It is the third time that Marco Scarsini organizes a workshop on “Stochastic Methods in Game Theory“, at Erice, Sicily (modulo accent differences, the last syllable is pronounced “Che”, like in Che Guevara). So after the Jewish New Year feast on Wednesday night was over well after midnight I went to sleep, and woke up at 2AM to catch the 5:15 flight to Rome, then the connecting flight to Palermo, and finally the ride to Erice with two other participants in another workshop.
On the way from Palermo to Sicily we crossed several small towns, and I noticed a weird phenomenon. Almost all the apartments have balconies, some smaller, some larger. In few you can spot a couple of plants in pots, in fewer pots without plants, in some you see laundry drying in the sun, but the vast majority of the balconies are empty. And it is clear from their emptiness that they have been empty for a long time, and they will remain empty in the future. Not even a laundry stand or some un-used stuff that needs to be stored somewhere.
I asked the Italian lady who took with me the ride from the airport to Erice why this is so. She said that Italian like air and light. Well, a large window instead of a closed door to the balcony would have been a better solution. She tried again: they use it for drying laundry, but today the weather is not good. Where are the laundry-stands?
I am at a loss. Why do Sicilians build balconies that they do not use? A cultural habit whose origin is lost in the past? To be able to watch parades or festivals in the street below?