We are back in Sicily catching up from our month of home leave. We spent two weeks back at home (well, three weeks for me) and then two weeks on a trip through Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam. I’ll get to that in another post, but first I wanted to write about our last few weeks in Sicily before leaving.
My friend Kim came out to visit the last week or so that we were here. Kim and I have been friends since we were 5, and it was so much fun having her out here. We went to a few of my favorite spots, Taormina, Caltagirone, and Catania, but also went to Cefalu up on the north side of the island for a night, and to Aci Reale for Carnevale.
Sicily in February is busy with Carnevale, and the largest celebration is just a few miles north of us in the town of Aci Reale. Carnevale is an ancient tradition at the start of lent that dates back to Roman times. It’s full of partying, drinking, eating, and general merry-making. In Sicily, there are masks, confetti, silly string, and costumes. Even during the middle of the day, the town squares are full of kids running around in costumes throwing confetti.
Aci Reale’s carnevale was beautiful. It’s known for the large floats, which were incredibly impressive. The streets are packed with people in costumes and masks, silly string and confetti flies through the air (or directly into your face when someone decides you don’t have enough on you), music blasts, and the floats light everything up.
In the middle of Kim’s visit we also took a trip up to Cefalu, a little beach town on the north side of the island. Sean and I had been dying to go here, and even though it was winter time, we made the trip. It was cold (really really cold) but beautiful. It was so cold, in fact, that it was actually snowing on our drive there.
Cefalu was beautiful though, and worth the extra layers of clothes. The town dates back to the 300s or so BC, and, like the rest of Sicily, has been under many different rulers – including the Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Normans, and now Italians. For hundreds of years, the city was on a massive headland that overlooks the sea, but was brought down to a far more accessible location along the water during Norman times. You can still see the remains of the old city up on the cliff.
We spent the first evening exploring the town. We visited the Medieval Laundry in the middle of town. Public laundry sites like this were built all over Sicily and some were used up until the 1950s when people still didn’t have running water in their house. The laundry is built over the river as it flows out to the sea. The area furthest downstream is for washing clothes, slightly upstream is for rinsing, and the furthest upstream is for drinking water.
The city has a beautiful cathedral. It’s built in the Normal style, which is quite a change from all the ones on our side of the island that were damaged in the 1693 earthquake and rebuilt in the Baroque style.
It wasn’t exactly beach weather while we were there, but I imagine it’s lovely here during the summer:)
The next morning the weather was a bit more in our favor, and we hiked up to the old town on the cliff.
Kim flew home a couple days later, and then I spent a few days running errands, cleaning, and packing for our trip home. Seans co-worker was staying at our house while we were gone, so I got the house cleaned and freezer packed full of meals for him . I flew out on the 16th to visit my sister in NYC on my way to California, and Sean flew home to California a week later. Next post I’ll write about home, and our Southeast Asia trip!