Men in Red Chairs in Southeast Sicily

September 25, 2012

No longer do I feel so completely alien.

My fellow villagers have welcomed me with grace and charm.  I love them madly.

You’ll find these guys in their red chairs most evenings at their circolo operai, club for workers. (Be sure to stop and say hello when you come to town.)

Can you guess their jobs?

Sicilian Men at the Circolo in Ragusa Ibla, copyright Jann Huizenga

From left to right

Giovanni C:  Gravedigger. His job does not make him sad, though he says it is wise to stay away from the cemetery at night, when souls take a walk.

Giuseppe C:  Classics teacher at secondary school (and president of the circolo).

Giovanni M: Dogcatcher, retired.

Giovanni S: Bread baker, retired. They used to call him “Il Principe del Pane,” the Prince of Bread. He made 20 different kinds of loaves everyday. It was hard work, very hot in the summer, and he’s glad to be retired.

Pietro di S: Waiter. Retired.

Angelo E: Gravedigger. Works with Giovanni C.


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37 comments to Men in Red Chairs in Southeast Sicily

  • Donna

    Hi Jann,

    We were here yesterday and as we entered the village our first sighting was the men on red chairs. I would have loved to have told them how famous they are but my lack of Italian prevented me! Anyway, it was nice to have a link with the place on arrival we had a fantastic day and beautiful lunch. Was sad to leave but will keep up with your blog.

    • Jann

      Hi Donna! How fun that the men in red chairs came into view the minute you entered town! (You must have driven down the winding road from Upper Ragusa???) Thanks so much for dropping this note… you made me smile.

  • Barbara Smith

    Ciao Jann ~ I cannot believe my luck in stumbling across your blog – per courtesy of Luca at IblaNet. I stumbled across Ragusa Ibla in 2007 and have returned to stay a week or so twice since. It is my favourite little spot in the world apart from my beautiful homeland, New Zealand. I too photographed the guys in the red chairs on each occasion. They were always so friendly with their smiles and buonsera signoras each time I did my daily passeggiata. Love your casa – and green is my favourite colour! Can’t wait to read more. Un abbraccio forte da Nuovo Zelanda.

    • Jann

      Hi Barbara! Such a pleasure to meet you! (There is another woman I know, from Australia, who likewise stumbled across Ibla several years ago and she comes back for a week every year!) Please let me know the next time you’re in town. So glad you know my red-chair men. They are real sweeties. Un abbraccio forte back to you! (By the way, I had no idea that Luca at IblaNet knew about my blog!)

  • Jann, how I love these photo posts of yours! They truly allow us to see Sicilian life at its finest. This group of distinguished gentlemen have me smiling from ear to ear. I’m wishing I was a walk away so I could pull up a red chair and listen to their anecdotes. You are a lucky woman! Yes, you are! 🙂

  • Ciao Jann! I am back to work and really needed a big smile. I just got one……. Grazie!

  • Anitre

    How wonderful! My next goal is to speak my crappy Italian with the Circolo guys when I’m back in Pozzalo. I don’t know who will be more challenged. Me or them!

    • Jann

      Anitre, from my personal experience, I can say that Sicilians seem to get a kick out of “crappy Italian,” so go for it!

  • John Schinina

    Hi Jann,
    What a wonderful combination.

  • Joanne Stinson

    Hi Jan,
    Are you in Ragusa now? We’ve been trying to connect for over a year now in Sicily. We’re in Ortigia now and would like to meet you if you have free time.


  • –I loooooooooooove those guys in the red chairs. What are they talking about, I wonder?

    I Especially love the Grave-Diggers.

    Somehow, the going to the cemetery gives me great peace.

    Love to YOU, Dear sweet beautiful, Jann. Xxx

  • I love these guys too Jann. I could fall in love with life in Sicily, I know it! Thanks so much for pulling back the curtain in your wonderful way. Jxx

  • sandee wheeler

    I want a red chair to put next to them! I want to see their world for an evening!

    • Jann

      Sandee–you could watch the little scooters buzzing by, and right across the street from those guys is a little coffee bar run by a real cutie, so you could inhale the coffee aromas while you sit around smiling at the men in red chairs, and then go order a glass of wine from the cutie.

  • Do the women have a regular place to hang out? Although I suppose that they’re not retired

    • Jann

      They hang out at the weekly market, or at church… (the senior women, that is). Thanks for dropping by, Susanna!

  • Sam

    They call it a “circolo”, but I never see the guys in a circle. They’re always sitting side-by-side, facing in the same direction.

  • what a great group and I loved the comment about staying out of the graveyard at night, classic!
    ciao Lisa

  • emalene

    Oh, how it makes me remember
    and yes they were all so friendly.
    Each area and each town in Italy has a group of men.
    Loved the way they enjoyed passing time together.
    Think so many elderly in the US stay home and are lonely.

    • Jann

      You’re so right! It’s good to grow old in Sicily (if you’re a man, especially) because there are places for elders to hang out together and play cards, chat, etc (clubs, cafes, street corners). (Ibla misses you!)

  • I would have guessed a floor tiler, an oculist, a tailor, a professional story teller, a retired fisherman and a retired boxer.

    • Jann

      Oh, Ruth–this is very funny and smart! The guy with a bandage on his knee, a floor tiler (makes sense!), the guy holding the glasses, an oculist, and so on. Ha ha–and the man in the red shirt is definitely boxer material! Welcome to the blog, and thank you for this comment.

  • Nancy

    They do love those plastic chairs in Sicily. First time I’ve seen them in red. I love seeing the old men just sitting around in the villages. In my grandmothers village they sit on the bench on the side of the church. Every time I go I take their photo. I’ve been going to compare the photos to see if it is the same men each time. Love your photographs as usual.

  • What an interesting photo, Jann — none of these look like my “people,” but they’re still fascinating. And you do a great job getting them to relax and share their stories with you!

  • great Jann…I just took a photo of them last wednesday……
    but I couldn’t talk with them..sometimes I ‘m too shy!! ah ah
    great and nice info about them…..

  • Bonnie

    Thanks, you started my California morning with a smile. Great shot.

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