Three Stripes of Color

January 31, 2013

Passing by this wall today, I was reminded that in Sicily, when you renovate your house, you don’t just pick an exterior color and slosh it on.

Your neighbors get to weigh in first.

You paint three color samples on a wall, then wait a few weeks for their feedback.

Stripes of Color on Sicilian Wall, copyright Jann Huizenga

In this case, the owners obviously (!) have their heart set on bright yellow, but the exact hue is up for negotiation.

A few years ago, my mason painted swaths of ripe peach, yolk-yellow, and Parmigiano on the side of the house facing my neighbor S’s house.

“Don’t choose the garish yellow,” S said one day. “Ti prego.” Indeed, it was she who would be most affected by the color choice as she stares right out at a large blank wall of my house.

“Which do you like best?”

“The light yellow.”

So Parmigiano it was. I was happy to let her choose the color of my house, as good neighborly relations are key to my survival here.

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Restoring a Damp House in Sicily, Part 12

July 15, 2010

A working kitchen has finally emerged from the rubble like a phoenix rising. After two nail-biting years.  No longer do I boil up boxed soup on a hot plate, despair, mix paint around with a carrot stick, despair, write on a plaster-encrusted sawhorse lit by a bare bulb. I have a real table, lights, a working stovetop. Not just any stovetop, amici, but a Renzo Piano one. (Renzo Piano is the Italian architect who designed the Pompidou Center, the new wing of the Chicago Art Institute, etc.)  The stovetop is a piece of impeccable Italian design, though tricky to light and hard to clean (makes perfect sense as form usually trumps function in Italy).

Flies buzz in tight circles. The Iblean light beats in every morning, shining off the mirror-like floor.

The centerpiece of the kitchen is the cathedral dome out the window, and the soundtrack to my life are the bells, scaring me out of bed at 7am, marking the passing of each quarter hour, ringing for the dead, for weddings, for evening vespers, for morning mass, and for festa—four crazy-making days straight.

I love my Sicilian kitchen, and I’m grateful for each day I spend there. (What are you grateful for? Come on, tell us.)

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