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The NewSLU

The NewSLU

Postcard from… Sicily

Our reporter happens upon some local, unpolished characters in a mom-and-pop eatery in Palermo

Sicily, once known mainly for its Mafia legends, is filled with clean, mountainous, beach towns. But unlike the rest of the  Italian island, Palermo, the capital city, does not feel tourism-worthy. The main streets are littered with empty cigarette packs, leftover pizza boxes, half eaten fruits, clothes that have fallen off people’s balconies, dog poop, and children playing in the streets barefoot.

But there spots where you might find some local, unpolished, and certainly politically incorrect, characters hanging around:

On a recent day, near a small, mom-and-pop Sicilian restaurant, sat two large Italian men. As they sat, the aroma of freshly baked bread and simmering sauces wafted from the restaurant’s kitchen, mingling with the scent of tobacco smoke. The younger man lazily gazed around, taking in the sights and sounds of the tourists dining in his town. His companion launched into a passionate debate about the state of Italian women, gesturing emphatically with his hands as he spoke.

“You are so beautiful and young,” the older man said to a younger woman as she walked by. The lady responded with a disgusted look and kept on walking. He continued to do this with three other women. “Well, can’t win ’em all, eh?” he chuckled, taking a long drag from his cigarette.

After the woman passed by, the older man shrugged off her response with a grin, seemingly unfazed. He seamlessly transitioned into a passionate discourse about Italian cuisine, his gestures becoming more animated and spoke of Sicilian pasta dishes and the artistry of local cooks.

Meanwhile, the younger man’s attention wandered, drawn to the diverse array of people navigating the bustling street. Tourists with cameras slung over their shoulders did not mingle with locals hurrying about their daily routines, out of fear. Vendors called out from nearby stalls, their voices blending with the lively ambiance of the trattoria.

According to the trattoria owner, the same two men sit in front of his restaurant every single day trying to lure women. “They have never had luck with tourists. Only locals,” the owner said.

The two men continued to smoke cigarettes and comment on people passing by the rundown Sicilian restaurant.

“La dolce vita,” the younger man said. “La dolce vita,” the older man said.

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