Calatafimi: Behind the Stone Walls of a Sicilian Town (Paperback)
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"Calatafimi" is about the colourful life and the kaleidoscopic history of an idiosyncratic Sicilian town not far from Palermo, in the mountainous west of the island. It traces events and uncovers layer upon layer of the lives of the people there, describing their ambitions, intrigues and preoccupations, from the time of the Greeks, the Romans, the Byzantines, the Arabs, the Normans and the Spanish to 2000. The first major battle fought by Garibaldi during the liberation of Italy took place in 1860 at Calatafimi, which mobilized and supported him. What is more, the famous classical Greek temple of Segesta, together with its ancient theatre, which is still being excavated, lies immediately over the hill from the town. Segesta successfully plotted the destruction of its rival nearby, the city of Selinous.Angus Campbell, who has lived in Calatafimi for many years, and whose love of the region shines through - and whose wife comes from a long-established Calatafimi family - has delved into the extensive local archives, examined the history of local architecture, farming and husbandry, geology and religious festivals, and probed into the customs, traditions and predilections of people in the area, with their proud spirit of independence. Foreign visitors over more than two centuries, many of them from England, wrote accounts of their experiences, and these are liberally quoted, not least those of Samuel Butler, the author of Erewhon, some of whose photographs from the 1890s are among the illustrations, including ones of Garibaldi veterans from Calatafimi.Calatafimi's rich amalgam of observations about the past and the present, about dynastic enlightenment, ruthlessness and neglect, about social life, eccentricity and respectability, generosity and greed, success and failure, will be indelibly imprinted on many readers' minds.
Giles de la Mare Publishers
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