Friday, March 14, 2008


I just love the atmosphere of small Italian towns at 1 pm: there is nothing like the noise, bustle and the sense of excitement in the air as everyone looks forward to the most satisfying meal of the day. A lot of waving and greeting goes on, car horns honk happily and amazingly detailed conversations take place as their drivers hail some pedestrian acquaintance and shout their family news to him or her as they pass.

As Simi and I stroll along, I see that the roadside vegetable-seller has a lorry full of broccoli and artichokes, the latter having gone up in price from €2,50 last week to €3 for a box of 30. [Perhaps they are bigger today.] His chosen music this lunchtime is a traditional Italian dance tune . Simi hears it, catches the mood and looks set to dance!

The food shops won’t close till 1.30 or 2 pm so people are still darting in and out of them to obtain their last-minute essentials and among these will be bread [which will have arrived no more than half an hour ago] cheese and perhaps a nice packet of finely cut speck or prosciutto.

Opposite Mr T’s the children spill out of school and rush over to his store, where, like children everywhere, they stock up on lollipops and sweets – this despite the fact that they are about to partake of at least a three-course lunch. Mr T is ready for them and has his tall son standing at the door trying to keep some semblance of order. He fails, of course, but gives in good-naturedly.

Some of the hospital staff saunter along to one of the cafés, where the name of the pasta dish of the day has been proudly chalked onto a board outside. Most are content with just a plate of this and perhaps some fruit and a coffee. The background music inside is loud but you would not succeed in hearing a single note above the chatter if you were to enter! Today, though, it is warm enough to eat outside and many do. There are three cafés to choose from and all do a roaring trade.

To my delight, at either end of the street palms are being plaited into beautiful trecce [tresses] ready for Sunday and the finished ones are displayed on car bonnets. I have to buy one and the seller says he is “honoured” when I ask if I can take a photograph.

Now we stroll back and it is already quieter, at 1.30. By 2.10 it will seem like a ghost town, for all will be a tavola and many will soon be asleep. But we enjoyed the fun while it lasted.

What’s your world like at 1 pm?


Anne in Oxfordshire said...

Oh WL I can just imagine your stroll :-) makes me feel happy..oh I would just like to experience living like that if only for a while. xoxo

PinkAcorn said...

I've never seen palms braided like that...I wonder how he does it?

Ellee Seymour said...

Normally at 1pm, I'm still sitting at my desk and forget all about the time and eating lunch, despite promising myself a break, a walk down to the river to clear my head, and some healthy food.
Today was different, I set the timer and met a friend at the railway station and we had a pub lunch by the river in Ely - a very welcome change.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Thanks, Anne. Come and visit and you can join simi and me on such a stroll! Hi, pink. I will try and find out. Ciao, Ellee. I do that as well - forget to eat lunch sometimes! Glad you had such a pleasant one today.

Leslie: said...

I felt like I was right there with you as I read along. Life is different there as we just keep going along with our work and such and dine around 6:00 pm. Then it's TV or reading or clubs or meetings and such. That was the one thing I found difficult to adjust to when there - the late dinners, causing me to go to sleep on a full stomache. How late do the Italians really stay up til? (that was certainly a no-no grammatical

Anne in Oxfordshire said...

I must have a dig through my prized presents from my boys when they were younger, I am sure that one of my boys did palm braiding..if I find them will put a post up.

Sean Jeating said...

you could happily live without advice,
and therefore I shall not ask you twice:
Go and get 'it' published.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Ciao, Leslie. Well, the one time I went to the USA the early dining was a shock to me, for even in Britain, I never made dinner till 8 or 9 pm! I've eaten as late as 11 pm here and am often MUCH later than that when cooking myself [blame blogging!] In summer here Itals often up till at least 2 am. Hi, Anne. Just saw your post and it is great.

"Sean, if only I knew how
I would have done that thing by now.
I do thank you for your advice
You really are so very nice." x

Unknown said...

I haven't gone for a 1pm stroll here but I am sure it wouldn't be such a cultural and colorful experience as your journey welshcakes.

Thank you again for a window into you world :-)

Sean Jeating said...

:) Ha,
and when nothing helps at all
let's try with 'Welsh McSeanagall'.

Il pace della notte. :)

jmb said...

Lovely post Welshcakes. I have dined at 11pm in Sicily but I never knew how everyone got up early in the morning for work. Of course I had to be at school on time too.

flutterby said...

WL, I love the descriptions you write about Modica - the strolls, dining, friends, food, celebrations, Simi's comments - all of it. I think I could walk around town now and feel right at home. Modica will be a "must see" the next time I travel to Sicily.

jams o donnell said...

Your world is much better than my normal 1 o clock world! I'm usually in an office not far from the Houses of Parliament which is comfortable and airy, but full of jerks setting unreasonable deadlines!

Leslie: said...

I think I could get used to the hours if I lived there, but I would like to get up early enough to enjoy the coolness of the morning. I guess that's why they have their afternoon naps. I did really like browsing the shops in the early evenings, though. And I, too, didn't get to see Modica so will next time! :D

CherryPie said...

I am usually having my lunch and reading. Sometimes I go to my local shops for some sandwiches, there are loads of the local suited business men scrambling for the best sandwiches before they have to rush back to work!

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

And thank you for your kind comment, mg.

"Well, Mr WelshMcSeanagall,
for that we ladies all will fall."

Hi, jmb. I get up with difficulty!

Oh, we must meet next time you visit, Flutterby!

Ciao, jams. Sorry about the jerks!

Hi, again , Leslie. I'm not a happy-morning-person myself. Do come and visit!

Unknown said...

what a wonderful little web you wove with words there WC, how lovely. i love the way you write and describe things, very much so xo

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Many thanks, Kyles x

Liz Hinds said...

What a fabulous picture you paint, welshcakes!

Dragonstar said...

This is the nicest post I've read in some time.
At 1pm I'm usually in the kitchen just about to feed my men. Your time sounds so delightfully different.
I'm with pinkacorn, too - I'd love to know how to braid those palms.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Thank you, Liz x. Dragonstar, how very kind of you to say so. You have made my evening! Trying to find out how they braid the palms.x

Maria said...

You do write wonderfully Welshcakes. I am always lost in your words and descriptions... I swear Hemmingway... would lust after you!

My dad at 1 o clock doesnt really happen till 1:30 where I go to lunch which is a trip the the local starbucks *(coffee house)* for coffee and biscotti before I rush back to work at 2. Not much of a lunch hour I know... but what can you do!

all the best...M

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Thank you so much for your encouragement, M. It means a lot.


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