So we took a small little plane down to Sicily after spending a week in Rome, enjoying time with family that my brother and I were meeting for the very first time. I remember the plane being pretty small, it held maybe 50 – 100 passengers if I had to estimate, and I remember it feeling really outdated. I feel like I remember green carpeting in the aisle. I think the plane right from Rome to Sicily was only an hour long or so, and I think I slept through most of it. I also remember some guy getting yelled at for trying to smoke in the plane restroom. Well, that’s always fun, plane drama. LMAO!
When the plane landed in Sicily, I have never felt so much like a celebrity before, walking down the stairs of the plane right onto the runway. The only difference was there wasn’t any paparazzi there to greet me LOL!! When we got off the plane, we gathered our luggage, and tried to snap some pics in front of the plan with all of the breathtaking mountains in the background. I have never seen mountains like THAT before!! It was just AMAZING. So, soon we were getting yelled at to get the hell off the runway. Stupid Americans we are. So at the Sicily airport, we were greeted by my dad’s cousin Carlo. Carlo is a very accomplished art professor in Palermo and he was quite the quirky, funny guy! He looks like Albert Einstein with the crazy white hair and round glasses. He picked us up, and we all crowded into his minivan as he steered us up twisty turning mountainsides at a high speed…. This was…SCARY!! There were no guard rails going up the mountain… As scary as it was… the view was just the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. He was taking us to stay with him in his house in the mountains of Palermo. These mountains were called Pioppo.
The 2 story house sat on top of the mountain, and it also had a little bungalow house right off the side patio, which is where we had some Foosball tournaments during our stay there. When we got to the house, we met up with Carlo’s wife ( I forget here name), his in laws, and his daughter Barbara. My dad brought her an American Flag and she posed for some photos with it. We had also met up at Carlo’s mountain house, with my Grand Parents. They had decided not to do the Rome leg of our trip, so they just met up with us in Palermo, Sicily.
I really loved staying at this house…I woke up every morning to the sun shining in our second story guest room window, the sound of the sheep baah-ing from down the mountain! The air was so clean, and refreshing… my brother Vin, my cousin Nick, and I would pass the time in the smaller side house playing Foosball, or exploring the grounds, practicing our photography (Digital cameras had just started getting popular, so this was a huge deal to us!). Vin passed the time by playing Scupa, a Sicilian card game, and I also did my homework, since I was in fact 15 at the time, and had school to worry about. We also ate about 5 times a day! The breakfasts here were minimal, they served either Camm-o-mee-lay (chamomile tea) or espresso and melba toast rounds spread with Nutella. Eggs weren’t really a thing here, and forget about bacon! The Sicilians seemed to spend most of their energy preparing for lunch 1, lunch 2, dinner 1, and dinner 2, LOL!
We had a lot of antipasto, seafood, salad, pasta dishes, and fruits/nuts. A funny little story that my brother reminded me of, he was trying to eat a pomegranate, and Carlo was watching him eat it. He made fun of the way Vin ate it, and then Vin ran away from the table crying. LOL! I don’t remember that at all, but it didn’t happen to me, so I guess I wouldn’t. But I DO remember taking a shower upstairs, and flooding the place (if you read Entry Part 1from Rome, you’d know that I was prone to this… I just couldn’t get used to the showers here!). The water trickled all the way down the stairs, and I got yelled at …. hahhaah ooops! In the mountaintops here, the Sicilians also loved to pick the “Babalucci” right off the vine. Babalucci are SNAILS!! And they would eat them too!!! YUCK!!! I think my dad tried one… so gross!! But that is considered a delicacy over there.
In this house, we also brought Carlo a green gourd and taught him about Halloween, the way the States do it. My dad helped him carve a Jack o’ Lantern face into it! It helped us get into the Halloween spirit in Sicily , since we were missing the fun back home. I think he really enjoyed learning about how we celebrated Halloween!
We spent a few days with Carlo and his family in their mountainside house, but he also took us sightseeing a lot too before eventually taking us to catch our bus to my father’s family’s hometown of Ribera. Carlo took us into the heart of Palermo, the city, where he works as an Art Professor. He took us to a few museums, and even to an excavation site that he was helping to restore. That was so fascinating! They found ancient human remains where they tore up the ground to build a building in the city, and that’s what they found! Instead of building, they started to excavate it, and preserve it. Carlo was helping to maintain all of that. He also took us to some smaller galleries, and eventually took us to HIS personal studio! He had a crazy looking painting of green roses, they looked like heads of lettuce. He also had a rose sculpture installation in front of a projector screen image of a rose which was pretty. The 2 most fascinating installations in his studio were the male and female form. He had 2 mannequins standing in 2 separate corners of the room. The female had motorized metal boobs that spun, and the male had a motorized metal penis that erected when he flipped the switch. It was pretty funny! There was also a piece he had, which was a foosball table that he splattered with green paint when Italy won the 1982 world cup. I think this piece was featured in an exhibit on the Intrepid ship in NYC.
He was a great tour guide, and my dad translated most of what he said to us. He drove us around in his mini van, and took us to some stores as well. I remember going into a music store in the city there and purchasing a Euro Dance CD. It had the song “Zombie Nation” on it, and my brother bought a Giorgia CD, an artist that we heard all over the radio during our time there. Her big hit at the time was “Ce da Fare”. I also remember the song “Blue” by Eiffel 65 being all over the radio there! It was funny hearing all of this new music in Europe first, and then when we went back home, it came out a few months later, and we had already known all of those songs!
We spent the last night in Palermo at Carlo’s high rise apartment in the city. We had dinner there with everyone and had a nice time. The next morning he brought my parents Espresso for breakfast, and he took us to the bus station. One thing about Carlo that was funny, was he would always say “THE BEST!” That was about as far as his english went. The one thing we joked about forever was when we were saying goodbye and Thank You for everything, we would say “Gratzi Per Tutti”… My cousin Nick said “Ciao Per Tutti” which translates to “Bye For Everything”. We all got a laugh at that, but I think Nick was embarrassed, but it was still funny and something that sticks out in my mind about this trip, nonetheless. So from this point, we took a bus to Ribera,
but first, here are some blurbs about a few other places that Carlo took us before I get into the Ribera portion of our trip:
Mondello was probably my FAVORITE part of this trip!!!! It is the most beautiful beach I have ever been to. The sand is a powdery white, and the water is CRYSTAL CLEAR. You can go out pretty far and it’s still only knee deep, you can see right to your feet. Carlo took us here and before we hit the sand, we got some Limone Gelato from a little truck right off the beach. It was so silky and creamy with real lemon flavor, you can taste the lemon rind in it. It was so refreshing! Relaxing on the sand was so nice, and my brother and I went and played in the ocean. I even went in with my clothes on, I don’t remember why! LOL! The view on this beach was just breathtaking, the beach is kinda like a U shape, with a view of mountains on both sides. We really weren’t here for that long either, but that beach just sticks out in my mind… I’d really love to go back and spend more time there one day.
Carlo took us to Cefalu (pronounced Chef-ah-loo), which is on the northern coast of Sicily on the Tyrrhenian Sea. I don’t really remember much about Cefalu, except for the fact that we did ALOT of walking here, and a lot of shopping as well. I remember it being a very hilly town, steep cobblestone hills and inclines. I remember going into a shop and buying a nail clipper with the Sicilian Emblem on it (Face with 3 legs), and my brother bought the Mambo #5 Import Single by Lou Bega. It was a huge hit at the time! I also remember us finding a Diesel Jeans store that my cousin Nick wanted to go into. I think there was a joke going that he didn’t have any underwear on while he was trying on the jeans, and his mom may have mentioned this to the store clerk. Hahaha! I think his mom’s objective was to always just embarrass the shit out of him.
I don’t remember much about the city itself, we were not there for that long, so forgive me for my lack of memory on this part of the trip.
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