The Marinello Lakes: Sicilian nature, poetry and mysteries
The outline of the Marinello Lakes, in the province of Messina, constantly changes due to marine currents and sea storms.
If you happen to look out from the sacristy of the old Sanctuary of the Black Madonna of Tindari – built on the top of the hill of the same name, a promontory belonging to the Nebrodi Hills, over 250 meters high – be prepared for the breathtaking view over the Tyrrhenian Sea, with Aeolian Islands at the horizon.
Sicilian poet Salvatore Quasimodo – who was awarded the Nobel for Literature in 1959 – described the feeling in verse:
I climb airy peaks, precipices, / following the wind in the pines, / and the crowd of them, lightly accompanying me, / fly off into the air, / wave of love and sound.
Look down at the foot of these “airy peaks” and you’ll discover the brackish ponds the Marinello Lakes Natural Reserve was named after, when it was founded in 1998.
This part of the Sicilian coastline is simply full of legends and traditions. At one point, the rock opens up into a grotto known as Donna Villa Cave, named after the beautiful and cruel sorceress – somewhere between Circe and a Siren – who bewitched seamen with her singing. Those who were unable to resist were rewarded with days and nights of intense passion… followed by a final sentence and terrible death, at the hands of the mysterious and ferocious man-eater.
But don’t let legends scare you out of visiting the Donna Villa Cave: all you will see are beautiful, imposing stalactites and stalagmites. The old Sanctuary is also well worth a visit: it is home to a statue of the Black Madonna from the 8th-9th century, which arrived here on a ship, escaping the Orient’s iconoclastic persecutions.