26 JANUARY 1962, Page 22

Seamy Side Up


LI OR the discerning holidaymaker who wishes to see the Continent of the avant-garde cinema, rather than follow in the well-trodden tracks of Thomas Cook, rtu ro Tours' has a lot to offer. Here is just one of the many holidays offered in their excellently produced sepia brochure Through Darker Europe. . . .

15 Days (12 nights at resort) SANTA MARIA DEL SQUALORE

An atmosphere of unpretentious gloom, re- miniscent of the immediate post-war Rossellini, pervades this small fishing-village. We guarantee that nothing remotely resembling an average tourist will ever venture here. 'SLUMTOURS' has reserved a number of dark, characteristic• rooms at the PENSIONE MAL'Occtito, several yards from the typical harbour, rubbish-filled and odorous beneath the perpetual sun. Sanita- tion is pleasingly primitive and from the roof a vista of fashionable degradation can be enjoyed.

The natives are ignorant, deformed in many cases, and addicted to a slovenly debauchery admirably suited to the tastes of the intellectually adult. There is no beach and the complete ab- sence of any form of manufactured entertain- ment adds to the feeling of contemporary frustration. The small church, over-elaborately decorated, is redolent of superstition of the grossest nature. Its setting, in surroundings of unrelieved squalor between the village bordello and the headquarters of the local Communist Party, has an exquisitely satirical significance. There is a characteristic parrocco, libidinous, alcoholic and grasping, Graham Greene stayed here for some weeks last year.

Optional excursions to the Interior

MORTADELLA GRANDE. 7 kilometres inland. Somnolent, disease-ridden, mosquito-plagued, the village provides a healthy contrast to the usual boring conception of the country. Canni- balism is not unknown here and there is an amusing idol that weeps olive-oil tears on the occasion of the Feast of S. Salubrio. It has also been known to denounce Communism, which is very rife here.

Puzzo SCALA. This decaying rock-citadel has been called 'The Home of the Death-Wish: Ingmar Bergman is reported to have found the place 'too gloomy' as a setting for one of his films. The villagers do no work except that which is necessary for the production of the vino del paese, Puzzatello, an unforgettable wine, dark and full of semi-poisonous stems. The vendetta is practised here to an extent unknown outside Sicily and altogether the visitor will be reminded of many hours spent at the non-commercial cinema, as he or she saunters through the fly- infested streets between unsmiling ranks of dwarfish. morphia-riddled contadim There is certainly material in abundance in Santa Maria del Squalore and its environs for many a novel or play. High season is between August 1 and 31, when the suffocating heat adds to the intensity of the internecine conflicts so useful to the students of human nature. (Copy- right---SLU MTOU RS.)