Madonna ha ‘n sé vertute con valore
più che nul[l]’altra gemma preziosa:
ché isguardando mi tolse lo core,
cotant’è di natura vertudiosa.
Più luce sua beltate e dà sprendore
che non fa ‘l sole né null’autra cosa;
de tut[t]e l’autre ell’è sovran’e frore,
ché nulla apareg[g]iare a lei non osa.
Di nulla cosa non ha mancamento,
né fu ned è né non serà sua pare,
né ‘n cui si trovi tanto complimento;
e credo ben, se Dio l’avesse a fare,
non vi met[t]rebbe al su’ntendimento
che la potesse simile formare.
Giacomo da Lentini
My lady has within her virtue, with a worth
greater than any other precious gem;
for, just by looking, she took my heart –
so virtuous is she by nature.
Her beauty gives more light and splendor
than any other thing, even the sun;
over all other women she is sovereign and flower,
so that no one dares compare herself.
There is nothing in which she is lacking.
There never was, nor is there, nor will there be her equal –
nor one in whom we find such perfection;
and I well believe, if God were to remake her,
the divine intention would not be so disposed
as to be able to form anyone similar.
Giacomo da Lentini
(13th century [documented 1233-1240])
The translation here is my own.
Welcome to Pictures of Sicily, which I began in 2013 with articles about the delicious cooking school run by Fabrizia Lanza, as well as the Palermo women’s organization Arcidonna, headed by Valeria Ajovalasit. I returned to Sicily in the summer of 2017 to interview some more wonderful keepers of cultural traditions, in particular celebrating religious diversity, respecting ecology and conveying historic culinary delights to young people.
Palermo's Jewish community will soon open a cultural center and synagogue for the first time since the Renaissance synagogue was closed by decree of King Ferdinand of Aragon and Queen Isabella of Castile in 1492. In so doing, the community, with the help of Archbishop Corrado Lorefice, is also opening a portal to share information about the medieval convivenza, cooperative co-existence, of people of diverse religions.
Not far from Palermo in Alcamo, the food writer Mary Taylor Simeti recently published her book, Sicilian Summer: An Adventure in Cooking with My Grandsons, about preparing Sicilian classics with four thoughtful young men, nearly always with ingredients from the Taylor Simeti organic farm, Bosco Falconeria.
To frame my articles on these fascinating people of Sicily, I include above Giacomo da Lentini’s beautiful sonnet on the non-fungibility of humans. Now that I have come to know Sicily a bit better, I also include a couple of photographic essays on some examples of the island’s powerful beauty today.