I love everything Italian and two years ago, I was introduced to the world of Andrea Camilleri.
His Inspector Montalbano series of books, and the TV series they inspired, seemed to have created a storm across the world. Camilleri's dry humour floored me. Who wouldn't fancy a hot Sicilian man solving crime amidst fine food and beautiful vistas?
And so my love affair with Montalbano began.
Only a handful of people around me in India had heard of the author, but I particularly enjoyed reading his books because I was learning Italian in India and traveling to Italy as often as I could.
When I got the opportunity to explore the mesmerizing island of Sicily, I wanted to visit all the places where the TV show had been shot and match them up to the places I had created in my head while reading the books. Eastern Sicily bowled me over with its deep-filled cannolis and lip-smacking arancini.
I used a tour guide to make sure I didn't miss any Montalbano hotspots; normally I prefer exploring on my own but with the crazy roads in Sicily, I wanted guidance!
The tour guide was catering just for me but only knew Italian - it was a challenge. But it was worth it to explore the world I had fallen in love with.
Our first stop was the town of Scicli where Montalbano's police station is located. In Scicli, time seemed to stand still. Men sat around the piazza and bars having coffee and conversations, just enjoying life at a slow pace.
Duomo di San Bartolomeo in Scicli. Photo: Ishita Sood
I stopped for an espresso in front of the police station, picturing the show in my mind. My inner fan girl was on a high.
Walking around the town of Scicli, I got a sense of deja-vu whenever I came across one of the many alleys where scenes were shot. I recognized one particular pharmacy where Montalabano often bought medical supplies and saw the building where he often visits the Head Commissioner.
Punta Secca. Photo: Ishita Sood
After Scicli it was time to visit the home of the detective himself. I was in Marinella, situated in the sea side town of Punta Secca, where the fictional Montalbano lives. On reaching it, I found it was surprisingly crowded - it turned out that the real life Montalbano and heartthrob, Luca Zingaretti, was inside the casa and shooting at that moment.
I stood on tip toe to catch a glimpse of him, but couldn't see past the tight security.
Instead, I walked around the outside of the house and saw the famous lighthouse and restaurant where Montalbano often ate local seafood. Coming closer to the house from the sea, the Commissioner's balcony was visible, which fans of the show would recognize as the place where he habitually came with his Bialetti moka pot to ponder on things.
Mannara. Photo: Ishita Sood
Mannara, a dilapidated old factory that often pops up in the show, is very near to Punta Secca. It is also next to the most pristine beaches in the area, which were the perfect place to relax - and to re-read the Montalbano novels!
One of the main streets used in the show is in Ragusa Ibla, while the main piazza and Cathedral of San Giorgio are also used as sets for many of the detective's evening scenes.
Duomo di San Giorgio. Photo: Ishita Sood
Finally, I returned to Modica, where I found the awe-inspiring Duomo di San Giorgio (another one!), where several of Montalbano's scenes have been shot.
Modica's Duomo di San Giorgio. Photo: Ishita Sood
Chasing Montalbano in my own way was a dream that I want to keep exploring as the TV show grows. I hope to return to the baroque areas of the region again.
Ishita is an Indian blogger who is very passionate about Italy and feels deeply connected to its language, culture, food and history. She writes about her travels on her blog Italophilia and visits Italy every year. She can also be found on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter as Italophilia. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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