We went to the cemetery in Sciacca looking for Maggios long gone. The first thing we noticed was the huge parking lot. In a town with very little elbow room there was an enormous amount of breathing space. Then we walked through the gate.
I never thought about cemetaries as architectural places. In the states, the traditional cemeteries are flowing green grass checkered with small monuments in gray stone. They are much more park like than urban. But in Sciacca, and I’ve learned in many parts of Italy, the cemeteries are even more crowded than the towns.
Densely packed squares of ornate sculptural monuments were completely lined with walls of tiny chapels. Each little building was a mini lesson in architectural design, inspired by many periods and built in all kinds of different shapes and sizes.
All the stonework was beautifully accented by row after row of crisscrossing paths lined by very old cypress trees – and by the flowers! My host told us that in Italy no one gets flowers while they are alive. But after they have died, the families bring flowers to them all the time!
We found a few Maggio’s, and a little building for the Famiglia Maggio. We found Albas, Mandracchias and Gallos even one Ippolito. I found myself wanting to come back again and again – to draw the little buildings, to look closer at all the names, and to walk along the paths between the trees. It was a wonderful, contemplative space. One of my favorites so far in Italy.