Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Castelbuono (Sicily)

Castelbuono is a small town  - only the smallest cars succeed in navigating the narrow winding streets.  However, despite being a small town there is still the problem of rubbish collection.  And here the commune authorities have arrived at an excellent solution for the removal of recyclables.

I couldn't tell whether - if the load was heavy, the day was warm, the same route had been walked once too often, or if this annoying photographer was in the way - but this was one donkey whose head was well and truly somewhere else.

I was so involved in chasing the donkey that I missed out seeing the amazing frescoes in Madrice Vecchia - something I was made to regret by my fellow travellers.  Like many churches in Sicily, the Madrice Vecchia carries echoes of many eras. Built in the 14th century on the ruins of a pagan temple, it has a Renaissance portico, a Baroque portal and an octagonal spire covered with majolica tiles.  The interior was enlarged at the end of the 15th century and contains interesting works, most notably a polyptych above the main altar depicting the Coronation of the Virgin, in which  a saint is depicted wearing spectacles!

Work is hard to come by in these small towns, and there's little by way of social security unless you work for the public service. Incomes in Sicily in general are very low - often 800-1000 euro a month.  But there are young people who are putting their entrepreneurial hats on, creating work for themselves. We met a couple of young women who have put together a tour of the town's most interesting locations and are actively selling the proposition from the town hall steps in Piazza Margherita. They split the proceeds - half for themselves and half goes back to the commune for the maintenance of these historical sites.  Please support them if you are in Castelbuono.

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