Wildfire, Deaths and Tomato Sauce Everywhere: A day in Lercara Friddi, Sicily

I posted some photos of the hair-raising electrical wiring in Lercara Friddi last week. I feel I should do the place justice by showing a more complete picture… so here goes.

Hubby and I went there shortly after the annual festival celebrating the town pie, the pantofola. Pantofola means slipper. They still had some left over, so we walked into the first tasty-smelling bar we could find, and started eating.

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The bar faced the central piazza, where the local old boys gather each Sunday to get away from their wives. Hubby wanted to listen to the political candidate who was haranguing them. I decided my own time would be better spent pretending that I know how to use my new camera.

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I did see a lot of electrical wiring but I also found that, with careful cropping, you can take photos like this:

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And this:

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Alternatively, you can ambush unsuspecting oldies to get pretentious armchair travel guide photos, like this:

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Or this:

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When that gets boring, you can take arty-farty images for those interior design books that my Mother and gay men leave on their coffee tables:

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This one is called “Postboxes” and signed prints of it may be ordered for $3,000 each:

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This one is entitled “Italian letter box”, with the alternative title of “Don’t stick anything in here because it will never be seen again”. Framed enlargements of this copyrighted image may be ordered online, but they will never arrive.

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After photographing some outrageous wiring, I spotted a horse meat butcher’s shop. Sicilians only eat horse meat when they are ill, as they believe it has special nutritional qualities. They particularly give it to people with anaemia and to children with leukaemia. It is never sold by normal butchers, but only in these dedicated horse shops.

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If the horse meat doesn’t work, one may need to organise a funeral. I could not believe the number of funeral posters I saw around Lercara Friddi. I didn’t see a living soul there the right side of 60 to be honest, which may not be entirely unconnected. Sicilians often advertise forthcoming funerals by putting up posters all around town, like this:

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It’s a service offered by the funeral home. They also sometimes put up posters after the funeral as well, thanking everyone who came. Seeing them casuallyΒ jumbled up with political campaign posters and advertisements for the local supermarkets made me suddenly feel very foreign:

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Hubby and I were now starving and headed out of town to meet our friends, who had invited us for lunch. We had a meal cooked by this man. He was clean when he vanished into the kitchen, but when he energed 45 minutes later he was spattered all over with tomato sauce and the kitchen looked rather like a slaughterhouse. I’m sorry to say his wife managed to wipe a President Gorbachev-style dollop off his forehead before I managed to take the photo.

Anyway, the food was delicious.

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On the way back into town we saw a few sheep…

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…And their shepherd on horseback. Look out Mr. Shepherd! Don’t take you eyes off that trusty steed! The oldies of Lercara Friddi might eat him!

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On our way home we were engulfed in smoke and realised that a fire was raging around a house just outside town.

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“That was probably caused by an electrical fault” said hubby, as we callously drove away.

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24 thoughts on “Wildfire, Deaths and Tomato Sauce Everywhere: A day in Lercara Friddi, Sicily

  1. Your comments about the post boxes and postal service lead me to ask–Is there an alternative, and how can written communications be delivered? I mean, you DO get mail, right? Have to admit, though, the mailbox photo does not build confidence. Wish I could afford one of your prints! πŸ˜‰

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    1. The only safe way is to send letters by signed-for delivery. If the postman has to get a signature he tends to be more careful.. though one of my neighbours was asked to sign for a CD she had ordered; the postman handed her just the address and postal sticker on a piece of card which had been ripped off the actual parcel!!!! Needless to say, she declined to sign.
      For sending parcels we use private companies like DHL or TNT, which are not only more reliable but can be cheaper too.

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  2. Those are lovely pictures! Makes me long for our Sicilian house – can’t wait to get back there. Sadly, if I disappeared off to Sicily now, my work might be a little upset!

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  3. “…arty-farty images for those interior design books that my Mother and gay men leave on their coffee tables…” And my ex husband. Whoops πŸ˜‰
    “Carne equina…’and not only'” creates just the right amount of mystery, don’t you think?
    Please make a coffee table book.

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    1. Yes, the “and not only” had me intrigued too.
      Could it mean medicines to boost the health-giving effect of the horse meat? Religious artifacts so you can add power with a little religious offering to Padre Pio? Or is it stuff like second hand saddles and other riding tackle?

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    1. Oh, please save up and buy it!
      I only need to sell one copy and then I’ll be able to buy a huge collection of arty interior design books, and a new coffee table strong enough to hold them.
      Despite my ruthless mockery, I actually love those books (and pretentious armchair travel guides as well) and really would love to have more of them!!! πŸ™‚

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  4. My nonna was born in Lecara and left when she was 10. Is it a nice place to visit? for a day?
    a few days? It sounds pretty small and not too modern. I’m sure I probably have some relatives living there still. Your overall impression seemed to be better to visit a friend that lives there?

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    1. Hello!
      Yes, I’d say Lercara is worth visiting to catch up with friends or relatives, otherwise not really interesting enough. There’s so much in Sicily that’s truly breathtaking, you’d never have time to see half of it in one trip!
      Basically, Lercara is a completely average small Sicilian town with nothing in particular for tourists. So you get a perfect impression of what life is like for ordinary Sicilians in an ordinary town – which I tried to show a bit in my photos – but there’s no sightseeing to do. I basically chose to pass the day taking arty farty photos because there wasn’t anything else to do while I was there!
      If you could time your visit for the annumal pie festival, of course, it would probably be a different matter! πŸ™‚
      If you’re visiting relatives of course it is definitely worth going, but apart from that, I think you’d have a more interesting holiday going to the famous towns with stunning historic monuments, or some of the natural areas of remarkable interest.
      let me know if you want some suggestions! πŸ™‚

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      1. I used SicilyMemoryRoamers, a Sicilian based genealogy company that was excellent. I visited Sicily in late 1980s (Toarmina,Palermo) but was a kid and wasn’t too interested in it’s history.
        I may lecture at UPa this summer and may just pop down to Lercara for the day. Sounds like the roads are mental. My family was based out of Ribera, Cianciana, Catolica Eraclea. Not sure if I’m going to see all that. COS winery in Vittoria sounds more my speed. Btw, I highly recommend Memory Roamers, the 2 girls that run it are awesome.

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      2. If you’ve got relatives you’ve traced, it would be great to go to Lercara and meet them!
        If you make it, please report back and let me know your impressions. I’d love to hear what you think of the place and your impresions in general!

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  5. I enjoyed your pictures. I am going to LerCara Friddi next month. This will be my 3rd trip back to the place my Maternal grandparents were born and married before they came to The US. This time I am hoping to find more information about my grandfather. I connected with my grandmother’s side and they are lovely and accepting people. We all cried when I explained and recited a song/game in dialect that my grandmother would play with me when I was young. It connected us even though we just met for the first time.

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