Sunday, April 15, 2007

sicily 2

Why Sicily? One does not usually have much interest in Sicily. Rome- yes, Paris- yes but Palermo?. Land of the mafia? Besides Sicily is a small island, what would one do there? Indeed, Sicily is a land of myth, mystery and enchantment. When one loses all fears of visiting Sicily, they are rewarded with pleasures beyond imagination. It is a small island but is packed with history, more ancient than ancient Greece. An ancient people settled there before the invasion of the Phoenicians and the ancient Greeks. The ancient Greeks left evidence of a huge and thriving population all over the south eastern part of Sicily- the valley of the temples in Siracusa, the ruins of a greek amphitheatre that can seat up to 19,000 also in Siracusa, another huge amphitheatre in Toarmina, various other ruins in Catania, Selinunte and Segeste. Some of these were remodelled and used by the Romans. They in turn left their mark in the mosaics at Piazza Amerina. A stream of other invaders and occupiers came through the island- the Normans (French), Saracens (Arabs) Hofstaufens (Germans) Anjevins (French) Aragon (Spanish) and finally reunification with Mainland Italy. Though a part of Italy, they remain an autonomous part of Italy with Sicilians traveling on Sicilian papers and not an Italian passport. They are Sicilians first and Italians second. Throughout their evolution, their culture, architecture and food developed on their own and this is what makes Sicily so unique. They celebrate their own artists, architects, literary and musical giants. Everyone wanted to know how we were going to fill two weeks worth of vacation time. Even my sister in law, Sophie, who went on this trip with me had her doubts. I was confident because I did extensive research and read up on Sicily before I embarked on the trip. I knew two weeks wasn't enough and it sure wasn't. These are the places we visited,
Catania, Toarmina, Acireale, Randazzo, Agrigento, Siracusa, Noto, Ragusa, Palermo, Cefalu.
It was two weeks packed with fun and thrills and all kinds of discovery. There wasn't enough time to see everything. I want to go back. I did some sketching and I want to desperately go back to do more. I wrote every night and I now have a manuscript ready. I want to go back to see the rest of the island and to revisit some of the places I have been.
Mafia? I didn't see any. The people were ever so nice and helpful. I have come to love Sicily and Sicilians. We were in a family restaurant for dinner; it wasn't in the best part of town. There were other patrons at a large table next to us. They looked and dressed very regular but just being themselves reminded me of scenes from the 'Godfather'. It was like anytime you would hear the rattling of gunfire. It was very amusing but I'm not being fair. I came home and made some Sicilian dishes. I have a great caponata recipe. I brought home contraband- tomato seeds. I planted them in pots 2 days ago. Let's see if I'll get to eat the sweetest tomatoes in the world grown in my backyard. I'm going back. I left my heart in Sicily.

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