Sunday, May 14, 2006


Siclian proverb:
Cui si marita, pinía 'n giuvintù, cui nun si marita, pinía 'n vicchiaia = "If you get married, you suffer in youth; if you don't get married, you suffer in old age."

The pleasant young woman who lived on the fourth floor has moved out. I have only ever spoken to her twice but she bade me an emotional arrivederci. She said she was fed-up with struggling to pay the rent and that she was lonely in the evenings: "You close the door when you come in and there is nobody there", she said. She is going back to live with her father in another town. So even in this close, family-orientated society, an attractive young woman can feel isolated.

One Saturday afternoon I mentioned to Gina and Irma that I was going home for my "weekend treat" - watching the "Doctors" omnibus programme on Sky - and they both glanced at me enviously. To them, having two hours alone to do what you like seems desirable; to me, having someone around to talk to about mundane matters would be a luxury.

An acquaintance here was recently telling me how she couldn't manage without her car, as she has to visit her elderly mother and other relatives. "Of course, you don't need one", she said, "as you've chosen your state and you don't have these responsibilities". It wasn't said unkindly and she certainly didn't mean to hurt, but it was a careless remark. Doesn't she think I would rather have my parents alive and the responsibilities that go with that?

A big difference here and all over Italy is that many unmarried sons and daughters live with their parents for much longer than we do in the UK, right into their thirties and beyond. Many of them go to nearby universities, too, and come home every weekend, such is the allure of Mamma's cooking! Again, maybe they've got family life right.

Sicilians go in for long engagements, too - ten years is not unusual!

It is often said to and of me, here and among friends in Britain [in fact someone said it here only yesterday] that this move has been facilitated for me by the fact that I have no family ties. That may make it easier to leave but it does not make the whole adventure easier because there is no one to share the ups and downs and there is no bolt hole or "safety net" back in Britain. Scary stuff!

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