Monday, May 01, 2006


As a stroll along the Via Sacro Cuore with Simi revealed this morning, the May Day workers' holiday is taken very seriously indeed here. Only the Vecchio Caffè by the roundabout and the 2 newsagents were open. [In the UK, small shops would close but most larger ones would be open.] Along Via Resistenza Partigiana, the bar I call the "Boys' bar" was open.

My flat is in a side street off the Via RP and if I turn right at the bottom of it there are three bars, next to each other, between here and the roundabout where the Sacro Cuore church is.

The first bar is the one I use - it's a good place to have a bite for breakfast and they are always very pleasant there and make a fuss of Simi when we pass. I have never been into the second, but tantalising smells emit from it and I have noticed a lot of people go there to pick up focacce and other take-out food, especially in the evening. The third bar seems to be the gathering place of the men.

For in Sicily, in market squares and outside cafés like this, it is the men, not the women, that you will see standing or sitting around gossiping. [The women are at home cleaning to impeccable standards or preparing lunch.]

My friend Linda Churchill here tells me that there is a historical reason for this gathering of the menfolk, though: it dates from the time when the men needed to be seen in order to be hired for work; farm workers would often be hired for the week during the passeggiata [walk] after Sunday Mass.
The above photo was taken from the first café in the row, looking over towards the hospital. The notices on the wall opposite are death announcements - to cheer you up as you sip your espresso, perhaps?!

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