Sicilians - Settlements



The capital of Sicily, Palermo, and other major cities such as Catania, Messina, Syracuse, and Agrigento are located along the coasts, which are the most densely populated areas of Sicily. In the interior, nucleated settlement patterns leave the countryside largely uninhabited. A typical Sicilian interior town is situated on a hilltop. The urban orientation is also reflected in the importance in every town of a large square or piazza, the center of the community's formal representation. Typically located in the piazza are the main church, the town hall, commercial institutions, and coffee bars. Often emerging from the piazza is the street on which Sicilians take their ritual stroll on Sundays, feast days, or in the evenings. This promenade ( passeggiata ) is an expression of the gregariousness of the people, their enjoyment in creating theater and in observing each other. Outside the main square, houses Directly adjoin one another in dense settlements. Traditional peasant homes, usually one or two rooms, contained people and animals. Wages from migration are used to modernize and enlarge homes by adding floors. A typical home today might consist of several stories, with one or two rooms to a floor. While the piazza and other formal spaces are in normal hours reserved for the activities of women, who, especially in small towns, live in semiseclusion and venture into public spaces only for specific purposes. A recent settlement pattern made possible by emigrant remittances tends toward suburbanization on formerly cultivated land.


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