Portrait of Sicily

Sicily not quite fully pictured. Trapani is on the far NW coast.

Imagine you meet a woman who is 250 years old. No lie — a walking, breathing, functioning, anomalous miracle. Think about what that would be like. Two hundred and fifty. She was alive during the war of 1812. Heck, she was born in the late 17th century. She may now have an iPhone, but she was 75 the year the telegraph was invented. Wouldn’t you be blown away? If yes, you can begin to understand how Sicily feels to me.

Sicily — Mediterranean Island being kicked by the boot that is Italy — is: like a gut punch that doesn’t hurt. Like a slap that doesn’t sting.

Walking around under the harsh, bright skies, the weight of the centuries millenniums of human history presses in from all sides. I happened upon crumbling fortresses built hundreds of years before Jesus was even a twinkle in Mary’s eye. People have been scratching together an existence on these sun-bleached hills next to the impossibly vivid, sapphire sea for  thousands of years.   That’s older than some rocks.

One of many (presently) seaside ancient castles.

And you can feel it.   Without being told, it’s obvious that life here is hard. It seems the wisdom, tenacity, ferocity, and grit of Sicilian ancestors has seeped into the soil, buildings, scrubby vegetation, and even the glittering, salty sea. Down every street from nearly every window, laundry flaps in the white light and maritime winds. Fish shops string up their several-hundred-pound catches from wall-mounted sidewalk cranes. The water coming out of the taps is pulled from the Mediterranean and desalinated. Prize-winning vegetables and fruits fill every bin at the mornings-only corner markets.

The first of many slice of Sicilian heaven…

Sicilian meals and desserts have a well-deserved reputation. We were never disappointed. Creme-filled puff pastry drowned in chocolate, seven-layer “cake of desire”, gelato that even bus-drivers will stop en route to eat, pizzas and calzones celebrated by every single taste bud… and we didn’t even begin to do the culinary department fair justice. The investigation has been shelved for the foreseeable future, to be continued…

What did we do in Sicily? Besides walk around, eat, and absorb the culture? Nothing. We’ve figured out that about every ten days we need a “weekend.” We’d gone 15, and so fell jubilantly through the front door of Vito’s airbnb apartment. On our last morning in the city that receives Ryan Air flights, Pat went up to the ancient ruins of Erice. That night, after traveling to Messina, we connected with some Couchsurfing folks who had us over for an incredible Sicilian/Israeli dinner. It couldn’t have been more perfect. Well, except for first stumbling in confusion through neighborhood streets full of broken glass, graffiti, and active dumpster diving. But then… Mama Mia! Excellent company and food. Welcome to Sicily!  â™£

Sicilan streets, gelato enjoyment, and a medieval city in this Facebook album.

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