Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)


Adano (AH-dah-no). Fictional town on the southern coast of Sicily, based on the island’s real town of Licata, which was one of the initial landing points of the Allied Occupation of Italy in July, 1943. The fictional town physically mirrors the actual town as a seat of shipping and the sulfur industry, as a fishing port, and even in some of its place names. The town halls of both Adano and Licata are located in squares called “Piazza Progresso,” and the principal churches of both towns are called Church of Sant’Angelo. The novel takes its name from an incident that actually occurred after Italy’s Fascist dictator, Benito Mussolini, had the real town’s seven-hundred-year-old bell melted down so its metal could be used to make munitions. John Hersey’s fictional military governor, Major Victor Joppolo, is based on the actual American military governor of Licata during the American occupation.

A typical commercial port for its time and place, Adano has a population of about forty thousand people. It is large enough to contain thirteen churches and social strata ranging from rich industrialists and politicians, both honest and corrupt, to shopkeepers, poor working people, cart-drivers, and fishermen. However, it is small enough for every resident to know everyone’s loyalties, strengths, and weaknesses. The fictional town is at the mouth of the River Rosso, surrounded by hills and rocky promontories in an arid part of Sicily and depends on water carts to carry in drinking water—a fact upon which the plot of the novel revolves.

Palazzo di Citta

Palazzo di Citta. Adano’s city hall, where much of the important...

(The entire section is 692 words.)