November 19, 2013
Somewhere deep in the heart of Sicily, there’s a moment of pure peace.
March 29, 2013
The altar boys go first.
Then comes a fallen Jesus.
Past my little Alis market and into the night, thick with funeral song.
October 21, 2012
When I throw open the shutters in the morning, the cupola is there, like a gift.
The color of sweet latte.
It is moody, changeable, capriciosa.
Click on the photo to advance to the next slide.
Note: Slides of the Cathedral of San Giorgio in Ragusa Ibla.
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?
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.
June 3, 2012
It’s the annual insanity that Sicilians call festa.
The village aristocrats overlook the piazza from the comfort of their balconi, watching us wait for San Giorgio the Dragon Slayer.
Inside the church, the young men chew their fingers, get pep talks from the old guys, and send up lionesque roars. This is how they get psyched up to haul Saint George and his rearing steed around town on their shoulders.
The frisky altar boys horse around.
Then with a roar, my dragon-slayer is hoisted into the evening air amid wild applause, tears, and a squall of confetti. Even I–a non-Catholic who barely knows one saint from another–have a pounding heart. (Saint George belongs to me!)
He prances around town for a while and then the pyromaniacs get to work.
They light the fuses for the gran finale con artistico e fantasmagorico spettacolo piromusicale. Balconies are jammed with people and kids are stacked on top of parents and grandparents. The whole village feels like it’s blowing up.
Cinders land in your hair and singe your arms; babies wail in fright. You stumble out of the piazza choking on the thick stench of gunpowder, rush home thinking “Sicilians are nuts!” and watch the rest of the show from the relative safety of your house.
The next day they’re at it again.
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