Estimated read time: 7 minutes
Sicilian tales: the secrets of Italy’s biggest island
written byPlay Italy

Sicilian culture is the result of various traditions that have crossed their ways in a land rich in resources and natural beauty. In this beautiful island, breathtaking landscapes serve as the backdrop to stories and events shrouded in mystery, still whispered by the locals to anyone who is willing to listen.
In this article, we will bring you through the four most well-known Sicilian legends

The tale of the Teste di Moro

In this famous Sicilian tale, a beautiful young woman is forced to live confined at home by her jealous father. She’s only allowed to go outside on the balcony, where she devotes herself to caring for the plants that adorn it.
One day, a young Arabian soldier walks by the girl’s house while she’s out on the balcony and falls in love with her. A secret love story begins between the two but soon the woman realizes that the soldier, one day or another, will leave her to journey back to the East where his wife and children await him. 
Mad with jealousy and sorrow, one night, the girl waits for the soldier to fall asleep in her arms and kill him by decapitation. His head becomes the pot for a basil plant that she exhibits on her majestic balcony. The basil grows lush, and the envious neighbors decided to have head-shaped pots made to try to achieve the same result. A bit of a macabre story, but still fascinating!
If you visit Siciliy today, you can still see a lot of head-shaped pots adorning balconies and gardens, a testament to this enduring tradition. There are also amazing sweets that take up the name “Teste di Moro”. 

The Tale of Santa Lucia

According to Christian tradition, Saint Lucy is the protector of eyes, vision, and ophthalmologists. Her story is set in Siracusa, a city on Sicily's South-Eastern coast, where she was born. Lucy – or Lucia, in Italian – was young and beautiful. She was so in love with her boyfriend that she gave her eyes to him as a gift. It was such a great act of kindness that God decided to reward her by growing back her eyes

When the young boy saw her new beautiful eyes, he demanded that she gave those eyes to him as well. She refused. He got angry and killed her.
There is a second version for the same legend. In the alternative version, a boy is in love with Lucia but she refuses him. He got angry and decides to burn her alive. While burning, she prays God and, because she was good-hearted, God decides to protect her from the flames.

When the boy sees that Lucia isn’t dead or hurt, he got even more angry and pierced her eyes with a spear.
Something that comes out of Catholic Folklore but it sure is interesting. 

The Ghost of Donna Laura

For those of you who love spooky stories, there is a castle in the small village of Mussomeli, Sicily, from which the locals stay away, especially on the anniversary of Laura Lanza’s death.

She was a noblewoman who had been given as a bride to Cesare Lanza, Lord of the castle, when she was only 14. In the castle, she lived a miserable life but one day she met young Ludovico Vernaglio and the two of them fell in love.

When the lord found out about their affair, he murdered both Laura and Ludovico. Since then, Laura’s ghost can’t find peace and still wanders in the castle. On her death’s anniversary, it is said, a precise stone of the castle shows the bloody imprint of Laura's hand. Would you dare going there to see if it’s true? 

Colapesce’s Tale

There once was a young man who lived in Messina, Sicily. His name was Nicola but he was known as Colapesce for his talent in swimming and diving. The echoes of his talent arrived to the ears of Federico II, king of Sicily’s Reign. He challenged Colapesce a first time, throwing a cup in the sea and asking him to bring it back. He dived and brought the cup back with no hesitation.

Federico challenged the boy again. This time he throws his own crown in the sea, and Colapesce brought it back with ease. However, while he was underwater, he saw that one of the columns supporting the island was creaked and about to break. As he emerged from the water with Federico’s crown, he informed him about the unsafe column. The King, in Colapesce’s opinion, had to worry about that more than those stupid challenges he kept proposing. But Federico was unwavering and, this time, he threw a small ring in the sea. Colapesce dived and never emerged. He is still down there supporting Sicily Island and prevent it from collapsing into the abyss. A very famous singer in Italy has also taken the name of Colapesce, have you ever heard of him?  

Sicilian culture is enriched by legends. These stories are deeply embedded in the island’s history, reflecting its rich heritage. 

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