Cianciana Life on a Saturday Evening: Espresso and Ferraris

First blogged August 9, 2012

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In the evening, after we have changed from our pool wear, we do our passagiata or walkabout.  Every evening there are hundreds of people walking about, however tonight it seems that more than half the town is out.  Young girls dressed in their very best – stiletto heels balancing on cobblestones, hair and make-up perfect, they look very much as if they attending a film or art gallery opening rather than the requisite evening walkabout in a small Sicilian town.  Young men, hair precisely quaffed into a faux-hawk, crisp and clean polo shirts with the collars turned up.  They eye the girls who pretend they don’t see them but giggle anyways.  Old men sit on the benches outside the social club, discussing the problems of the world – young people, politics, employment – finding solutions that only they will hear.  Visitors – expats and ex-Ciancianese alike, wander and admire the buildings, and discuss what a terrific place this is.  Occasionally you see a husband and wife walking arm in arm.  This is an influence of the large expat community – it is most definitely not a regular occurrence amongst the older Sicilians. Once we reach the centre of town we see why so many people are out and about.  The Ferrari club from Ribera (a larger nearby city) has come to Cianciana.  The roads have been blocked off to regular traffic and the drivers are giving the local kids (mostly boys) rides up and down the town, engines roaring and tires spinning.


Later, they park their Ferraris, mostly cherry red, on Corso Vittorio Emmanuel outside one of the larger bars in Cianciana.  The Ciancianese (and the expats as well) flock around these machines and take pictures.  Nick and I are not immune to the excitement and we take our pictures with these powerful cars as well.  On an island with an unemployment rate at 25%, I wonder how so many people in such a small town can afford a Ferrari.  Unsure, I guess that the answer may lie in the ancient houses.  Very few of these houses have mortgages.  They have been passed from grandparents to parents to children.  With no rent or mortgage to pay, it is perhaps easier to live if one is under employed or unemployed.  This is simply conjecture on my part.  I really don’t know the answer.
Later we wander back in the direction of our favourite bar. One of our newly made friends, Gaetano, stops us.  Are we going to stay for the music?  It is supposed to start at 9:30 – in 15 minutes.  There will be a live band and dancing.  Sit, sit!  Have a caffe’!  We join Gaetano at one of the tables set out on the street.  He buys us each il caffe’, an espresso, and we sit and chat about Cianciana in the summer.  Gaetano was born in Cianciana.  Now he lives alone – no wife or children, but his sister lives here too.  He tells us about the clock tower – built in 1908 – and how life here has changed over the years. 
He tells us how in the summer, people stay out until two or three in the morning and the bar doesn’t close until 4am.  We chat for nearly two hours but there is no music.  The instruments are set up and from time to time someone – presumably musicians – come to fiddle with the set up but no music plays.  Finally, we take our leave of Gaetano.
My eyelids are growing heavy.  I obviously don’t have the stamina of the Ciancianese.  As we walk home I hear thunder roll and see lightening flash off in the distance.  Once in the house, we sit at the kitchen table to drink a glass of water before we go to bed.  In the distance we can hear the music start.  A rock version of Volare.  Later in the night I wake, cold for the first time since we arrived here.  It is raining – hard.  The water drums on the terracotta tiles outside our window.  I listen to the sound until it sooths me back to sleep.



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