158. Montalbano pilgrimage

During the pandemic, we’ve become great fans of Inspector Montalbano.

Based on a series of 28 novels and nine collections of short stories by Andrea Camilleri, the Italian TV series follows the exploits of a police inspector in Sicily. There are 37 two-hour shows that we’ve begun to watch on the streaming channel MHz, and we tend to watch them in 20-minute bits, so we’ve managed to stretch them out forever. Frankly, the plots are complicated, so we never know exactly what’s going on, but that doesn’t detract from our enjoyment of the character studies or the local atmospherics.

The stories take place in the fictional southeastern Sicilian town of Vigata. Fictional or no, that was the area of Sicily where we were headed, so we needed to check out the scene of the crime.

I knew that some of the the exterior scenes were shot in the seaside village of Punta Secca, but I had little faith that we would actually be able to locate anything that looked familiar. Thankfully, the good people of Punta Secca left nothing to chance on that score. Clearly we weren’t the only ones interested.

Salvo Montalbano is a melancholy sort, whose greatest joy is the rare time he is able to eat a delicious meal prepared for him by Adelina, his housekeeper, in its entirety and in total silence. We often see him leaning over his balcony, deep in reflection about the latest grisly crime, or the meaninglessness of existence.

It seems they’re sprucing up “his” house, which is now a bed and breakfast, for the upcoming tourist season.

When things get really rough, when a murder is just too grisly for words or he just can’t get a bead on the latest crime, he heads out into the sea, and swims to clear his head. Our favorite Montalbano moment is the utterance he makes when he learns something interesting, surprising, happy, good, bad, upsetting — anything, really. It manages to combine a “D’oh,” a “No duh,” a “Wow,” and an “I told you so,” all in one wordless syllable.

On the show, Montalbano is often deep in thought on this balcony, gazing at the sea
A still from the show. Is Montalbano peering at a possible suspect, or a random passer-by?
Could this be “Dottore” having a swim? (His underlings always call him that, an Italian term of respect for university graduates in any subject.)

The people of Punta Secca are proud of their connection. They sponsored a food festival featuring Montalbano’s favorite dishes that we missed by one day.

They even renamed the town’s piazza, previously named in honor of the great composer Giuseppe Verdi, for the author Camilleri instead. I don’t blame them really; even though it’s make-believe, he put them on the map.

One thought on “158. Montalbano pilgrimage

  1. Thanks for this; I have read a couple; they are lots of fun. Also, I am going to Sicily in September and hope to now get there. Ciao


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s