Palermo – Portella della Ginestra – by Raffaella Saba

May 1st, 2013

After driving for about thirty kilometer, we leave the city chaos behind and find ourselves in Valle dello Jato. This is the land the marks the south borderline of Palermo’s province and the distinguished mountain range divides the Conca d’Oro, the famous valley of Palermo, from the hinterland where the Jato River and the Belice River flow.

Portella della Ginestra is located few miles away from Piana degli Albanesi e gets his name from the wild flower that here have their natural habitat (Ginestra is Scotch Broom in English). Sicilian people remember this site because it was here the first bloodshed of the newborn Italian Republic took place.

May 1st, 1947.

Salvatore Giuliano, an infamous bandit, fired a gun in the crowd. Eleven people died that day and many more were wounded. They were peasants, children and women protesting against the landowners. We know what happened more and less, but this is neither the time nor the place to talk about it. I just want to introduce you to the Portella della Ginestra’s Memorial, a monument designed and built by Ettore de Conciilis in collaboration with several artists at the end of the 70’s.

The most fascinating thing to me is the dry wall and the “trazzera”, typical dirty road of the Sicilian countryside, that cuts across it like a wound and that somehow recalls the the bullets trajectory. The presence of big stones similar to ancient mehnirs is also interesting: they all bear the name of the innocent victims of this tragedy.

On a different stone, we can read poetry of the Sicilian poet Ignazio Buttita:

“U me cori doppu tantanni ea purtedda enta petri, ento sangu di cumpagni ammazzati”

“My heart is after so many years here at Portella, mixed with the stone and the blood of my fellow-citizen killed here”

I feel my heart breaking thinking of what has happened in this place and the presence of these silent stones keeps the memory alive.


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