For years a very bad reputation
has been attributed to the village of Mariuolanzo, even if it
was injustified at all, and has somehow handicapped its tourist
Recently has begun the rediscovery of this graceful center, which, unique in the world, counts more inhabitants in prison than free. Furthermore the medium level of instruction of the inhabitants is very high, with a 27% of graduates, all lawyers.
The bad reputation of the country is denied by the lack of complaints at the local Police station on theft underwent by tourists, even if somebody explains it with the fact that the only policeman of the station has barricaded himself inside and since 1964 refuses to open or to come out.
At Mariuolanzo, in many stores and stalls, you can buy goods of every kind; a wallet (probably the yours), a purse (usually are already full), a car radio, a set of used tires or a mobile telephone, that in the village it's not called "cellular", in order to avoid distressing misunderstandings on the term, since the same name is used for the prison van.
In the village's weekly market's stalls are on sale creams for the eternal youth, philters of immortality and a miraculous potion for the healing of cancer, dandruff, misfortune and other diseases.
In the village's wear shops can be bought clothes, accessories and cosmetics, by the greatest companies, like as an example an Armani jacket, that the stylist tried in vain to have given back years ago.
The typical products of Mariuolanzese handicraft are the wrought iron picklocks, the characteristic knitted balaclava caps and the nice small jack-knives to elude body searches.
In every road of the village you can find a stall for the three tablets' game, of which the mariuolanzeses are skilled, also for the presence in the village of the International Academy of such discipline.
What to see
On the village's main square at the moment it's not possible to see the monument to Giuseppe Garibaldi, since it vanished on a winter night of 1947.
For a refreshment pause in the summer months you can seat in the Shady Boulevard, even though both the park-benches and the double row of holm-oaks disappeared many years ago; you can anyway take some rest standing under the sun.
The parochial church is very charming in its bare simplicity: in fact all the sacred images and the furnishings are missing, in particular the alms-boxes, probably referring to the Franciscan poverty.
The night tour of the village is not advisable, in particular during the frequent black-outs, which occurr every time the electrical company cuts off the self-managed connections with the electric net, fixed spontaneously by the villagers.
Mariuolanzo has also a natural park, very famous in the region, crossed by the river Scolo, with its characteristic color yellow saffron and the unusual smell of rotten garlic.
The park is very frequented, not only in the weekends, but also in the week days and even by night, when traffic jams are made by tankers, coming even from hundreds kilometers of distance.
The park fauna counts some valuable endemisms, like the to three-legged heron, the phosphorescent fox, the flying otter and the depressed toad.
The most important Mariuolanzese popular feast is Saint Liberato day, dedicated to patron saint of the village, with a large attendance of people, specially after pardons and amnesties, while less people is present after the police drag-nets.
During the festivity the statue of the saint passes by in procession with the release orders of the villagers fixed on, as votive offerings.
Every friday the traditional withdrawal of the automatic teller with a scraper is performed, attendend by an enthusiastic public, while the holdups are not programmed in advance and happen in an extemporaneous way.
In August takes place the secular contest between the village's quarters, that consists in a bag-snatching contest. Every quarter lines up a crew composed of two old women on a motor scooter that tear the bag out to a young foreigner; the victory is awarded to the quarter which obtains the greater value's booty.
For Christmas the villagers exchanges gifts bought in stores, since Santa Claus refuses to enter Mariuolanzo since in 1957 he was kidnapped by a family of the village, not satisfied for the gifts he delivered.
Mariuolanzo cooking is very peculiar: the most famous specialty is the "slop", a tasty soup served in mess-tins.
The mariuolanzese cakes are tasty, but some heavy and bearing strange names, like "jam knife-file tart" and "hacksaw cake".
Mariuolanzo has also a huge production of wine and olive oil, in the cooperative wine cellar and oil mill, which are the bigger of the region although, in the fields around the village, within living memory, nor a vine neither an olive tree was ever seen, and this testifies of the villagers' cleverness and laboriousness.
In Mariuolanzo there are no hotels, but you can try to get hospitality knocking at any private house and whispering "Paunchy sent me here".
Several foreigner have been hosted by the Mariuolanzeses in the neighbouring caves, but many of them did not appreciate the hotel treatment, including a chain at the ankle, a hood on head and the payment of a ransom. Those who do not appreciate this kind of performances are advised to avoid this kind of hospitality.
How to get there
The railway line to Mariuolanzo has been suspended because of the repeated disappearance of the tracks and of the copper electric line; bus companies do not carry out connections with the village because of the mysterious disappearance, happened several times, of all the four tires, while the bus was running.
The village can be reached by a private car, keeping in mind that no insurance company covers the risk of theft in the Mariuolanzo area.
The person in charge of Mariuolanzo Tourist Office receives in the parlatory of Mariuolanzo Jail no 3, every thursdays from 10,00 AM to 10.30 AM.