Agnello Hornby: «My Sicily on a road trip». Four episodes on Rai3 from 3 December

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By John

Palermo, Etna, Catania, Syracuse, Pantalica, but also the mines, the countryside, the Valley of the Temples of Agrigento, the Kolymbethrai Gardens, the tombs and ruins found everywhere, but above all nature. The writer Simonetta Agnello Hornby talks about his island on an on the road journey with the cartoonist and illustrator Massimo Fenati, author of the graphic novel La Mennulara, in a new Rai Cultura program, Viaggio in Siciliacreated by Pesci Combattenti, which will be broadcast from Sunday 3 December in the late evening on Rai3.

Four episodes discovering a land that the writer, born in Palermo, left 60 years ago, but which she has in her heart, has never stopped telling in her novels and where she often returns with her children. This time, however, Simonetta Agnello Hornby takes a special journey through emotions and memories to give us back all her strength and beauty. «Sicily is the most beautiful place in the world as a land and for what man has achieved. We took tours of places where you don’t normally go, like the Ciavolotta mine, in the province of Agrigento, which is now closed, but which I knew when it was open because it belonged to my mother’s family. I went into it one of the strange times in my life. My mom had a cousin who I was deeply in love with at the age of five. When she got engaged to a beautiful Swiss blonde and she wanted to see the mine I followed them to check on them so it was my first scene of jealousy. Beyond this, it is essential to talk about the mines because they were very important in Sicily » says Agnello Hornby who spent his childhood in Agrigento.

«Then we went to Pantalica, one of the most beautiful places in the world. It is Sicily 600 years before Christ, when the inhabitants – who we don’t know who they were – created a city like New York with all the apartments in the immense walls of this quarry. You have to walk, climb and climb stones. If you don’t go up and down the caves you won’t understand what Pantalica is » says the writer who lives in London where she worked as a minors’ lawyer.

In the stages of the journey that starts from Moses, the historic estate of Simonetta’s family, in the province of Agrigento, there are also special meetings with friends and locals. Among these, in Porto Empedocle, Andrea Camilleri’s town, the appointment with Arianna Mortelliti, the writer and granddaughter of the creator of Inspector Montalbano, who died in 2019. «She is a girl who I have known since she was a child, now she has become a writer and I’m happy. You wrote a great book. I am very close to her grandmother, Rosetta Camilleri »explains Simonetta. Agnello Hornby suggested the places, but, he says, «I never like to choose because when one works with serious people, who he respects, like Fenati and the Fighting Fish it is a collective work».

The audience for this trip «could be Italians, people of the world, my grandchildren, but also the Sicilians themselves who don’t know all of Sicily. I tell you about the places dearest to me”. What was the most important step? «Etna which represents the soul of Sicily, this sense of Greekness and the beauty of nature. It is a mountain that all Sicilians fear and love. As a child I went there with my dad and mum.” «Eastern Sicily is the most cultured, which has produced the most intellectuals» states the author who for the first time talked about the mafia in her latest book Era un bravoboy (Mondadori).