But then Sicilians also need to make a living. And first Mario Puzo ‘s novel and then the films have had an undeniable influence on tourism. So there’s a strange state of affairs where no one actually talks about the mafia, but there are Godfather tee-shirts for sale, featuring a silhouetted Marlon Brando, and villages with a connection to the celluloid version of events attract a discreet but steady trade.
These few pictures were from one such village. I’d tell you its name, but I’ve forgotten it. In the films it’s Corleone. Two of us walked there and arrived at the only cafe that was open just as it closed for lunch. Fortunately for us, the young man who owned it made us drinks, let us use the loo and we sat outside while he went off to eat and siesta.
News soon got around that there were Strangers in the Village. Various people came by and came by again, just to say hello and look at us. I got caught in a frustrating conversation with a toothless crone who evidently thought my Italian was better than it is. A lot of smiling and no capitos. The local police popped by to smile and say ciao. Our boots came in for a lot of attention and remark. So did our walking poles. Once again I got the feeling that our presence was a promise of a good season to come. We were the first of what they hoped would be many, bringing welcome Euros to the local economy.
It was a pretty village, set on a large outcrop of rock. It didn’t do flat. The streets were steep, and there were steps up to most of the houses. The locals must have great leg muscles. But any romantic ideas about living there were rudely swept away as we witnessed an elderly lady painstakingly climb the street, using an umbrella as a walking stick, then access her front door by going up the steps on all fours.
Not a good place to retire.