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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.

The 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 his environment.

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.

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Witnesses of memory


of 1693


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