Monday, July 02, 2007

May 2007 - Chiusa Scalfani, Sicily - Concetta Sciffano

We arrived in Chisusa Schlafani determined to find THE fountain where my great grandparents Concetta Sciffano and Vincenzo Lanza met almost a century ago, which I grew up hearing so much about from my grandma Jean, their 12th and last child. Concetta was born and raised in this little Sicilian hill town until she was 24 year old, when Vincenzo's mother, who had chosen Concetta for her son but learned that he, now in America, was interested in an American girl, brought her across the ocean to marry her son.

This charming hill town seemed to move much slower than any town we'd visited so far and, except for the modern vehicles, appeared to have been frozen in time a century ago. Within minutes of entering the town, we came upon this church and bell tower in what we believe was the main squares in town. As there was no fountain in sight, we continued driving through the town.
After driving through most of the town and finding no fountain, we came upon another, smaller square with this church and bell tower. . . .

and a fountain!! WE FOUND IT!! This had to be the one at which my great grandmother Concetta would sit when the young Vincenzo from the neighboring hill town of Bisaquino would come to town. Perched high atop his regal white horse with platinum blond hair and steel blue eyes, the "Norman Prince" would gallantly ride through his neighboring town, perhaps "cruising for chick", and all the girls would swoon from their windows. But he (as his mother) chose Concetta, who for years was in love with him from afar, to court and meet (chaparoned, of course) at the fountain.

As we could not find a white horse with which to reenact the courting ritual that took place at this very spot almost 100 years ago and spawned my supersized Sicilian-American family, we had to settle for a few photographs of Casandra sitting on the edge of the fountain. This is perhaps the site that Vincenzo would behold from afar all those years ago (except of course for the shorts and Nikes). He wasn't actually colorblind; the sepia is only for effect.

As he would come move in for a closer look, the coy Sicilian beauty would look up and smile for just long enough to encourage a future visit at the fountain.

Here we both are in front of the fountain.
On the other side of the fountain, facing the church, is an old drinking fountain which I, of course, had to test out. Most of the fountain water throughout Italy is freezing cold fresh spring water and is as clean and crisp as any bottled water you've ever tasted.

And here I am in one corner of the square with three elder townsmen in the background to the right. They are taking part in the ever-popular southern Italian pastime of sitting on public benches and watching the world go by. Our photoshoot must have been quite the spectacle for them that afternoon.
What really stood out about this town is that all of the streets and church facades were strung with lights. We imagine that the streets must be quite festive and beautifully lit in the evenings. Here is a wedding party exiting a church with elaborate light decorations on its facade.

Excited with having found the fountain, we continued on to the neighboring town of Bisaquino, where great grandpa Vincenzo was born, to find the white horse!

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