Home » “Neverland” is located in Sicily and was about to start a war between 3 nations

“Neverland” is located in Sicily and was about to start a war between 3 nations

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“Neverland” is located in Sicily and was about to start a war between 3 nations

Not many people realize it, among the tourists who visit southern Sicily and those who fly over the Mediterranean, but once upon a time there was a small island between the coast of Sciacca and Pantelleriawhich was about to provoke a violent conflict between 3 of the richest countries on the European continent.

This island, volcanic in nature and a few hundred meters large, has now disappeared, under several meters of sea and the waves that circulate in that corner of the Mediterranean. Even indicating it with a name becomes a difficult operation, given the short span of its life, which lasted less than a year, he received more names than visitors.

In Italy it is known as “Corrao island” or Ferdinand, in honor of King Ferdinand II of Bourbon, who at that time governed the newborn Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, while in England it is known as Graham Island or Hotham. The French instead defined it Julian Island.

The fact is that this island, born following a violent submarine eruption, which occurred in June 1831, became the target of multiple military interests on the part of various European nations, which at the time were still recovering from the Napoleonic and new colonial interests were beginning to develop in Africa as in the rest of the world.

The first man to report the emergence of the island was the captain of the ship Gustavo, a certain F. Trifiletti, who on 7 July 1831 reported having sighted it 30 km from Sciacca a volcano in the middle of the seawhich emitted a column of lapilli of about 8 meters.

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As soon as the news spread, the navies of the main nations of the world – even a ship from the small Russian fleet – went to snoop around the island, which was reached for the first time by Friedrich Hoffmanprofessor of geology at the University of Berlin, who happened to be in Sicily for the Grand Tour.

Hoffman immediately sent his observations to his friend, a nobleman from Palermo, Domenico lo Faso Pietrasanta Duke of Serradifalcobut before his letters reached the current capital of Sicily, other scholars from Catania and Malta – among all Carlo Gemmellaro, considered by many to be one of the forgotten fathers of modern European geology – they proceeded to draw up new reports on the eruption and reach the island.

In a short time, however, the various fleets began to surround the island with the intent of displaying the flag of their nation, an objective that began to provoke various frictions among European states.

While scientists were still intent on taking advantage of the eruption to better understand the internal dynamics of the Earth, soon the English fleet deployed around the island to bomb any enemy vessel that wanted to approach without permission, in a real psychological war that many Sicilian historians recalled the dynamics of Cold War.

The first to plant the flag on the island was Captain Jenhouse of the British Empire, who reached the island on 24 August 1831 with a small flat-bottomed boat. This event, however, unleashed the ire of the Sicilians, who loudly asked King Ferdinand II to declare war on England and take control of the island. For his part, the king had just issued a law with which he briefly declared that that new territory belonged to Sicily and that only Sicilians could colonize its coasts at the end of the eruption.

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The greatest instigator of the Sicilian grievances was the Captain Corrao, who throughout the summer had lobbied for military sailing ships stationed in Sicily to cross the Channel en masse, to keep English claims under control.

In response to Captain Jenhouse’s gesture, the French navy sent instead the brigantine La Fleche, commanded by Lieutenant Commander Jean La Pierre. However, the geologist was also present inside the ship Constant Prevost and the painter Edmond Joinvillewho had the task of describing the eruption and understanding whether it was convenient for France to organize itself for a war of conquest against the English.

The report from the brigantine Le Fleche was unequivocal. While Ferdinand II sent Corrao to Ferdinandea to plant the flag of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, the French navy anticipated it and posted the French flag on the highest point of the island, just below the edge of the crater from which lapilli continued to escape.

Following these events, Captain Jenhouse also arrived on site, ready to bomb the island to defend what he believed to be the national territory of his country. What was about to become a real massacre, however, was interrupted by the miraculous intercession of another English soldier, Captain Douglas, who convinced Corrao, La Pierre and Jenhouse to refer the matter to their respective governments and not to use cannons against the poor scientists, who had reached the island for scientific purposes.

Towards the end of October 1831, the Bourbon government sent a letter to the English and French ambassadors in which King Ferdinand communicated having legally taken possession of the islandthrough the sovereign act of the previous 17 August, but before the other two nations – both interested in improving their strategic positions in the Mediterranean – could respond militarily, new earthquakes shook Ferdinandea, leading it to sink within a few months.

On 8 December of that year, Captain Allotta of the brigantine Achille reported its disappearance, causing enormous embarrassment among the European cohorts and the navies that had remained to patrol the Sicilian Channel for the winter.

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Like many other islands that arise from nothing, the fate of this island has become a source of inspiration for numerous literary works. Andrea Camilleri, Jules Verne, Luigi Pirandello, Gustave Flaubert and Fabio Genovesi these are just some of the authors who have drawn inspiration from his stories to create their novels and some short stories.

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