Roberta Billitteri – The Interview

After the first stretch of our uphill ride through the Madonie mountains, through Pollina and Castelbuono, we reached further inland towards Gangi and the towns of Petralia Soprana and Petralia Sottana. There, we reckon, we witnessed some of the finest rural landscapes of our Journey and made some unexpected, yet most enriching encounters with wheat farmers and tambourine makers. A marble sign above a fresh water fountain at the entrance of Polizzi Generosa, from which we lavishly drew after the long ride, celebrates the magnanimity of Baron Antonino Gagliardo of Casalpietra, who dedicated the fountain to the citizens of Polizzi – whose generosity (i.e. taxes and unpaid work) made it possible to build an aqueduct to gather the pristine waters of Piano Battaglia’s sources. Every day, on the steep hills just outside Polizzi, Roberta and Francesco devote their time and energies with equal generosity to preserve the local traditions, landscape and biodiversity. They managed to save a local variety of bean, the ’Badda’, a sweet pepper and are actively seeking to promote the local hazelnut, whose harvest was abandoned after the globalised market determined a steep fall in prices. Besides, we had a serious breakdown whilst riding down into their fields and we wouldn’t have been able to get back on the road without their help: we will always be grateful to Roberta and Francesco for this! This interview is part of the series recorded during our Journey through Sicily.

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