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Southeastern Sicily, on detective Montalbano's trails

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May 18th, 2011, 02:20 PM
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Southeastern Sicily, on detective Montalbano's trails

Southeastern Sicily, a thematic tour in the lands where the scenes of the TV series "Il Commissario Montalbano” have been filmed.

Born from the pen of the great Sicilian writer Andrea Camilleri, masterfully played by the roman actor Luca Zingaretti, Detective Montalbano is produced by RAI TV from 1999; its 22 episodes (the last 3 were broadcast on RAIUNO few weeks ago) score the highest rating ever, and the series has already been distributed and broadcast in many countries.

This is simply the best product of Italian television in the last 10 years, for quality of history, skill of the players and mastery of direction. And the setting that concurs to the great success of the books (Camilleri ideally locates it in the area of Agrigento) has been moved to southeast, especially in the province of Ragusa, where most scenes have been shot.

The house of the detective (actually a B & B) is at Punta Secca, a seaside village in the municipality of Santa Croce Camerina. The police station of Vigata (the fictional town where Montalbano work) is actually the Town Hall of Scicli, detective’s favorite restaurants are in Ragusa, which is the scenic background of many scenes of movies, along with other wonderful baroque towns of Sicily, Modica and Noto. In the castle of Donnafugata is the (forced) residence of the padrino Don Balduccio Sinagra, and the former Fornace Penna is the “Mannara", a place of skulduggery. The countryside, among the Mediterranean Sea and Iblei mountains, between blue skies and roads surrounded by stone walls, is the typical scenario of this area of Sicily that has preserved well enough from the intrusiveness of modernity.

Recognizing the places of the movies is not always easy, they often look different live, populated by elements of disorder, without some features the director introduces to support the story. But there are details that connect immediately reality and fiction: a dish of spaghetti with roasted tomatoes at La Rusticana, an old red FIAT 500, a wedding on the Scalinata of Caltagirone, a barefoot walk between the dunes and the sea , blue as the sky. And people you meet, never intrusive but always ready for dialogue.

Much has been said about the Sicilian people, but a typical feature is certainly their natural theatricality: the ability to choose and coordinate words and gestures, glances and silences. All this can be found in the Montalbano series, especially in his so-called "minor" characters: they seem skilled actors (and sometimes they really are), but are simply themselves. In fiction as in reality.

This is the link to the photo-reportage of my trip on Montalbano’s trails, with my wife Monica:

https://picasaweb.google.com/liberos...eDiMontalbano#

Some practical suggestions: south-eastern Sicily can be reached from the airport of Catania, and the best way to travel in this area is to rent a car. Parking in the cities is not always easy or well-signposted. Going into the historical centres by car is quite a bad idea, you risk to be stuck in some narrow alley. The best place to spend the night is probably Ragusa (preferably in the historic district of Ibla), where there are hotels, B & Bs , restaurants and a gorgeous square where taking a walk after dinner. Ragusa, along with Modica, Scicli, Noto, Palazzolo Acreide, Caltagirone, Catania and Militello, is included in the World Heritage list by UNESCO. A little distance from Caltagirone, near Piazza Armerina, is located another World Heritage site, the Villa Romana del Casale with its outstanding mosaics, but are now under massive restorations, which heavily restrict the visit. A little more distant some classic tourist Sicilian destinations such as Agrigento, Siracusa and Taormina.

Monica and I stayed at San Giorgio Palace, a 4 star hotel in the heart of Ragusa Ibla (double room with breakfast 98 € per day, excellent value for money).

For dinner we recommend: “La Rusticana” (typical food, average price of € 25-30) and “Ai Lumi” (a little more sophisticated, 30-35 €), both attended by Montalbano’s troupe.
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May 18th, 2011, 02:23 PM
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Useful links:

RAI (Italian TV) official site, with all the episodes of Commissario Montalbano series (in italian): http://www.montalbano.rai.it/dl/port...00df83c42.html

Wikipedia - the “Il commissario Montalbano” fiction (in italian): http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Il_commissario_Montalbano

Wikipedia - Andrea Camilleri: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrea_Camilleri

Unesco - Val di Noto: http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1024

Unesco – Villa del Casale: http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/832

Hotel Palazzo S.Giorgio – Ragusa: http://www.sangiorgiopalacehotel.it/
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May 18th, 2011, 03:23 PM
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How cool. Super shots.
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May 18th, 2011, 03:25 PM
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Haven't seen the series, but those are fantastic photos!
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May 18th, 2011, 09:28 PM
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What a great way to organize your visit. And your photos are beautiful! We were in Sicily for the first time this March and stayed in Modica, which we loved. I recognize the friendly Romanian woman (or was she Lithuanian?) who works at Antica Dolceria Bonajuto in your picture.

Thank you for posting your gallery and your trip report. I have enjoyed them.
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May 18th, 2011, 10:54 PM
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Yes Leely, she is the woman you say, very kind girl. Antica Dolceria Bonajuto is a true "must" as cake shop in Modica, but "Caffè dell'Arte" (just on the other side of Corso Umberto I) is quite good.
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May 19th, 2011, 03:27 AM
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Lovely photos of an area not so often covered here. Thank you.

Are you the dashing gent in the Caltagirone photo?
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May 19th, 2011, 03:46 AM
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Oh no, I'm the casual one sitting on the steps of St.John the Evangelist in this Modica photo: https://picasaweb.google.com/liberos...62234930455666
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May 19th, 2011, 04:14 AM
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Wow! Thanks for the background and great photos. We've had the series here in Australia on our multicultural and multilingual public broadcaster SBS TV.
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May 19th, 2011, 04:49 AM
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What an interesting way to plan your trip. Isn't Luca Zingaretti utterly gorgeous? He reminds me of my grandfather.

Perche si chiama liberosette?
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May 19th, 2011, 04:52 AM
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Forgot to ask, do you have the book I Luoghi di Montalbano, published by Sellario?
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May 19th, 2011, 05:22 AM
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Yes I have that book, tarquin, even if it is mostly dedicated to the literary places, different from the TV settings. Sellerio (in Palermo) is the publisher of all Camilleri's books.

"libero" means "free", and "sette" means "seven". My nickname is "liberosette" because the first six were occupied...
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May 19th, 2011, 07:07 AM
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Thank you so much for posting this! I love the Montalbano books, and I am anxiously waiting for the TV series to be available on Netflix. We visited Ragusa last month, and it is such a lovely town -- your pictures brought back many fond memories.
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May 19th, 2011, 09:09 AM
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Thanks for your trip report and those lovely photos. You really captured the atmosphere of the Baroque towns.
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May 20th, 2011, 05:41 AM
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Beautiful photos. Love the idea you based your trip upon. hmmm.....
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May 25th, 2011, 08:46 AM
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Perfect timing for me...I had posted asking for exactly this information and now see I need nothing further. The series is terrifically well done.
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May 25th, 2011, 11:09 PM
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LJ, if you need more info, don't hesitate to ask me.
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Jun 9th, 2011, 11:24 AM
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Why not visit the literary places as well? http://www.sicilytourguides.net/Montalbano_tour.htm

If you love the books you can't miss them!
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Apr 29th, 2014, 05:06 PM
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I really liked your summary of the area. As someone that's trying to improve my Italian I'm hooked on the series. However it's difficult to make sense of amazons offerings. Is there a forum that is dedicated to discussion of each episode?
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