April 8, 2010
The men in my town are good at sitting around.
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.
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.
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.
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!
I wonder what the wives are doing while the husbands are sitting around.