Saturday, May 01, 2010


This is a story about my local butchers, or where I buy meat when I do buy meat. I should start out by saying, I supppose, that I do not buy meat nearly as much as I used to, and have actually looked back on a week and realized that I had eaten as a vegetarian (not a vegan, mind you), and did not miss the meat. But when I want sausage, or pork chops, or beef fillet (now that I know how to cook it) or some other meat, I go to see Stefano and Michele Ciancimino, two brothers who work out of an unpreposessing store front near Pollo Doc and Lillo and Loredonna's Ortafruitica. That is my friend Vincenzo witht he white cain who happened to be walking past when I took the picture. He used to work in America, and sometimes I go to his house to help him read his mail and respond to requests from his pension system. I wrote about him once before, and the huge picnic he invited me to.

Their meat is always the freshest. I know, because when I was here for only a short period of time, I went there to get some sausage and they told me that I really should not buy it that day, but come back the next day when it was fresh made. They have always treated me with respect, and always tried to meet my strange demands. When Fran and I decided we wanted thicker Italian sausage, they made it thicker for us (and soon enough, we saw other people asking them for the same thing, however the craze for thick Italian sausage has run its course).

When I want ground beef, I point out the pieces of beef I want ground. Then we usually have a
discussion of what I will use it for, and then it will be ground to order. The same of course with ground veal and ground pork. They also make their own salami, and hang it up in the store to cure. You can see from the pieces of paper hanging from it that people have reserved some of it in advance. I always try to have a few links of it in the house, as it makes a nice antipasto with cheese and olives, and is also good to snack on sometimes.

In terms of the sausage and its freshness, I had to laugh when a friend from Sigonella came here, and for a bar b que he brought some Italian sausage made in America. I asked him why he got it when they have fresh Italian sausage here, and he told me that with American Italian sausage at least he knew what was in it. I looked at the ingredients. Pork, water, a few spices, and about six chemicals that I do not know what they do for better or worse, used as preservatives, color enhancers, etc etc. Here, the list is shorter. That piece of pork ground and stuffed into that piece of casing with just a pinch of spice mixed in. Period. No water. No chemicals.

Thursday is the day they get their meat deliveries, and start cutting for the weekend business. They usually get two to four sides of beef in a week, and four to six sides of pork. Most of it is locally grown, and I have joked with people that not only can I find out what farm it was grown on, but they can tell me the name of the animal as well.

They also get a quarter of beef Florentine, which is the premier beef grown in Italy, in the Tuscany area, for those who really like beef. It is good beef, but I must admit, I seem to be slowly losing my taste for beef. (although a nice beef stew or beef barley soup in the winter sure is nice).

First they carve up the beef into manageable pieces, then the veal, and finally the pork. When the pork is finally cut into parts, they start grinding parts of the pork for sausage. They reported that they make between 100 and 200 kilos of sausage per week (220 to 440 pounds of sausage per week). And this is a small two man operation.

Stefano and Michele learned their trade from their father, and unfortunately, neither of them has sons or daughters who seem interested in learning the trade. But then as Fran said many times, Sicily is like America in the 1950's, and small butcher shops may soon become a thing of the past. Indeed, Stefano and Michele told me that there used to be 40 butcher shops in Sciacca, and already the number is down to less than 20.

I can only hope that they will continue to do the wonderful business they do as long as I am here and as long as I want to eat meat.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

All it takes is time

Sometimes here in Sicily one simply has to be patient. When we first got here, and before I settled on Lilo and Loredonna as my usual purveyors of fruit and vegetables, occasionally I would go to a small street side ortofruttica at the circle in the Perriera section of Sciacca.

As an American, indeed, as a foreigner here, with very limited language skills, I was always afraid that someone would try to cheat me. I was afraid that someone like the car dealer who did not honor his guarantee on my Fiat Barchetta would do something like not honor the guarantee he gave me on the car. He was the first example I had of someone who wanted to take advantage of me. Thankfully, the salesman did treat me well, and fixed the car for me out of his own pocket. The dealer went bankrupt a year ago, and the former salesman now is manager of a different dealership. Funny how things work out, eh?

Then there was the fruit and vegetable dealer at the traffic circle. One time, when I was only getting one item, I think it was mushrooms, he tried to charge me based on the price in Lira (without three zeros) instead of in Euros. That means he was trying to charge me double. I complained, and he showed me the price in Lira, and I showed him the price in Euros. He told me that euros and Lira were the same without the euros. I pointed to the other examples of where the price in Euros was half the price in Lira (discounting the euros). After five minutes of litigation, and several customers putting their purchases down and walking away, he finally gave me the correct change. It was only a difference of a euro or two, but I did not want to be cheated by him.

A few weeks later, on our way home, Fran said she needed to buy some celery, so we stopped there. When she returned to the car, she said she thought she had been overcharged. She was right. Again it was a matter of only a euro or two. She wanted to go back so we could argue with the guy. I told her that I had gone that route once, and I had a different idea. We started telling everyone we knew that the guy was a cheat, and mistreated people from other countries. When they asked, we told them about our experiences.

A few weeks later, he came up to me on the street, and told me that he had heard that I was saying he was dishonest. I told him it was true, and told him why. He said I should have come back and gotten the correct change, and I told him that I had done that once, and the second time could not have been a mistake. He told me that he did not like me talking about him the way I had been, and I told him that I did not like the way he tried to cheat people. We left it at that.

Today I read in the paper that he had filed for bankruptcy two years ago, and the courts held yesterday that the bankruptcy was fraudulent, that he did indeed have the money to pay some of the bills he was trying to avoid, that he owed creditors and the courts fifty thousand euros (that would be one hundred million lira), as well as a fine of five thousand euros (ten million lira), and court costs. In addition, he was sentenced to four years of reclusion (that usually means two years in jail and two years of house arrest, which may be reduced by one third for good behavior).

Oh my, what goes around comes around. I wonder if I should now ask him for the one or two euros that he cheated Fran out of. After all, that would be two or three thousand lira.

The Chicken King

In the photo above is the staf f plus one of Pollo Doc. From left to right Annalisa, Dominica, Ginella, Giusepina, Massimo (owner), his wife Giusy, and their son Piergiuseppe.

There are times when I really do not feel like cooking. Sometimes when I do not feel like cooking, I go to one of the restaurants, La Vela, Hostoria del Viccolo, or even Bar Charley. However, sometimes I treat myself to spit roasted chicken. When I do this, I go to see the King of Chicken in Sciacca, Massimo, and his wife, the Queen of Lasagna, Giusy. Together they run Pollo Doc in the La Perriera section of Sciacca.

While there are five or six places to get spit roasted chicken in Sciacca, there is only one King of Chicken, and that is indeed Massimo. Not only does he know his job of cooking chicken well, he also knows customer relations. He always has a smile for me, and when he learned that Fran had died, he let me know that I could get just half of one of his chickens if I wanted. Half is just about right for a good meal, some bones for stock, and some left overs to go with the stock or to make chicken salad.

Massimo told me that his roaster will hold sixty chickens at a time, and on any given day he cooks at least 150 chickens in it. He also roasts his home made boneless chicken rolls, rabbits, and some other things in there. They come out well seasoned, moist, and delicious.

His wife oversees the kitchen as they prepare other dishes for the customers. There are hot roast beef slices, hot turkey slices, fresh boiled carrots, peas, beans, spinach, swiss chard, broccoli, cauliflower, or whatever else might be fresh. You can also get breaded and deep fried mushrooms, carciofi (artichoke bulbs), garduni (artichoke stems), cauliflower, broccoli, and eggplant. There are also chicken involentini, and a host of other dishes, all made with the freshest ingredients possible. Then there are the
prepared chicken wings, drum sticks, pork ribs, chicken fingers, and on and on and on and on.

Giusy is also the Queen of Lasagna here, as far as I am concerned. A lot of folks make a great pasta al forno, and I like them all. But she is the one I go to when I have a hankering for lasagna. Oh my, it is so good, and a single portion lasts me for two meals. There are also a few types of pasta al forno, and occasionally they make eggplant Parmesan. It is all good. So good.

Of course, if you need wine or soda or water to go with your meal, they have a nice selection of Sicilian wines and soda for you to choose from. They were the first folks I knew who stocked wines from the Calatrasi cantina in San Ciporella, which is one of the cantinas Fran and I particularly liked. You can also get bread, which is of course delivered fresh daily.

As an example of the excellent team that Massimo and Giusy have put together, when I got there at eight in the morning, just as the folks were arriving for the day's work, they all started their tasks in the spotless kitchen. When Massimo found out that one of the women was not feeling well, he rushed her off to the emergency room to be checked over. One of the other women started crying, because she was so worried about her co-worker. She came back an hour later, and someone had spitted the chicken for Massimo to cook, so pranzo, while it might be a little late, would be available for everyone. Everyone there is friendly to me, and they do a marvelous job of wading through my think American accent. These are folks who know good customer relations.

Excuse me, I think that the rice I cooked in home made chicken stock with fresh peas and leftover chicken is ready. I need to put this aside for now.

Castle Walls they all will fall

As sure as we get sand boats with the first few storms of late fall and early winter, we get mudslides and landslides with the late storms of winter. Roads are undercut, hillsides fall down, in the case of a small town in the Province of Messina, roads are filled with mud and buildings are knocked down. It is all covered in the news, and it is sad, but it happens to someone else, someone we or I do not know.

When I came back from the states, and approached the beach at Baia Ranella, we could see the results of the late winter rains, that gave more water than the already heavy clay soil could take.

Then we got around the corner, and past the beach, and we were able to see the really bad news. Paolo's wall had started to fall down two years ago, and a temporary fix was made, and then the road and cars were 'protected' by a new metal wall. The fix was clearly not permanent enough, and the road up to my apartment was closed. With good reason.
The wall had started to come down, undercut by water going down and out at the bottom, by the water pushing too hard on the top of the wall. The road was gone, undercut by the water that took the low route. The picture above shows part of the roadway that was done in, and further up there was another part that was even worst. The fence to close the area really is to protect cars, so they do not fall into some of the new holes.
There was also damage up above, where Paolo had a terrace area for parking his car next to his summer house. The wall holding up that terrace had given way. A large storage area was destroyed, along with Paolo's amazing collection of broom handles, broom ends, chicken feed mills, plastic buckets, metal buckets, electrical cords, tools, and on and on. It also destroyed his chicken coop, and the roosting area I had helped him build when we first got here. Dogs took care of most of the chickens, although there are still five or six that are running loose in the olive orchard that is between where the coop was and where the wall was.

Paolo is distressed, and so am I. The wall will be rebuilt at great cost to Paolo, and then the road will be rebuilt by the city. Meanwhile, I use a very narrow and curvy road to get into town and back home. That is a minor inconvenience for me. It is very sad about the loss of the chicken coop, the storage area, several olive trees, other fruit trees, and Paolo's chickens. So sad.

April Fish

There are some things here in Sicily, and indeed, in Italy, that I will never understand. There are some other things that are pretty easy to understand.

This is one of them.

Today is April 1st, and in the US it is April Fools' Day. Not so here. It is April Fish Day. So people try to tape a fish or a picture of a fish on the back of other people, and this is an invitation to everyone else to kick the 'April Fish' in the rear end. It also is, according to the television news, the day for kids to throw water balloons.

Like I said, this is one of them. Some things I will never understand, and other things are easy to understand. You might want to check your back side now to make sure you are not carrying an April Fish around with you. But then, maybe your friends will tell you, with a swift kick.


Wednesday, March 31, 2010


Sam Mancuso (Sr.) died overnight on March 31st at the age of 93. The above photo was taken in January.

Sam was a special man. He was a steel worker, a farmer, a grape grower, a wine maker, a father to seven children, and he and his wife Rose served as the father and mother of one of his grandchildren. His wife and two of his children predeceased him, so he leaves five children, almost countless grand children, and becoming countless great grand children.

During his lifetime, he ran for office on the Democratic ticket to insure that people in East Dunkirk would have a choice. He also was a founding member of the East Dunkirk Volunteer Fire Department, and I am told at one time had a siren mounted on the roof of his barn. He grew some of the best apples and grapes of anyone in the area, and made some of the worst wine. All of it was fun for him, and he left the joy of working with the land to all of his children.

He will be missed by his family, and by his community.

Addio Sam

Friday, March 26, 2010

Italian Health Care II

No photos with this one. I had some gastrointestinal problems recently, and this was followed by severe pain in my left shoulder. After trying simply rest and pain killers for two days, I decided it was time to see a doctor. I could not sleep, had a hard time eating, and could not get comfortable. In my worst imaginings, I thought it might be a precursor to a heart attack, or a small stroke, or some other fatal attraction. The saner part of me thought it might be just sever inflammation, curable with a steroid and pain reliever shot. Even with 600 mg ibuprofen, the pain was insufferable. So finally, I called my friend Dr. Rino Marinello and made an appointment to see him at the emergency room in Sciacca.

The triage nurse took care of me at 2 p.m., and within five minutes I was in an examination room with Dr. Marinello and a nurse. The took blood, ran an electrocardiogram, and wheeled me out to radiology for x rays. Then I had to wait two hours for the results of the blood work. While I waited, my ibuprofen wore off, so when they came to get me to take me to cardiology, I was in severe pain. The hospital was warm, I was sweating, the pain was giving me a fever, so the assistant, after taking a good look at me, took me back to the examining room, where Dr. Marinello made the current patient leave, made me lie down on the bed, started an IV with saline solution and a mild pain reliever, gave me another ecg, and sent me off to cardiology, this time on a gurney. His face when I entered clearly showed his concern.

At cardiology, I was given four more ecgs, as well as an eccocardiogram (I enjoyed watching my heart pump). While my heart looked strong, the cardiologists worried that the left arm pain might be a precursor to a heart attack, so they recommended I stay under observation for another twelve hours. I was given a bed in one of the emergency room bedrooms. There were two other patients in the room when I arrived, both very old women who looked near the end of life. Their daughters complained that I, as a man, should not be allowed to share a room with two helpless women. They were overruled. Dinner came, and one of the old women refused her dinner, and it was given to me. The daughter complained, so another dinner was brought. The old woman refused again, so of course the daughter ate it. Later, her mother checked out of the room in the only way possible for her. May she rest in peace.

It was rather amusing to see the two daughters operate. When a pillow was brought in for me, I was not quick enough to grab it, so a daughter grabbed it so she could use it as she slept on a cot next to her mother. A man was rolled in on a bed with a big blanket (brought from home, it had his name on it.) One of the women tried to take that, but was stopped by the man's son. It was really pretty funny to watch, and I really did not mind missing the pillow for the amusement value.

Then Crash McCall, who seems to want to try out for the Nascar circuit, came in. He was big and strapping, and rolled me back to cardiology for another ekg and ecg. He managed to bump into every doorway with the gurney I was on, and I would not have believed it possible, but he managed to hit one doorway four times. But we went through the hallways fast, and the turns caused a bit of vertigo.

Anyway, nothing new in cardiology, so back to radiology, four more ex rays, and up to orthopedics, where I was finally diagnosed with severe inflammation and given a shot of steroids and pain killers by Dr. Drago. Then down to see the ER Doctor who replaced Dr. Marinello on the late shift. Dr. Mancuso (that's right, but when I told him that Fran Mancuso had been my wife, he mumbled that there are a lot of Mancuso's in Sicily) told me that there were two divergent opinions. Drago had made a diagnosis, treated me, and said I could be released. The cardiologist wanted to keep me until 4 AM. It was now 10 PM. I opted to stay. They took more blood, another ecg, and sent me back to my room. At midnight, they had replaced the woman who had died with another patient, there was a man on a gurney in the room, and another man in a wheelchair. Dr. Mancuso wanted to see me. The results of the blood tests indicated that I probably was not going to have a heart attack, and suggested I sign myself out. I did, went home, and a combination of Dr. Drago's shot and some ibuprofen allowed me to sleep peacefully.

When I registered with the triage nurse, he needed only my name, date of birth, place of birth, and place of residence. That was all. He did not even want to see my Italian health care card. All of the care, 5 xrays, countless ecgs, an ekg, blood work, pain killers, steroids, orthopedic consult, all were without cost to me. I think of a friend who went to the emergency room for GI problems in the states. Because there had been a one month lapse in his health insurance, the same company who had insured him previously and was insuring him again refused to pay the $12,000 bill because it was a preexisting condition.

Yes, it took me twelve hours to get out of the hospital, but I really want to thank Italian health care.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

St. Agostino

An almost hidden treasure in the popular tourist spot of Taormina in Sicily is the folk art museum. It is hidden in plain site on the floor above the main tourist office in the square where one turns to walk up to the massive Greek Theater. Virtually every tourist who visits Taormina walks by the tourist office, and indeed, walks by the folk art museum, but it seems that few people know it is there, and even fewer take the time to climb the stairs and take a look.

Fran and I found it by accident one day, and we returned several times. One of our favorite parts of the displays was a collection of paintings depicting several near tragedies. On each painting the artist had explained the story, with captions that translated (very loosely) to things like: On March 8, 1654 a fishing boat was swamped by a storm in the straits of Messina, but thanks to the prayers of the crew to St. Drowning, all hands were saved. Or On a sunny day in May of 1794, a group of children walking across a field were set upon by wild dogs. They prayed for the intervention of St. Gatto, and the dogs left them unharmed. Or perhaps A boat sank in the sea off Gardino Naxos on February 2nd, 1836, and thanks to the prayers and intervention of St. Pisces, no one drowned.

The paintings were done in the style of true folk art, and we thought them interesting, and extremely expressive. You can imagine my surprise when I went into the St. Agostino Church in Sciacca and found a similar collection of paintings. Of course the Church of St. Agostino is named after the great St. Augustine, of whom Bob Dylan, among others dreamed, and who spent some time in Sciacca as he travelled from Africa to Rome, only to be followed by his mother, St. Monica, who doggedly wanted to convert him back to Catholicism.

However, the paintings in Sciacca were different in one important aspect. Here, the paintings of ships foundering off the coast were accompanied by very different stories. On May 3, 1652 a ship with 6 fisherman sunk off the coast of Sciacca, and despite the prayers to St. Bubbles, all hands perished. Or On November 18, 1784, two men fell overboard from a ship in heavy seas in the Sicilian Channel, and despite prayers to the Holy Cousin, they were never found.

So it was not always good news that the paintings reported, but it was a way of keeping track of some of the history of the area. History and folk art, what a combination, and what a collection.

All of the photos in this post were taken at St. Agostino's in Sciacca. The folk art museum in Taormina does not allow photography.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Americas (It's about time)

I visited America for a month and a half in January and February. It was quite the experience. My travel schedule took me from Palermo to Boston by plane, Boston to Dunkirk and back by car (thanks for driving, Jon), Boston to Maryland by plane, Washington DC to San Francisco and back by train (four days and three nights on the train each way), Maryland to Florida by plane, then San Francisco by plane, back to Boston by plane, and then home by plane. Not to leave out water transportation, we did take a ferry across San Francisco Bay. It was exhausting, it was fun, it was sad, it was bittersweet, it was frustrating. It has taken me a month to be ready to even write this much about it.

I took a bunch of pictures, but many were from the train which actually travelled too fast to allow me to take good pictures. Oh well.

When I arrived in Boston, I picked up my rental car, in which Jon and I were going to drive to Dunkirk, picking up Jess on the way, to empty out the storage shed Fran and I had there. The car was a Lincoln Navigator, a little larger than I was used to, so before leaving the airport grounds I test drove it into a van operated by the Boston Fire Department. The replacement car was a Lexus, not quite as big, but just fine, thank you.

Jon did all the driving from Boston to Dunkirk, and we met with the Mancuso clan for dinner. It was good to see everyone, and good to see Jon and Jess interacting with their aunts and uncles and cousins, and most especially with their grandfather Sam, who is 93 years old and still up and about and wondering what he will plant in his huge gardens this year for his vegetable stand.

After loading up the car and then unloading it into Jess's car and then Jon's apartment, I was off to Maryland after meeting up with my friend Phyllis Blumberg in Boston for lunch one day, and my nephew Jacob another day. Jon's cats were wonderful hosts
my visit, and I appreciate the fact that they allowed me to stay with them.

In Maryland I stayed one night with my friends Eric and Carol Chandler, then we drove into the capitol and boarded our train for San Francisco. Fortunately we had booked first class cells on the train, so we had our sleeping quarters and bathrooms in our own little rooms, with about the space for a queen size bed in total. It was difficult for me to turn around in the shower, but somehow we managed the trip, and were able to memorize the menu in the dining car after our third meal on board. I guess taking the train across the country is something everyone should enjoy, just for the variety of scenery that is possible, however I did find the quarters cramped, and there was little to do but read and look out the window. Perhaps it would have been better if they had some sort of excursion fare where one could stop for a day or two in the various cities we came to. I did get to see Ottumwa, home of Radar O'Rielly from Mash, which was about as close to a thrill as I got on the ride.
On the return trip, when we got to Reno there were avalanche warnings for the Burlington Northern tracks we were using, so we were rerouted on a more northern Union Pacific track line, and then when we got to Denver (early) there had been a derailment on the tracks ahead, so again we headed a bit north for the run into Chicago. We arrived in Chicago too late to make our connection, so they put us up in a very nice hotel, and we left the next day. It really was a minor inconvenience, and I really did enjoy the luxuries of a large hotel room that night.

The view of the buildings in Chicago at night from the window of my room was nice, and I tried to take a picture of it, but I was unsteady enough, and there was enough that it did not come out. Or maybe it was Christmas and I just did not know it. At any rate, I sort of like the shot I got of it.
I escaped Maryland about twenty four hours before they got socked with two feet of snow. I count my lucky stars. So it was off to Jane and Woody's place in Fort Myers, Florida. I had a relaxing week there, and we spent time at a slough near their condo, as well as a short drive around Sanibel Island with its wonderful Ding Darling Bird Sanctuary. I also got to see my friend Ted Walbourn and his wife Joan from my work time in Fulton, as well as Susie Mitloff and her husband from my high school days.

My flight from Tampa to Atlanta on the way to San Francisco was cancelled, and I was rerouted through Minneapolis. Again, I narrowly missed a storm by getting the rerouting, and was able to get to the west coast to spend some more time with my friends Carl Buchin and Claudia Valas. By this time I think I was so multiply jet lagged that I did not have a clear idea of where or when I was, and I think I left the camera in the suitcase the whole time.

I do know that I eventually went back to Boston, and flew on home two days later. I found America somehow changed. Some of the paranoia seems to have lifted. I also found it more materialistic that I remembered, but I think perhaps that is more my memory than any real change. I am proud to say that other than two sandwiches from Subway (which, by the way, were rather good) I avoided fast food for the whole trip, and my feet did not enter a single McDondald's, Burger King, Carl's Jr., Sonic, Wendy's, or other purveyor of questionable edibles.

So home again home again, just in time for the last of the winter rains, and the first of the sparkling clear, warming days of spring.

Monday, December 21, 2009


Everytime a circus comes to town (about three or four times a year) I start having Bob Dylan's Desolation Row go through my head.

"They're selling postcards of the hanging
'They're painting the passports brown
'The beauty shop is filled with sailors
'The circus is in town."

For whatever reason, I had never been to a circus until now. I remember once having an opportunity to see Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus at Madison Square Garden, but I opted to search the shelves of the Strand for interesting used books instead. Fran used to go to the travelling circus in Tupper Lake when the kids were young. She would laugh and say that if they advertised 80 animals, you could be that there were 79 birds and one horse.

Anyway, I convinced my friend Maria to go to the circus with me, along with her two children, Claudia and Alberto. I had hoped that her husband Mimmo would also come, but he claimed that he was tired so did not come over to the field near the stadium to see the second, or maybe third greatest show on earth.

This circus was certainly not Ringling Brothers, or even one of the Ringlings, nor was it Barnum nor Bailey. But it was fun. The circus did not have any birds, but they did have three camels, four horses, four snakes, four donkeys, and a zebra. The performers each had a variety of roles, and it seemed that some of them were working their way down from circus life, while others were trying to learn the trade, and move up to better circuses.

Not including the roustabouts, there were about ten people who worked for the circus, with one young man, who had probably trained as a gymnast, also working as a juggler and at one point putting the horses through their paces as they pranced around the single ring.

The clown came out on several occasions to do cute little, silent jokes, and then led kids selected from the audience in a game of musical chairs. Claudia did participate in that, and came in second. For me, it was most amusing when one of the women brought around a large snake for people to pet, and I watched Claudia and Alberto climb over each other to get out of the way.

It was certainly a beat circus, but it was also a fun circus, and the next time a circus comes to town, I will be there. Besides, with only about thirty people in the audience, I was able to get front row seats.


My December project was putting a half wall up on part of my terrace. I thought it would make a good place to sit, a good place to put things when I have people over to eat on the terrace, and a nice frame for the view to the sea.

My friend Maria recommended two brothers who were muratore, or wall builders. In the seven plus years I have lived in Sciacca, I have had to employ muratore to redo our bathroom, put in a wall safe, build a little storage area behind the apartment, fix the kitchen floor, and maybe one or two other projects. The good muratore are always busy, and the not so good muratore are always not so good.

This time I really lucked out. Not only were Maria's friends good, they were available, they did a nice job, and did the work quickly. I was able to use some of the left over tiles from the bathroom for the inner wall, and it dressed it up very nicely.

The condominium would not allow me to make a glassed in room in the area with the wall, or I would consider doing that. As it stands, the wall adds something very nice to the apartment, and I am glad I did it.

Thanks, guys, you did a great job.