October 26, 2011

Siracusa, Sicily. May, 1988

There are so many things I love about Sicily. High among them, the wide range of approaches to problems and official situations, completely dependent upon individual whims. When I approached a watchmaker in the old town section of Siracusa for a replacement battery, he took my wristwatch apart, tried a few batteries he had in stock, realized none fit and said, “Time has stopped for you here in Siracusa.” Poetry in commerce. Another example: When Nick and I were about to leave Siracusa early on a Sunday morning to continue the Great Italian Desserts research, we were delighted to read in a guidebook that the abbey of the Church of Santa Lucia, containing Caravaggio’s Burial of Santa Lucia, opened at 9am. We arrived, found a parking space on the deserted streets, knocked on the bolted door. Nothing. After trying a few more times, a custodian appeared and announced that the abbey would not open for several hours and seeing the painting was impossible. Oh, too bad, we explained, because it was one of the few Caravaggios we’d never seen, we were leaving Sicily this morning, etc. He smiled, shrugged, unlocked the door and escorted us to the painting, waited, then escorted us out again. Grazie mille. This photo, a souvenir of our whimsical private viewing.

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