Festa time at Capo D’orlando, Messina.

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It’s become a tradition at this time of year to attend a series of Festa’s or celebrations dedicated to patron saints that are common to most towns here in Sicily, not out of any particular religious desire but simply to have a day out, rummage through the endless stalls and perhaps start buying those pesky Christmas presents!

I’m a sucker for an open air market, in all parts of Europe, whether it be an antique market in London, a fresh flower market in Rome or our weekly home town market for fresh fruit and vegetables I simply can’t get enough of them.

The humble market is such a vibrant part of life here, filled with colour, confusion and the promise of discovering something unexpected and new. The trick is to go with an open adventurous spirit, don’t go and do something stupid like write a list because if you look down to read it you may miss out on spotting something wonderful.

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Some bickering, banter and wheeling and dealing is always the case at markets in general, as you negotiate the best price.

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There is always a bit of everything from household goods, haberdashery, textiles, hardware, CD’s, costume jewelry, clothes, shoes, helium balloons to attract the young and sweets to tempt the young at heart.

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The locals are here to renew their wardrobe, with clothing that looks expensive but really are discounted copies. It’s all about appearance baby, even in the financial crisis la la land that Italy has become, people still want to look good.

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I even found myself negotiating with an African friend, who pulled his ripped off designer bags out of a suitcase and onto a white sheet he put on the ground, for a Coco Chanel maxi bag, not bad for 15 Euro!

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I am attracted by the eclectic nature of each stall, some are just plain seedy, while others are exotic and filled with fashionable surprises.

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I’ve particularly fallen in love with African and Moroccan wood carving, but I haven’t had the courage to buy anything after I heard a story about someone who got termites from untreated wood. If I could be sure that the wood would be safe I’d love to get some smaller animal pieces for my son to play with or perhaps start a collection as every year they come up with different creations!

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That’s all from Capo D’orlando for this year’s Festa of the Madonna (22nd October), next month there is a festa in our adoptive home town Sinagra (4th November) and then a massive Fiera, which is a mega open air trade and animal market that takes over the town at Sant’Agata di Militello (14th/15th November), it is one of the oldest markets in Sicily, dating back to the 1700’s and brings together commerce from the provinces of Palermo, Catania, Messina and Enna.

 

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9 thoughts on “Festa time at Capo D’orlando, Messina.

  1. Looking at your pictures reminds me of the weekly mercatos we used to go to when I was a little girl visiting Italy. My family lives close to the Swiss border, so the market in Luino was always a huge deal! It was the biggest one around, and if you really wanted to find lots of stuff, that was the one you went to. I loved it 🙂 BTW – I would go ahead a buy those beautiful animals for your son – I’m sure they are fine! I have some carvings from Africa that my inlaws sent back when they went, and they are exquisite. I think the collection is a wonderful idea and one he will cherish when he grows up! I wouldn’t be afraid of termites – we live with them all the time here in California and they are not that scary! Ha! Ha!

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    1. I think everyone loves a market. I’m dying to get to the second hand book markets in London one day. But I never miss a chance to visit the colourful Sicilian ones.
      I agree about the African carvings, I love them too much to worry about termites and will put my bargin hunting and haggling to the test to get a good deal on them. The only other problem is that if I try to take them back with me to Australia, there is a good chance they will be confiscated as Australian customs are really fussy about wood items!

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  2. I’ve only just discovered your column but I really look forward to your emails. It sounds like you truly have a strong love/hate relationship with Sicily!

    My late husband was born in a small town of no consequence outside of Palermo. He moved to New York when he was 12 with his family, and always said as difficult as it was to make the adjustment at that age, it was the best thing that ever happened to him, aside from meeting me, of course!

    Yet, we always found ourselves traveling back couple of years for a little visit. Any trip to Europe included a detour to Palermo! Oftentimes he went by himself for a visit with his brother or dad, both of whom returned in the 80’s.

    I haven’t been back in over ten years, my husband’s been gone now for almost six. Your column brings me back with fond memories and laughter.

    Thank you!

    Rosemarie Sent from my iPhone

    Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments it takes our breath away.

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    1. I’m pleased you found my blog and I’m happy you are enjoying it.
      It’s truly special that you are reliving such beautiful memories.
      I am privileged to have hit such a pleasurable chord with you.
      Perhaps it is time you consider a trip back to Palermo,
      I’m sure it will reveal new things to you if you decide to visit once more.
      Thank you for your kind words and please be sure to stop by regularly, I’d love to hear from you again.
      Warm wishes
      Unwilling Expat

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  3. Like you, I love outdoor markets. They’re a great place to not only buy gifts but so many things. I love that they have EVERYTHING–and then some. Hope you’ve made a dent in the Christmas purchases.

    Blogging from Ecuador,
    Kathy

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    1. Markets are so much fun, you never know what you will find! I bet you have some great ones in Ecuador!
      It looks like all my female family members are getting purses/bags, the guys leather belts and I’m thinking of getting some of those cute wood carved figures, I’m still browsing around …

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    1. It pays to pick your price, stick to it and threaten to go to another stall further ahead, they will be chasing after you to give you what you want!
      I nabbed a cute maxi bag, I was really after some shoes but since I’m not a fan of high heels I couldn’t find anything. But I’ll have plenty more markets to explore before Christmas so I’m not worried.
      Thanks for commenting!

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