Postcard from Marettimo, placed by seals and pirates
Journey to the Egadi island "so green that you would never guess it among those of Sicily"
These days Marettimo appeared to me in a dream. Just landed on the dock of the Scalo Nuovo – Oh Mein Gott, I’m finally back mia amata Marettimo – here on my left the small fishing boats swing in the lapis lazuli water like lotus flowers in a pond, just beyond the cluster of white houses and above the mountain, haughty and verdant, scratched by a blade of light that makes its way between clouds shaves. In the dream I walk towards the village and I see everything clearly, I know Marettimo well and I don't know when I will be able to return, the separation from its Mediterranean charm is destined to last.
I wonder what the quarantine is like here, on such a remote island, "don't worry, there's no escaping Alcatraz", a fisherman once said to me, ironically that I reassured him after realizing that I had to get some of the money back home that I owed him for a lobster. Winter here must be a permanent quarantine but without the anguish that has gripped us in recent months, the island surrenders to the other seasons with its fishing village still alive, still active - it is a journey through time to come to Marettimo - but without the overload of tourists, never excessive for anything else, ready to cross the months that connect one summer to another inhabited by a few hundred people, masters of a majestic and wild island.
I go back to the dream, now I see the island of Marettimo from the sea. The peaks are again crowned by bundles of flowing clouds, paying homage to the sylvan mountains, Marettimo thus reveals the haughty and wild aspect of a small Olympus, of a Polynesian volcano. A moment of perceptive detachment is revealed in the form of déjà-vu, a mirage takes me back to Rarotonga.
Marettimo, what a revelation every time!
The gaze now returns to the village that has traveled through time, harmonious in its narrow expanse of blue-edged buildings, never affected, its degree of truth is defined by the peeling plaster, by the slightly broken floor, by the balustrade parapet that defends the side most exposed to the open sea, eaten by the waves and then again by the piles of red nets that you come across in the alleys, with three generations of men - the youngest, children - knotting them in view of night fishing . By dint of going back to those nets, you learn to recognize them: those for lobsters, for example, have the largest meshes and the thickest thread. The men in the crossroads talk about the wind, someone smokes, perfumes invade the streets. Could you tell me in Europe another lively seaside village like this one? I don't know how to do it, the others have become tourist destinations.
Marettimo, island of the Egadi, makes me think of a town of whalers that I visited in the Azores years ago, on the island of Pico, where everything has remained as it was fifty years ago, when from Lages the boats still sailed to hunt cetaceans . Everything has remained the same there but today everything is simulacrum - luckily the whales are no longer hunted in that archipelago - and the town is nothing more than a memorial for travelers: Marettimo is not, Marettimo is alive.
Slave of the winds, the island reveals itself when it wants.
The island is a place for seals (they are still seen) and for pirates. Both attracted by the many sea caves that open up on the sumptuous slopes of a mountain of pink granite that sinks into the waves with the majesty of a dolomite. I sail in unforgettable landscapes, on a sapphire-colored sea, of a very rare shade a few inches from the coast and which we find here immediately, in contact with the rock that falls overhangingly. The encounter between the vertigo of stone and water defines the color of the latter and leads to scenarios from the North Sea. Throwing your gaze around you are therefore enchanted by the glorious profile of an island so green that you would never guess it among those of Sicily. Now I see the caves one by one: that of the camel, that of thunder, the cave of the pipe, the grotta, the grotta della ficaredda, that of the crib and that of the bombard - the shapes that dictate the names seem to be the result of a vision yet the caves are there, with their camera-traps for seals and dark beaches, perfect for boats that wanted to lose their tracks. Above the vault of the caves, outside, it happens to see mouflons or goats perched on impossible slopes, intent on licking the salt.
Even today very fishy, although the fishermen complain about the comparisons with the past, it is enough to compare the fruit of their work with that of others, the typical dish of Marettimo is also unforgettable: an unusual lobster soup, among whose ingredients the sweetness of cinnamon and that of chopped almonds.
Slave of the winds, the island reveals itself when it wants. Lost in the high seas, if they blow strong it is impossible to reach the other sides, the circumnavigation of the sacred island is thus linked to the natural whim, and this being at the mercy of the elements is a further degree of truth. The sacred island - Hierà Nésos - was in fact an appreciated refuge in the heart of the Mediterranean for the abundance of fresh water sources, and it seems that sacredness is due precisely to these. Today the name of Marettimo, according to Pippo - a true institution among local fishermen - would depend on the crasis of sea and thyme, a frequent essence in the varied and splendid scrub that paints the mountain slopes. I do not believe in the reliability of this etymology but I am already transcribing it full of the nostalgia that assails me in front of the prospect, I now begin to wake up, having to leave my beautiful, beloved, remote, shy and proud Marettimo tonight. We will meet again, friendly island, I will come back in flesh and blood to amaze me at your different wonder.
Courtesy of ELLEDECOR
Foto bt Federica Soprani