Thursday, January 26, 2017


The words "storm" and "hurricane" are often bandied about in Modica to describe any winter weather that is not sunny but we certainly had a storm at the weekend. Starting on Saturday evening, relentless rain fell in sheets throughout the night and all day Sunday and did so with quite frightening noise.  A girl from Cardiff - Britain's rainiest city - does not scare easily when confronted with the wet stuff, so I'm sure you will agree that it must have been quite something to terrify me and confine me to my flat!

The area where I live escaped the worst of it but there were floods in Modica Bassa [the Old Town], Modica Alta, nearby Scicli and the surrounding countryside with considerable damage to property, cars and goods in shops. In via Fontana in Modica Bassa - a street to which I am sentimentally attached because it is where my dog Simi and I lived when we first settled in Modica, twelve years ago - several cars were swept away.  In the early hours of Sunday the Mayor of Modica, who had been out on reconnaissance for most of the night, announced on facebook that all schools in the city would be closed on Monday as a precautionary measure.  Later. we were told not to drink the water until further notice.

Flood in Modica Bassa, 22.1.17

The rain eventually stopped on Monday but more is forecast for next weekend  during i giorni della merla  - the days of the blackbird [29th - 31st January], traditionally the coldest period in Italy. There are several legends that purport to explain the reason for this name but the one I prefer tells us that, long ago when January had only 28 days, a proud blackbird [who was actually white], fed up with the cold, asked January if he could cut a few days off his "reign".  January, it seems, got in a huff and asked his friend February to lend him three days so that he could use them to make the blackbird's life even more miserable. February agreed and when the blackbird, thinking that the weather would be warmer and drier now that January had gone, next went in search of food, mean old January blew up a snowstorm.  The bird found shelter in a chimneystack but when he emerged three days later, his beautiful plumage was black and thus it remained, with all but a few blackbirds, forever, the rare white blackbird being a sign of good fortune.  Let's hope that one appears on via Fontana soon!

Today the Mayor of Modica has met with Regional President Rosario Crocetta, who has thanked Modicans for their fortitude and determination to carry on with business as usual after the storm and it is likely that some regional funds will be directed to the city to help with the clear-up.

When Simi and I left via Fontana, I bought this souvenir of our time there:

Take it away, Dino:

There is a lovely Juliette Gréco song called Un  Merle Blanc but I cannot find a video of it.

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