Gino, Builder of Bridges

September 1, 2013

I was in Sortino, “Cittร  del Miele”, prowling the streets for a jar of wild-thyme honey.

Sortino sign

And there was Gino Cavallero, poking his head out the door. We got to chatting. Turns out he was on the crew of ย the Irminio Bridge near Modica, the highest bridge in Sicily. I often drive to Modica on little back roads and see his bridge. I wasn’t sure I liked it–modern things in Sicily don’t usually impress–but now I think of Gino and his sweet smile and two years of hard labor whenever I see it. For me it’s “Gino’s Bridge.”

GIno Cavallaro, copyright Jann Huizenga

The central pier is 144 meters, he tells me. He went up and down it in a cable car. No, he didn’t have vertigo, not like some of the other men, who were afraid to work that high up. It didn’t bother him. A metal worker, he welded stuff together, from what I could gather, and worked on the bridge for 2 years. He is very humble. “My part wasn’t important; we were a team.” But from the gleam in his eye, I know he’s also proud.

Bridge near Modica, copyright Jann Huizenga

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If you go to Sortino, don’t miss the cathedral!

Cathedral at Sortino


27 comments to Gino, Builder of Bridges

  • Jann, how wonderful to live in a place where everyone is a fascinating character with an even more fascinating story! Every time I visit your blog, it’s like I’m reading a wonderful book filled with memorable stories! Love Gino’s smile! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • I love the stories each person has to tell, often wondrous like your Gino….it just takes those moments to stop and really listen x

  • Bella bridge, Jann. Love driving with you xx

  • I love Gino’s bridge and have since the first time I saw it. It’s dramatic and breathtaking. How wonderful to meet someone who worked on it and what a beautiful smile he has along with that white hair! I love how you bring beautiful things and people into my home for me to enjoy.

  • When we used to live in Italy, years ago, my family and I used to cross that bridge to go to Ragusa to visit some relatives and every time we stopped to look at the view below, except my mother who was afraid of heights. She didn’t know what she was missing; what we saw was a beautiful patchwork made of neat plots of vegetables and pretty houses. So beautiful.

    • Jann

      Ciao Carmela, these days, as far as I know, there’s no “look out” point–just lots of small cars in a huge hurry, so I’ve never had more than a passing glance down below. Grazie per la tua commenta!

  • I love the way you seek and and so beautifully honour these wonderful Sicilians Jann….. Gorgeous work as ever!!!! xx

  • Sam

    I rather like that bold blue horizontal stripe the bridge makes across the landscape.

    • Jann

      Hmmm. Christo-esque, Sam??? It’s a good-looking bridge, though I’d prefer an untouched valley. I really should have lived 200 yrs ago.

  • It is a very impressive bridge…Gino should be proud.

  • Ciao Jann! Can’t wait to go find some wild thyme honey! I’m on my way and the internet has let me down….can’t send anything, and not sure I am receiving all…..Hope you get this! Ci vediamo presto!! xxxxxxDiana

  • Ian Henry

    Hi Jan,
    hope you are well,you are right the bridge is very high and an impressive feet of engineering.
    We are here are you?
    Lots of love ian and Jenny.

    • Jann

      Ciao Ian! So good to hear from you! Are you getting set for the olive and grape harvests??? I’ll write you…

  • John Schinina

    Ciao Jann, I believe I went across that bridge 30 plus years ago with my aunt, taking a trip to Modica from Ragusa. Was not excited to cross it, can’t imagine working on it, Bravo, Gino Cavallero

    • Jann

      ๐Ÿ™‚ It makes me dizzy to drive on it; I prefer to meander along the little road beneath it. It was built–I think–in the early 80s.

  • –Sometimes the modern w/ the old can be beautiful.

    I love how you capture the essence of one’s face, Jann.
    Gino is adorable.

    btw, did you find your wild-thyme honey?

    LOVE and kisses and hugs and tenderness and appreciation from MN. Xxxxxx

    • Jann

      Kim, this town advertises itself as the “city of honey” when you enter the town. So I thought finding honey would be a snap. I looked and looked, and finally found a rather dusty jar of it in a tiny market. Yay! It was worth the hunt–very delicious. Apparently the stuff is so popular that it’s hard to find. ๐Ÿ™‚ xxxx love back to you!! xxxx

  • John

    I remember being driven across this bridge by a friend of ours when she turned to me and started talking. I watched the road as she drifted across the centerline into the opposite lane. Lights flashed and horns sounded. I yelled and she corrected and all that happened was my hair turned grey. I think of that every time I cross that bridge. Fantastic view from up there if you are in the passenger’s seat.

    • Jann

      Ha ha, John. Scary story!!! You are so fascinating and funny that the driver-friend had eyes only for you! I have an idea who this friend could be. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Bonnie

    I know that bridge from my stay in Modica in May! I always held my breath and tried to not look to either side until I got over it. Nice to know about someone who built it. Thanks, as always.

    • Jann

      Bonnie, it’s great to hear from you. Did you have a good stay in Modica?? I actually never go over that bridge because I don’t like that highway. I putter along on the little back roads between Modica and Ibla….trying to forget all about highways.

  • Looks like Gino helped make a substantial contribution to transportation! Good for him. I admire people who don’t fall apart over heights or tight spaces, etc. Me? I’m okay with heights if I’m in an airplane, but I think I’d have been dizzy dangling from such a bridge (or worse, leaning down from it to weld!)

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