Fairy Morgana.


A simple physical phenomenon (refraction) is the cause of fantastic games of forms and colors that, how we can read in this passage of Corrado Alvaro, cause amazement and marvel.


«People of Reggio call "siren of the sea" the magic phenomenon of the Fairy Morgana that is observed sometimes from the coast of the Calabria. In the hot days in which the air is diaphanous and calm in an extraordinary way, the sea around Sicily appears black and baggy like a mountain while the sea around the coast of the Calabria is clear and diaphanous like a mirror. In this mirror appear pillars, arcs, castles that collapse silently and a complete city appears with its buildings and colonnades. Then the columns and the houses collapse. The magic mirror reflects a city in ruin that is transmuted in an immense forest with strange animals. The proportion of the parts, the harmony of the colors and the naturalness of this fantastic mirage is portentous. This enchantment lasts a few minutes. Then the admirable mirror disappears and the waves of the sea return to their  continuous movement.»

Corrado Alvaro, Calabria




Where doesn't achieve our knowledge there  is space for the imagination and the amazement; so, in the following passage, the polar night causes incredulity in the writer (in the regions to the north of the Arctic Circle and in those to the south of the Antarctic Circle night and day last six months) .

«After we exceed a wide rocky country, we can meet men living near to the feet of tall mountains and it is said that all of them are bald from the birth, as the males as the female. Up to the country of these bald men achieves our knowledge; but  nobody knows what there is farther  because tall chains of impervious mountains block the way and nobody can cross them. These bald men say that on those mountains live men with feet of goat and more distant from there other men who sleep for six months; I cannot accept it absolutely. So, it seems that in the extreme countries that surround the world there are the most beautiful and the rarest things.»

Herodotus, History, IV, 23-25, III, 116