Saturday, February 18, 2023


Here I am, almost a week late in posting about the 73rd Sanremo Festival of Italian Song, life and a storm (of which more below) having intervened. I always enjoy Sanremo but this year's festival did not get off to the best of starts, with the singer Blanco (one half of the duo which won last year) deciding to kick around the roses and mostly destroy the set because he had problems with his headphones during his performance. The Mayor of Sanremo was appalled, as were others, and pointed out how much work and time goes into the care of such flowers and the creation of such a set. He did, very tolerantly, I thought, add that we have all been young, and then called for an apology, which was, by all reports, forthcoming. The last I read on the incident was that the singer has been banned from the festival for the next three years. For me the evening was saved by the much loved singer and co-presenter Gianni Morandi, who calmly arrived on stage with a broom and swept like a pro. Do bring your broom round to my house if you find yourself in Sicily, Gianni! There might be a Welshcake in it for you.

I missed the second night of the festival because I fell asleep and on the third night Masterchef Italia was airing on another channel and claimed my attention but the following night's "Cover Night", when the singers in the competition perform versions of other artistes' songs (with another singer of their choice if they wish), was, as always, the best night for me, with the eventual winner of the festival Marco Mengoni giving a wonderful rendition of  Let It Be with the Kingdom Choir.

The final night featured two other scandals, or maybe three if you object to uterus-shaped jewellery (worn by co-presenter Chiara Ferragni), a minor one occurring when guest star Gino Paoli inappropriately began recounting the long-ago marital indiscretions (which may or may not have happened) of the partner of another artiste of his heyday and a major one when the rapper Rosa Chemical began twerking at Fedez, seated in the front row, and then dragged the latter onto the stage and snogged him. Signora Ferragni, who happens to be married to Fedez, was said to have been not exactly happy. Neither were many viewers and official complaints quoting "obscene acts" have been presented to the Public Prosecutor of Sanremo. Hmm. I leave the last word on this incident to the Sicilian comic Fiorello who, being interviewed by mobile phone on the show, commented that the next day all the papers would be talking about the clothes and the kiss rather than the songs - and they were.

The clothes, of course, help make Sanremo the fascinating entertainment that it is but I have to admit my eyes were on - well, the eyes. As an older woman, I have been aware for several years that I should by now have thrown out any black eyeliner lurking in my makeup drawers and opted for brown or at least navy blue and I have followed this advice. But black eyeliner was certainly back in vogue at Sanremo, and lots of it, on both young and older artistes. When I was young we all slapped it on after seeing Elizabeth Taylor in Cleopatra and I remember, at around the same time, an article in a teenage magazine in which the singer Dusty Springfield recommended not taking your eyeliner off at night, but leaving it on and painting the next day's liner over it. I tried this till the substance caked so much that I couldn't open my eyes. It all continued to look great on Liz Taylor and Dusty Springfield, though!

The worthy winner of the competition as a whole was, as I have mentioned, Marco Mengoni with his song Due Vite. I'm not usually very good at predicting the winner, but this time, I managed it - a superb song and fantastic performances. And well done, Sanremo (a town I have visited and remember with affection) and Rai.

In the eye of the storm

A storm like no other I have experienced in nearly eighteen years in Sicily began during the evening of Wednesday 8th February and I had begun to be concerned in the late afternoon when I read that all schools in Modica were to be closed the next day because of bad weather.

By mid-evening, the rain was pelting down relentlessly and I was surprised that the electricity supply held and enabled me to watch Sanremo at all. It didn't in several other areas of the city and I later learned that some homes were without power for as long as 36 hours. The difference between this violent storm and others I have witnessed here was that this one lasted so long - there was no let-up at all until Friday evening, schools remained closed, we were all asked to go out only for essential reasons and I had begun to think that it would never end. It was an extremely scary event to live through alone. 

My bedroom flooded, probably because the windows look out onto an open field, whereas the other rooms are partly protected by the surrounding buildings. The rug I keep near the bedroom balcony door became hopelessly wet very quickly and, searching a cupboard for some item to replace it, I came across a box of mat-sized absorbent pads, made of cotton wool backed with plastic, which I had bought when my dog was a puppy. (They didn't work because my dog thought they were for eating and then destroying.) I placed them on the bedroom floor and am happy to report that they did the job, absorbing a lot of the water and at least preventing things from becoming any worse. 

The whole Province of Ragusa was affected by the storm but Modica was particularly badly hit this time. Trees and masonry fell, roads became impassable and in the Old Town café tables and chairs were just swept away by the water coursing down the main street. Everyone I have spoken to this week had had to contend with water, to a lesser or greater extent, getting into their homes and it is not an experience any of us wish to see repeated. However, as Sicilians say, this time "Siamo qua" ("We are here"). 


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