I have never read a Camilleri novel, nor have I ever watched Il Commissario Montalbano on television. The truth is that I don't even watch television. And I've never liked novels, so I've never been able to get close to them, not even when I was a little girl I used to read them all the time. Yet there are characters who leave their mark on people for something beyond their work, be it musical or literary. Andrea Camilleri is one of them.

Fabrizio, my best friend and my partner, told me about an hour ago that Camilleri had died and said that such a great genius deserved an article on my wine blog dedicated to him. However, I do not want to write the usual autobiographical copy-paste article ANSA style, for that there are newspapers that do their job very well. No, I want to imagine myself standing in front of him talking about life and dreams, with a glass of the Terrano del Carso he loved so much.

A fortuitous coincidence, my having just returned from the Karst. I drank some wonderful teran, and received, among others, a bottle from the Lupinc winery, which hosted me for several days. So now I have decided to uncork it and talk to Camilleri, as if he were here, with me. I do not have an arancino or a sardine a beccafico to offer him, but I can make up for it with a splendid sardine from Monte Isola, the magical place where I live. Which is not his Sicily, the Sicily I also deeply love. Perhaps Taormina, with its archaeological remains silhouetted against the blue sea, is the only place for which I could leave the one I live in now. Or perhaps for some other Sicilian city that I have yet to visit. I deeply believe that Sicily is a way of being, and its history is certainly proof of that. Sicily is Beauty, and it is in Beauty that one finds depth of thought, Art, Genius. I have never known a true creative living in an aesthetically ugly place. Ugliness destroys creativity. Creativity feeds on Beauty, in whatever form it presents itself. Surely this is why Sicily is adorned with extraordinary personalities: Andrea Camilleri, Franco Battiato, Archimedes, Empedocles, Ettore Majorana, Renato Guttuso, Leonardo Sciascia, Vincenzo Bellini, Giovanni Verga, Luigi Pirandello, Giuseppe Tornatore, Ernesto Basile, Salvatore Quasimodo, Antonello da Messina... these are the first that come to mind, but who knows how many I am forgetting!

Can one be a cop by birth, have the instinct of the hunt in his blood, as Dashiell Hammet calls it, and at the same time cultivate good, sometimes refined reading? Salvo Montalbano was, and if someone asked him the question in amazement, he would not answer. Only once, when he was in a particularly bad mood, did he answer the interlocutor badly:

"Document yourself before you speak. Do you know who Antonio Pizzuto was?"


"He was someone who had made a career in the police, quaestor, head of Interpol. He secretly translated German philosophers and Greek classics. At the age of seventy and beyond, having retired, he began to write. And he became the greatest avant-garde writer we have ever had. He was Sicilian."


In the restaurant where his friend took him, they only served fish. He had a plate of tagliolini with lobster and for second course he had filleted guatti, which is hard to find. To wash down that grace of God, Protti recommended a Terrano del Carso, produced in the hills behind Trieste.

Andrea Camilleri, Miracles of Trieste

Sicily is a special region, and I think that someone like Camilleri could not really have been born anywhere else and become so special. Camilleri had to create his own language, mixing Sicilian expressions with Italian words in an act worthy of the most refined mixologist. But what is really special to me about Camilleri is not so much his characters, or his stories, which I have never had a particular interest in reading. The Camilleri I am talking to today is the Camilleri who did not give up, the Camilleri who in 1978 turned to a paid publisher to publish such a flop that it was not even seriously distributed. The Camilleri who published several unsuccessful novels that nobody remembers. The Camilleri who does not give up. For me, who lives by writing and has dreamed of being a writer since I was born, year more, year less, Camilleri is first and foremost a master of courage. Most people have this terrible belief that there are lucky people, to whom good things simply happen. These people are always ready to jump on the winners' boat, to boast that they have known them since kindergarten, or high school, it matters little. These people think that the Camilleri of the day are simply to be respected and admired, and are on their podium thanks to luck, or skill, without reflecting that they are there first and foremost as a matter of approach. Here, today I want to remember Camilleri precisely for his approach. Camilleri became a 'successful phenomenon' after 1995. The previous twenty years, however, are remembered by few. And it is precisely those twenty years that I want to remember today.

Camilleri was a communist, atheist and courageous. Camilleri was never afraid to speak out, to say what he thought, to take sides. Here, today there is a real lack of ability to take sides. To take sides now, not to do so later. Of taking sides after victory there is a flock full. But how many of them were able to take sides before, when failure cried out with such a loud voice that no victory was foreshadowed? How many of them were able to side with Camilleri in those twenty years before? I honestly don't care which side you take. Diversity is richness, always. Except in the case of people like Hitler, but that's another story. I care that you are consistent with your choices, and that you carry them out with courage and determination.

Here, I I want to learn this from Camilleri. I want to learn not to be afraid to fail and not to give up. I always want to be able to take sides and admire even a boat that's treading water if it can convey something to me. The Costa Concordia was beautiful, solid, invincible, precious... and yet my father, who spent every summer on Giglio Island with my mother, photographed it like that.

If Camilleri were here today, drinking a glass of Terrano del Carso, red, impenetrable, intense, structured... what would he say to me about happiness? In an interview he said his happiest day was his wedding day with his Rosetta dello Siesto, his life partner for over 70 years. Rosetta sided with the Camilleri of those 20 years, and always held his hand. Camilleri said that the secret of his success has always been this very intense relationship, with this very special woman, who gave him the best advice throughout his life. I would probably ask him today just how you make a relationship last for 70 years. I believe there is no greater success in life than to give and receive love from the people we love. And also from everyone else. I believe that everything comes together in this wonderful mystery that is Life, It is only in the face of illness that we remember what really matters: Love. Love for the most important people in your life, Love for animals, Love for places, but also and above all Love for your neighbour. I firmly believe that success, even at work, is a consequence of the Love you are able to give. Of the part of yourself that you give to others, without ulterior motives and without expecting anything in return. This Love that you give, if you are capable of doing so, is extremely gratifying. If you love, if you don't give up, if you fail even 100 times and get back up... everything you desire comes. Promise.

 Just pray that the weather is kind, and you are allowed to wait.

 Between one sip of wine and another, dear Camilleri I think of you. I wish you up there that your wish will come true and William Shakespeare shakes your hand.

And I also wish you to meet my dad, who was not Skakespeare, but was at least as immense as him. Not as a writer, but as a father. Not for mankind, but for me. I don't know if there is a Paradise, but if there is, he is surely now making a beautiful sandcastle surrounded by many smiling children. Maybe in your Sicily.

A hug to Rosetta and all your family.


error: This content is copyright ©Chiara Bassi perlagesuite.com