The fascinating Camiola and its ancient story to be reconstructed in the novel by Finocchiaro from Messina


By John

The historical novel, a memory file by entries, which must be continually updated, as it has done Amedeo Finocchiaro from Messinawith a philosophical background and “passionate about homeland history”, author of the beautiful «Sicilian historical novel» «The Camiola investigation» (City of the Sun), presented at the Cannizzaro Library of the Palacultura of Messina by the author together with the publisher Franco Arcidiaco, from Reggio but above all from “Stretto”, and the speakers, professor Carmelita Paradiso and the architect Nino Principato. An investigation, as the title states, alluding to its various mysteries, which begins with the fascinating Camiola Turinga, an example of a feminine who resists and saves, a metaphor for an indomitable and rebellious Sicily, even if humiliated and isolated.

Paradiso highlighted, in fact, Finocchiaro's homage to a special woman through the narrative voice of Baron Manfredi Alagona, linked to the Aragon of Sicily, who sets in motion the investigation into Camiola, exalted by Boccaccio in his «De mulieribus claris », among 106 famous, historical and mythological women, who have charm and determination in common. An exceptional testimony in the face of the delivery of silence by the Aragonese who dominated Sicily in the second half of the 14th century, a very complex historical period illustrated by the Principality: from the battles between the Aragonese and Angevins for the possession of Sicily, between Latin “partiality” and Catalan “partiality”, to the rebellion of the Sicilian barons, from the fights between the magnate families such as the Chiaromonte and the Ventimiglia and the Palizzi, who incite cities and citizens, to the papal plots, from palace intrigues to marriage politics.

In short, a theater of opposing forces in which Camiola's story is not just that of a heroine unlucky in love, but of someone who was bold enough to challenge the Aragonese crown. The beautiful Camiola, in fact, daughter of the knight Lorenzo Toringo, of Sienese origin, high soldier of the guard of King Frederick III of Aragon, educated at court and close to Queen Eleanor of Anjou, redeemed her son in place of the royal family, an unusual fact. Federico's natural, Orlando, captured in the battle of Lipari in 1339 in which the Catalans were defeated by the Angevins. In exchange the prince promised to marry Camiola, already a widow, only to then betray his word by citing the woman's non-noble condition, which dragged him to court, then definitively rejected him with the revenge of a staging of the wedding ceremony, and retired to convent, also a compelling chapter in the history of religious women in Messina.

A story “that goes beyond the myth of charm for which it was already well known in Sicily but which was held in the inexpressible”, and full of suggestions, as Paradiso e Principato highlighted starting from the disappeared or forgotten places of a Messina which – has called Paradise – «the caesura of the 1908 earthquake led to oblivion», and from the same cover of the novel, highlighted by Principato, with the graphic elaboration by Rino Baeli of the photo of Finocchiaro at the «Seal of the Church of S Maria Annunciata di Basicò” (14th century), still visible today in the Staircase of the Colomba in Messina. A story full of “question marks and spaces to fill” said the author, which pushed him to interrogate papers and documents, literary testimonies and popular tradition for about six years “broken up between various authors, in addition to Boccaccio, by the chronicler between Michele from Piazza to Bandello, from Fazello to Buonfiglio, from Caio Domenico Gallo to Samperi to Gregorio”, and to consult modern and recent historical texts and essays, as can be seen from the rich bibliography at the end of the volume.