52 Reasons to Love Sicily | #48. Myths and Legends

Sicily is the land of myth. Indeed, you’ll find points of interest recalling ancient myths throughout the island. For example, this Giulio Moschetti fountain created in 1906, the Fontana di Diana, is an obvious one. It illustrates the story of the water nymph Aretusa and her protector, the goddess Artemis/Diana, whose cult played a significant role in the lives of ancient Siracusans. One day while hunting in the forest in Greece, Aretusa decided to take a refreshing swim in a stream. While in the water, she felt something move beneath her. It was the river god Alfeo. During the encounter, Alfeo became smitten with Aretusa. Aretusa, however, fled, shunning Alfeo, who proceeded to chase the her. Being a river, Alfeo’s endurance outlasted Aretusa’s flight. Exhausted, Aretusa called to the goddess of the hunt, Artemis, for help. The goddesss responded by transforming Aretusa into a fresh-water spring — a spring that flowed via an underground channel from Greece under the Ionian Sea to Sicily, where she emerges in Ortigia. Well, Alfeo, being water too, seeking his love, merged with the spring Aretusa, intertwining with her for eternity. Legend is that if you throw flowers into the Alfeios River in Greece, they will eventually emerge at the Fonte Aretusa (a spring you’ll find on the other side of Ortigia). This is just one example of hundreds of myths that are told in Sicily. So, gather round and let the storytelling begin!

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