Witnesses of memory
by Grazia Dormiente
The diversity of historical testimonies
is almost endless. All that man says or writes,
all that he builds and touches can
and must give information about him.
The Hyblaean landscape is all in
its stone of , hard and soft, dense and porous, golden limestone;
sometimes it is deeply carved in the "quarries" of rocky
settlements, sometimes it is arduously ripped out of the land and
used to "write" in valleys and plateaux to build walls,
patios, cisterns, farmyards, balconies, churches and palaces, and
used to write life and history.
grey-blue stone in dry-stone walls forms an age-old long line in
the hard fought fencing of the fields "vignali" or "chiuse";
it is decorated with friezes and blazons in mansion-houses or it
is rough and eaten away in cereal and cattle breeding old local
farms "masserie". The stone, trees and shrubs of Mediterranean
vegetation come together to determine the settlement needs, the
material practice and the production customs in the Hyblaean community.
Stone and trees, above all the evergreen
carob trees, the silver olive- trees, the tender vines and the lonely
palm trees, in wide horizons, repeat a play of forms which give
an image of wonderful cultural and environmental unity.
The desire of the Hyblaean country
to be in the limelight is deep inside its long lived stones representing
the voice of old generation destinies gone on in the changeable
moments of history ; all this is related in the traces of ancient
estates torn with the change of times, in country houses of small
and medium holders strongly bound to their lands and in simple shelters
for crowds of temporary workers and commuters ahead of their times.
The Hyblaean cost between the "Dirillo"
stream and the channel of "Pantano Longarini" also proposes
a continuous affinity of light and colour, of blood and stone. Some
rocks covered with tufts of dwarf palm trees and rows of agaves
watch over broad and fleeting sandy shores; They seem to conspire
to weave the webs of myth and history, an history which is still
rooted in the residual traces of coastal villages in spite of the
recent wounds holiday crowds through a cyclone-like cement diffusion
have inflicted. The long route of events linked to seaside villages,
illustrated by placenames and other sources winds from Porto Ulisse
to Kamarina, from Pozzallo to Marina di Ragusa and Scoglitti.
But the surprising peculiarity of
Hyblaean landscape and culture is not only made up of seaside and
country. Town centres as evidence of the legendary prestige of the
Earls of Modica, show the architectural and structural features
of this area too; an area which was planned again after the "terrible
earthquake" of 1693, whose perimetrical order was changed by
history with the Unity of Italy and once more reorganized after
the institution of the Province of Ragusa in 1927.
So the present Hyblaean municipalities
show a certain consistency of cultural aspects which recall traditions
settled during the age-old process of preservation/transformation.
The geographical landscape is intermingled with a landscape weaved
on a web of visible and invisible relationships between man and
An heritage of signs appears which
are able to translate the system of values built by popular classes
during different historical moments in order to establish relationships
of social identity.
Besides the landscape emergency where
daily life and special event lived by the community cross each other,
some more sources suggest to recover the identity of Hyblaean people
and their relation with territorial resources clearly
compromised by the lost of environmental values.