Tuesday, June 18, 2013


There are days when I wonder, "What on earth can I write about tonight?" but I have learnt that, if I pay attention to the detail of everyday life and am quietly observant, a subject will usually present itself. Thus it was in Catania on Saturday, when, stopping for an ice cream at a bar which had become a favourite of mine in that city, I overheard not one, but two conversations which I thought were interesting enough to report to you.  I justify my eavesdropping by pointing out that listening in seems to be all the rage at the moment and anyway, both conversations were loud enough to be heard by everyone in the busy street.

As I sat at an outside table watching the world go by, I noticed a young woman seated at the next table. I suppose I first looked across at her because the unpleasant odour of her cigarette smoke was coming in my direction but there was nothing I could do about that, although we were in a small, confined, space.  The terrace of this bar is enclosed by a screen on three sides, so whether it is "outside" or "inside" is debatable, but for smoking purposes such spaces are deemed to be "outside". [Come on, Italy - ban smoking in outdoor enclosed spaces, too, and ban the stupid electronic cigarettes while you're at it!]  The waitress, using halting English, was speaking to the young woman, who I gathered was Eastern European. I also understood that she had gone into the bar to ask for a job. By now, the waitress was explaining to her that the bar owner also owned a lap dancing club and that he was looking for dancers. "You wan' dance in the local?" [By "local" the waitress meant "club".]  "Yeh!" replied the young woman enthusiastically. Then the bar-owner appeared and, with the waitress still using bad English to translate, offered the young woman a job at the "local", which she accepted. 

First I was peturbed at the involvement of one woman in the degradation of another and then I began to wonder if the young woman really understood what kind of job she had been offered. I thought about asking her but decided against it as [a] she probably did; [b] it was none of my business; [c] she was not a minor and [d] she had polluted the entire terrace with her vile cigarette smoke and I did not feel like risking a nasty scene on her behalf. Well, what would you have done?

Finally, as I asked for my bill, I heard the same waitress tell the cashier, "The customer is Italian". This would indicate that the bar charges foreigners more than they charge Italians, which is quite scandalous. I haven't made my mind up yet whether to boycott the bar in future or ask, next time, if, as a Sicilian resident, I have to pay as an Italian or a foreigner!


Weekend Yachtsman said...

"This would indicate that the bar charges foreigners more than they charge Italians, which is quite scandalous."

Scandalous indeed, but hardly unusual.

Boycott would be the correct response, especially in view of the lap-dancing connection.

You could name the place as well, but perhaps in Sicily it's wiser not to!

Lucia said...

wow that's bad! all of it.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hello, WY. I know that this practice exists here but in eight years had not come across it personally before. Yes, a boycott would be the right thing.
Hi, Lucia. Couldn't agree more.

MarilenaAdamo said...

Dear Pat, good evening, please boycott that bar, as it is not professional at all;-( bye for now Marilena

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hello, Marilena. Yes, you are right.

Lee said...

People-watching and eavesdropping can be a pleasant pastime...as long as it is listening in to the chatter of others, not sitting beneath dropping eaves! ;)

It seems the ill-mannered practice of charging tourists more than locals happens all over...unfortunately.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hi, Lee, Yes, a very bad practice.

Whispering Walls said...

We found that in Lake Como - hotels were charging more to Russians. Actually, they gave us a discount (definitely not because of my Italian!)

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

That's awful about the Russians, WW. Glad you got a discount, though!


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