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La bellezza delle cose esiste nella mente di chi le osserva

Posted by on April 13, 2014

Before the stress and studying of the last few weeks of the semester set in, my friend Nitsa and I decided to take one last trip out of Sorrento to Catania, Sicilia.  We both wanted to see Sicilia and decided that while we were in Italy, it only made sense to visit.

Upon arriving in Sicilia, we found the bus to take us close to our B&B, and the driver gave us vague directions before letting us off.  While walking down the street at 10:30 p.m. looking for “a bridge” where we were to “turn left” and “ask someone else” (no, seriously, those were the bus driver’s directions), we turned into a large piazza to ask for directions.  We approached a group of fifteen-year-olds who told us we were “lontano” (far away) from the B&B.

It was Paris all over again, as we asked for directions from about fifteen Sicilians in all.  Luckily for us, thought Sicilians sense of direction and navigational skills leave something to be desired, everyone was friendly and willing to help.

Eventually, after many wrong turns, we stumbled upon two twenty-something girls, named Angela and Martina, who were kind enough to help us.  They pulled out their iPhones (because some things are exactly the same no matter where you are) and put our address into google maps.  These girls had no idea where we were going, but it was close, so they told us to come with them and we’d find it together.

After finding our B&B, we all took a picture together and traded Instagram and Facebook account names.  Throughout the rest of the weekend Angela and Martina continually “liked” our photos and commented on our statuses, asking if we were enjoying their hometown.  We were stunned and touched by how friendly and kind they were.

The Instagram that one of our new friends uploaded with the hashtags #american and #california

The Instagram that one of our new friends uploaded with the hashtags #american and #california

We went out for dinner, starving, at around 11:30 p.m. and found a restaurant that we chose solely based on the fact that the portion sizes looked large.  We went up to the door, but it was locked.  One of the employees inside opened the door and let us in, leading us to a table near the back. We ordered seafood pasta (mine with clams, Nitsa’s with shrimp and mussels) and ate the entire basket of bread they brought to us.  We topped off the evening with a plate of fried calamari.  It was only as we were leaving that we realized that the door had not been stuck; the door had been locked as they were closing for the evening, but the owner had seen we were hungry and tired and stayed open so that we could have some dinner.  Sicilians really are unbelievably kind.

Spaghetti with clams

Spaghetti with clams

The next morning, we decided to spend the day at the beach.  After a long walk down a busy highway, we bought some canoli and found a large expanse of sandy beach to lay out our towel.  We spent the entire day watching Mount Etna from the warm sand and marveling at the beautiful sea.

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Several hours and a massive sunburn later, we went out for our second dinner at an inexpensive restaurant where we ate our weight in carbs.  We briefly contemplated staying out late, but quickly decided to get enormous gelatos and watch a movie in the room.

Saturday morning we spent another day in the sunshine, this time wandering through the open markets of Sicilia.  There is a fish market that’s open everyday except for Sunday, and we were lucky enough to stumble right into the middle of it.  We laughed and took pictures with many of the people running stands selling everything from eel to bread to toasted nuts to fresh fruit to fresh squeezed orange juice.

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After we had stuffed ourselves with fresh food, we took to wandering around Sicilia.  Apparently, Sicilia has quite the affinity for open-air markets, because we stumbled on one with everything from clothing to electronics to shoes.  We headed down this side street, anticipating a block or two of fairly inexpensive stands.  We were shocked and pleased that the market extended into a labyrinth of winding side streets that never seemed to end.  We wandered for hours, lost among three euro shoes and illegally downloaded CDs.

There were several street musicians who captured my heart on the cobblestone sidewalks of Sicilia.  One particular girl had a suitcase next to her with the title of this blog post written across it.  It translates to: “The beautiful things exist in the mind of those who see them.”

Our final dinner in Sicilia was, once again, seafood pasta, and afterwards we met some kind American Marines who were stationed in Sicilia before heading out somewhere else.  We showed them where the best granita (Italian Ice) was and they kindly bought ours for us.  We thanked them for the generosity and their service and headed home for the evening.

Pasta with salmon and cream sauce

Pasta with salmon and cream sauce

Sunday’s wandering led us to many churches and cathedrals, as it was Palm Sunday, and the sound of hymns echoing from the massive structures was indescribably beautiful.  After one more canolo, we caught the bus back to the airport, where I’m writing this post.

Palms for Palm Sunday

Palms for Palm Sunday

Sicilia was a wonderful last trip during my Italy experience, and I’m so glad to have visited such a beautiful place with such friendly and warm inhabitants.  I only hope I can return someday for another glass of fresh squeezed blood orange juice.

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