The legend of Colapesce

The legend of Colapesce is one of the most ancient and evocative legends of Sicily and probably everyone has heard of it at least once.

The origins of the legend are not very clear and there are different versions of this wonderful tale, an authentic emblem of unconditional love for one's land and courage and still today a source of inspiration for musicians, writers and painters.

The story tells of a certain Nicola, called Cola, the son of a fisherman from Messina, nicknamed Colapesce by all for his ability to move in the water and his love for the sea.

Cola spent whole days exploring the seabed and returning from his dives he told the wonders and treasures that populated the abyss. The stories he told quickly traveled around Sicily and his fame grew to such an extent that people believed he had fins instead of arms and gills instead of lungs.

(Colapesce panel created by the art master Filadelfio Todaro present on our e-commerce)

These amazing feats and tales of submerged wonders intrigued even King Roger, who was visiting Messina (different versions of the myth instead mention the name of Frederick II of Swabia) and wanted to test Colapesce.

The king aboard a boat after questioning Colapesce about his exploits threw a golden cup into the water, the latter fearless plunged into the water and after a few hours he recovered it and returned it to the sovereign. The king was amazed by Colapesce's skill, but still wary he wanted to test his skill and threw his crown into the water at a point where the waters were deeper, while Colapesce was looking for it, he saw that Sicily rested on three columns: two were intact while the third was consumed by a fire that existed between Catania and Messina. In this case, Colapesce returned only after a couple of days and with a rather sad and worried expression on his face, he told King Roger what he saw, but the king did not believe him and ordered him to return underwater to bring back some evidence of what has been said.

At that point the brave boy decided to dive again, taking with him a wooden stick. If the stick had burnt back to the surface without Colapesce, then this would have been sufficient proof of the existence of that fire. As expected, the stick returned to the surface burned, but Colapesce never resurfaced. In fact, heroically, he remained in the middle of the fire to support his beloved Sicily and, if you sometimes feel the earth between Messina and Catania tremble, it is only because Colapesce is changing the side of the shoulder with which it supports the weight.

This extraordinary legend, symbol of love, courage and sacrifice should remind us how important the contribution of each individual is to ensure that our wonderful land always remains flourishing and welcoming.