Thursday, June 30, 2011

La Sicilia Press

This week famed TV and print journalist Maria Torrisi led our Journalism and Documentary students on a guided tour of the printing facility for the regional daily newspaper La Sicilia. In addition to the 700,000 copies of La Sicilia produced here daily, the facility also prints national papers like Il sole 24 Ore, La Repubblica, and Tutto Sport.

These large containers hold yellow, red , blue, and black inks. The black ink container is the largest, as it is used for the newspaper's typeface. The primary color inks are mixed to produce a variety of shades used in color photographs and graphics displayed in the paper.

This enormous press holds an army of rotating cylinders. After a laser ray has etched the day's news onto a sheet of aluminum, the sheet is wrapped around these cylinders. Ink is applied to the aluminum etching and the spinning cylinders are pressed against kilometers of newspaper.

Literally hundreds of kilometers of paper. Per day, the facility uses about 35 rolls of recycled newspaper, pictured below. The paper is imported from Russia, France, and Nordic countries.

After the paper is pressed, it is cut and folded, on the machine pictured below.

Great tour! Thanks Maria Torrisi!

Watch out! Observing the traffic in Catania

I didn’t notice the motorcylce until it zoomed inches in front of me. I had removed my eyes from the road to observe the restaurants to the left as I walked along the catanese streets. Paying close attention is a necessity on the streets of Catania. The road system looks more like bumper cars with BMW motorcycles and Vespa scooters weaving through the entanglement. Of course the road isn’t a county fair ride, so bumping is strictly prohibited.

Now immagine crossing this confusion without a pedestrian light indicating when to go. If there’s one thing people don’t wait for in Italy, it’s crossing the street. One must cautiously creep into the chaos before it slows down to allow you to cross. Even in the few intersections that have crosswalk lights, I felt uneasy at first. Cars and motorcycles making left turns will sinuously wrap around the pedestrians in the crosswalk. But after a few weeks, it’s beginning to feel more natural. The biggest bumper car collisions I ever experienced were the T-bone crashes I didn’t see coming. Thus, I have learned that eye contact, assertion, and awareness are the most important skills for a pedestrian.

Crossing an intersection is almost the same process for vehicles. Most intersections don’t have stop signs or stop lights. Cars and trucks inch forward until they demand their own right of way. By far, the most incredible part of Catania’s traffic is the way the drivers whip around the diminutive street corners missing the parked cars by centimeters on each side. However, sometimes side streets in the city really are too small. While riding in the car with my friend Riccardo, he took a turn that proved impossible to make with a car parked on the corner. Thankfully, the bump didn’t leave a mark.

Despite the frenetic appearance to a foreigner, the system seems to work well. It fits the layout of the city with it’s winding side streets intersecting each other every fifty meters. I know I won’t drive in the frenzy but perhaps on a back road, one of our Italian friends will teach me how to drive manual transmission like a European.

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Sea in Sicilia

Written by Theodore Choi, Student, CET Intensive Language and Culture Studies in Catania.

Since the age of four, I have loved going to the beach. Whenever I was at a beach, I considered myself to be on vacation. Although I hated the sand slipping into my shoes and irritating my feet while I walked, I loved being near the water. The beach has always lured me back to watch the ocean move around the land mass that serves as its boundary.

Last night, as I celebrated my birthday, I hoped to be able to visit the beach. Fortunately, a Sicilian friend was able to drive us to a part of Catania that was new to me, a new beach for me to enjoy. Although I am aware that Sicily is an island, and that I am surrounded by water, it was relieving to my mind to witness the ocean firsthand. Maybe it was because it was at night, but the tranquil nighttime beachscape was quite a change from the daytime bustle of the city’s center. The beach, deserted at this late hour, calmed my nerves.

The particular scent of the beach was what did it in. The salty perfume is much stronger on the Sicilian shore than on any beach in the United States and the water rolls softly onto the sand. A slight glow from the moon reflected off the froth that accumulated as small waves eased their way into the larger body of water.
It was almost as if the sea was an instrument playing the music of crashing waves. I have been to many beaches in my life, and I know that tourists crowd them and disrupt their natural flow.

Here in Catania, where non-European tourists are uncommon, it seems that the ocean reflects the attitude of the people, who seem more relaxed living their daily lives than the people I see back in the States. This assurance of peace and calm has helped me embrace the people, culture, and language even more.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Time in Sicily

Written by Derek Olson, Student, CET Intensive Language and Culture Studies in Catania.

In Sicily, my American anxiety for the proverbial value of time, and time lost, is put to the test. However, even if I wanted to live the same frenetic life I lead in the States, I wouldn’t have the energy here. Before coming to Italy I never considered how exhausting a full-immersion language experience would be. That must mean it’s working.

There is a wonderful atmosphere of tranquility in Sicily, Italy’s deep south. Though I enjoy this repose, acclimating to it requires a patience I never could have managed at home. As our professor Paola Servino remarked on the first day of class, “In Italy, one must always wait.” Convenience stores don’t inhabit every street corner to instantly fulfill my shopping needs. Fortunately, there is a fair trade off; every block has a panificio or pasticceria with delicious snacks and delectable sweets.

Running errands can be frustrating here but not because of the distance one must walk to a specialized shop. This city is enjoyable on foot. However, on more than one occasion I have traversed half way across the city to find a store closed. Most shops have slightly irregular hours and everything shuts down for an afternoon break called “la pausa.” In fact, the city becomes rather quiet during the hottest part of the day (see photo of Piazza Teatro Massimo, above). There are more than 20 times as many people in the city center at 2am than 2pm. Though the afternoon is quiet, the night life is more active than Mount Etna. The quiescent afternoon erupts into amicable gathering at night. (See photo of Teatro Massimo at night, below).

Sicilians, who consider themselves distinct from other Italians, have a few things they are proud of: their food, their families, but above all their people. I am amazed by the alacrity with which they make friendships. I grew up believing personal accomplishments to be the most fulfilling part of life, but for Sicilians, relationships are the true treasures. Simply put, Americans live to work, and Sicilians work to live. Experiencing these different philosophies is the greatest cultural exchange I could have.