fragrance of Sicily

Every day Theocritus's garden becomes more wonderful, but I must refrain, or you will complain that my letter, as usual, is very disconnected. But then, am I not writing about Sicily? and nothing in Sicily is connected, nothing is methodical. It is a land where even Nature is surprised at herself, and the big people have the simplicity of little children. If my letters were to express my everyday life here, they would be a stranger mixture still of sunshine and flowers and antique remains, and the unending study of the beauties and horrors of poverty. The evenings are warm enough for glow-worms now, which shine in the narrow paths where the tall blue lavender and the pink rose-hedges wind like stars dropped down from the sweet southern night to taste the fragrance of the flowers.
By the waters of Sicily
By Norma Lorimer

The procession now entered the cha* pel, preceded by a group of the most
handsome youths that could be procured, bearing golden censers, in which burnt the costly odours of the East, whose rich perfume impregnated the air with a delicious fragrance. These boys were cloathed in scarlet robes, confined to the waist by gold bands, they were bareheaded, and wore wreaths of artificial flowers round their hair. Padre Ignazio, the abbot of the monastery, then advanced most sumptuously habited, supported by two friars, bare-headed, and followed by others carrying a crimson cushion on which lay a missal richly adorned with precious stones.
The demon of Sicily
By Edward Montague

The railway from Caltanisetta approaches Castrogiovanni through a country that little resembles the land described by ancient authors. The dense forests, the brooks and lakes that made the "heart of Sicily " (or, as some classical authors called it, "the navel of Sicily") so beautiful in the eyes of the Greeks and the Romans, have all disappeared; it is no longer " a luxuriant garden where the hounds lose scent of the game amid the fragrance of the myriad flowers of Persephone." Great bare hills rise everywhere like the billows of a vast and troubled sea.
Picturesque Sicily
By William Agnew Paton

But in Sicily things are not always what they seem. To her, the herbs which fill the air with pungent fragrance are mere medicine-chests for domestic use, and the spring freshness of the young almond trees is hardly a relief to her eyes; while Mother Etna, filling all the horizon in front of her — to-day rising in all her uncovered glory, is merely a rich wine-producing country. When she has passed out of sight there is silence again, until a hornet darts past, striking a deep note like a violoncello in the wondrous blue overhead. On the hills in front of me the orange and olive orchards, green and grey, are broken by patches of rich red volcanic soil terraced and sticked for the spreading vines, and here and there a pear tree, white with blossom, looks like a delicate cloud, dropped down from Etna's crown.
Queer things about Sicily
By Douglas Brooke Wheelton Sladen, Norma Lorimer

In the South spring comes with one stride, as night in the tropics. It was here. A jessamine clambered up from the garden, bringing its starry blossoms, its delicate perfume; a tall lemon tree in full blossom, a rose tree touched the balcony — I leaned down and picked a blush rose. Beyond was a feathery mimosa, covered with fine yellow flowers; splendid savage cactus plants raised their armedspikes like spears; a pergola was lost under an amethystine rain of wistaria, an arbor hidden by the harsh glory of bourganvillia; a row of amphorae, that once held wine or oil, overflowed with purple heliotrope. On a wall stood a jewelled bird, the prince of peacocks, sunning himself, his long tail sweeping the path. Below lay the turquoise sea, the scalloped shore,
the long point of Naxos, tawny sand, rimmed with white foam; in the lovely bay a fishing boat slipped before the wind. Beyond Naxos the sloping line of Etna begins, rising grandly from the blue sea; the flanks are covered with white villages, shining in the sun. Slowly, smoothly, the line mounts and mounts, broken here and there with little mounds. The color is smoky blue to the snow-line. Now the smoke, instead of blowing aside, hangs above the cone in two snowy rings. On the shore glisten the white houses of Giardini; close at hand is Taormina — the old city wall, the flame-shaped
battlements of the Badia, the clock on the cathedral. The hum of bees as they delve in the flower-cups, rifling honey for their hive — honey that Assunta will in turn ravish for some stranger, fills the air; the ceaseless chirrup of the tree-toads makes a soft alto to the bees' treble; the fragrance of the flowers floats up like incense, that delights yet does not stupefy; every sense is fed on beauty. Is not this the one perfect hour to which one might say "stay "?
Sicily in shadow and in sun: the earthquake and the American relief work
By Maud Howe Elliott

The rain is dripping softly into the open cloister, where the wet garlands of wisteria and heavy-clustered gold of the banksias are distilling their mingled fragrance in the damp air. The rain makes sweet tinklings in the old fountains and in the sculptured wellheads gathered in the court; on the cloister walls are grouped bas-reliefs—tinted Madonnas by Gagini; Greek fragments, stone vases standing on the floor, twisted columns, broken but lovely torsos.
Seekers in Sicily: being a quest for Persephone by Jane and Peripatetica
By Elizabeth Bisland Wetmore, Anne Hoyt

The situation of Palermo, too, rivals even that of Naples. Its effect, when viewed from the bay, is admirably given by Hughes:—" It was a fine evening in the month of May when we cast anchor in the bay of Palermo. The land breeze wafted fragrance from the orange groves in its environs; the sea was covered even to the horizon with innumerable little vessels, whose white triangular sails, crossing each other to catch the gale, seemed like the extended pinions of aquatic birds; whilst the deep radiance of the setting sun gilded the fantastic summits of that grand semicircle of mountains which surround the 'Conca d'oro,' that golden shell in which Sicilian poets represent Palermo as set like a beauteous pearl."
The classic and connoisseur in Italy and Sicily: with an appendix ..., Volume 2
By George William David Evans, Luigi Lanzi

In the deep shadows below, every plant and weed leaps into wondrous life. Although it is almost winter the moist air is that of a hot-house open to the sky, the colours, neutral and strange save where some blossom, pomegranate or hibiscus, burns into the light. The scent of flowers, especially of the yellow jessamine run up into thin .trees, makes me faint with its fragrance.

Passing from essence to essence, a draught of damp air, out of some darkened cave, comes to me as a new life. All is so strange, so exotic, I wander on in speechless wonder, silent myself, amidst subterranean silence.
The diary of an idle woman in Sicily, Volume 2
By Frances Minto Dickinson Elliot

Near him may be the flower-seller, who hires the end of a passage for his stand, nodding with tall plumes of dyed grasses stuck into a sort of dumb-waiter whose shelves are filled in the foreigners' season with violets and friesias. Oh, those friesias of Sicily, with their creamy white stained orange and purple, as fragrant as oleanders! Oh, those violets, named of Naples and Parma, with stems six inches long and heads like pansies! You cannot believe they are real at first—you can buy a bridesmaid's bouquet for a few coppers. There are roses too and camellias, and, as the season draws on, orange blossom. But the waft of flower scent which I carry in my mind from Sicilian streets is the mingled breath of violet and freesia. It is the flower-seller and the water-seller who reign in every street, no matter how grand, where people congregate.
Queer things about Sicily
By Douglas Brooke Wheelton Sladen, Norma Lorimer

We observed in our walks to-day many of the flowers that are much esteemed in our gardens, and others, too, that we are not acquainted with. Larkspur, flos Adonis, Venus'g looking-glass, hawksweed, and very fine lupins, grow wild over all these mountains. They have likewise a variety of flowering shrubs : particularly one in great plenty, which I do not recollect ever to have seen before; it bears a beautiful round fruit of a bright shining yellow. They call it il porno doro, or golden apple. All the fields about Messina are covered with the richest white clover, intermixed with a variety of aromatic plants, which perfume the air, and render their walks exceedingly delightful. But what is remarkable, wa were most sensible of this perfume when walking on the harbour, which is at the greatest distance from these fields. I mentioned this peculiarity to a Messinese gentleman, who tells me, that the salt produced here by the heat of the sun, emits a grateful odour, something like violets, and it is that probably which perfumes the sea-shore. On consulting 1'azzello De rebus Siculis, I find he takes notice of the same singularity, and likewise observes, that the water of the straits has a viscous or glutinous quality, which by degrees cements the sand and gravel together, and at last consolidates them to the solidity of rock.
Travels in Sicily and Malta
By Patrick Brydone

"The air is pure and balmy all day and night long, and the blue Italian sky, ever pale and ever distant, is generally perfectly cloudless. In the early morning there is no breeze, but after nine o'clock the most refreshing breeze springs up. I think the Sicilian summer the most enjoyable season in the world; scenes of lively interest pass daily before you; the natives are gay as a lark; the air by day is filled with perfume from the groves, and by night with music and pleasure.
http://books.google.com/books/about/Elfie_in_Sicily.html?id=v0VDAAAAYAAJ
Elfie in Sicily, Volume 1

Rare palms soar into the blue sky, endeavouring to shake themselves free of some gay creeper which has festooned itself to the heavy leaves and does not mean to stop there; it will throw itself on to the coraltree and the spreading aloe, and wreathe the garden with a cataract of gold. Even the Judas-tree will not escape its embraces. This creeper, the honeyflower (Fiore di Miele'}—for the Sicilian gardener calls every heavily scented flower which feeds the bees a honey-flower—is one of the most typical features in a Sicilian villa. As you approach the gate, a breath of air laden with the perfume of freesias and honey-flowers greets you, and you may be perfectly certain that, however dry and flowerless the season may be, the Fiore di Miele will be in bloom.
By the waters of Sicily
By Norma Lorimer

Looking down from Monte Cuccio towards the sea, one beholds a wide extent of wonderfully fertile valley, overgrown by almond orchards and plantations of the fruits for which Sicily, and especially II Conco d' Oro, are famous all the world over. For miles and miles, in spring-time, the traveller in thissheel of gold makes his way through an ocean of orange blossoms that perfume the air with odors rivalling the spices of Araby the Blest. Orange blossoms are everywhere, white as snow, glistening all the whiter because they shine amid deep, rare green foliage. Amid the orange and lemon plantations are pastures, grain fields, and gardens, and where the soil is mixed with detritus washed from the hills terraced vineyards give promise of an abundance of grapes. A score of towns and villages, red-tiled and white-walled, appear here and there, connected by highways with each other and the mother city. These "strade" wind through the valley, dropping gently from the mountains, and, although apparently wandering aimlessly hither and thither through the land, are nevertheless all trending towards Palermo, the Rome of Sicily, to which all Sicilian roads lead at last.
Picturesque Sicily
By William Agnew Paton

THE path, beyond the remarkable vestiges of Selinuntium, intersects a cork wood of some extent. The trees which compose it are not, however, of that immense size which renders these forests so grand and gloomy in more northern districts of Europe. They are triennially barked, and, at different times, have proved highly profitable to the proprietors. A broad heath, interspersed with masses of tangled brushwood, opens from the extremity of this grove, and its barrenness is relieved by the yellow blossoms of a species of broom which abounds here, of a bell-like form, and pleasant perfume.
http://books.google.com/books/about/Sicily.html?id=6NApAAAAYAAJ
Sicily: a pilgrimage ...
By Henry Theodore Tuckerman