A journey through Sicily - how beauty will save the world
Written in March 2020
Beauty will save the world. Of this I am convinced. The antidote to the barbarism of our time is beauty - the beauty that you can hear, see, shape under your fingers, taste under your tongue and melt in your mouth, in which you can immerse yourself, beauty that caresses and slaps your face with a pain good and fair, which lasts over time and pinches your skin even after months - right when you need it most. But there is a supreme beauty that saves and enriches more than any other, and it's humanity. Non in the sense of a group of human beings - but rather of being human, together.
In Sicily I found a humanity that overflows with beauty, pours it generously like the ash that the great mother Etna gives to the earth, making it fertile and warm. Sicily is a land of infinite colors: green as you would not imagine, in (early) spring; yellow with sun, lemons and flowers that create brilliant walkways among the citrus trees; blue of the sea and clear sky, black of lava stone and chocolate, red of lava, wine and tomatoes, white of ricotta and tables in the square. And of smiles, many.
In the past seven days, I have encountered all forms of beauty. Ilistened to the vendors shouting in the fish market of Catania, saw the sunset bathe the port of Marzamemi, admired the temples of Agrigento, touched volcanic rock, tasted the complex and surprising flavors of a Michelin starred cuisine and the sour sweetness of a freshly picked tomato. I immersed myself in an orange grove, was caressed and slapped by the wind that beats the hills of Bronte and helps the pistachio trees to fill up with bright green fruits.
I also met Giuseppe and Lucia, who grow their tomatoes as if they were children; Catia, which helps small dairies to grow and promote their products; Alex and Diego, who combine a vocation for the best welcome with a sympathy that immediately makes you feel at home; Francesco, who smiles on the phone with customers "because they can tell from your voice, if you are smiling", Valerio who grew up in a castle on the beach and tries to make it more welcoming to his guests, Raimondo who brings people from all over the world in the caves of the Bay of Taormina and is as enthusiastic as the first day.
I saw the passion in Antonio, who produces great wines with his father and brother, and strongly loves the land that nourishes his vineyards - like Claudio, who lives for wine, Salvatore who treats pistachio trees as if they were his brothers, Antonio who moved to Sicily for love and stayed there for his grapes too. And then Federica, a living encyclopedia of good wines and wonderful people of Etna, Stefania who carves mothers and queens of Ortigia in raku stone, Carmela who has created an oasis of welcoming design and tropical plants, Valentina who opens the doors of her relais to every challenge and enriching diversity. And I could and should name many others.
This is a time of uncertainty, and uncertainty always brings with it anxiety that often evolves into fear. Beauty cannot erase uncertainty, but it can somehow fill a void,avoiding paralysis: meeting beautiful people helps us to trust others, filling our eyes with beauty allows us to forget certain images, eating good food and listening to wonderful music nourishes us deeply, dissolving tensions and rekindling hope.
But like any other perception, this too requires participation: it is necessary to seek beauty with courage and determination, to await it with invincible confidence if it seems far away, to firmly believe that it is just around the corner. And above all, do not give in to paralysis, even if forced: music, art and the voice of a loved one can penetrate any quarantine. If, on the other hand, we are free to move, there is no better time to discover all that is beautiful around us, discover new flavors, find new smiles and help those who work with passion and are committed to cultivating humanity and beauty. Only in this way, together, will we save the world.