Sicily: A Story of Sitting Around

April 8, 2010

The men in my town are good at sitting around.

SIcilian Men Sitting Outside a Circolo

I like this; it makes the streets feel homey.

Retired guys gather at circoli, men’s clubs, like the above circolo for operai (workers) in Ragusa Ibla.

Sicilian men sitting outside in Ragusa Ibla

The Circolo di Conversazione for noblemen is on Piazza Duomo. Note the heavy brocade drapes and the fact that the aristocrats lounge on wooden chairs instead of plastic ones. Inside swing old cut-glass chandeliers.

Ragusa Ibla, Sicily, Circolo di Conversazione

The Circolo di Conversazione is across the street from the fishermen’s club. Someone told me the two groups never mingle or even exchange a buon giorno, but I’m not sure if that’s true.

Sicilian Men Sitting Outside Circolo San Giorgio, Ragusa Ibla, Sicily

Tourist tip for women in Sicily: don’t let the fixed stares of sitting-around Sicilian elders put you off. They’re curious, bored, sweet as pie. I started a conversation with these members of Circolo San Giorgio—yet another club in Ragusa Ibla—and the men responded with Old World courtesy, eager to use their schoolboy English to discuss New Jersey cousins, American politics, and World War II, when the Allies charged through the area during Operation Husky. They even invited me inside!

Two Sicilian Men on a Bench

I wonder what the wives are doing while the husbands are sitting around.

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11 comments to Sicily: A Story of Sitting Around

  • So glad you posted somethig about the pensioners. I went with my father-in-law, Pepè (of course), to Piazza Milazzo last night. This is the where two “men’s clubs” are located in Naro. A friend of ours came strolling up and I grabbed a plastic seat from close by so he could sit. I narrowly avoided a Sicilian Civil War. It turned out the seat was property of the cafè next to the one we were located at. As it was plastic, he refused to sit in it (mine was wooden and not at all more comfortable!) Everyone that was sitting outside from the OTHER bar started yelling many “Minga!!!” could be heard. I finally defused the situation with a simple, “Ma, io sono Americano!!! Mi dispace!!!”. So much to learn…

  • These are wonderful photos! The selective color is very effective.

  • Looks like my town. No clubs though. In the evenings everybody is out!

  • The wives are cooking of course! …and maybe a bit of neigbourly gossip on the doorstep or over the fence… and then shouting for their husbands at the top of their voices when lunch is ready. :-)

  • Janet

    Love your photoshopping of the men. The red brings out all the details. Very artistic.

  • Josephine Lissandrello

    Once Italians usually had their big meal (pranzo) at lunch time. The women did not do much cooking in the afternoon for their late supper (cena). While the men were sitting at the circoli or at the cafes, the women usually visited with other women. Today, work hours have changed in most of Italy so they more or less follow the same life style we follow here in the States. The emancipated young women of Italy today do not cook all afternoon and their young husbands are not hanging out drinking espresso. They spend more time together.

  • There are too many young people in Urbino with all the students in town. However, in the neighboring towns you can find many of the elderly men sitting around at the cafes. Except I don’t think they have these separate clubs like in Sicily. The women are probably too busy in the house cooking to go out. My boyfriend’s mother is stuck inside all day except when she goes shopping for food for each meal or takes the dog for a walk.

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