|Marina di Modica|
"I'm sad to be going back to university because it means leaving the sea", said a young man of my acquaintance the other day. There's no truer Sicilian sentiment than that and, as I managed to stop myself saying, "It's not forever", I reflected that it's rather nice to be so attached to your birthplace.
I would be the last person to deny that everybody needs a holiday but one of the difficult aspects about living in Italy is that here everyone takes it at the same time and for an extended period. This results in some shops and businesses closing for at least four weeks in summer and when a shop or business provides an essential service, as a pharmacy does, this is inconvenient and bordering on mad.
However, there are some advantages to this quiet time in the city: there is less traffic, you don't have to wait long in the places that are open, you are unlikely to receive cold calls and in my apartment block the lift is always available. In fact, when people start to return, I come home and think, "Oh, what a cheek - someone's using the lift!"
Other signs that life is getting back to normal are:
These are coming to an end
but these are back:
Traditionally made ice cream will soon disappear from the bars but the fresh orange juice is on its way. No self-respecting Sicilian bar owner will serve orange juice in summer - imported oranges are just not deemed good enough and how right they are! Yesterday I saw the first batches of autumn cotognata [quince paste] in the supermarket and frutti di Martorana in the pasticceria.
The Lidl leaflet has reappeared in the mailbox, the rosticceria has reopened so that the aroma of foccace again wafts up the street in the evenings and on Wednesday we even had heavy rain [with floods in some areas].
Last but not least, at around this time in September the female population of Sicily collectively and telepathically decides it's cool enough to discard strappy dresses and the strapless bras it is necessary for those of us not related to stick insects to wear under them. With this decision comes true freedom!