«For two years we have spent the summer with friends in a mythological town in deepest Calabria, Scilla, almost at the very tip of the Italian mainland overlooking the Strait of Messina. The sea around Scilla is adventurous, leading into the Strait and connecting with the Ionian. A sea with strange Atlantic fish that arrive here via Gibraltar. Here they catch deep sea fish such as "paddlefish" and swordfish, shoals of tuna, big enough to make the surface seem to be boiling, sometimes pass by, as do white ships carrying tourists and obscure coal ships (...) Although the sea is full of adventure, it does not offer much to fishermen and the swordfish season, which is the most important fishing in this area, is only just enough to allow fishermen to live a slightly less inhuman life (...) the rags of poverty stand out more clearly against the limpid air and in the dazzling light of the Strait. You cannot view this mythological landscape without linking it to the people who live here».
«Myths are shattered and what remains is this inexorable contrast in the dark, resigned, yet rebellious faces of the people. These people look just like mine, Sicilians, from fishing villages, farm labourers from the interior of Sicily and Calabria, just like oppressed people the world over. Living with them for a while and experiencing their problems is a great education for an artist. Meanwhile, "seaside places" are no longer of interest to us and can no longer offer us anything new. It is no longer necessary to head for south sea islands to seek purity of instinct. Here we have men and their struggles; and it is simply man’s struggles that the artists express, more or less explicitly, in their art».
Renato Guttuso, Richiamo di Scilla, in "Meridione, n. 1, May 1951
«[...] Scilla was discovered by Guttuso, Mirabella and Mazzullo, three Sicilians born in the provinces of Palermo, Catania and Messina. Guttuso won the “Premio La Spezia” with a picture painted in Scilla, Ragazzi che pescano granchi (Boys catching crabs). Guttuso painted a lot of pictures in Scilla. We have seen them. He “told the story” of Scilla using a marvellous, though possibly involuntary, mixture of Homer and Verga (perhaps, in the future, art historians will have to dedicate themselves to a “Scilla period” for Renato Guttuso). [...] This Scilla has a deep crystal-clear sea, a pebble beach on which shells and items from shipwrecks could be found. Such a beach could not be missing from the long travels of Ulysses, on which the gods left their capricious mark. Here, perhaps anxious to set foot on dry land, lie hidden some companions of Ulysses who had thrown themselves into the sea on hearing the singing of the mermaids that had pierced the wax in their ears, astutely placed there by the hero when undertaking the risky passage through the Strait; their eyes, however, still showed the disconcerting allure of the thirst for knowledge and of that frightening journey to obtain this knowledge. This disconcerting allure can still be seen today the narrow but desperate everyday adventure of these fishermen: in the eyes searching the horizon of the man acting as lookout at the top of the mast. It is no exaggeration to say that, for them, every day throughout the year, catching fish is their passage through the Pillars of Hercules, and for them knowledge is satisfying their hunger, the chance to fight that terrible monster. Guttuso, as I said, understood all of this».
«In the pictures painted in Scilla, these fishermen are descendants of Ulysses, sailing the open sea around Aci Trezza; fish, be it tuna or swordfish, holds the irresistible and mysterious fascination of the White Whale for them. This Scilla is young men like dried olives, Greek models who have endured centuries of fasting, silent and unsmiling young men, with grieving withered eyes; it is the women who wait, for decade after decade, for their men to return from the sea; [...] it is men like Giovanni, who, having caught a small dolphin, a fera, on his return to the beach shared it among the young people who know full well that the flesh of dolphins is revolting and smelly, that they furiously attack and tear fishermen’s nets, thus being dreaded, an ungrateful beast, fera. [...] Dolphins, these fere, have no soul: the fact that Giovanni, a fisherman from Scilla, and their sworn enemy, bestowed one upon them, demonstrates his sense of honour and his dignity, to which Guttuso bore witness in his paintings».
Stefano D’Arrigo, Delfini e Balena Bianca, in “Il Giornale di Sicilia”, 25 September 1949