Saturday, July 23, 2005

The evil park bench

Simon Mills writes in the Guardian about his jaunt in Palermo, and realises something Indians - and young adults in Bombay - are only too aware of: the freedom that isn't theirs to enjoy. Luckliy, there's a happy ending.

What I really liked about Palermo, what made me feel rather sad for my
passing youth and innocence, was the way that this poor city was positively
affluent with young love. Everywhere you looked pretty girls and boys were
tangled up in each others' arms. Miss Sixty get-ups were wrapped around England
football shirts (a bizarre new fashion for teenage Sicilians - no idea why) or
clinging on to one another astride Vespas. Or kissing and canoodling in
alleyways and on park benches. You know why this is, of course; young Sicilians,
who still live with their parents well into their 20s usually, have no where
else to go so they rely on mobile phones (did you know, by the way, that there
are more cellular phones in Italy than land-line ones?) and the streets for
their private affairs.

But not everyone is as happy with their wandering hands as your foolishly
romantic reporter. Some fuddy-duddy locals reckon that the kids take their
public displays of affection to an obscene and indecent level, and a few years
ago Palermo's civic administrators decided to take action against the young
lovers who hung out in the Via Belmonte shopping street. Their solution,
typically Sicilian in its swingeing, radical and histrionic mood, was to remove
all the benches lining the street. The entertainingly curmudgeonly decision even
made the national news. Needless, to say, the benches are now back and the amore
Here's the whole piece.

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