22 May 2005

At the Piazza

The Giardino Garibaldi in the center of Piazza Marina is a small garden square near my hotel. I discovered it the first day I was Palermo, and from then forward stopped there once or twice a day to rest my feet or simply to watch the activities of the city around me.

The first time I visited the piazza I observed a small wedding party posing for professional photographs. Several hours later, I returned to sit and eat my gelato and noticed that the same group was still busy posing, pointing, and clicking away!

The garden of the piazza is home to several massive ficus magnolioides trees. The roots are exposed above the ground, and new starts dangle from the existing branches resembling rope-like tendrils waiting to reach the ground and begin growing into the earth.

One afternoon, I watched a sister and a brother playing kickball with the giant tree in the center of the piazza. One would punt the ball into the tangled mass and wait to see if it would be returned. If it was, the process would be repeated.

On Sundays, vendors set up tables around the gated perimeter of the piazza. Trinkets, old furniture and lighting fixtures, maps, and coins are among some of the things one can find at the flea market.

This particular Sunday was prima comunione for many of the local boys and girls. At least twelve different groups had replaced the wedding party of the day before and were busy capturing the moment on film and video. Anywhere one looked around the piazza would be a young girl in a white dress, or a young boy in a suit with a white armband and a medallion pinned to his lapel. Awaiting nearby would be a mother wearing a black dress and the rest of the family waiting to step in for group shots.

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