Translation of “LU JORNU CA LU MULINAZZU CHIANCÌU” by Maria Anna Manzella. Review done by Giovanna Fileccia.

Lunedì 17 ottobre 2022, per la mia rubrica Leggo e recensisco, ho pubblicato la recensione al volume di Maria Anna Manzella che vive in America da tanti anni. Insieme, io e lei, abbiamo deciso di tradurla e Maria Anna ha fatto un ottimo lavoro.

Translation of the Review done by Giovanna Fileccia


Review done by Giovanna Fileccia

There are books that stand out from the multitude for their being unique. This applies to the volume written by Maria Anna Manzella, Lu jornu ca lu Mulinazzu chiancìu. Walking through the pages, it reports poems, old tales, recipes, homemade remedies, customs, and traditions of a place that no longer exists. In that vast extension of territory, expropriated in 1968, now exists the airport of Palermo “Falcone Borsellino,” formerly known as “Punta Raisi.” Only the observation construction called the “Mulinazzo Tower” remains, located about one hundred meters away from the ancient mill in the area called “I Punti”.

Maria Anna’s book is a full-bodied volume of 420 pages, it exudes suffering, regret, anger, frustration, love for one’s own land, and heartache.

The desire to retrace the days of old strongly emerges in her, through her memories, of the era when the Mulinazzo, located in Cinisi, was alive, with narrow roads leading to the sea, flourishing trees and lightning bugs hovering free and bright at dusk. Those were the happy days of Mulinazzo. It delighted in welcoming the peasants’ families, the children’s laughter, including her own, filling the air and the sounds of the church bell inviting the people to the evening prayers. A world that has already vanished, caused by a mass expropriation that saw about three hundred families left for their own destiny: without a home and work. What else could they do but to emigrate? And this they did in great numbers, including Maria Anna, with suitcase in hand following her parents to America, where she still resides to this day.

The bond is so strong with her town that Manzella, while writing Lu jornu ca lu Mulinazzu chiancìu, uses her dialect just like she remembers it. The old terms no longer used, even in her introduction, are in dialect including every memory she describes. The only note in Italian language is the foreword written by Professor Maria Antonia Manzella, where I paraphrase an emblematic passage: “Maria Anna in her poems depicts a picture of those years, highlighting the children’s fight for their land and the confrontation with the law enforcement authorities, which caused a few arrests”.

This is a book that belongs to the Cinisi community, which the City Officials should adopt and hand to every citizen, due to the accurate documentation recalled through the sentiments of a place belonging to them but now forever lost.

Maria Anna Manzella’s testimony makes us reflect on an important issue. Progress cannot be stopped, such as ports, railroads, streets, highways, and airports due to evolution that favors commerce and shortens the distances. Behind the tar, the railroads, the landing strips there are people left with no home, no work, and no other prospect, because of the expropriation not adequately paid. Today, Cinisi airport offers work to hundreds of people. Even my husband worked there for many years, nevertheless I ask myself: what kind of evolved civilization is that, who eats, rather devours, entire families in favor of the progress? I limit myself here to evaluate a small yet important detail: the choice should belong to the individual, just like there should be a fair exchange between giving and taking.

I conclude with sincere gratitude to Maria Anna Manzella, hoping to meet her in person and be able to congratulate her, not only for the impact of her book, but also for the willfulness and constancy she demonstrated in the drafting of these pages imbued with vivid emotions.

Giovanna Fileccia

Terrasini, September 8, 2022


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