Are you filling your bucket list? Hopefully we’ll be able to travel again soon, and in that moment, Sicily can be your first destination. Do you know what are the elements that make a place special? Monuments for sure, traditions…but also legends! Let’s discover together three iconic Sicilian towns that became famous even thanks to some old myths and Odyssey above all.
What does Odyssey mean for Sicily? Many towns many legends. We can describe Sicily in this way, since everybody knows that this magical island inspired writers, poets, etc. If we look back to the past, we can immediately find a lot of myths connected to this Italian region. Sicilian Secrets shows you where you should go to know more and live in person some chapters of the adventurous epic poem by Homer…take note!
First stop, Messina. Beyond the borders.
Messina is the first stop of our journey. Everybody is enchanted by the sunset on the Strait of Messina while looking at Calabria, right on the other side of the coast. One of the most popular Sicilian legends concerns something happened in this strip of sea many centuries ago.
Scylla and Charybdis were two horrible monsters who used to live in the Strait of Messina; the first one was continuously hungry and used to eat every boat and sailors that passed close to the coast of Calabria, the second one caused some strong whirlpool three times a day close to the coast of Sicily. Nobody wanted to pass through the strait except for Odysseus. According to Homer in the Odyssey, Odysseus challenged these monsters and his boat was sadly swallowed up, all his fellowmen died, and he was the only one who survived.
Calypso, no time. Where’s Ogygia?
Our second stop is in Pantelleria. It’s a small island in the Mediterranean, belongs to Sicily and many academics identified right there the legendary island of Ogygia. In the Odyssey, Ogygia is the place where Calypso, a beautiful and charming nymph, used to live. According to the description we can read in the poem, Pantelleria has many connections with the myth so…who knows!
Maybe this is the island where Odysseus stopped for ten years falling in love and being also spelled by Calypso, she was even a sort of Goddess of Love. Once you get there, you can visit the grotto of Satarìa and enjoy the warm springs…at the same time, remember that you are going into the house that three thousand years ago belonged to the nymph. Let’s dream…
Aci Trezza and The Rocks of the Cyclops
The last stop of our virtual itinerary through the Odyssey is Aci Trezza, one of the most important places where you can discover some incredible legends. You will immediately notice the so-called Rocks of the Cyclops or Cyclopean Islands, located in front of the town. According to mythology, a cyclops called Polyphemus used to live there. This time, we won’t tell you about the romantic story between the shepherd Aci and the nymph Galatea but about the origin of these islands. We can find everything in the Odyssey, of course.
«These words the Cyclops’ burning rage provoke:
From the tall hill he rends a pointed rock;
High o’er the billows flew the massy load,
And near the ship came thund’ring on the flood.
It almost brushed the helm, and fell before:
The whole sea shook, and refluent beat the shore».
Homer wrote that Odysseus met Polyphemus on his journey back to Ithaca. This monster killed two of Odysseus’s fellowmen, so he wanted his revenge. Odysseus made the cyclops drunk and tired using some wine and when Polyphemus fell asleep, he blinded him putting a wooden stick in his big eye. As you can imagine, the monster was not happy at all, and full of anger invoked the help of his father Poseidon, so:
«A larger rock then heaving from the plain,
He whirled it round–it rung across the main:
It fell and brushed the stern: the billows roar,
Shake at the weight, and refluent beat the shore».