DadWagon’s Nathan Thornburgh recently traveled for Roads & Kingdoms to Sicily, where he noticed night children and other strange things.
The day has its phases in Vucciria market. Fruit, produce and meat stands line the alleys north of Via Roma during the day. For lunch and then later mealtimes, carts emerge in front of storefronts, grilling fish in great billows of smoke and steam, keeping fried arancini warm under heat lamps. Then the vendors clear out entirely and the bars take over, pouring shots of Jaegermeister and cold pints of Moretti for the throngs who come to celebrate being young and alive on warm nights in Sicily.
It is during this phase that a foosball table emerges from somewhere and a few players take to thwacking and spinning and shouting around the table. But these are not adults indulging in a drunken round of child-games. The players are children, and they are playing against their parents. Try not to be surprised, as the hour stretches toward midnight, that kindergarten-aged children are playing foosball vigorously without a bedtime story in sight.
Sicily in the summer is an island of night-children, who stay up until they collapse, because they have no school in the morning, no summer camp. They stay with grandparents if they can, but even with parents, summer nights are deeply unregulated.
At 11:30pm in Testa Dell’Acqua, little Salvatore is watching an Italian station called Cartoonito that is not programmed for stoners, as it would be in the States, but for actual little children who want to watch cartoons at 11:30pm.
In Ribera, Sabrina’s niece and nephew finally beg for sleep. They are not forced to it.
And in Palermo, the foosball tourney, age 7 and under in the midnight division, continues on. And what you notice, and admire, about all these night-children, is that they are neither fretted over nor fretting themselves. They are night-children because their parents want to be out at night, and therein lies a simple alignment of interests. It is summer for us all, we all hate sleep, what else is there?