Friday, September 14, 2012

A QUESTION

Image: http://www.wpclipart.com/


I am moved to ask this question because, much as I love Sicily, there are times when I think I am getting old, going mad and losing my grip on the modern world all at the same time, so here goes:  if you were to see a crowd barrier on the edge of a pavement, would you walk inside it on the pavement or outside it on a busy road?

Seeing one such barrier on Catania's main shopping street, Via Etnea on Tuesday, I walked inside it, on the pavement and was promptly yelled at by a workman on some scaffolding above.  Now, as it is my habit to look where I am going instead of above my head when walking, I hadn't seen the scaffolding and neither had several other people walking in the same direction.  Asked by our literally highly-strung workman what I thought the crowd barrier was for, I was tempted to shout back that most people would imagine it was there to save them from death at the wheels of speeding vehicles on a dangerous corner but, as it's difficult to hold a discussion with someone four floors above you, I remembered my "de-escalation" classroom skills and walked on, reminding myself that some Sicilian situations are better left alone.

Image:  Wikipedia

Then I reflected that Italy as a whole is full of potentially embarassing pitfalls as there are all sorts of ludicrous rules dreamt up by local bureaucrats and which an innocent foreign tourist cannot possibly be expected to know about or, as in the Catania incident, nobody stops to think that what may be obvious to a local is not so to someone else. Many years ago, in the Laurentian Library in Florence, a custodian shouted at me for walking on the floor instead of the carpet.  Why had I done so? Because a Brit would automatically assume that it was the carpet that was being protected.  It was a mortifying incident for someone who respects libraries as much as I do and, as in Catania, all that was needed was a little imagination and a notice.  However, as grumpiness often seems to be on the job specification for museum and church wardens here as elsewhere in Europe, I see little hope of reform. 

Next time I go to Catania I might just have that argument with the workman....

10 comments:

PinkAcorn said...

With my brief visits to Italy and Sicily I concur !

rosaria williams said...

Ah, yes! You remind me of why I left Italy, the circuitous rules made to benefit somebody, but totally illogical on so many levels. I believe it is the old system of aristocracy to prevent anyone from "arriving" or climbing up the ladder of success.

Did I ever tell you it took me three years to get a student visa? Each time I thought things were in order, some new rule, procedure, document was needed.

Ah, La Bella Italia is also quite capricious!

Lee said...

I'm not sure if it makes me to be crazy (well, I've known always that I am...so that needn't be taken into account) or that I live life on the edge...sometimes the outer edge; but never the outer ledge.

I probably would've walked around the outside of the gathered, madding crowds. Mainly because I hate crowds, and being in the midst of them.

The outer route would've been the better route for me to take.

That's just me....

CherryPie said...

It sounds like there are a lot of pitfalls to overcome.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

That maskes me feerl not quite so crazy, Pink - thank you. Hi, Rosaria. I hadn't thought of that! Hi, Lee. I don't think you're crazy - just individual. There are, Cherie.

Betty (picture circa 1951) said...

You could always pretend you don't understand Italian and just keep going. I'm pretty sure he won't bother to come down and chase you. :)

nothing here said...

It seems that sort of thing is now way rampant now even in the UK

Where one can get be subject to 'agitation' and 'petty (un)(/yet to be written)law', for 'doing nothing'...

Examples are legion...

Regards

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hi, Betty. I just couldn't bring myself to do that! Hi, "Nothing here". Yes, I suppose it's pretty general now.

Ignatowski said...

Never argue with a Sicilian.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hello, Ignatowski and welcome. Good advice!

Counters


View My Stats