Sunday, March 25, 2012

Memories of Sicily


People
The people we met in Sicily were incredibly friendly. In fact on one occasion when we asked at a gas station where a store was the attendant jumped in his car and had us follow him. In Trapani, when we were on foot and asked about a shop, a grizzled old man in the tobacconists had us follow him for at least a kilometre to find our destination.

I did see a handing over of money in one restaurant. Mafioso? Perhaps.

Coffee
Sicily has the best coffee I've ever tasted. The shots of espresso, which fill only half an espresso cup are full bodied and delicious. The bars where you sit and enjoy your coffee were often pasticcerias selling the most wonderful pastries and marzipan as well as gelato. How civilised! I miss them already.

The Food
The fresh fish: the sea-bass, sea bream, swordfish, tuna, mussels, sepia, cuttlefish, shrimps and squid to name a few were always cooked to perfection. The homemade pasta with fish was sublime. The use of almonds, pine nuts and pistachios with fish, pasta or in risottos was perfect. The little desserts, the pastry, the homemade gelato and the marzipan were heavenly.

The Driving
How can people who are so nice become so angry and aggressive behind the wheel? Gas prices one day reached 190€ a litre.

The Language
Millions speaks the Sicilian dialect, which has variations throughout Sicily but it is the same Sicilian spoken by immigrants to North and South America. It really is a romance language that has been influenced by Greek, Latin, Norman French, Aragonese, Arabic, Old Provencal, Catalan, Spanish and Italian. thank goodness everyone we encountered spoke Italian because when we listened to the Sicilian dialect we couldn't pick up a word of it.

The History
The ancient ruins from Neolithic, Greek, Roman, Arab and Spanish were always interesting and informative. You could spend a lifetime in Sicily studying the history, architecture and art either at the ruins or the museums or churches like St. Lucia in Siracusa with the giant Caravaggio altarpiece "The Burial of St.Lucy."

Mount Etna
Snowcapped Mount Etna looms over eastern Sicily. It is fascinating to watch the vents steaming and in our case spewing ash high in the sky.

The Sea, The Mountains, The Sunshine, The Flowers
Mostly, we travelled along the coast so we could always see the lovely blue, clear Mediterranean. The rugged mountains with their carpets of yellow flowers were beautiful. The constant sunshine, the gardens in bloom and even some wild deep red wild poppies that we spotted on the last day made for a wonderful holiday.

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