A crossing point between Africa and Europe, between Eastern and Western Mediterranean, Sicily has been a much-coveted centre of the region for millennia. Starting in classical times, the island’s rulers changed every couple hundred years. First a Greek colony, it then became Carthaginian, Roman, Byzantine, Arab, Norman, Spanish, before finally acting as starting point of what was to become the Kingdom of Italy. Each of Sicily’s occupants dealt in their own way with the previous layers they found there, and the island’s cities and buildings allow to read these hybridisations like cross sections through time and influences, showing the island as a place of layering and overlaps, as a nuanced tectonics echoing the subduction that gave it its mountains and keeps fuelling its volcano.
But beyond this glorious past, it offers a contrasting contemporary image. While Palermo and other Sicilian cities have gradually freed themselves from the domination of the Cosa Nostra to once again show a dynamic and culturally prominent face, in between lies a vast forsaken countryside, where 1-euro houses appear as the only weapon to fight depopulation.
To try and understand this complex present and challenging future, we will travel through Sicily, between antiquity and baroque, middle-ages and present day, visiting churches, temples, palaces and small towns giving hints of Sicily’s historical, geological and social reality.
From Palermo to Catania and Mount Etna, each participant will be invited to record their encounters with buildings, cities and landscapes by means of writing. Edzard Mik, Dutch novelist and essayist, specialised in architecture, will accompany us on this trip to help us translate into different types or genres of writing our spatial impression of a present made of stories simultaneously projected on the past and outlining the future of the island.