On March 8th, every year all around the world people celebrate the International Women’s Day. So, Sicilian Secrets decided to talk about one of the main resources of our beautiful island: Sicilian women. They are known and appreciated for their beauty and sensuality but it’s important to know that some of them actually left a mark in our culture and history. Let’s discover together who they are.
Too many times history celebrates famous men who made a difference over the centuries. Writers, warriors, inventors, etc. Only a few women became very popular and it was never so easy to affirm their ideas. Have you ever heard about some Sicilian women who had an impact on our modern society? Let’s learn something more about them.
Franca Viola was a symbol for all Sicilian women (and not only!) at the end of the ’60s and still nowadays she represents the enormous strides in the fight for women’s liberation. She was from Alcamo – in the province of Trapani – and when she was 15 was engaged to Filippo Melodia. Unfortunately, this guy was a criminal, so he was arrested, and they broke up. He was obsessed by Franca and never accepted the end of their relationship so, when his ex-fiancée was 17, he kidnapped and raped her to force her to marry him. But Franca’s family never agreed to give their daughter to this man and despite the situation, they said no.
At that time, it was a huge scandal because Franca was ‘dishonored’, not virgin anymore. Who wanted to marry a girl like her at that point? What she and her family did was a great evidence of their courage and modernity.
One of the most famous Sicilian women of our time is Letizia Battaglia. She’s an artist and started her career as a photo reporter at the end of the ’60s. Nowadays she’s a great photographer, everybody remembers her because she was the first one who reached the place where Piersanti Mattarella was killed and had the chance, in that tough moment, to prove the strength of a woman in a very masculine field. Through her photos, Letizia Battaglia was able to talk about Sicilian women and clearly express her support to all people who fought and still are fighting against mafia. In 2017, she founded the Centro Internazionale di Fotografia at Cantieri Culturali alla Zisa in Palermo.
Many people know the beautiful painting of Franca Florio by Giovanni Boldini but not so many are aware of how influencing this woman was. She was an icon of Belle Époque and was appreciated for her incredible beauty and good qualities that made her loved by Sicilians. She was considered as the Queen of the Island, Gabriele D’Annunzio called her ‘l’Unica’ (The Only One) and she became part of the House of Florio after she married Ignazio Jr. Unfortunately, her life was not so happy and easy, but she still is one of the symbols of Sicily.
The common thought is that the first woman who put on a pair of pants in Europe was the French writer George Sand. It’s a huge mistake! This woman was Francisca Massara, one of the most outstanding Sicilian women. She was very daring…since everything happened in 1698. We don’t have many details about her origins and life but for sure this apparently small and banal gesture changed a lot in the history of women.
Hopefully you liked our article and now you know more about some important women who strongly impacted on our culture and represent fundamental pillars of Sicilian history. If you are curious to discover many other stories, keep on following us! If you wish to stay updated about our news and read our next articles, follow us on Sicilian Secrets’ Facebook page and Instagram.