Sicily … oh, Sicily … the name conjures up all sorts of images – blue seas, blue skies, scarf-wearing nonnas, ancient villages, the mafia, sun-ripened tomatoes, vineyards, fresh seafood, and if you like detective stories, you’ll be thinking Inspector Montalbano too.
We’ve just come home from another fantastic two-week holiday, but it isn’t all of the above. There’s another side to Sicily that is never promoted. And why would it be? I feel torn about writing this post, because I couldn’t wait to go back after last year’s initiation, but it needs to be said.
Sicily is trashed. Majorly trashed.
This is what we are led to believe it looks like …
But if you zoom out a little bit …
Or even a lot, you see the ugly truth.
A lot of this seaside trash comes from boats, but the highways were also littered with refuse, so it’s not an isolated problem. Leo and I started thinking we could do a walking holiday here in Spring and collect rubbish, but our backpacks would be full within metres. And where do we take it? It really made us rethink every drink (in most places the water isn’t safe to drink from the tap, so bottled water was everywhere), snack, napkin etc, and although we didn’t have a zero-waste holiday, we definitely, purposely, left a minimal mark. I even collected rubbish on a few walks.
Sicily apparently introduced a system in 2015 to send some of its trash to Austria – I don’t know if that’s happening. But the problem is definitely not new, as described here and here. It all seems to boil down to corruption, the rubbish-collection companies going broke and not being able to pay their employees, who then strike, and a general apathy among the people. What a horrifying shame.
Parts of Sicily are gob-smackingly beautiful, and I’ll show you those in my next post, but it broke our hearts to see such blatant disregard for what should be a stunning country. Australia, my home, has run an incredibly successful campaign called Clean Up Australia since 1989. I wonder if Sicily could do the same?
If you saw my Instagram post (they appear on the right side at the bottom of this blog’s front page) there’s a town trying to tidy up in 2016. So it’s great to see that some locals have had enough – there is hope for “a cure”! But I don’t think it’s going to come in a hurry. I just hope the younger generation instigates change. Like in India, where the biggest beach clean-up event is still ongoing in Mumbai.
But that’s enough of this side of Sicily. There are two sides to a coin, so to avoid leaving you deflated from this gloom, even if that video above inspires hope, here’s a sneak peak of my next post, showing Sicily’s much sweeter side …
Wishing you a wonderful day.