Ennio Morricone, one of the most brilliant Italian composers of all times, has passed away on July 6th, 2020 at the age of 91. Our nation lost a beloved artist, but his work will be forever cherished by Sicilians, Italians and all music lovers around the world.

Ennio Morricone’s work and his film scores are forever connected with the history of cinema: Once upon a time in America, the entire Spaghetti Western genre, Mission are just a few of the music score masterpieces he composed.

The Maestro had a special connection to Sicily — both through his wife and his work. Despite his international recognition and fame, it is with a Sicilian director that he had the most enduring partnership: Giuseppe Tornatore.

As the Maestro once said, “I married a Sicilian and this allowed me to fully understand the Sicilian culture, but it was through the art of Giuseppe Tornatore that my beliefs about this island were proved to be real”.

The long lasting partnership between the Maestro and Giuseppe Tornatore is quite consistent and in fact includes 13 movies, among which three movies best represent Sicily in all its beauties and contradictions: Cinema Paradiso (1988), Malena (2000) and Baaria (2009).

Cinema Paradiso, shot between Bagheria, Cefalù and Castelbuono, was the first collaboration between Morricone and Tornatore.

When Ennio Morricone was first asked to compose the music for this film, he rejected the offer as he was already committed with a Hollywood production, but when he was given the script of the movie, he got emotional reading the last scene (the legendary censored film kisses montage) and finally said yes. The film score written by Ennio Morricone and the cinematography of Giusppe Tornatore brought to life one of the most beautiful and nostalgic portrayal of Sicily and Sicilians and won the Academy Award for the best Foreign Language film in 1990.

Another example of a perfect combination of film making, music and photography is Malena which is always considered as a controversial movie due to the sexual themes and the depiction of a very close-minded and sexist behavior of the Sicilian People.

Ennio Morricone music themes perfectly accompany the beautiful Monica Bellucci as she walks across the square of the Duomo in Siracusa under the judgmental looks of the women and the adulatory ones of the men.

The music in Malena is a perfect mix of Sicilian sounds: the music of the traditional processions of Saints and a more intense music that can convey the tragedy of a woman whose beauty becomes a curse.

We can find the same atmosphere in the commercials shot by Tornatore for Dolce & Gabbana in 1995 and 2003 featuring once again the beautiful Monica Bellucci. The black and white and the dramatic music of Ennio Morricone show Monica Bellucci as a Sicilian femme fatale chased and desired by Sicilian men.

Ennio Morricone will compose again for Dolce & Gabbana, this time with the great Sophia Loren in the beautiful setting of Villa Valguarnera in Bagheria.

Baaria, Sicilian for Bagheria, is important for Ennio Morricone for several reasons: it is the home town of his artistic son Giuseppe Tornatore and it is the town that in 2006 tributed Morricone with the honorary citizenship, making the Maestro an effective citizen of this beautiful Sicilian noble town. But Baaria is also yet another product of Tornatore and the Maestro partnership, a pure declaration of love to Bagheria and Sicily that encompasses 50 years of Sicilian history. It is in the piece “Symphony for Baaria” that we find all the love and respect that Morricone had for this ancient noble town and for the traditional music and Sicilian instruments like Zampogna and Marranzano.

Although Ennio Morricone lived all his life in Rome, it is undeniable that with his compositions he could convey emotions and feelings of “ Sicilianity” as only a true Sicilian would.

The pain and nostalgia of leaving Sicily to find fortune abroad in Cinema Paradiso, the feelings of lust and love for a Sicilian woman in Malena and the sounds of the marranzano and the voices of the people of Baaria transformed in music will forever be his gift and his immortal legacy to Sicily.

 

 

In Fiumefreddo, heading towards the sea, there is the splendid Castello Degli Schiavi.  The name is a denomination that has been passed down from the distortion of the original name,»Casteddu di Scavi,» that indicated the existence of an excavation, actually a lava stone quarry.  Castello Degli Schiavi is famous throughout the world because of its use as a movie set.  It achieved worldwide fame thanks to Francis Ford Coppola, who decided it was the perfect setting for the main scenes in The Godfather Part 1 (1972) and The Godfather Part 2 (1974).  The unforgettable car explosion after the wedding, and the discussion with Don Tommaso about the Italian politicians.

Risultati immagini per castello degli schiavi fiumefreddo

The incredible variation of landscape and cities with incredible sea views has long made Sicily a favorite location of many directors.  Forza D’Agro is an enchanting medieval town that faces a privately owned Arab-Norman castle atop a spur of red dolomitic limestone.  On one side of the main plaza there is a street that leads to the baroque Chiesa Madre.  With its beautiful 16th century facade it became the set for an Easter celebration scene in Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather Part 2, and as the wedding location in The Godfather Part 3.

When Michael Corleone takes refuge in Sicily, his father’s homeland, The Godfather saga takes on a much more authentic aspect.  After a day of hunting in the mountains with his bodyguards, Michael Corleone is blinded by the beauty of a Sicilian girl who crosses his path on her way back from picking berries.  When he arrives at the local bar he meets Mr. Vitelli, father of Apollonia, the girl who caused love at first site for Al Pacino.  Vitelli is also the name of the bar in Savoca and has remained unchanged for the past 50 years.  The locale is found in a building dating from the XIII century called Palazzo Trimarchi, located in the piazza Fossia.  The interior as well as the exterior allow you to relive the exact atmosphere of that summer day in the 70’s made famous by the worldwide success of the film.  For those who want an even deeper “behind the scenes” experience of the set and locals who fascinated the actors and directors, you can chat with Mrs. Maria, owner of the locale.  Maybe even treat yourself to a delicious lemon granita with some»zuccarati», a typical sweet of the area.

Savoca is one of the many idyllic villages at the base of Mount Peloritani between Taormina and Messina.  At one time, it was one of the most important settlements on the entire west coast of Sicily, but over the centuries it has picturesquely crumbled, making it the perfect substitute in The Godfather for Corleone, a much less photogenic location.  Michael Corleone married Appolonia in the church of Santa Lucia and the wedding was celebrated at Bar Vitelli, which still uses a granita machine from the 30’s and is a place of pilgrimage for film fanatics.

You’ll find Palermo on the northwest coast of Sicily and as a World Heritage site it a series of religious and civil structures, some dating all the way back to the Kingdom of the Normans. This time was characterized by an exceptional convergence between cultures that coexisted on Sicily, that is, western, Islamic, and Byzantine, which gave rise to new concepts of space and decoration in art and architecture.  The cultural exchange generated a combination of unique elements derived from the different techniques used.  A new and extraordinary synthesis of styles fused by Byzantine, Muslim, and Roman elements, all contributing to the development of the Mediterranean culture.  The site is listed last in chronological order on the World Heritage list for 2015, and is an unbeatable example of the political and cultural conditions that were taking place in Sicily during that time period, all characterized by a profitable cohabitation of diverse populations with different religions, that favored the exchange of human values ​​and the flowering of lively cultural fusion.

Mount Etna is found on the western coast of Sicily and is the highest active volcano in all of Europe, and one of the most active on the planet.  Thanks to her 2700 years of activity, the highest tip of the volcano now exceeds 3300 meters and is about 45 km at its base.  Although as a collective image the volcano symbolizes destruction, Etna has given life to an agribusiness production which, thanks to the surrounding microclimate, is amongst the best worldwide.  Wine, in particular, is the diamond of the sector, so much so that a path has been established to include all the excellent cellars and vineyards on the slopes of the volcano.  This “path” is called Strade del Vino dell’Etna.  Moreover, a walk on the now inactive craters or one of the many nature trails, or even skiing with a sea view, are all experiences that can make your stay in Sicily unique.  Etna became a World Heritage site in 2013.

Risultati immagini per etna

Syracuse, in the southwest of Sicily, was a city of great importance in the history of Mediterranean civilization.  Founded in the VIII century BC as a Greek colony on the small island of Ortigia, Cicero defined it as, “The greatest and most beautiful Greek city.”  The world heritage site includes the rock necropolis of Pantalica, which contains over 5000 tombs carved into the rock dating back between the XIII and VIII century BC.  It was assumed that Pantalica was an indigenous Sicilian society that preceded the Greek colonization.  Other than the ancient archaeological remains, it is worth noting the uncontaminated nature of the place.  The entire area is part of the Valle dell’Anapo natural reserve and is a beautiful location for those who love to hike, as it offers many different paths for all levels of outdoorsman and woman.  It became a World Heritage Site in 2005.

 

During the Arab domination Noto functioned as the “capovallo”, or administrative center of reference, hence the name Val di Noto.  The 8 cities that make up the site are found in the southeast part of Sicily: Caltagirone, Militello, Catania, Modica, Noto, Palazzolo, Ragusa, and Scicli.  Every one of these cities was rebuilt after 1693 earthquake, which razed entire city centers and devastated the urban memory of the area.  These cities, completely reconstructed to be masterpieces of art and late 17th century baroque architecture, are the facade of this side of Sicily.  The elegant buildings and churches with invaluable interiors and breathtaking exteriors make this location an exceptional example of the architectonic influence on the island and the greatest expression of the Late-Baroque style.  To lose yourself in the little streets and tunnels of the city is the best way to evoke the stories of its glorious past.  The Val di Noto became a World Heritage Site in 2005.

The archipelago of the Aeolians is composed of 7 islands: Lipari, Vulcano, Salina, Stromboli, Filicudi, Alicudi, and Panarea.  They are found on the Northeast side of Sicily and represent an extraordinary testimony to the birth and evolution of the volcanic islands.  Notwithstanding the ongoing volcanic activity, or maybe thanks to it, the Aeolian Islands are a fascinating and rich natural environment full of flora, fauna, stunning beaches, coves, caves, inlets, cliffs, and a varied and abundant ocean floor.  The islands are a favorite destination for Sicilians during the summer months, where they can take in the breathtaking views, crystal clear water, and experience first hand the volcanic eruptions.  Stromboli is the only island on the archipelago with a constantly active volcano, and she offers an amazing show that is extremely intriguing at night when the rivers of fire ooze down to the sea.  The Aeolians get their name from the mythological Greek god of wind, Aeolus, and were added to the UNESCO list in 2000.