Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Sicilian Something Or Other

A newsstand in Palermo, Sicily.
As we have done for the past couple of years, we spend most of our summer in Putignano. Upon our arrival this year, we rendezvoused with my parents at the airport in Bari (they had been traveling from England) and, after spending a couple of days with Angela's family and recovering from the lag, and then left on a road trip for Sicily. It took some time for me to process our trip, which happened at the beginning of June, but, on the eve of our return to California, I'm ready to let go.

First off, everyone got sick except for me. That might sound fortunate for me except that, once we had returned to Putignano, it was my turn to get sick. And it seemed to last forever. I don't think I have been completely healthy all summer until about one week ago.

Anyway, we were in Sicily for seven or eight days with stops in Messina, Taormina, Catania, Agrigento, St. Anna, Corleone, Palermo, and Cefalu. I won't go into detail, but you can see more revealing photos of part of our adventure on Flickr. It was almost too much ground to cover in such a short time, but such is touring. For the ancient Greek temple ruins, the historic city center and the Chiesa di Santa Maria dei Greci, the panoramic locale, excellent food, and the wonderful accommodations, Agrigento seemed to be the place the all of us really enjoyed.

The trip was memorable for many reasons; however, back on Italy proper, to break up the long drive home, we stopped in a little town called Pizzo. Angela managed to find us a spectacular bed and breakfast (I believe we were its first guests), which was a short walk down a very steep hill to a little beach. The town wasn't overrun by tourists, and we felt like we had the place to ourselves. It was quite peaceful with the swallows circling throughout the day, and a much-needed relaxing conclusion to our vacation.

In the evening, there happened to be a festival in the little community, which was a welcome surprise. The people were out in force (although it wasn't crowded), le luminarie (lights) were hung above the street, a procession marched an icon through town and people followed in prayer and song, fireworks illuminated the cliff that overlooked the sea and the town's little houses, and karaoke music blared until well after midnight. I've included some audio of the procession here to more deeply immerse yourself in the experience.

Among the new food that I sampled during the trip, I tried some new modes of eating gelato. One, the typical Sicilian breakfast, which is basically a kind of ice-cream sandwich, is simply a roll with a heaping layer of gelato in between. The other, something like what is pictured on the right, is called a Tartufo. I imagine that there are numerous ways to make it. The one I ate was a ball of two types of ice-cream and rolled in chocolate powder. I also found chocolate syrup and a candied cherry in the mix—something like ice-cream with a surprise in the middle—but it was delicious!

Now, the three of us return to California to begin the next chapter. We'll look forward to seeing you there!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Carnevale Redux

Since my last post, we have been going to the beach every morning. We take Vito to summer beach day-school, and then we Fiat to our little spot in Monopoli. After a couple hours of sunning and swimming and such, we head back for lunch with the fam.

Widening the focus a little, Putignano is famous for its carnival parade. In fact, you can find more information about it if you drill down. Anyway, a few years ago, those who preside over such matters thought it would be a good idea to have a carnival weekend in the summer, too, and revisit all the good times from carnival. Starting at the beginning of July, it kicks off an already festive month.

About two weeks later, our church here has a festival, Santa Maria del Carmine, which wrapped up on this year on Monday. The first week of August closes out the celebrations with the festival for the patron saint of the town, San Stefano. Sadly, we will miss San Stefano this year as we are leaving one week from today.

For those of you who knew, I am still without work, so our plan is to return to California and continue looking. If you didn't know, consider yourselves informed.