Travel /
Sicilia

Simplicity and the Cheerful Calm of Alicudi

“I’m only happy at sea, on the way

between an island I have just left and

 another that I have yet to reach “

(Dear Diary 1993)

July 2019

Wake up at dawn.

Rome airport towards Palermo.

Elisa and I have few clothes and a great desire to escape, to unplug. Land, we immediately get on the bus bound for the port. There, after a quick lunch (“spaghetti with sea urchins x 2”) we take the ferry.

Direction: Aeolian Islands.

Stop: Alicudi.

We don’t know what to expect.

Once we get off the ferry, we split up: there are those who enter the houses on the coast and those who begin to make their 700-800 steps to inhabit the houses at the top. For the suitcases of the latter, mules in religious silence help them begin the arduous ascent.

The island of Alicudi looks like a hat. It is dominated by Mount Filo dell’Arpa, the culminating point of an extinct volcano. It is an island made up of stairs on one side and steep and rugged coasts on the other. The only possible movement on this hat is the vertical one.

The only road where you can walk horizontally is along part of the brim of this hat island. On this one road there is: food, the bar / restaurant where we would eat the famous Aeolian salad with delicious capers every day, and our home: a white cube near the sea.

The owner of the CUBO is our friend, Angelo. A magician who, in order not to attract attention, works in Rome as a lawyer. Home is love! An eye is drawn in black and white on the internal wall of the house overlooking the sea. Intense and penetrating, it protects us.

I soon discover that nobody there bothers anything, they do not take their mobile phones and everyone seems to be surrounded by a cheerful calm. On the island there will be a hundred people, a dozen mules, goats, sheep, two dogs with offspring and about forty cats. A healthy freedom is perceived.

The island is magical and full of legends: women flying, spells and transformations. All born from extraordinary visions which, according to some hypotheses, can be attributed to the collective consumption of “ergot”. In 1900 for three years, the arcudari, following a famine, took rye infested with a psychedelic mushroom. The same mushroom was used by scientist Albert Hoffman during his experiments which led to the discovery of LSD, lysergic acid, one of the most powerful known hallucinogens.

Time to shake off the city a bit and put on a bathing suit; Jacopo, another friend from Rome, joins us. Recite Catullus in Latin aloud while drinking a beer. He welcomes us.

Ten steps and we are with our feet in the water. Stromboli recently erupted and the water is hot. The sun warms but does not burn. We get a good tan. Lauren, a French girl, sunbathes while Jessica from Germany plays with the rocks that make up the beach.

The wind pushes the sound of “unidentified” techno music ashore and shortly afterwards a yellow catamaran, led by Mirko, approaches the shore. Arcudaro (this is the name of the people of “Neverland”), had gone to get cigarettes from Silvio. Not from a tabaccheria, but from Silvio.

We put on the rock shoes (woe to not wear them!) and we leave for a tour of the hat-island. From the sea Mirko shows us animals, fish and Bosch’s villa.

In the evening with just one speaker we organized a disco near the chicken coop: for this reason, it was baptized the “Pollodromo”. Mirko and Jacopo play. Daniel talks about love and dances under a sky flecked with stars and an immense moon.

“Deewe015 – Side B – You are not romantic but everything shines, everything sparkles …”