and enchant you.

“The purity of the outlines, the softness of everything, saggy of colors, the harmonious unity of the sky with the sea and the sea with the land ... who saw them a only once, he owns them for life.”

“I am drawn to Sicily as by a lode stone…”
John Henry Newman

“Sicily is the pearl of this century…Since old times, travelers from the most far away country…boast of its merits, praise its territory, rave about its extraordinary beauty, and highlight its strengths…because it brings together the best aspects from every other country.”

“Sicily has suffered 13 foreign dominations from which she has taken both the best and the worst. The sequence of different cultures has made Sicily a fascinating place, quite unlike any other.”
Andrea Camilleri

“Sicily is an island lying outside time, where past events endure in an external present, a beach on which the tides of successive civilizations have heaped in disorder their assorted treasure.”
Vincent Cronin,  

“I do not envy God’s paradise because I am so satisfied to live in Sicily.”
Federico II di Svevia  

“And anyone who has once known this land can never be quite free from the nostalgia for it.”
D. H. Lawrence  

“I was enchanted… the limpidity of the sky, the restless splendor of the sun, the beauty of the countryside, a certain excitement of the fantasy…which brought to mind the time when in the fields one encountered the divine.”
Jean Houel

“But beneath it all will run that Sicilian understanding that the underside of joy is grief, that the face of sacrifice and suffering is the dark mirror image of pleasure and enjoyment, that every moment of arrival is to be treasured and enjoyed in the full knowledge that it has brought us a moment closer to the moment of departure.”
Francine Prose,

“To have seen Italy without having seen Sicily is not to have seen Italy at all, for Sicily is the clue to everything.”

The climate’s delicate; the air most sweet.
Fertile the isle, the temple much surpassing
The common praise it bears.

“This is the homeland of the Gods of Greek mythology. Near these places, Pluto abducted Persephone from her mother. In this wood we just walked through, Ceres ceased her swift running and tired of her fruitless search, sat on a rock, and despite being a goddess, she wept, the Greeks say, since she was a mother. In these valleys, Apollo pastured his flocks; these groves, stretching down to the seashore, have echoed with Pan's flute; the nymphs got lost under their shade and breathed their scent. Galatea fled from Polyphemus and Acis, close to succumbing to the blows of his rival, enthralled these shores leaving his name here ... In the distance you can see the lake of Hercules and the rocks of the Cyclops. Land of gods and heroes!” 
Alexis De Tocqueville

...On the sixth day,
God accomplished His work
And, pleased with all the beauty
He had created,
He took the Earth in His hands,
And kissed it.
There, where He put His lips,
That's Sicily.
Renzino Barbera

“The South of Italy and Sicily were a gift from the gods to the Greeks.”
Salvatore Furnari

“Sicily is more beautiful than any woman.”
Truman Capote

..it is.."aridly undulating to the horizon in hillock after hillock, comfortless and irrational, with no lines that the mind could grasp, conceived apparently in a delirious moment of creation; a sea suddenly petrified when a change of wind had flung the waves into a frenzy."
Giuseppe  Tomasi di Lampedusa

“the panorama ‘drew sounds of the soul, like an arc from a violin.’”

“Nowhere has truth such a short life as in Sicily; a fact has scarcely happened five minutes before its genuine kernel has vanished, been camouflaged, embellished, disfigured, squashed, annihilated by imagination and self interest; shame, fear, generosity, malice, opportunism, charity, all the passions, good as well as evil, fling themselves onto the fact and tear it to pieces; very soon it has vanished altogether.”
Giuseppe di Lampedusa,

“The lovliest region of Italy: a stunning orgy of colors, scents, and lights…a great delight”
Sigmund Freud

“All that nature has of great, all it has of pleasant, all it has of terrible, can be compared to Etna and Etna cannot be compared to anything.”
Dominique Vivant Denon, 

“Palermo was lovely. The most beautifully situated town in the world – it dreams away its life in the Conca d’Oro, the exquisite valley that lies between two seas. The lemon groves and the orange gardens were entirely perfect.”
Oscar Wilde

Sicilians build things like they will live forever and eat like they will die tomorrow.

“Food is more essential than clothes”
Sicilian proverb

Unni mancianu dui, mancianu tri (There’s always room for one more)
Sicilian proverb

Ode to Sicilian Wines
This will be a delight
Restoration of mortals
Remedy for sadness
Balsam for ills
It will bring balance,
In spite of destiny,
Among the rich and the poor
Among the greats and the commoners…
Giovanni Meli

“There it was again: the sweeping verbal gesture magnified in the prism of Sicily, the pronouncement so poetic it nullified any arguments before they could take their first breath. The vines, the amphorae, the thousands of years of history, the palmenti, the volcano, the beauty, the power of it all. In Italy, of course, beauty is next to holiness. Sicily was long the most treasured daughter of the Mediterranean. So who can teach Sicily anything about beauty?”
Robert Camuto,

“Possibly, Daedelus recognized that he had reached a place in which the most lush magnificence, the most sybaritic pleasures console us for – without ever lying about – the harshness of existence.”
Francine Prose

“It was a very rich place…It drew luminaries from the mainland who did some of their best work there on the island, and it was a place where both native-born geniuses … moved the needle in terms of Greek culture and made contributions to the larger Greek world. Sicily was Greece, only with richer soil and more sources of seafood and wild game.”
Michael Bennett

“The oranges of the island are like blazing fire among emerald boughs, And the lemons are like the pale faces of lovers who have spent the night crying.”
Abd ar-Rahman of Trapani

“Those men, those of former times, had soul and eyes that in no way resemble ours, and in their veins, along with their blood, flowed something that has disappeared: love and admiration for the Beautiful.”
Guy de Maupassant

“The Negro is not the man farthest down. The condition of the coloured farmer in the most backward parts of the Southern States of America, even where he has the least education and the least encouragement, is incomparably better than the condition and opportunities of the agricultural population in Sicily.”
Booker T. Washington

“In all of human history no country or no people have suffered such terrible slavery, conquest and foreign oppression and no country and no people have struggled so strenuously for their emancipation than Sicily and the Sicilians.”
Karl Marx, NY Tribune

“Freedom is something priceless, extraordinary…I have always felt I had the right to my freedom. I have lived all the years of my life with this idea.”
Letizia Battaglia

“Were a man to spend only one day in Sicily and ask, “What must one see?” I would answer him without hesitation, “Taormina.” It is only a landscape, but a landscape where you find everything on earth that seems made to seduce the eyes, the mind and the imagination.”
Guy de Maupassant,

“But if I were asked to pick one constant, one quality that seems dependable, immutable, endlessly available, I’d say that it was intensity. For nothing in Sicily seems withheld, done half way, restrained or suppressed. There’s nothing to correspond to say, the ironic, the cerebral remove at which a Frenchman might consider an idea or a question, or the Scandinavian distrust of the sloppy, emotive response.”
Francine Prose,

Sta notti... (Tonight)
Tonight I dreamt of four fountains
Of four orange trees about to blossom;
I saw the stars descend and ascend;
I saw the sun run like a hare;
I saw a fine eagle ready to soar,
I saw your heart come into my breast;
And could I have awakened,
I would never have let you go
Luigi Capuana

“Don’t forget that even our most obscene vices nearly always bear the seal of sullen greatness.”
Gesualdo Bufalino

“All of Sicily is a dimension of the imagination.”
Leonardo Sciascia

“La vita è troppo breve per bere vini mediocri.”
J. W. Goethe

“It would be impossible to enumerate and thank all the many friends who, with the courtesy and patience that never desert a Sicilian, have given me information, explanation and assistance.”
Henry Festing Jones

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