Death in Sicily

June 29, 2010

Assai megghiu addivintirai si a la morti pinsirai, goes an old Sicilian saying. You’ll be a better person if you think about death.

The walls in Sicily are bulletin boards of death, so there’s ample opportunity here to think about it.

Death Notice in Sicily, Copyright Jann Huizenga

The black-bordered papers called necrologie are everywhere.  Ciao Nonno Salvatore one reads. Bye Grandpa Salvatore.

Death Notice in Sicily, Copyright Jann Huizenga

A guy with a brush and a pot of glue rides around on his motorino plastering necrologie around town.

Putting Up Death Notices in Sicily, Copyright Jann Huizenga

My Sicilian-American friend Mary, who has lived here for twenty-some years, says she was “freaked out” by the “morbid things” when she first arrived, but I find them endearing. They celebrate you all over the neighborhood for months, even years, while all we Americans get is a tiny newspaper blurb for a day.

Li morti aprinu l’occhi a li vivi, say the Sicilians.

The dead open the eyes of the living.


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4 comments to Death in Sicily

  • My mother in law recently made the journey to Sicily, and pointed out the paper notices posted on the walls. She asked me if they were funeral notices. I had never taken the time to read one until that moment. Your post is very timely…I will send her a link. Thanks for the great information as always.

  • In Colorado there are often crosses with flowers at the side of 2 lane highways. These poignant reminders of death in such awesome surroundings give me pause to open up to feelings of wonder and astonishment at the blessing of this journey I am invited to take.

  • Josephine

    My zio, Giuseppe Schinin√†, my father’s brother,died in Ragusa on May 31 at the age of 101, He was the last survivor of all my vecchi relatives. He had been the musical director of the band of Ragusa Ibla until about 20 years ago. He led the processions with his musical troop and sometimes would hold concerts in the Villa Iblea. The manifesti of his death, if posted by anyone, would be the final tribute to his life and contribution to Ragusa Ibla.

    • Jann

      Hi Jo,
      I’m sorry to hear about your zio! What a wonderful, long life he lived, though. (Recently saw the Ragusa band perform. They were good!)

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