Monday, February 4, 2013

Polifemo's Cave - Ulysses' old haunt where Boss was hiding out

Along Milazzo's western riviera there is a huge cave dug out of the promontory rock on which the castle stands. It's a beautiful spot. Legend has it that this was Polifemo's cave where the one-eyed cyclops tried to kill Ulysses and his crew when they stopped by. The cave was used for storage by the military during WW2 and in the 70s and 80s it was transformed into a discothèque and wedding functions were held there. The houses nearby are mostly holiday homes but some people live there all year round - including the accomplice of Barcellona mafia boss Filippo Barresi. Barresi was hiding out in a house along Via Polifema. Apparently he would go jogging along the seafront at night and no one recognised him with his hat and glasses on. The police tracked him down last week but he has denied being the boss of Cosa Nostra in Barcellona and says he is a simple 'vivaista' - working in a nursery or garden centre. Hmmm... I was reading this in a café in the local tabloid, Gazzetta del Sud. You never find 'La Repubblica' or 'Il Corriere' in cafés in Sicily. I have learnt to do as the locals - to turn to Cronaca Messinese to get reports on local happenings - usually involving gloomy news about pollution from the refinery, uncollected rubbish overflowing on the streets or mafia. Some carabinieri came into the café along with other punters and each noted what I was reading - it was the only paper in the café and I was hogging it. No one ever talks mafia with me. You'd almost think it doesn't exist. But around Christmas time, in Barcellona, there were two old school style mafia shootings - one in a barber's, and one in a café. And last night, a 23 year old ‘shepherd’ was killed in the Barcellona Hinterland, as the Gazzetta del Sud calls it. He was in the mountains near the picturesque village of Montalbano and it appears his only crime was the fact that the Novara Boss was his godfather at baptism… He was out working in the fields and just about to return home at nightfall when they came and shot him in the face at close range.

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