Restoring a Damp House in Sicily, Part 13

August 19, 2010

I’m furnishing my home with trash.

Garbage Truck in Sicily, copyright Jann Huizenga

The orange trash guys drop by on a daily basis. One day they’ll cart away secco, dry stuff. The next day it’s umido, wet stuff. Another day it might be plastica or carta or lattine. I still can’t figure out what the last thing is. To make matters worse, each kind of rubbish must be tightly wound up in a different-hued bag: lava-black for secco, pistachio-green for umido, and so on. I don’t expect to ever really catch on to a system that’s as complicated, in its own way, as Sicilian codes of honor.

But all that’s beside the point. What matters is not the debris they haul away from the house, but what they bring in. Last week one of them, eyes ablaze, said, “I hear you like old stuff, Signora.”

“You heard right, Signore.”

“Well, I have a piece of an old Sicilian cart. Do you want it?”

I took it, of course, along with his picture in the too-bright sun.

Sicilian trash collector, copyright Jann Huizenga

Then the next day along comes this: a rusted grinder, still smelling seductively of caffè.

Sicilian trash collector, copyright Jann Huizenga

So we’re in business, me and the garbage guys. Will the house soon look like a moldering antiques bazaar?

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15 comments to Restoring a Damp House in Sicily, Part 13

  • Can’t see anything this complicated working in Rome, I usually have to climb on a park car bonnet just to reach the holes in the communal recycle bins and even then I have to stick my eye to the hole to remind myself what’s in there…

  • Ciao Bella-
    Well—–Perugia is initiating the same trash pickup at the end of August. I can’t imagine it working as it’s soooooo complicated, pero?
    Meanwhile, “beata a te” for all the neat trash. I love it!

  • Oh, I love that cart piece! Reminds me of a miniature version I kept on my dresser when I was a child. I think you may have opened up a very interesting can of worms with the garbage guys. Can’t wait to see how it all develops.

    • Jann

      Ciao! Thanks for your comment! I too hope more treasures are forthcoming, and will try to update you on a future blog….

  • These coffe grinders are sold for a fortune at our local antiques market and I’ve been after one for ages. What a piece of luck!

    • Jann

      Sold for a fortune? Really, Heiko? He gave me 2 and I gave one to a friend–maybe I can ask for it back (ha ha)??? If any more turn up, I’ll let you know.

  • catherine Billups

    At my house in Noto every morning arrives fresh, warm bread, ricotta, eggs, fruits and vegetables but none of these treasures. You are lucky.

  • Boy, have you done it now! This is great! It could be the start of a new business for you – a Sicilian antiques dealer! And you could give the garbage guys a cut of the biz. Isn’t it amazing how a simple word/intention can blossom into what will no doubt be a treasure trove? I’m sure the garbage guys are thrilled to meet the blond American signora. I can’t wait to hear/see more!

    • Jann

      How word got around town and to the garbage men that the American signora likes “old things” I have no idea! Do you think they think I’m a nutcase?

  • Cathy

    Well how cool is that? 🙂 you can get some real treasures coming your way! I’m like you that way, I’d be thrilled to have some of these “prizes” come to my door — my husband on the other hand definitely DOESN’T share my enthusiam for what he terms “junk” lol…. Can’t wait to see more pics of your house!

    Take care,

    • Jann

      Hi Cathy–most Sicilians seem to regard this stuff as your husband would (spazzatura, junk), so I’m the beneficiary! More pix of the house will be forthcoming…thanks for your comment!

  • Nur

    Good job! Jann,go on collecting.Grinder and the cart are greatttttt!I also love antique ones.Would like to see your house when it’s finished,Love!

  • This is great. Wonderful that you’ve made friends with the trash guys…No telling what jewels will come your way now; and what stories the fellows will take home!

  • Emalene Renna

    Looks sooooo!!!!! interesting

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