Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Co-incidental meetings

Gusts of wind, rain, dramatic clouds and then sunshine painting land and sea with light made the morning interesting to behold through the window as I wrote my daily reflection and said the Divine Office. Having finally found the nearest local bottle re-cycling bins yesterday I went out to deposit them and met Suore Tarcisa on my way there. She asked when I was coming to Vespers, and I told her that yesterday I discovered the convent front drive and gate control system. She confirmed that I only had press the button and ask for her, and we agreed on a rendezvous at five to six this evening.

Delighted, I went my way, deposited the empty bottles and continued into town. Small groups of people chatting, dressed in black, were walking down the steps as I walked up. They looked as if they'd come from a funeral. Then, I met Marcia, my companion at Saturday evening's ecumenical outing, walking along the Corso Umberto. Such a co-incidence that I should meet the two of them so close together. We chatted in the sunlit street for ages, outside a restaurant where someone indoors was practicing classical piano with great skill, while a jack russell terrier stood at the glass front door, silently staring at us, wagging its tail.

Marcia reminisced about previous chaplains, and about earlier generations of the family which has taken care of St George's church since it was built in 1920. I asked her about the funeral and she said that people had been returning from a wedding at San Guiseppe church in piazza San Agostino. Surprisingly, black is as customary for women and men weddings here as for funerals. Marcia told me that often in warmer times of year several weddings can occur on any suitable day in different churches. For many couples this is a dream location and they come at great expense from far and wide: if not for the prayer, for the photo opportunity Taormina presents.

The 16th century church of San Agostino, which gives its name to the piazza wonderfully overlooking the
sea and Mount Etna, was once the home of an Augustinian hermit community, but in the last century it was acquired for the town's public library. Next door to it is a public WC with a real live guardiana taking your cinquanta centesimi a visit - it's the first time for years I've encountered this little remnant of a more civilised former era.

Home for lunch: fava beans and panchetta again, but this time with added melanzana (aubergine). I bought one a few days ago, of the white and purple variety, the size of a small beach-ball, with good texture and the usual flavour. I've had two meals from now and expect two more. Cooking experiments are all part of the pleasure of being here.

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