– What’s it like to live in Pantelleria all winter?
It’s a common question from many summer guests visiting the island. Enchanted by the colors of the sunsets, the transparent depth of the sea, and the strength of the volcanic land perhaps still full of the flavor and taste of capers, courgettes and passito, drunk chilled.
Winter in Pantelleria is an experience of slowness, of dance, and “matticata” (Pantescan dialect for rough seas).
Slowness is the time that stands still, as we come away from the frenzy of deadlines and priorities to become calm, to rest, and pause.
Long chats, unscheduled visits, bountiful aperitivos and late night dinners.
All things that build friendship and companionship.
This winter slowness is when the island stops to tell a story of those little things, our treasured conversations become “paintings” in strong colors, happening inside of our houses.
This is where story and truth come to terms with each other, even if it doesn’t always happen that way, they keep us company.
Dance, on the other hand, is life in circles.
Each district of the island has its circolo social club and agrees on their band/orchestra and day of the week to celebrate. From Epiphany to Carnival, there is music and dancing.
Company and fun.
And the time of the night, which does not stop but opens to the rhythm of waltz, polka, mazurka.
Everyone dances… adults and children, young and old.
Each club has its members, the founding ones, the new ones, the family members and even a few guests each evening.
Everyone brings something, wine, sweets, sandwiches.
At a certain point, we need something to give us the strength to dance all night long.
At the first light of dawn, we all eat together, perhaps to soften the good wine that flowed through our veins.
During the night, dancing is a means to initiate courtships for the younger ones, smiles and nostalgia for the older ones, to meet up with some couples, and a sense of still feeling alive for the elders.
Above all, it offers a lightness, fun, light-heartedness to outweigh these winter days and difficulties.
When you leave, you feel lighter and happier.
There isn’t one Pantesco who can’t dance or who can’t keep the same rhythm with their foot to the bass drum.
As the days of the Carnival approach, the masquerade begins! Elaborate themed costumes, according to the choices of each club. Music is selected for the choreographed performances; everyone becomes a director, choreographer and talented costume designer, making the whole island a large open-air theater.
When the night of the dance becomes the day of the carnival masks, everyone gathers to celebrate their accomplishments in the Piazza.
Finally, the “matticata” is the fierce weather that becomes a storm, when neither ferry ship nor plane can arrive or depart from the island. There’s nothing you can do but stay on the island and enjoy our kind of winter.