The History of Sicily

World War II to the Present

The Allies were well received in Sicily. They freed the people from a brutal dictator and introduced medicine against malaria, which had killed thousands. Unfortunately, they also revived the Mafia. In 1944, Sicily moved from control of the Allies to that of the new Republic of Italy, which finally gave the island a degree of self-rule, designating it an autonomous region, with its own parliament.

In 1953, oil was discovered, and several foreign concerns began drilling and refining activities in earnest. Sicily’s wine industry has been growing since the war, and exports of agricultural products have been rising as well. Sicily’s attractiveness as a tourist destination for Americans and Europeans has also improved the economy. Despite all of this, young Sicilians often leave for mainland Europe or other parts of the world seeking to make their fortunes.

Sicilians are a proud, passionate people. The island is a cultural treasure trove, with several civilizations having left architectural, aesthetic, and intellectual gems over 3000 years. Sicily’s legacy as a literary Mecca also makes it an important focus for the educated reader. It was the Sicilian School of Poetry in the Middle Ages that influenced Dante and produced the first literature in an Italianate tongue. It was 19th-century writers, such as Luigi Capuana (1839-1915) and Giovanni Verga (1840-1922), who created a literary treasure known as verismo and revived the literature of Italy, which had become moribund and sentimental. In the 20th century, Sicily could boast two Nobel laureates in literature: Luigi Pirandello (1867-1936) and Salvatore Quasimodo (1901-1968), as well as several other important writers such as Leonardo Sciascia (1921-1989) and Giuseppe di Lampedusa (1896-1957).

Let us hope that Sicilians will continue to control their own destinies and to contribute to world culture as they have done so often and so splendidly in the past.


Tomb of Capuana