Cianciana and the Glorious Patriarch, St Joseph


Yesterday, the Vigil of St Joseph, I walked past this man’s garden, talked to him about his ┬áPrickly Pears and his oranges, then circled back to ask if I could take his photo – “Why not?” And, indeed, that seems to be everyone’s response here — “Go ahead, try out your Italian” or “Sure, I’ll tell you how to get to the Museo Civico


My street for awhile, as I’m staying in Elizabeth’s studio which stands here with its three proud, if improbable, blue doors. Via Catania has characters whose conversations (phone? balcone-to-balcone?) I’ve heard, but not met. Except for the neighbor who proudly sports two canes to my one.

I doubt any of them can compare with the person Elizabeth and I now call “The Bombola Man” — he delivered the propane can for the heater my first afternoon, but couldn’t stay to hook it up because he needed to go for his run. His spandex suggested he was not kidding, and, yes, he returned, as promised, a couple hours later

Yesterday at the Vigil of St Joseph, I saw him again. He waved, I waved, and then I gasped!

Finally, when I went to Savarino’s for a large espresso maker this morning, there he was yet again. With two of his children! Behind the counter, helping me every day since I’d arrived, was my new best friend, Fortunata — his wife! I had heard that this is one gloriously small(3k) town.


— this corner of the bedroom… Brm, Via Catania

— sometimes fixing lunch

— sometimes going out to dinner


I was carrying one of those 4-foot candles for last night’s vigil procession, so couldn’t get much photography done without dripping wax all over my jacket, purse, and boots, or bumping into the woman in front of me (I did all those things). However, I did snap this photo of the arched lights under which we were walking. I’ve never been to Las Vegas, but isn’t this close –?


Baroque Revisited

In Italian Days, Barbara Grizzuti-Harrison says that one doesn’t have to appreciate ruins to appreciate Rome, but the Baroque? She insists that there’s no loving Rome without loving this fluid, over-the-top period in Church and art history: “otherwise you will think Rome is florid and vulgar and recoil from its extravagance.”

In Trastevere, I visited the Baroque for Ceci
S. Cecilia

Around the corner from the Pantheon, I posed before Bernini’s elephant on Tommy’s birthday, and made some poor Englishman take my picture —
TJB's Bernini elephan

After that, I ran over to the Contarelli Chapel in S. Luigi dei Francesi to see this Caravaggio for Matthew:

Callinf of Matthew, SLuigiFrancese

Callinf of Matthew, SLuigiFrancese

However, it probably wasn’t until yesterday in Palermo that knew I was a convert — in the way I think Charles Ryder means, when he describes Brideshead as his “conversion to the Baroque.”

From this, and this…to this other

St Paul can be beautiful in winter


There is, though, nothing quite like a Tulip Tree in Northern CA this time of year (thanks for the Drive-by, Jans)

The conclave begins tomorrow, so as soon as I checked in at my convent, I took the #89 down to Piazza S. Pietro to see how things were getting on. Nobody seemed to need my help, so I settled for watching the scrambling and setting-up, the [loud] dropping of pieces of scaffolding…

The piazza is as full of jumbotrons as it is of pilgrims this afternoon, and inside the basilica, cameras and chairs are going up.
Cameras are ready

Some of the papers here are saying that if there is white smoke by Wednesday,it’s an INsider; if the smoke doesn’t turn white until Thursday or later, it will be an OUTsider. On RAI 1, I just heard “Scola then Dolan.” In Montreal, the media today suggests that it could be Oeullet, because he would be the compromise candidate. Who knows? As they say,”HE WHO ENTERS THE CONCLAVE AS POPE, LEAVES AS CARDINAL”



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