Ragusa Sketches

Today we explored the Ibla, Ragusa’s old town. It is Easter Sunday. There is a subdued air about town.

In the Piazza Repubblica men dressed up in their Sunday finest wait in the sun outside the bar for their wives to exit the adjacent church.

Islands like Sardinia and Sicily seem to acknowledge that Christianity is a religion practiced by women but controlled by men (who have often used the power and wealth these women have given them for nefarious purposes). In Sardinia too, bars that share a piazza with the church are full of waiting men decked out in their finest on Sunday, as if being close to the church was enough to save their souls while far enough away to avoid the torturous display of incomprehensible ritual. Men. We are not much for being at one with someone else, no matter how holy.


We wander from church to church. You are never far from one here.

In the Piazza del Duomo a little girl makes a fist around the stem of a big chrysanthemum planted in a flower box and gives a mighty yank. The stem snaps free of its roots without the shower of potting soil you might expect, a comic book scene in three dimensions.

The parents haven’t witnessed the event. They are putting away a camera they’ve used to snap a picture of the Duomo gleaming in the March sun. When dad sees her approaching proudly with the flower a look of horror crosses his face.

“What have you done! You cannot do that!”

“Why….NOT?” she replies convincingly, gazing happily at her prize.

Dad looks at mom with one of those, “I though you gave her that lecture” sorta looks.

It’s complicated. Personal property, public enjoyment, lust to capture and hold beauty in your pudgy little hands…


I’ve never particularly liked Baroque art or architecture. In Tuscany, it seems way over the top. Too many angels stuck rambunctiously in the glowing white marble.

Yet I find that Sicilian Baroque, as practiced here in Ragusa, is beginning to grow on me.

ragusa picture, ragusa balcony, ragusa sicilyEspecially nice are the corbels that support the balconies. A bit of nude frolicking is certainly the way to spread joy with visual imagery. Yet there are not only nudes, but fantastic faces and masks. As a Romanesque sorta guy, this foray into the Baroque disturbs me because I’m really beginning to like it.

Then it’s lunch time and I don’t have to think of the Baroque conundrum. I have to think instead of the “where are we going to eat on an Easter Sunday when the whole population of Sicily has reserved tables in advance and we lowly and ignorant tourists haven’t?” conundrum.

At a bit past one in the afternoon we manage to find a restaurant with exactly one table free. We eat an entire Italian meal in an empty room.

Let this be a lesson to you. When you book a table in Italy, you’ve pretty much booked it for the whole time of meal service. The table is yours and they will not give it to someone without the decency to call ahead for love or money, no matter how little you propose to eat—or how quickly. I suspect the restaurant would fill at maybe 3 pm with people who will feast heartily on many, many courses.

Sunday lunch is one of the joys of Italian life…if you reserve.


Ragusa Sketches originally appeared on WanderingItaly.com , updated: Nov 09, 2017 © .

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