ITourEspeTonnare

Tuna fisheries tour

In the south - eastern of Sicily some amazing seaside villages, Marzamemi, Avola and Porto Palo di Capopassero, almost uninhabited in the winter, come to life during the summer due to the beautiful beaches surrounding them. Beyond their open- air squares and scenic vistas, they keep a secret place: the remains of their former tuna plants. The Tonnara’s story was a brutal drama between man and fish, a ritualized tuna hunt dating from the time of the Carthaginians five centuries before Christ, close to mythical. The tuna fishery once constituted one of Sicily’s most important and profitable industries as the migrating bluefin was a staple food for entire civilisations. The Cialoma’s song and the Ajamola invocation, everything was a bloody celebration of “wheel of life, death and rebirth”. From May to September the fishermen, led by the Rais, the head of the Tonnara, used to drop into the water an elaborate netting system called Isola, to take advantage of the bluefin tuna’s yearly migration to the Mediterranean to spawn. In the final trap, the chamber of death, the fishermen’s spears, like weapons, were plunged again and again into the flesh of the tuna and the sea turned red. The atmosphere grew excited and frantic during the mattanza: the tunas swam restlessly faster, but their eyes were full of almost human expressions of fright. The giant bluefin tunas, having been herded into the camera della morte, were slaughtered, hauled one by one onto the fishing boats, leaving the sea to wash away the memory of the massacre and restore the usual calmness. The practice wasn’t kept alive, all of Sicily’s canneries were closed and what was once a source of pride for entire communities has now turned into a tourist attraction. Come and see the small fishing villages, towering majestically over the sea. Explore the warehouses and malfaragggi, the fishermen’s houses where, for 4 months, the tonnaroti lived and prayed to saints for a good catching. Sit near the fishing harbor, with colorful wooden boats and water that takes on colors ranging from turquoise to green and blue, and admire the natural beauty of the area. Everything will bring you back to something that was deeply human but we’ve now lost.

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