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The poet's house: the hotbed of Poetry

Proceeding from the main square to Corso Umberto I, on the left, you will find the church of San Giacomo Apostolo and, on the same road, an abandoned house with some verses engraved on a headstone put there by the President of the Region Sicilia and by the municipality in 1999: “Ammucciateddu tra muntagni e sciari c’è lu paisi di me patri anticu...”, meaning “Hidden between mountains and lava rocks lies the village of my ancient father”.

This is certainly the best known poem in Gratteri, and if you ask, the villagers will recite it by heart. It represents a strong nostalgic description of the small madonite village as it once was, when the poor people used to live a hard life but they loved each other with brotherly spontaneity.

The author is Giuseppe Ganci Battaglia, one of the greatest dialectal poets of the 20th century, who gave prestige to Gratteri and was known as the “poet of the Madonies”, for his periodic return to the family home, especially in the summer months.

He considered that house “the breeding ground of poetry”, a place of inspiration where he created his most beautiful chants, his lyrics shrouded in pain and nostalgia, and some of his best known books.

Fifty years of intense cultural, literary and theatrical activity, which made the poet from Gratteri acclaimed by the public for his genuine way of describing reality.

As a dialectal poet, with Ignazio Buttitta, in 1927 was co-director of the art periodical “la Trazzera” (about poetry and folklore), publishing an entire monograph about “Historical and traditional backgrounds of the Municipality of Gratteri” that the poet directed as first and third fascist podestà.

In 1929 he was elected First General President of the “Giovanni Meli” Academy; in 1958 he won the First National Prize for dialectal poetry in the “Conca D’Oro” contest, earning the gold medal and a degree. The poet also gained the Culture Prize in 1962; he also was member of the Academy of 500 and of the “Latinatis Excolandae” Academy of Roma, and director of the International Periodic of Culture Information “the Cyclop”.

Among the works published in the field of dialectal poetry, we mention: Sangu Sicili-anu (1922); Amuri (1923); La Santuzza (1927); Surgiva (1940); il Volto della Vita (1958); Pupu di lignu (the poem of Pinocchio); Al Milite Ignoto (1921); Sicilia Eroica (a commemorative booklet published for the inauguration of the Memorial to the fallen of Gratteri).

But the activity of Giuseppe Ganci Battaglia wasn’t limited to the field of poetry: he also published didactic and pedagogical books, Histories (of Gibilmanna, of Ruggiero II, etc); poems for children (Trilli nell’azzurro); short stories (Quand’ero monello); novels (Un asino e due bimbi); theatrical plays (Acchianati ca s’abballa; La picuraredda siciliana; Radio Pitittu; Mi dimetto da marito, ecc.).

As well as Ganci Battaglia, many others in this small village could admire the true poetry. In fact, this glimpse of madonite landscape has always been scenery and inspiring muse for those who knew how to listen to nature.

The dialectal poet from Gratteri Ciccu Di Maria for example, at the beginning of the 20th century, claimed in his Buccolica that this land had been kissed by the poetry which flows in the blood of every resident of Gratteri.

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