Do-It-Yourself Sicily

June 15, 2010

We make up a long list—masking tape, towel racks, electric drill, olive tree, hooks—and drive through the scabby detritus of Upper Ragusa’s industrial zone to Brico, a do-it-yourself Sicilian version of Home Depot.

The smell of the sea fills our nostrils as we pull into the blazing parking lot. I don’t approve of big-box stores or the mall-ification of Sicily, but my hardware-hungry husband has landed on the island, we have a rental car, and I’m a hypocrite.

Kim tries to get in the exit doors, but they remain stubbornly shut.

We finally escape the hot fingers of the sun into cool Brico-dom. Kim marvels at the dainty shopping baskets, wondering where all the flatbed carts are.

We’re a little frustrated that we can’t decode what’s in all the pots and the tubes.

Floor space at Brico is devoted to garbage cans no bigger than my purse, and to jars for canning marmalade. We buy an olive tree for the tiny balcony and a rug made in Iran. Matinee idols deliver service with a smile (where are the Home Depot employees when you need them?).

At Home Depot you get boring batteries and drill bits at check-out. Here you get great pots of basil and fragrant mint.

We agree that the best thing about Brico is the aromatic do-it-yourself coffee bar with mod Italian tables and chairs.

For forty cents you can get not only a delicious caffè espresso, but a caffè lungo, caffè macchiato, cappuccino, caffè corto decaffeinato, caffè macchiato decaffeinato, mocaccino, cappciocc (what’s that?) cappuccino decaffeinato, cioccolato forte, cioccolata al latte, latte, latte macchiato, latte al cacao, and te al limone. Plus at the press of a button you decide if you want the above dolce or amaro. It’s Starbucks (but much better) in a machine the size of a jukebox.

Can you beat that, Home Depot?

8 comments to Do-It-Yourself Sicily

  • Emalene Renna

    Love the word mall-ification. My husband love’s Home Depot. it’s his version of going shopping. When he has nothing else do do he walks through home depot. At least in Sicily if I end up going along I get to drink coffee, smell herbs and admire the good looking men.

  • catherine Billups

    I love hardware stores anywhere but especially in Italy. I can live without boutiques probably because I spent too many years in the world of fashion to find them interesting. Actually, Brico is rather grim and very kitsch but sometimes there is just no choice and I found an incredible dark grey mesh chaise longue for my little terrace for 29 euro a month ago at the Brico near Rosolini. A lot less than the Uno Piu’ outdoor furniture which I usually buy. The Brico in Stradella is a must for me but I prefer the little hardware shops which are slowly going out of business. More personal.

    • Jann

      You are so right about giving business to the mom-and-pop hardware shops. There’s a great little one in Ibla that sells slippers and screws and irons and on and on. But you have to ASK for everything–ie know exactly what you want before you go in. (They keep stuff in the back.)

  • Dennis Berry

    ah Bricolage il portale del fai da te. Brico was one of my greatest discoveries in Bergamo. I spent many a rainy day exploring it’s wonders. Next time you are in Paris be sure to visit Brico at Porte d’italie. By picture three of Kim I wanted to paint a happy face on the back of his head.

  • Comeon ladies, look what Brico does carry: a “Matinee Idol” sales guy and good cheap cappuccino. What else could you need? This hardware store just became my mondo preferita!

  • Ciao Jann!

    I was in one of these types of stores last year, except the ones in Pesaro (since there isn’t one in Urbino) are called Bricolage (same thing I guess). The one is Pesaro, however, didn’t have a caffe area, but they did have a very neat display of lights in the front of the store. I must say it was not the most ideal store to be in, as the clothing store next door was much more attractive. 🙂 I prefer Home Depot over Bricolage, but perhaps it’s because I’m biased? lol

    A presto!

    • Jann

      Ciao Catherine—Well actually I sort of hate hardware stores and would prefer a clothes boutique any day!

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