I had, like many people, a very negative view of all things Sicilian. To me Sicily represented a hot bed of bad-tempered mafiosi who went around shooting people. I had never heard anyone say anything nice about Sicily. Terrible people, unscrupulous people, clanish people, ugly people, the Africans of Italy.
Then I discovered one of Sicily’s native sons who was deemed “Stupor Mundi,” the Wonder of the World. Frederick II Hohenstaufen was not only Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire and King of the Two Sicilies, he was one of the most outstanding personages of the late 12th, early 13th century.
He founded the first secular university not dominated by clerics, he made advanced medical care available to the poor and expaned the Medical School of Salerno. He allowed dissection in order to futher the study of human anatomy, he promoted literature in all its forms and had foreign literature translated into Sicilian. He wrote a tome on the care, breeding and training of falcons which stood for centuries as the main reference book on the topic.
I also learned that Sicilians can be dark and swarthy, red-headed and blue-eyed, very tall and stately, and short and stout. They were masters of poetry and literature before Dante.
Siciliy, you have my most humble apology.