There are many kinds of love; a passionate love, a colorful love, a love giving you hope, love that you want to fight for and eventually lose. In Sicily, there are many tales of romance. Sicilian passed down folklores for centuries, fictional narratives created to tickle your imagination and touch your heart. Here are our most favorite love stories in Sicily, a blend of pursuing a romantic faithful love and bumping to a painful tragic ending.
1. The myth of Hades and Persephone
The myth narrates the story of the cold Greek god of the underworld, Hades, and the blossoming goddess of vegetation, Persephone. He is the ruler of the dead, and she is the only daughter of Demeter, the goddess of Agriculture. The young maiden melted the heart of the gloomy king, and he fell in love. He defied all odds to marry her. He surfaced the Earth through Mount Etna and abducted Persephone from the fields of Enna.
Demeter was in rage learning about her child’s situation. She roamed from the Elysian Plain to the ground looking for her and cursed the land that caused famine and disorder in both humankind and the deities’ lives. Hades, ordained, returned Persephone and from then, the four seasons originated where Persephone divided her time with Hades in the underworld realm during Autumn and Winter and with her mother Demeter during Spring and Summer.
2. Windy Romance of Scirocco and Tramontana
Sicily has a long history that even its windy weathers have tales to tell. This is a folktale from thousands and thousands of years ago about the hot wind Scirocco and his bride-to-be, the cold wind Tramontana. It was believed that Zeus, the ruler of all the gods on Mount Olympus kept the two winds in jars and hid them in a cave on an island(believed to be one of the Aeolian islands). One day, a curious maiden opened the jars. The winds with their powerful and dangerous intensity were set free.
The two winds fell in love with each other and decided to get married. On their wedding day, Tramontana in her intricate, and frosty wedding dress captured the heart of his groom again. She was majestic and beautiful. However, Scirocco’s blazing passion for Tramontana was uncontrollable. He blasted scorching winds, too hot that it melted the bride’s dress which made Tramontana upset. The wedding was canceled and from then on, the two winds have never been seen together again.
3. The Legend of the Almond Tree with Acamante and Fillide
Every Spring, the Agrigento celebrates the Almond Blossom Festival. The city was formerly Akragas, a rich state in the Magna Graecia era. The locals also remember one of Greek mythology’s most heartbreaking love stories, the Legend of the Almond Tree. It tells the bittersweet ending of husband and wife, Acamante and Fillide. He was hero and king of Athens, and she was the princess of Thrace (Phyllis and Demophon).
The couple met when Acamante was returning from Troy and dropped by Thrace to rest during the journey. He fell in love with Fillide, extended his stay, and decided to marry her. Although the warrior needed to go back home to Athens, he promised his wife that he would return after a year. Fillide waited but a year passed with no sign of Acamante. In despair, she decided to end her life. The goddess Athena felt sorry for the princess and transformed her body into an almond tree. Acamante arrives the next day and can only hug the bare trunk of the tree which with his love turned it into an Almond tree covered with beautiful flowers instead of leaves.
4. Betrayals in Porta Felice and Porta Nuova
When setting foot to the old town of Palermo from the seaport or land, two of its most important gates will greet you, the Porta Nuova and the Porta Felice. Both monuments were built in the 15th century during the Spanish rule in Sicily and artistically significant for their Baroque style architectures. The entrances were not only historical but also controversial. In their early years, there were stories of love and betrayal that surrounded them.
Roman aristocrat and then Viceroy of Sicily Marcantonio Colonna commissioned the construction of Porta Felice in honor of his wife, Donna Felice Orsini. Not far from the gate is a lovely fountain assumed to be dedicated to his lover, the young and beautiful Eufrosina Valdaura, the baroness of Miserendino. Above the rooms of Porta Nuova were said to be their love nest and the illicit affair was later discovered by the family of his wife. The rest is a devastating history for both clans.
5. Godfather’s Michael Corleone and Apollonia
Any fan of the Godfather movie? After killing another mobster, Virgil Sollozzo, and a corrupt police officer back in the States, Michael Corleone(played by Al Pacino) escaped to his father’s homeland, Sicily. He hid here for two years with the protection of his father’s allies. While strolling the small village of Corleone, where he was staying, he met Apollonia, a charming Sicilian girl. fell in love at first sight with her. With his last name’s influence as well as his father’s, he asked Apollonia’s father for her hand in marriage.
The two married in a traditional Catholic Sicilian wedding and spent a few months in the honeymoon phase together. It was until Apollonia’s brutal death. Eager to live in America, she learned English and driving. She was about to surprise Michael with her driving skills when the car exploded with her in it. One of their guards, Fabrizio betrayed Michael and planted a bomb on his car, one of the ugly consequences of the mafia world.
6. Greek Myth of Aci e Galatea
The myth is about a gentle shepherd named Aci and the love of his life Galatea, a very beautiful sea nymph. The two crossed paths when Aci was pasturing his sheep near the sea and saw the nature deity Galatea. Both were smitten and promised to love each other till eternity. The seashore was their paradise, the sky and the waters were their witnesses.
One of Galatea’s violent admirers, Polyphemus learned about their romance. Blinded by jealousy, he took revenge and killed Aci. Galatea found the lifeless body of her beloved and wept with despair for days until the Gods heard her cries. The Gods took pity on her and made the blood of Aci into a river that flows from Mount Etna to the sea. The waters became their sanctuary again where Galatea can be with her beloved and be reunited with him forever.
7. Mata and Grifone – The things you can do for love
What are the things you can do for love? This is a story about Mata and Grifone, enemies turned lovers and believed to be the founders of Messina. According to legend, after the Muslim conquest of Sicily, plunders were rampant and there was not much order on the island. A tall Moor(almost giant) named Hassan Ibn Hammar with his fleet and a large group of pirates aboard arrived in Messina. They attacked the coastal town and raided its nearby villages.
During one of their pillages, he came across a stunningly tall girl named Marta or Mata in the Sicilian dialect. It was an instant attraction for the pirate and he asked for her hand in marriage right away. Mata, of the noble class and virtuous Christian beliefs, refused the idea. Determined and hated the idea of marrying an enemy, she declined the invader’s proposal again and again. But, Hassan’s adoration for Mata just grew stronger and in order to win her heart, he converted to Christianity and changed his name to Grifo. They married, bore offsprings, and built villages which later attributed to the foundation of Messina.