Italians can go on holiday in Sicily for years and not see exactly where they’ve been for 30 years.
The island is a nexus of different cultures, traditions and religions – not forgetting the daily hazards of the weather and stone walls.
But the most famous player among the golfers is American Federico Alba.
He lives in the idyllic little village of Pellegrini but, as a young adult he travelled far and wide in an effort to improve his handicap.
Italy has developed a golfing tradition over recent decades.
Sicily is hosting the European Tour’s This is Golf 2015 – The Volvo Golf Champions at Matera
Sicily has also been home to some of the biggest names in European golf.
In the 1960s, Alberto Curtis was the world’s finest amateur but went on to become a champion on the European Tour and Europe’s Ryder Cup team in 1977.
So was former Ryder Cup captain Nick Faldo – and Irishman Costantino Rocca is already having a wonderful season on the European Tour.
However, Federico Alba’s national career began when he was 14.
“In 1973 I decided to leave my family in Sicily, trek through the Italian hills and play on the southern coast in order to discover where I came from and discover what God does in Sicily,” he explains.
“After this first journey my short career was starting. I played on the Italo-Sicilian Open a few years ago and I remember the course very well. I also remember the famous ‘andromache della Villa’ [stadium].
The ‘Rocca da Silvestre’ course at Matera is steeped in tradition and history
“So that part of Sicily has always been dear to me and has always been the life of my heart.
“So when this dream of mine became realised, I called off my parents and left Italy to travel and found peace on the coast of Sicily.”
“People sometimes ask me why do I travel so much in Italy, I tell them if I did not explore my country, my country would discover me.
“My most favorite part of Sicily is the Matera area and the Pellegrini area [which is the name of Federico’s village], because I love both areas because of the way they are built, because of the nature, because of the history, the history of the Italians, the history of the Sicilians, the history of the Amish and people of the Middle Ages.”
It’s a short distance along the coast from Federico’s village, Pellegrini.
“The world is full of surprises,” Federico adds. “Some days I feel very alone and very proud. I go to France once a month to study the race of the English and the French. They’re very different people – why?”
‘A prodigal son returns’ is a BBC Radio 5 live special that takes a look at the stories behind some of Europe’s best known footballers. Listen back to hear more from Federico Alba’s return to his homeland – and here’s a link to the website where you can listen to the programme.