Montalbano: curiosity and info on the fiction
Il commissario Montalbano (Inspector or Detective Montalbano) is an Italian TV series, that follows the life and investigations of the main character, Salvo Montalbano, in the imaginary sicilian town of Vigata. Up to this day, 12 seasons have been aired, for a total of 32 episodes. Each episode is a self-contained story, that usually opens with a phone call in which Montalbano is informed of a murder or a crime and called to the scene, and developes with the investigation and the discovery of unexpected clues from the most various sources – material witnesses, physical evidence or the infallible intuitions of Motalbano and his associates -, concluding with the closing of the case. But the episodes don’t consist only of mere police investigations: during the approximately hour and a half of each of them, we meet not only policemen and medical examiners, but also friends and common people that help Montalbano, giving him a lot of insights on the dynamics of life in Vigata and the rivalry between the two biggest mafia clans that control Vigata and the surronding territory. An important role is played by Salvo’s eternal girlfriend, Livia, that, despite every good intention and her repeated threats of leaving him once and for all, he never manages to marry. Livia has helped Montalbano see reason in various episodes, getting him, with only one or two comments about the case, to find the real culprit.
The series is a TV adaptation of the novels and short stories written by Sicilian author Andrea Camilleri, and it is one of the most popular TV series, both in Italy and in foreign countries. Camilleri himself, in various interviews, has declared that his novels are very easy to adapt, having been written almost as a screenplay. It has to be remembered that the author had worked for several years as a screenwriter and director, in addiction to being author of novels and poetry. His signature is the mix of Italian and Sicilian dialect. About this choice, Camiller himself says that:
«The point is not to use words in dialect in sentences that are structured in Italian, but it is to follow the flow of sound, composing a sort of a score that, instead of musical notes, uses the sound of words. To get to the mix, where you can’t recognize anymore the structural work behind it. The result has to have the texture of the dough ready to become bread».
Camilleri’s novels are set in fictional cities, created by the author’s imagination, modeled by the memories of his years in Agrigento and the surrounding towns. The series, though, has been filmed in Ragusa and the surrounding area.
Places and Buildings of the Fiction
Among the places and buildings that appear in the series, we can mention:
- The Castle of “Donnafugata“, in Ragusa. The castle owes its name to the legend of the escape of queen Bianca di Navarra, widow of king Martino I of Aragon, that was taken prisoner in the castle by the Count Bernando Cabrera, that wanted to marry her and become king. It is more likely, though, that name derives from the discovery of the corpse of a woman dead by asphyxiation. In the fiction, the castle is the primary residence of the mafia boss Balduccio Sinagra, that, despite being one of Salvo’s main opponents, helps him various times to find the culprit, even if he or she is a member of his “family”.
- Punta Secca, a little maritime village, that owes its name to its cliffs. Punta Secca stands for the little town of Marinella, where Montalbano lives in a little villa on the main square, overlooking the beach where Salvo usually goes for a swim in the morning, or for a stroll in the evening with Livia.
- Donnalucata, a little maritime village. It ows its name to the ancient spring, that a famous arabian cartographer called “the spring of the hours”. The name, in the latin version, became “Donnalucata”.
- Ragusa: the southernmost city in Sicily. It is known also as the city of brigdes. Ragusa is full of baroque buildings and churches. Its historic centre, known as Ragusa Ibla, is in the eastern part of the town. There, it is possible to admire more than fifty baroque churches and buildings. In the easternmost part of Ibla, you will see the “Giardino Ibleo”, a beautiful garden, and the ruins of the ancient town of Hybla Heraia. Various scenes of the series have been filmed around Ragusa, especially in the historic center.
- Scicli: it is a baroque city, that, for the way it is built, has been assimilated to a nativity scene. The historic center is part of the “UNESCO” sites since 2002. The town hall represent the fictional police station in Vigata. Also, the police commissioner’s office is actually the office of the Mayor of Scicli.
- Modica: it is best known for its repertoire of gastronomic specialies, especially chocolate. Its historic center is one of the most significant examples of late-baroque architecture.
- Sampieri: it is a maritime district near Scicli. It is situated on a rock spur between two beaches. Here you will see the ruin of the Furnace Penna, used as a location in some of the episodes of the series.
Are you intrigued and would like to walk around the streets, smell the perfumes and hear the voices, be immersed in the atmosphere of one of your favourite TV series and, let’s be honest, have a taste of the famous arancini (croquettes)? Come with us, and let’s go!
We have a thematic tour in Sicily that is focused on Montalbano, you can take a look at it at this link!
So… what are you waiting for?
Born in 1994, passionate about photography, sport, music and cinema.
Giovanni is the web-master and marketing manager for SorrentoMagazine and Di Nocera Service.
He also writes articles about trekking and adventure on this blog!