Wednesday, July 12, 2006


At the end of this week we shall be entering what I have come to call the “Sicilian silly season”. I don’t mean a journalistic silly season as in Britain, where all sorts of daft news is reported in the absence of parliamentary debate and where there seems to be nothing on TV but repeats, but a “silly season” of truly baffling opening – or, more to the point, closing – hours of shops and enterprises.

From next Monday till September many shops will not bother to reopen in the afternoon and others will change and shorten their hours. During the two weeks around the 15th August holiday, many will close altogether. I find this so frustrating!

It is true, of course, that many Modicans are now escaping to their countryside or seaside homes; Raffaele’s [the hairdresser’s] is already quieter and I can quite see that business owners may consider it not worth their while to stick to normal hours. Working less is also a sensible way of coping with the extreme heat of July and August and I appreciate that, but it is interpreted by visitors as a form of laziness. I remember chatting to an interpreter who lived here on my first ever flight to Sicily and her judgement was, “They just deserve the lack of tourism because they don’t make enough effort.”

Indeed, it does seems to have escaped the attention of many business people that this is precisely the period when many tourists would like or are able to come. The island already has opening hours which confuse and confound non-Italians, especially the British, and in high summer the verdict of any tourists will be, “But there was nothing open!” My beloved Sicily, again, if you want tourists you have to compromise a bit and maybe relinquish a little of your summer comfort!

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