Up at dawn, I arrived at the convent for Lauds and Mass by ten to seven. I watched the light percolate the clouds and gently illuminate a grove of citrus trees below the driveway. The grove is planted over the site of a 10th-11th century Byzantine-Arab necropolis. The via Pirandello runs along the base of it, where remains of a columbarium wall stands in a strip of garden just above the street. Sant Pietro church across the road down a flight of steps 200m away, is said to be Taormina's oldest church, dating back over a millenium. It seems to have been used as a cemetery chapel for centuries, and has a communal grave within it. Pity it was locked when I went to see it after the service.
I enjoyed a serene hour of prayer, easy to participate, but with one exception - nowhere could I find the Lord's Prayer printed out for me to read in Italian. So on various occasions I said it in French or in Welsh instead. Not printed? The book editors assume regular service book users know it off by heart. This presumes a common text in use, unlike English and Welsh rites which both have two.
Public holiday maybe, but apart from offices usually shut on Saturdays, all that was open yesterday was open today. Including the ironmongers. The pans he'd ordered had arrived. I was delighted with my small purchase. The Corsa Umberto was alive with tourists, and locals greeting each other in exuberant stage voices which make me think of 'Inspector Motalbano'. The chorus of 'ciao' people greeting each other sometimes sounds like a rookery. In the middle of Piazza San Agostino, a statue of the immaculate Virgin stood displayed on a plain cafe table. Was from a restaurant? Or from San Giuseppe? Visitors circulated, giving it a wide berth. When I returned later it had gone. An eccentric local custom I wonder?
In the piazza del Duomo kids were running around, adults were dressed for church, suggesting an event within. Inside a happy couple with a newly christened child posed for family pictures in front of the altar. A statue of the Immaculata was installed in the high altar tabernacle niche, just for the day. The altar-table standing before the high altar has a 3-D terracotta frontal based on Leonardo's Last Supper iconography. A notice appended to it solicits donations to cast this image in bronze - like the north and west bronze doors. It's good that a classic decorative form of sculpture is still being proposed to enhance a liturgical space.
I spent the afternoon getting the Sunday sermon ready to preach. My early morning start caught up with me compelling me to nap for half an hour before my evening passegiatina. This time out, I scanned shop windows for different nativity representations, such variety on offer to buy. I found a shop with an outside show case housing several miniature representations for sale. But for some, like the sportswear shop, mounting a nativity scene was clearly something they just do in December.
Using a picture dictionary I found on the shelf this evening, I identified the strange fruit which I ate half of at supper last night and half with my porridge this morning as a 'cachi' - persimmon in English. Now I know what they look like, and what to ask for next time I buy one. Not that there's that much attraction to eat one again soon. To my mind it's decent filler for a fruit salad, but not that interesting a flavour to eat on its own.