A bit of Si­cily is com­ing to Hamilton

Ex­act replica of Ra­cal­muto’s statue of beloved writer will be mounted here

The Hamilton Spectator - - LOCAL - jma­honey@thes­pec.com 905-526-3306 JEFF MA­HONEY The Hamilton Spec­ta­tor

Beloved Si­cil­ian writer Leonardo Sci­as­cia could hardly be imag­ined with­out the side­walks and streets of Ra­cal­muto from which he was in­sep­a­ra­ble, dip­ping his words into their sights, sounds and char­ac­ters; the cof­fee house was his stu­dio.

So when Giuseppe Agnello set about creat­ing a memo­rial statue of Sci­as­cia af­ter the writer died in 1989, the renowned sculp­tor knew the street had to be part of it.

And that’s where he set his mon­u­ment to the man — on Ra­cal­muto’s main drag (Via Garibaldi), where Sci­as­cia had been wont to min­gle, an ink in the wa­ters of com­mu­nity. The side­walk is, in ef­fect, part of the work.

Now in Ra­cal­muto pedes­tri­ans pass by Sci­as­cia in mid­stride, life­size, one hand in his pocket, the other hold­ing a ci­garette, with eyes that — like the eyes in some paint­ings — seem to fol­low you ev­ery­where, ready to strike up a con­ver­sa­tion.

The writer, walk­ing. Still cir­cu­lat­ing in the traf­fic of his peo­ple.

But to be truly among his peo­ple, that side­walk must stretch, fig­u­ra­tively, across an ocean to Hamilton, Ont. And so it will. This sum­mer, work starts on the in­stal­la­tion of a spe­cial side­walk on the grounds of LIUNA Sta­tion, Im­mi­gra­tion Square, and there the ex­act same statue of Sci­as­cia, re­cast, will stand.

(It will have to be set at least nine me­tres from the build­ing, of course, as he’s smok­ing. Just kid­ding.)

“It all came up by hap­pen­stance,” says Hamilton lawyer Charles Criminisi, whose fam­ily is from Ra­cal­muto.

“We met the sculp­tor over drinks and some­one brought up the idea, ‘What if we were to get you to do a bust of Sci­as­cia for Hamilton?’ One thing led to an­other and it evolved from a bust to a full-body replica.” Why Hamilton? I hardly need to ask. Most know that Ra­cal­muto and Hamilton are twinned, and that there are fully four times more Ra­cal­mutese here than there are in Ra­cal­muto it­self, such has been the suc­cess here of the Si­cil­ian di­as­pora.

“It’s not com­mon to make an ex­act replica of a statue in an­other coun­try and I was told by some­one in the Ital­ian media that this is a first,” says Gabe Ma­caluso, who was with Charles, Mayor Fred Eisen­berger and sev­eral oth­ers in Ra­cal­muto last year. They were there to mark the 30th an­niver­sary of the twin­ning, and it’s where the idea to com­mis­sion the sculp­ture be­gan.

The story of the Hamilton com­mis­sion has al­ready been picked up by Cor­riere della Sera, a na­tional news­pa­per in Italy and sev­eral other ra­dio and TV out­lets.

“They are so proud of us in Ra­cal­muto,” says Charles of their feel­ing to­ward the chil­dren of Ra­cal­mutese im­mi­grants.

Si­cily, he notes, was a beach­head in the Sec­ond World War and sadly lay in the path of much de­struc­tion, but is en­joy­ing some­thing of a re­nais­sance with tourism, re­plant­ing fields with olives and grapes (be­com­ing a kind of “new Tus­cany”) and some stun­ningly old arche­o­log­i­cal finds.

“I hope this (the statue project) will open up more chan­nels of ex­change.”

Hamilton ar­chi­tect Rick Lin­tack is de­sign­ing the side­walk por­tion.

The Sci­as­cia Project is cost­ing be­tween $40,000 and $50,000 — the money has been raised through a tar­geted do­na­tion cam­paign — and the man­u­fac­tur­ing and ma­te­ri­als will come from Europe, over­seen by sculp­tor Agnello (who is also orig­i­nally from Ra­cal­muto), says Charles.

Most Ra­cal­mutese in Hamilton are fa­mil­iar with Sci­as­cia (19211989) and his work.

He wrote nov­els, plays, es­says, po­lit­i­cal com­men­tary and also served in politics. His writ­ing was very pop­u­lar in Italy, not just Si­cily, and even beyond and “The Day of the Owl” was made into a movie in 1968 star­ring Lee J. Cobb and Clau­dia Car­di­nale.

“Ev­ery­one knew him,” says Gabe.

“He re­minds me of a Hem­ing­way type, where you’d go into a local bar and there he’d be.”

The statue in Ra­cal­muto is fa­mous, and in the town now stands a large li­brary/cul­tural cen­tre named af­ter Sci­as­cia, one of the grand­est pub­lic build­ings there.

The statue at LIUNA sta­tion will be un­veiled Sept. 22.

They are so proud of us in Ra­cal­muto. LAWYER CHARLES CRIMINISI MET WITH SCULP­TOR


Ra­cal­muto man: Statue por­trays Leonardo Sci­as­cia walk­ing the streets.

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