Our time in Sicily is actually starting to come to a close. We’ve been here 14 months, and have about four to go. That’s 78% complete. I’m both ready and sad to leave. I’ll be sad to leave the beauty, the food, and the relaxed lifestyle. But I’m ready to continue with our life, move back into our house, work again (I’ll regret saying that later though, I’m sure), and ready to be near our friends and family again. One of my favorite parts about our time here has been all the people who have come to visit. I love showing people Sicily, and I love that I have the time to spend the people who come to see us (thanks, Sean, for working to support us!). It’s always bitter-sweet though, because it reminds me of what I miss about home.
This past month we had two sets of visitors – my college roommate Meghan and her husband Ryan came out at the end of April, and then in May we had a group of 6 visiting (I think that almost qualifies me as a tour guide) before we all continued on a two week trip through mainland Italy.
Meghan and Ryan’s visit was so fun. We spent the first day in Catania and Syracuse, and then on the second day took a boat trip to the Aeolian islands. We left from Sicily, and stopped in Panarea for lunch, strolled around Stromboli, and then at sunset boated around the back of the island to see the eruptions. One poorly placed cloud blocked our view, but it was still a beautiful trip.
We did a little wine tasting as well at the Gambino winery. Meghan works at the Francis Ford Coppola winery in California (Coppola…Godfather….Sicily….), and we immediately became VIP guests when they discovered this.
We spent an afternoon in Taormina, walked around Aci Trezza and Aci Castello, and had some delicious wine and pizza. We also visited the fish market, after which Ryan made us seafood risotto. I love it when people cook for us!
In May we had six friends visiting, and our friend Liz came out a week early to spend some extra time in Sicily with us. Liz was so fun to have here. She’s half Italian and has a lot of family in Northern Italy, who we visited later in the trip, but had never been in Southern Italy. We spent some time around our house, went down to the water, and explored Catania.
We also took a couple day trip around the island. We visited the Anna Tasca Lanza cooking school in Vallelunga. My mom and I went there in the Fall and I was itching to go back. It’s a lovely place in the middle of the island where they grow all their own food, and teach about the history and traditions of Sicily and its cooking.
From there, we went up to Cefalu on the north coast for the night. The main freeway that connects Catania and Palermo is currently closed due to a scandalous collapse of a section of the freeway a few weeks ago. No one was injured, but the head of the highway management agency resigned after a lot of criticism over their poor handling of an avoidable situation.
The road closure has diverted cars and trucks from the main freeway onto mountainous country roads that are not meant to handle that level of traffic. But, for us it was lovely. Everything is in full bloom and the drive was breathtaking. I kept stopping the car to take pictures out the window. I love how beautiful Sicily is in each season, and how one part of the island is completely different from the others. All the wildflowers were blooming, everything was green, and it was a very enjoyable detour.
Cefalu was lovely. Our prior trip there had been in February when it was literally freezing (it snowed on our drive!), so the warm 80 degree weather was a wonderful change. We stayed in a darling little Bed & Breakfast a block up from the beach, had a nice dinner with the best limoncello I’ve ever had (we even convinced the restaurant owner to sell us a bottle), did a beautiful hike up to the ancient city, and spent a relaxing afternoon on the beach.
Back at home, we had a day or two more of the hard life (relaxing, walking, eating, drinking, cooking) before our other five friends arrived. We spent a few days in Sicily with them, and then a couple weeks on mainland. That will be the topic of my next post…