Salvatore Pietrini: “Jalari” is born from anger, pride and love that every Sicilian holds within, conscious of the beauty and the potentiality of his/her land. I retain myself to be fortunate. I grew up in a family, whose head was my father (great philosopher of life), that worked in the trade of citrus fruits for generations. My upbringing allowed me to have a free vision of life, rich of values and respect for others. My job as a trader of citrus fruits helped me, in my youth, to travel throughout most of Sicily and Calabria and buy products that were intended to be sold in Italy through the fruit and vegetable markets. While I travelled I met many friends that were forced to leave with the famous “laced suitcase” to search for fortune elsewhere. In most of their eyes I could read the sour malencholy that an emigrant always brings inside. I often ask myself, “How is it that such a land, praised by poets and writers and invaded by different populations who have left historical memories and drew from it wonderful resources, has a difficult time giving answers to the sons and daughters of the third millennium? Even today they keep on leaving and attending Universities up north. I found the answers to these questions through the magical world of “Jalari” by talking to hundreds of artisans (true masters of the world of making) and with a dozen of people of every social class — from the makers to the philosophers.
The Park gave me the possibility to
participate in dozens of conventions on Being Sicilian in which I heard them speak about history, victimism and great values (fantasy…) but almost never about the flaws we have always possessed. One of the biggest flaws, I think, is servility. We are not capable to get things without pulling strings, enlarging those people who occupy the chair until they are ready to pass it on to their own children (all intelligent) and the children of their children…(all children are the same). The one that does not follow the system, is crushed and is forced to look for an alternative somewhere else. One of the Park’s mottos is “Sicilian, do you want a change? Begin asking as a free man; don’t stand behind a closed door where beyond it a “gentleman” leaves you waiting!”
In fact, the Park Museum “Jalari” is born by the union of two families (Pietrini and Giorgianni). Although they each had their own separate professions, through a thirty year period they united their forces with the wish to realize a common dream. The idea of the Ethnographic Park Museum came from my brother Mariano who had already written his first book “Something that’s disappearing…” in 1972 and had collected various finds that belonged to the trades of antique artisans. His wish was to let the historical memory of our masters relive.
In the years, we, with reciprocal collaboration (he with his thousands of sculptures and I conceiving my structures inspired by the fantasy world and the historical cultures that dominated Sicily through the years), have realized a place of incomparable beauty, where
art, history, culture and ethnography are mixed in perfect harmony with nature. I won’t go any further because I may result to be bias. I want the visitors to be free to judge and experience personally the emotion one captures by walking through the avenues of Jalari. One day I asked a lady (a mother like any other): “Why did you come to the Park?” and she answered: “I’ve already visited the Park seven times and I return because it’s like Paradise and when I can, I bring family and friends”. We are aware that we can’t go back in time therefore we try a thousand ways and means to live with the new situation without being crushed. In order to compete with it, we have to aim for those things which it lacks. For example, thanks to the mild climate, Sicily can offer tourism 360 days a year, history, culture, ethnography, scents and flavours, making it possible to change one’s course towards free tourism.
One can find a place to sleep in thousands of abandoned houses on the hills and mountain towns that are rich of history, art and natural sites. Also, they offer marvellous panoramas, clean air and a healthy diet, keeping one in close contact with nature. The tourist should be able to discover the simplicity of beauty. It is important to let young people, who are the future makers of change, understand values and respect those things that belong to them. Another piece of economy can be found in organic agriculture belonging to our culture. It gives us sun-rich products that make a difference in their taste and in their organoleptic quality, meaning that they are not destroyed by chemicals.
We can invent an alternative marketing method to surpass agroindustrial drawplates and aim directly at the productors and consumers and guarantee the product’s freshness.
Today one needs to take advantage of new technologies and consumer associations. Infact, most of them have a web site that offers the possibility to interact directly with the client. In order to defend of our immune system, eating healthy has become more and more a must. All this is not utopia; the “Jalari” farm has been doing this for years. Its Park museum is an example of change: from a stony ground (called dry toad for its notorious aridness), an oasis of peace and beauty in perfect harmony with the landscape, has grown by exploiting its natural resources.
Today, the continuity of our thought, based upon the principle of freedom, has been passed on to our children, to whom we have given the task and the responsibility to manage, with heart and mind, what we have realized with sweat and the winning strength of love in these past years. I wish them all to grow in unity as we all have.