Un Tocco di Kalsa is my first personal in-depth reportage that I shot in Palermo, Sicily in 2000.
The story it's about the practice of a drinking game called Tocco played in one of the oldest parts of Palermo's historical centre, the Kalsa district. This area, now developed as a trendy area with posh flats, bars and restaurants, still represents the core of being Palermitan.
Tocco rules are strict and unforgiving. The game's aim is to re-order a social hierarchy based on power and influence, much like the Mafia society is structured. A count among the participants establishes a ruling couple consisting of a boss and his partner. Together they decide who drinks and who doesn't and how much should be drunk at a time. These decisions are expressed through ancient Sicilian rhymes which only the veterans of this game know by heart. By imposing on, blessing or penalising the table mates, the ruling couple establishes a verdict on who is to be respected and who is not, while all around people carry on getting married, shouting, plotting, laughing, fighting and making toasts...life carries one routinely, the perfect theatre of life, an endless allegory to escape the misery of normality.