This week in Palermo temperatures have reached the dizzy heights of 45° which means any well-meaning intentions to repaint the outside of the house have been swapped for guilt free afternoons spent outside with feet in the paddling pool and a good book in hand. And what a good book it is. An Italian tale of intrigue and murder, secret sects and unrequited passions, knights and princesses, power and revenge and a devious uncle with a terrible secret. The title is I Beati Paoli, the name given to a secret sect that terrorised Palermo in the 18th and 19th centuries and the author is William Galt (born Luigi Natoli). It’s as intriguing, shocking, passionate and powerful as the city and its people it so lovingly describes. Although set in Palermo in the early years of the 18th century, the dark lanes, hidden squares and tiny churches of the Capo market are still there today and after dark, when the market has packed up and left, just as menacing. A book beloved by the Palermitani yet unknown outside Italy. A search on Amazon has revealed that there is no English translation available so it’ll have to remain a secret to which only the Palermitani are privy and of which they are fiercely proud.
(I would like to imagine that under a church in Capo a group of masked men still meet once a week to administer their own particular brand of justice. Whether they still rule Palermo I couldn’t say, but I can say that they continue to rule the hearts of the Palermitani. So I shall say no more lest I incur the wrath of I Beati Paoli, which believe you me, having read the book, would be very unwise……)