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Giovanni Verga
Uno Scrittore Siciliano
A Sicilian Writer


He wrote in a very realistic way, known as il Verismo.
He was also a photographer.

Giovanni Carmelo Verga was born on 2 September in Catania, Sicily, in 1840. 

Giovanni's family was wealthy.  He received a private education and discovered his love of writing whilst a teenager.  In 1858 he began to study Law at the University of Catania but he did not complete the course.  Instead, he spent the university money that his father had given him towards publishing his first books! 

His first literary work was Amore e Patria (Love and Country).  It was written around 1856 when he was just a teenager.

Giovanni Verga was fascinated by the peasants and labourers of Sicily.  Their life-style and their customs must have seemed so different to Giovanni who lived in a well-to-do and educated manner.   He took many photos of those interesting people, creating a snapshot of their world. 

In addition to his photography, Giovanni's story-writing creates a very real and honest portrayal of life.  A name was given to his writing-style:  it is Verismo (meaning - a style that is real and true).  It comes from the Italian word vero meaning true / real.

Below are some photos, taken by Giovanni Verga, showing the country people in their environment in Sicily.  Most of these photos were taken in the late 1800s.  


The Operatic Version of Cavalleria Rusticana

The  Italian composer Pietro Mascagni (born in Tuscany in 1863 and died 1945) turned Giovanni Verga's story into the famous and wonderful opera called Cavalleria Rusticana.  It was his first opera and became his most successful one.  It was first performed in Rome in 1890. 

Below is a picture of the characters Turiddu and Santuzza in the very first performance of the opera in 1890.



To listen to a piece of music from the opera, click on the button above.  This piece of music is known as l'intermezzo and it is a form of interval that divides the first and second parts of the opera.

Giovanni Verga died on 27 January 1922, in the house where he was born in Catania, Sicily.  Below is a photo of a room in his house and also an image of his signature.  He was laid to rest in an area known as il Viale degli Uomini Illustri in the Catania cemetery called il Cimitero Monumentale.


In remembrance of Giovanni Verga, a special stamp was produced in Italy, fifty years after his death.​

Grazie, Giovanni Verga!
Thank you for showing us how the people lived in rural Sicily.
Grazie mille! 

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Cavalleria Rusticana

Perhaps Giovanni Verga's most famous short story is Cavalleria Rusticana.  This story has been made into an opera, composed by Pietro Mascagni.  It observes life in a Sicilian village.  The story was written around 1880. 

Cavalleria Rusticana tells the story of a young man called Turiddu who returns to his village after a period away from home.  He discovers that, whilst he was away, the girl he loved, Lola, is engaged to marry another local man called Alfio. 

Turiddu is jealous of Alfio because he has the bride that he wanted and he is also financially more successful than Turiddu.

Turiddu challenges Alfio to a duel.  It is a question of honour.  The two men meet and Turridu is killed. 

Below is an illustration from an early edition of Cavalleria Rusticana.  It shows Turiddu lying on the ground after the duel.

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