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Via Etnea, Catania

The Places of Vitaliano Brancati's literary tale

The Places of Vitaliano Brancati's literary tale are included in the “Regional Map of Places of Identity and Memory” (LIM) established by the Region of Sicily with DA n. 8410 of 03/12/2009

The reference sector is that relating to “Places of literary, television and filmic narrative”- Don Giovanni in Sicily 

The places included in the IWB: 

  • (Don Giovanni in Sicily) Via Etnea (Catania)


Don Giovanni in Sicily is a novel written by Vitaliano Brancati and published for the first time in 1941 by Rizzoli

Although the title of the novel contains the name of Don Giovanni, it does not really appear in the story and is not a protagonist; the main character is instead the Sicilian Giovanni Percolla.

The book is divided into fourteen chapters and the story takes place in 1939 in Catania, a city where, as the author writes, "the speeches on women gave more pleasure than women themselves".

Giovanni Percolla is forty years old and until "he was thirty-six he hadn't kissed a good lady". He lives with his three sisters and spent his evenings in his adolescence, hidden with friends, watching "in the darkness of certain narrow streets" the opening of "certain complacent doors". He later had his first "quick, bland and confused" relationship with an ordinary woman, and since then his life has been filled "with hotel maids and easy women."

In 1927, driven by the need to get to know women better, he went to Rome with his two inseparable friends. The stay in the capital results in a frantic running from one end of the city to the other after some woman who seemed to have rested her eyes on them, but each time the adventure proves illusory and the three from Catania "felt betrayed and abandoned ".

They are called back to Catania by relatives and friends and they, on their return, plan more promising destinations such as Viareggio, Riccione, Cortina, places of which they have heard that they promise safe thrusts.

Giovanni has a job in an uncle's fabric shop, but he doesn't work at all and prefers to lounge in bed late and enjoy long siestas, assisted by his three devoted and caring sisters.

But it happens that Marie Antoinette, of the Marquis of Marconella, one day turns her gaze to him and Giovanni, after checking with friends that taliata Ninetta was addressed to him, he is ecstatic and begins to change his habits.

Giovanni leaves the house of his sisters and goes to live in a small villa outside the city, hiring a waiter. In love with Ninetta, he takes advantage of the opportunities that his friends create to meet her but, too awkward, he is unable to declare himself. Ninetta herself will take the initiative.

The two get engaged and get married. On the wedding day many mishaps occur: there is a strong sirocco that almost blinds a page boy; a guest, secretly in love with Giovanni, weeps convulsively; the priest who celebrates the wedding gives a threatening sermon and unknown voices insinuate that his amatory skills are insufficient.

The honeymoon retraces the stages made with friends and in the end the couple settle in Milan. In Milan, Giovanni is employed in a fabric company and converts to active life allowing himself a few minutes of rest during the day, and a few hours during the night. Meanwhile, in the Milanese salons, many ladies, given the fame of Sicilian rooster, they court him. Giovanni has some adventures that leave him exhausted and in the meantime Ninetta becomes pregnant.

Following Ninetta's expressed desire to make a trip to Sicily, the couple return to Catania where the sisters, upon seeing him, burst into tears, finding him "very shabby".

After a hearty meal, as in the old days, Giovanni wants to try again the pleasure of taking a siesta in his bachelor's room and, just under the covers, his ancient nature rises again: "His whole body warmed, and from heels, which in Milan he had dragged behind him like pieces of ice, a wave of warm, murmuring blood rose to his head. He saw the Lombard ladies again; but compared to how he had seen them, it seemed that just then they were washed-out memories, but now they were real women. And what women! [..] The need to tell tingled in his tongue: he wanted Muscarà and Scannapieco to sit near his bedside, as in the good old days ».

To taste his rediscovered self, Giovanni, for the entire time of his stay in Catania, will stay asleep in his house without his wife.


Card insertion: Ignazio Caloggero

Photo: web

Information contributions: Ignazio Caloggero, Web 

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