Case Cicala, that alley can become the little Montmartre of Messina


By John

A Peloritan Montmartre, spared from the destructive fury of the 1908 earthquake, still speaks today of beauty, that of art in a politically and culturally lively Messina. This is Vicolo Cicala, the strip of road between Via Garibaldi and Via Placida, which between the end of the Seventies and the Eighties represented the artists’ street in Peloritana. Brought to attention last December 23rd with the “InstradArt” event – ​​promoted by some young cultural associations from Messina with the support of the Department of Youth Policies – that little-known alley returns today to talk about culture, through the traces of illustrious presences who they had contributed to its splendor. At every corner of the large building, in whose neighboring Via Legnano Giovanni Pascoli stayed for a period, names of the caliber of Bruno Samperi, Carlo Giorgianni, Emanuele Caizzone, Mantilla, Franco Palmieri created their art. And, again, Jacob (Paolo Giacobbe), Salvatore Mantarro, Umberto Chamberoynt, Antonino Gambadoro and others.
And Gambadoro himself, the only artist left to work in the place, gives ample testimony to that magical moment: «I began my pictorial experience between 1978 and 1980 and I was one of the first to have a small studio inside Palazzo Cicala. After my arrival, these big names who worked in the courtyard, in abandoned houses used as studios, were added. Then everything changed and to this day I am the only one left to operate here.”
Another exceptional witness was the Councilor for Culture Enzo Caruso, who performed in the alley with the Truvatura, an ethnic music group founded in 1978, at the same time as Kunsertu. «In the alley you found yourself in a Spanish neighborhood similar to those of Naples, with people talking from balcony to balcony and shops occupied by great artists. In addition to performing, I walked there with friends in a historical moment where we didn’t gather in bars, but in spaces that connected young people to culture, because they hosted art.” A famous meeting point is the frame shop of the painter Paolo Piccione, founded in 1974 and today located in the nearby Via Legnano, where it is possible to admire historical photos, true snapshots of that moment. A family business, carried on by his son Ivan: «There was a flourishing of characters who took turns, just as it was customary to meet for lunch in taverns, eating and drinking together before returning to paint. From the period between 1985 and 1990 these great artists moved to the city and this characteristic of the alley was somewhat lost.” A welcoming atmosphere, of which the inhabitants were not passive witnesses, as stated by Mrs Grazia, who has lived in the alley for 60 years: «These great artists did not represent a nuisance, but daily company. It was nice to stop and see them at work, as well as to see themselves, their friends and spectators coming and going in the alley. It would be wonderful to go back to those times! With his cousin Lelio Bonaccorso, Messina’s excellence in comics, among the promoters of “Instradart”, Piccione nourishes the desire and ambition to make the alley flourish again from an artistic point of view and make it a micro-entrepreneurial hub, reopening the old shops and creating a path that from the Zancle Art Project gallery in via Legnano leads to the alley up to the Muricello Market. A project that found support in the municipal administration. «Even from a tourist point of view it could become a point of attraction – underlines Caruso – to get to know pre-earthquake places like this one which, if re-inhabited by artists, would return to talking about cultural identity».