Locations Scouting /1

Etna, the northwest crater


September 23, 2016

Located 2,030 meters above sea level on the northwest slope of Etna, The Ice Cave, unique in the mountains of Italy, is so-called because within its 125 meter depth it retains ice and snow year-round. It is a lava cave that dates back to a 10-year long eruption starting in 1614. In the course of centuries it has been a refuge for coal men, shepherds and flocks, and peasants gathering ice in summer for their masters' cold desserts.

In the mythology of the volcano, it represents a frozen memory, and in this sense, it is one of the most fascinating locations suggested for the film, though one of the most difficult to reach with film cameras. The way back and forth is 12 kilometers, with ups and downs across fields of lava, old craters, clearings, and woods.

We visited with the cooperation of the town of Castiglione di Sicilia and Etna Finder guides,, who have special knowhow in easy to hard trekking on the volcano. You can see us in the video: Nella Condoreli, Elisabetta Sciotto, Fabio Manganaro, Guglielmo Fiorista, Alessandro Schillirò, and Vincenzo Condorelli.


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Testimony /1

Mazzarino, Caltanissetta, Sicily


November 27, 2016

[Sicily. At the roots of illiteracy]

Born in 1920, in the town of Mazzarino, province of Caltanissetta, Filippo Siciliano now 96, a professor, politician, philosopher, poet, and writer, embodies the historic memory of the Sicilian peasants' movement.

A protagonist in the 1950's struggle for farm workers' rights to the land, unjustly arrested and condemned to two years of prison, he founded, together with other young people, a cultural and political association made up of a remarkably diverse group of peasants, laborers, citizens, and intellectuals, who met in Peppino Piangiamore's shoemaker shop,  to discuss science, philosophy, and physics, or to talk of freedom's heroes such as Filippo Turati and Abraham Lincoln.  Answering to the need for collaboration between working people and intellectuals  felt at the time not only in Sicily but in all of Italy, it fit the ideal model proposed by turn of the century political philosopher, Antonio Gramsci.

Today a retiree, Filippo Siciliano is recollecting his memories of long, intense friendships with cultural and political personalities. Vincenzo Consolo, author of "Le Pietre di Pantalica" (The Stones of Pantalica), remembers Siciliano as a young student participating in the occupation of a certain agricultural estate.  Siciliano himself remembers Renato Guttuso, Andreina Bertelli and Italo Zoda, Leonardo Sciascia, Stefano Vilardo, Emanuele Macaluso, as well as the filmmakers Paolo and Vittorio Taviani wth whom he has collaborated in determining the Mazzarino locations of several scenes in"Un uomo da bruciare" (A Man to Burn), a film inspired by the life of labor organizer Salvatore Carnevale.

In the testimony given as part of the historical research for "The Shameful Story", Professor Siciliano recalls the years in which, as mayor of Mazzarino, he discovered in the community archives, a ruling dated January 21, 1894, passed just after the suppression and dissolution of the Workers' Fasci in Sicily in which the dismissal of a teacher and the closing of a public school was legislated in response to the demands of estate managers; the rationale for denying schooling to peasant children: it was "putting ideas in their heads".

Mazzarino was the first Sicilian town to formally enact this demand to close the elementary schools.

We read in the book  "Ciulla, il grande malfattore" (Vince, the great wrongdoer) by Dario Fo and Piero Sciotto:

"... a single-issue newspaper published in Mazzarino in 1954, on the sixtieth anniversary of the Workers' Fasci, contains an article by the communist mayor of the time, Filippo Siciliano, who had previously been "imprisoned for moral complicity in the occupation of lands".  It says:  "The representatives of the government appeared to be in agreement with the reactionary large estate owners of the Ragona Committee, such that a councilman of the Mazzarino Prefecture would say in the session of the city council on January 21, 1894 'From today on the dogma of Italy must be that of  Mandatory Ignorance'.  And another councilman:  'We hold that the huge expenditures for mandatory public education have not borne the hoped-for fruits, in fact they have borne many fruits contrary to the intellectual and moral order; we may congratulate ourselves that we will not continue further and that the government shall abolish mandatory instruction and shall limit it only to universities and institutes of higher education in our large cities,  exonerating our small towns and finally effecting an even broader reduction'."

It was the representative of agrarian interests of Mazzarino to propose to the Ragona Committee the suppression of elementary schools.