Tin-Clad Doors, Sicily

October 7, 2013

I love Sicily’s wrinkled old tin-clad doors.

Sicilians are giving them the heave-ho.  They rip ’em out, heartlessly, and put in sleek white ones with blank-eyed glass in the center.

I know, I know. I’m probably the only one on the island to treasure these things. It’s just ugly old junk to Sicilians. Out with the old! In with the new! We’re not some kind of backward old island!!! Give us the new!!! Sleek modern designs! Give us shiny chic doors from Milan! Dump these onto the rubbish pile. Out! Out! Out! There was a time, not so long ago, when we were poor. Imagine. So poor that our wooden doors, rotted by a chafing sun, had to be tinned instead of replaced.

After they’ve torn them all out, they’ll ache for them. Just wait.

Tin-faced door in Sicily, copyright Jann Huizenga

TIn-faced door in Sicily, copyright Jann Huizenga

Tin-clad door in Sicily, copyright Jann Huizenga

Rusty Keyhole on a tin-clad door, copyright Jann Huizenga

Vintage Sicilian tin-clad door, copyright Jann Huizenga

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42 comments to Tin-Clad Doors, Sicily

  • Jann,
    What a wonderful piece of the past in those doors. I can just imagine what lives lived there. Thanks so much

  • You know Jann how much I love these doors too and share your pain…. Such gratuitous beauty! xx

  • vicki carol

    When I was in Argentina, I was so fascinated with their large heavy and beautiful wood doors painted in the brightest of colors. I didn’t know that Argentina had such a large Sicilian population but in the Boca area Sicily was well represented. thanks for the lovely reminders.

    • Jann

      Hmmm. Thanks for that info, Vicki. If I ever get to Argentina, I’d like to see that area. Wonder if they’ve kept the Sicilian language alive there?

  • Beautiful photos, Jann. Like Rothko paintings. x

  • Yes I agree! Good you are documenting them before they are all gone!

  • What a pity. As always, stupendous photos, Jann. I’m reaching out and touching.

  • Gregory

    When I was in Sicily a few months ago the lady I was staying with was restoring her rear door. We spend hours scrapping paint from the door and sanding the locks to make them operational. She did not want to replace it with a new door. Some of the new doors are over the top in appearance. Too much glitter.

  • I love photographing the old doors in old cities. Santorini, Marakech, Malta, Jerusalem….they are all so fantastic. Everyone agrees! There needs to be an INTERNATIONAL organization to save them all!

    • Jann

      You’re so right, Tom. And it would be nice if the doors were saved in their original locations. Antique doors from Morocco, India, and Mexico are imported and sold all over the Southwest USA.

  • Someone smart would snap up all those doors and wait a bit. It would be brisk business when people realize what they’ve lost. Sometimes old is much, much better. I know when we added on to our home, we put in REAL vintage wood floors, not laminate. I love them and will never go back.

  • NO!!!

    Keep the old.

    They have character, style, make a statement.

    Only if they could talk. Can you imagine what they might say.

    Perhaps, even Hemingway has walked thru one of those rusty old fabulous chipped doors!

    Love to you, My sweet Jann. Xx

    • Jann

      DH Lawrence may have, or Lawrence Durrell, as they were both in Sicily and wrote about it. Love back to you, Bellissima.

  • Gian Banchero

    Over fifty years ago in nearby San Francisco, California, many, many of the old wooden houses with glorious gingerbread facades were stripped of their ornamentation to be replaced with horrid asbestos shingles and just as horrid aluminum windows, when complaints were expressed the constant retort was “You can’t stop progress” (who the heck made up that saying and why the heck do people believe it?). Well. a little over thirty years ago new owners of the ancient buildings repaired the damage by stripping off the asbestos and returning the ancient facades to their former glory. I’m sure in Sicily one day the love of the old will be the norm once people realize that all that’s modern doesn’t necessarily mean good and progressive. “Progressive” has come to mean replacing anything old with anything as long as it’s new, bad or good.

  • Linda

    Some towns are actually not allowing any more of the ugly new doors to be installed and there are also contributi for replacing them back with old style. Thank Goodness!

    • Jann

      Oh, that’s great, Linda. Do you know which towns have “door” rules? Even though R. Ibla has lots of zoning rules, people disobey and nobody says anything. Drives me crazy!

  • John Schinina

    Ciao Jann, I love Doors, if only they could talk, Doors represent much, they keep the unwanted out and let the wanted in, who knows what is said at the arrival.

  • Oh, too have a few of those…they are treasurers beyond description….Mattea

  • I adore tin! aren’t things smart. xxpeggybraswelldesign.com

  • Anitre

    Stunning images. I love the charm of the old doors, too. Brava, Jann!

  • John Cise

    TIN IS STILL IN THE MAJORITY! I doubt the entire island is going modern. There are still so many amazing old school towns on the island where tradition rules. I’m sure there will be plenty adhering to the ways of old. The Italians are also experiencing the bite of a poor economy, so fear not, renovation is the exception not the norm on the island… I saw many doors that appeared to be ancient on a recent trip to Petralia Sottana, my family’s roots … while they did appreciate finer things, most buildings retained their traditional charm. If you haven’t been, consider a trip. Navigating by rental car is the only way to go! Cheers, John, Durham, NC, USA

    • Jann

      Ciao John, Welcome to this blog and thanks for chiming in!!! It’s true that the bad economy is slowing down the (often bad) renovations, so that’s really a silver lining to the crisis. I LOVE the area where you have family roots. I have been there, and it’s one of my very favorite parts of Sicily. Gorgeous!! (Yes, and a rental car is a must. And there are some incredible agriturismi in that area.)

  • Toni

    I love them – they have so much character. Great photos!

  • They’re gorgeous!! Can’t you save them some way??

  • Francisca Anaradoh

    My good friend Rosa walks around our little sicilian town studying tin clad doors in order to do hers.She has surmised that most are hammered flat used vegetable oil tins and she loves the authenticity of recycling like that . She’ll love this post!

  • I too adore them………..how sad.Your photos are STUNNING!

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