That day Eolo left Syracuse, his father’s hometown, to go and discover the other wonders of the land of his ancestors. He had come from Australia and had already travelled several kilometers, when his peaceful journey was blocked by roadwork on a bridge.
Eolo did not know the territory and did not know which way to go to reach his destination. From a distance he saw an intersection with some road signs and he hoped to find some useful information.
As he read the names of towns unknown to him, he saw that a soft grey mist was coming down from the mountain tops, slowly embracing everything around.
His decision was immediate, he chose a nearby town: Polizzi Generosa.
As he walked along the road to reach the town, the fog thickened. The fog of the mountains is that of the gods: it is benevolent, protective and enveloping.
He reached Polizzi and stopped the car in front of the seventeenth-century Jesuit College, seat of the Municipality. Driven by a strange attraction, he entered the building where the Civic Archaeological Museum had recently been opened.
There were many exhibits in the museum that captured his attention but, more than any other, he was attracted by the design of a three-headed statue depicting, most likely, the goddess Isis Triforme.
This is what Eolo Paul Bottaro told me, Australian by birth but with Syracusan and Modican roots, who moved to a beautiful village in the Madonie Park.
We are in Polizzi (Polis) Generosa called the Athens of Sicily by Diodorus Siculus. In past centuries Polizzi was the nerve centre of the road network between Palermo, Messina and Agrigento.
Surrounded by the Madoniti Mountains and lush valleys, Polizzi Generosa lives wrapped in a medieval air that delicately drags the visitor into a fairy-tale world. Churches, convents and palaces are the sign of the past presence of noble families who lived in those places where time seems to have stopped.
Walking through narrow streets, courtyards and squares, one has the feeling of having to meet ladies and knights who have remained to protect the ancient beauty of a timeless village.
After having admired the treasures in the mother church, our walk in the village began and Aeolus resumed the story of his adventure in Polizia:
– The three headed (Triteste) statue, after its discovery in a well, remained for more than a hundred years in the church of Santa Maria Maggiore. Then, in 1764 it was moved due to some renovation of the church.
In 1775, when it was time to relocate it, Monsignor Castelli, bishop of Cefalù, opposed its relocation to the church, claiming that the statue was a pagan symbol. The high prelate, challenged the wrath of the Polizzani, made his aberration as an iconoclast prevail and had it destroyed.
– I understand that when you saw the drawing your spirit of art suggested a decision to you.
– Yeah. I’ve never seen anything like it. When I saw the drawing I was immediately struck by the three heads: those of a girl, an old man and a child on the body of a woman.
Immediately afterwards I tried to understand something of the two snakes on one arm, the disk held by one hand and the triangle on the forehead with a five-petalled flower inside. Day after day, I started asking locals about the statue.
Between ancient legends related to its discovery and anecdotes about its destruction I perceived that everyone in Polizzi was linked to that statue.
The whole town has collaborated on the Iside Project and together we have embarked on a path that will give Polizzi a new artistic, historical and cultural path and a search for its roots.
– In short, the statue fascinated you.
– Immediately and so I made the decision to give a new life to Isis Triteste.
– You are a sculptor, but the statue is in terracotta.
– Yes, I respected the traditions of the area by working with terracotta and then painting it. This allowed me to expand my project with painting.
Eolo Paul Bottaro has always shown great interest in the recovery of ancient works reinterpreted in a modern way, bringing out the splendour of a Sicily with an immense artistic and cultural heritage. A Sicily that dispenses beauty and wonders only to those who know how to look for them.
Sicily, land of his roots, is always present in the works of Eolo who loves to paint the sunny lands of central Sicily and the snow-covered slopes of Etna.
He built his reputation as a painter in Australia by transferring the strong earth tones of his ancestors to his works and creating the bridge that binds him to his Sicilian roots with colours.
Walk and talk about Syracuse, Comiso, Polizzi and his projects for this land.
Sicily is always in his paintings, because it is in his heart.
Go and visit its website https://eolopaulbottaro.com/