Elio had told us about Buscemi and recommended we take a drive there. He said the city was like a museum and you could visit different houses to see what life was like here in previous centuries. We were intrigued and decided to put "Buscemi" into our GPS system and see what we could find. The countryside between here and there is incredibly beautiful! We have fallen in love with the low stone walls around Ragusa and as you go further into the interior there are the Iblea Mountains and the landscape is green, green, green, with terraced hillsides and rock layers that I thought must be a naturally occurring phenomenon, or the work of ancient farmers trying to cultivate this ruggedly beautiful island. We actually crossed over the border between the province of Ragusa, and that of Siracusa and noticed that the stone walls do not seem to be present in the farms and fields of Siracusa as they are in Ragusa but it is every bit as beautiful. Wildflowers are beginning to bloom, in particular a bright yellow, almost chartreuse-colored one that is everywhere now and many hillsides and fields are sprinkled with them.
Buscemi is a tiny little town, perched on a craggy hill, stretched across the top, as these Sicilian towns have a way of developing. We found a place to park on the street and discovered when we asked about visiting the "museum" that we were to be given a private tour of the houses that make up this unusual museum, that is scattered throughout the city. We were disappointed to learn that photographs were not allowed within the buildings. Visit their website to read more about it (in English) and see some photos. It is this: http://www.museobuscemi.org/eng/index_eng.htm
The concept of this museum is that instead of making a separate building and moving all these artifacts, the town, in its wisdom, decided to protect and maintain the actual places were people lived and worked, in their original state so that one can visit an olive press, a wine press, a carpenter's shop, the blacksmith, shoemaker, tinker, dish-repairer, a barn for the animals and two different homes: a one-room house where 6 people lived, amazingly; and one of the middle-class farmer who would have been a bit wealthier, with more "conveniences" and four full rooms. There is also a small museum displaying some of the art & crafts of the Sicilians, like pieces of those beautiful painted carts, paintings, ceramics and the terracotta and wood-carved figures.
We really enjoyed being shown around this town and the man who conducted the tour spoke just a tiny bit of English, so we were glad we understood at least some of what he said in Italian and got the gist of it all. The more "modern" parts of the city were built after the second world war and have a stark simplicity but nestled in and around these old stone buildings there is a charm and sense of "reality" that we find fascinating if not always beautiful. Some things are really strange, like the shiny gold metal doors that look like they came from the Sears catalogue, right next to ancient stone buildings! There is some obviously "unauthorized construction" of homes, with rusted corrugated metal exteriors and roofs that might constitute a "cutting edge" architect's home in the states and are just interestingly odd here! By walking through the historic parts of the town, and having these doors opened to us to peer inside was like stepping into the past and I could imagine my ancestors who might have lived in places like that one-room house perhaps, looking towards America and imagining a more prosperous life. He told us that they did not always have meat to eat, and that they only had chicken when the hen died and then they could make soup! They would sell the eggs to make some money to buy other necessities they could not themselves produce. That the pecking order was, first the man ate, then the boy children, then the girls, and only then, the mother! They worked very hard for what they had. In the little one room house there was a double bed for the parents, a sleeping space above for the daughters and the boys slept on the floor. They also had a sort of a cloth baby cradle suspended above the parent's bed which we have seen before in other museums of this type, so that they could have the baby close by, rock it if it cried out in the night and if it fell out it would just fall on the parent's bed! There was a table against the wall and a small area for the fire. This is very, very basic stuff. And, we were told, inhabited until the 1960s!!
Afterwards we wandered around on our own, taking more photos of the city and the view of its skyline and enjoying the beautiful weather. For lunch, we asked the woman in the grocery store to make us a sandwich (prosciutto cotto (ham) and formaggio (cheese) on crispy bread) and just sat in the piazza and had a little picnic.
We did a quick drive through the town of Palazzo Acreide and want to go back to see their museum along the same lines as Buscemi but an actual museum space.
There is so much we want to see and do in Sicily I am afraid we will not have time to do it all! Two weeks from today our daughter Jessica arrives and we get to show her all around for three weeks. Her friend Michelle will join her for the last week and that should be so much fun. Michelle and Jessica have been friends for years and Michelle was Jessica's maid of honor at her wedding (now 5 years ago!). She's like one of our family and we are excited to see her and hang out again.
Then we have about three weeks to ourselves and my brother Fred, his wife Elaine and my cousins Andy and Jimmy and their wives, Marnie and Evie will arrive. They'll spend a week here in Marina, then a week off traveling, then another week back here. We expect to do a lot of laughing, cooking, eating, sightseeing and enjoying each other's company. And perhaps my friend Elizabeth will come for a week before we must pack up and leave our little beach town of Marina di Ragusa and head north for the summer. It will not be easy to go!
Rosamaria e Roberto