Thursday, August 09, 2012

Cianciana Life: Saturday Evening – Espresso and Ferraris

In the evening, after we have changed from our pool wear, we do our passagiata or walkabout.  Every evening there are hundreds of people walking about, however tonight it seems that more than half the town is out.  Young girls dressed in their very best – stiletto heels balancing on cobblestones, hair and make-up perfect, they look very much as if they attending a film or art gallery opening rather than the requisite evening walkabout in a small Sicilian town.  Young men, hair precisely quaffed into a faux-hawk, crisp and clean polo shirts with the collars turned up.  They eye the girls who pretend they don’t see them but giggle anyways.  Old men sit on the benches outside the social club, discussing the problems of the world – young people, politics, employment – finding solutions that only they will hear.  Visitors – expats and ex-Ciancianese alike, wander and admire the buildings, and discuss what a terrific place this is.  Occasionally you see a husband and wife walking arm in arm.  This is an influence of the large expat community – it is most definitely not a regular occurrence amongst the older Sicilians. Once we reach the centre of town we see why so many people are out and about.  The Ferrari club from Ribera (a larger nearby city) has come to Cianciana.  The roads have been blocked off to regular traffic and the drivers are giving the local kids (mostly boys) rides up and down the town, engines roaring and tires spinning.  

Later, they park their Ferraris, mostly cherry red, on Corso Vittorio Emmanuel outside one of the larger bars in Cianciana.  The Ciancianese (and the expats as well) flock around these machines and take pictures.  Nick and I are not immune to the excitement and we take our pictures with these powerful cars as well.  On an island with an unemployment rate at 25%, I wonder how so many people in such a small town can afford a Ferrari.  Unsure, I guess that the answer may lie in the ancient houses.  Very few of these houses have mortgages.  They have been passed from grandparents to parents to children.  With no rent or mortgage to pay, it is perhaps easier to live if one is under employed or unemployed.  This is simply conjecture on my part.  I really don’t know the answer.

Later we wander back in the direction of our favourite bar.  One of our newly made friends, Gaetano, stops us.  Are we going to stay for the music?  It is supposed to start at 9:30 – in 15 minutes.  There will be a live band and dancing.  Sit, sit!  Have a caffe’!  We join Gaetano at one of the tables set out on the street.  He buys us each il caffe’, an espresso, and we sit and chat about Cianciana in the summer.  Gaetano was born in Cianciana.  Now he lives alone – no wife or children, but his sister lives here too.  He tells us about the clock tower – built in 1908 – and how life here has changed over the years.  

He tells us how in the summer, people stay out until two or three in the morning and the bar doesn’t close until 4am.  We chat for nearly two hours but there is no music.  The instruments are set up and from time to time someone – presumably musicians – come to fiddle with the set up but no music plays.  Finally, we take our leave of Gaetano.  

My eyelids are growing heavy.  I obviously don’t have the stamina of the Ciancianese.  As we walk home I hear thunder roll and see lightening flash off in the distance.  Once in the house, we sit at the kitchen table to drink a glass of water before we go to bed.  In the distance we can hear the music start.  A rock version of Volare.  Later in the night I wake, cold for the first time since we arrived here.  It is raining – hard.  The water drums on the terracotta tiles outside our window.  I listen to the sound until it sooths me back to sleep.


  1. Ciao Diane--I love reading your blog! Why is there a big expat community in Cianciana? (And why have I never heard of this town????) You make me want to go see!

  2. Cianciana had a sulfer mine that closed in 1962. Families left for Britain, Germany, France, Canada, the US, and Australia to find work. These Ciancianese families keep returning every summer to take part in the festivals that go for most of July and all of August. One of these returnees was a gentleman by the name of Joe Guida. He is perfectly bilingual and was hired by the local real estate office to promote real estate in Cianciana. If you google Cianciana + houses for sale or even Sicily + houses for sale you will find postings by Joe. This has brought lots of foreigners to Cianciana - that and the very reasonable prices. You can find a quite acceptable house for under 30,000 euros. Probably the most inexpensive town in Sicily. It's worth a visit, especially in the summer, during the festivals. There are all kinds of hiking trails around and its about 30 minutes from from Eraclea Minoa and from Sciacca so it's a great spot for jumping off and seeing other parts of the Plantani Valley.

  3. Hello,I was wondering if you were am expat to cianciana? I was considering retiring there and have a few questions. I was wondering if you could point me in the right direction

  4. We are kind of expats...we have feet in both places. I don't keep this blog up anymore as I migrated it to If you want more info, I am happy to answer any questions I can. A better place to go would be my facebook page at Looking forward to your questions!


What do you think? Polite comments always welcome!