Who is Colapesce?

A long time ago, in a town on the eastern Sicilian coast, lived Nicola (Cola) the son of a fisherman

Cola was a great swimmer and used to spend most of the day in the sea. He loved the sea and its creatures to the point that, whenever he could, he freed back in the sea the fishes his father caught. Due to this one day, his exasperated mother cursed him saying: “May you become a fish too!”

Since that moment, Cola’s skin became covered with scales and his hands and feet became webbed. It was so that Cola started exploring the underwater world, especially in the area of Messina strait and became known with the name Colapesce (Cola the fish).

Each time Colapesce come back from his travels he described the underwater world he explored. He became a very fast courier and he suggested to the fishermen the best routes to avoid sea storms.

At this point Cola’s fame spread all over the island of Sicily till reaching its king.
The king wanted to meet Colapesce and see if he was really that able. They met and the king dropped a golden goblet in the sea and order to Colapesce to get the goblet back. When Colapesce reemerged with the goblet, he described to the king the undersea wonder he saw.
Yet, the king wasn’t persuaded so he threw his own crown in the deepest area of the sea and order to Colapesce to bring the crown back. Colapesce obeyed and, after a long time, he came back very tired and worried. Cola told to the kind that Sicily lays on three columns, the first was strong as a rock, the second was a little damaged but still strong, while the third was corroded and cracked, Cola also told of an underwater magic fire that never extinguished.

Unfortunately, the king didn’t trusted Cola yet and decided to drop in the sea his ring, ordering Colapesce to go and rescue it. This time Colapesce brought with himself a sack of lentils to signal his eventual decision to remain underwater.

The crowd, that meanwhile arrived to admire Colapesce’s bravery, waited for a long time, but this time Colapesce didn’t come back.

Eventually, at some point, the ring and the lentils remerged and both looked burnt.

Some says that Colapesce decided to remain under the sea to hold the most damaged column.

Still today, whenever an earthquake happens, old people in the island say “Probably Colapesce has changed position”.

*It’s the translation of one of the several version of Colapesce legend