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San Berillo, a district in the historical centre of Catania. A district notorious for being the hub of prostitution in the city. And in all honesty, it is still, more than anything else, renowned for being a Redlight District. But in recent months the people of the area have decided to collaborate with a group of associations in order to change this situation.
Once a month, on a Sunday, San Berillo comes alive, and the people of Catania all turn out for a big lunch. To give an idea of the atmosphere that reins in this district, just try to imagine a place where there are no passers-by, neither local people nor tourists, no shops and no bars.
Just half-abandoned buildings, falling-down. And those few who do pass through the district do so quickly, without looking around, holding on tightly to their handbags. And then there are those that come to the area to please themselves, walking slowly, looking furtively at the sex workers and what they can offer. There are many problems that undoubtedly need to be resolved, problems, that have a negative impact on the daily lives of those that work in the district, raise their children there, sleep and eat there.
There was a purse discarded on the ground, and there was silence. And meanwhile your eyes begin to explore, in this case no masterpiece by a famous artist, decorated with gilted-gold, with cherubs looking down on you with their chubby cheeks, but rather your eyes explore the historical buildings of the district, designed by famous architects many years ago, now dilapidated, with broken windows with grilles and silicon breasts, comfortably perched in front of the door.
That Sunday I wandered those streets for a bit, looking for the place where the lunch was going to be held, and while I smelled the stench of those unpleasant smells I thought about the daily lives of those who live there. And while I thought that I was strolling through some of the most neglected and forgotten streets of the city, I realised that those very walls were staring at me with the graffiti of a master. Stories not only for the history books, but that could become the basis of a book, or a film.