I’ve never done anything but dream. This, and this alone, has been the meaning of my life. My only real concern has been my inner life. FERNANDO PESSOA

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Sicilian Theatrical

Tu connais cette maladie fiévreuse qui s'empare de nous dans les froides misères, cette nostalgie du pays qu'on ignore, cette angoisse de la curiosité? (Do you know that fever which grips us in moments of chill distress, that nostalgia for some land we have never seen, that anguish of curiosity?) BAUDELAIRE L'Invitation Au Voyage

We are all a little strange, and we are all strangers to each other to a greater or lesser degree, and we can also sometimes be strangers to ourselves. Even our nearest and dearest, those intimate friends and family members, those husbands, wives and partners, those children who change in quantum leaps from one day to the next at a certain age - all guard a close mystery at their core.

Desiring to discover each other anew - after all, we'd been separated for months, she in one part of Spain, I in another - my wife and I took off for Sicily in the middle of May. She'd always wanted to go there, and so had I. We were desperate for some warmth, some sunshine, some long, jasmine-scented evenings. We pictured looking out over the Mediterranean and doing nothing very much at all. We'd come through a lot over the past few years, and perhaps it was time to take stock and reevaluate, to put things in perspective and count our blessings.

We traded a chilly England - drab under cloud and rain - for a world of vibrant colour, balmy heat and intense blue light. In Palermo, Sicily's capital, the prickly pear cactus was in flower...


... and in the theatrical street-markets traders shouted their wares and sang quick bursts of operatic arias. Fishes were piled high - gaping heads of tuna and swordfish, bright-eyed and glistening-fresh - and the fruit and vegetable stalls were a seductive riot of red and green, orange and yellow...


Flower shop displays flaunted themselves with gaudy panache...


The glory days of this old theatre were set firmly in the past...

The figure in the picture seems camera-shy, but actually she's studying intently the graffiti and faded paintwork with great absorption. Anyone who knows her (and I know her as well as anyone, but that may not be very well at all) will recognise this slow concentration of hers on small details as characteristic...

Though Fabrizio in The Godfather said that in Sicily women are more dangerous than shotguns, this woman seems quite benign...

And, since I mention The Godfather, these are the steps up to Palermo's Teatro Mássimo (an opera house renowned for its perfect acoustics) where that climactic bloody scene of The Godfather Part 3 was shot...

4 comments:

Grace said...

Knowing someone well enough to know you know them not at all is what keeps them interesting. Life would be pretty boring otherwise.

The Solitary Walker said...

Nicely put, Grace. And very true.

Luiza said...

The photograph of the benign camera shy woman is superb and is obviously taken by somebody who cares.

We were in Messina on May 14 and enjoyed our day there. I would love to return and see more of Sicily. However, I am thankful for my taste of Sicily small though it was.

The Solitary Walker said...

Perhaps you will return and see more of this magical island, Luiza... You would not regret it! Thanks for your comment.