In Sicily, some residents are working to showcase the new cultures and art that refugees have brought to their shores. Although the flood of refugees – at times as many as 2,000 a day in recent years – is most often viewed as a crisis, some Sicilians are coming to see it as an opportunity.
In the tiny rural town of Sutera (pop. 1,500), locals now host a “festival of hospitality” each August, which allows recent arrivals from Africa and the Middle East to showcase their cuisines and to entertain visitors (who come from all over Sicily) with their music and dance.
In October the island’s largest city, Palermo, will host its third “festival of migrant literature.” Most writers featured will be well-established figures such as Nigerian Nobel Prize winner Wole Soyinka and Iraqi novelist Ahmed Saadawi. But the festival’s organizers say their intent is to celebrate the stories of all migrants, including those newly arrived. “Literatures migrate with people,” they wrote. “And we welcome them and stand with them.”