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.
Some bickering, banter and wheeling and dealing is always the case at markets in general, as you negotiate the best price.
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.
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.
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!
I am attracted by the eclectic nature of each stall, some are just plain seedy, while others are exotic and filled with fashionable surprises.
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!
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.