So Just Who Is The Richest Man in Sicily?

Sunday, January 20, 2013

No…….. his last name doesn’t begin with ‘B’ and finish with ‘i’.  Although we can’t imagine that man not having a finger in some sort of pie on this island too.

No, no.  Our richest man in Sicily is very different from the one above.  Ours lives in the village of S.Ambrogio and we’ll call him G.

G gets up at the crack of dawn and walks for a good half hour uphill to his piece of land in the hills behind the village to tend his allotment  where he grows seasonal vegetables.

Climbing up from the village


Most of his day is spent there, nurturing and talking to his plants or just contemplating his navel waiting for a ‘compare‘ (mate) to pop by for a chat before he picks the day’s produce and returns home to cook it all for dinner.


So where did this man get all his money from, I expect you are saying?    Well, he probably doesn’t even know himself how much money he has as he’s never actually had a bank account in his life.   Never had the need for one.    “Well, so where does he put all his money?”, people say.   Probably under the mattress or stashed under ‘bricks’ as they say here.


But why are we talking about money?


This man started his working life at the age of 6 years old.   Born into a family of too many children, he was sent away to another village up in the mountains to work for a bourgeois family who sent their children, of our around the same age as G, to school.   From the family he ‘graduated’ into the fields where he met his wife who was also a fieldworker.   As both of them lived in different villages, G used to regularly trek from his village of Pollina, up on top of the mountain, down to S.Ambrogio where his beloved collected water from the drinking fountain every day.   This courtship continued until she said she quite liked him which automatically gave G the go-ahead to ask her father for her hand.   Grudgingly, the father gave his consent as really he would have preferred his daughter to have married a fisherman.   The rest is history.   Two children, 3 grandchildren and one great-grandchild later, G at 83, is once again alone but not lonely, having lost the love of his life last year.


So it doesn’t look like this man has accumulated a mountain of money in his lifetime, does it?


No.  This man has wealth in other areas.    He is one of the village elders, highly respected for his decision making in all village matters and called upon for his wisdom and judgement.   He is an expert basket weaver so is now highly popular with people looking to restore their old wicker chairs.   He has olives to make his oil, grapes for his wine and tomatoes for his sauce.   He built his house with his own hands so he has a roof over his head and food on his table, a washing machine but no car – just a good pair of legs.   What more does a man need he says?   Can’t get any richer than that!


So does Being Rich = Having Money?


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