Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Invece di Puglia, sono venuta a ballar in SICILIA, SICILIA, SICILIA

Sicily. Day 1.

Arriving at Ciampino from Fontechiari was a stressful journey.  Fabrizia, Nonno and I climbed in the UNO-45 around 8:45am after having stayed up til 4 am at the Notte Bianca in Atina, and I drove us all safely to Frosinone where I would catch a 9:55 train.  I said good bye to Fabrizia since she was leaving the following Monday, and told her to drive safely home in the old UNO, then told Nonno I would call when I needed to get picked up on Wednesday (even though I knew Uncle Bob would be there, but they didn’t!).  I boarded the train to Ciampino, knowing that when I arrived I would only have 60 minutes to get to the airport, check in and find my gate.  Me being a nervous, anxious, crazy person, freaked out the duration of the train, planning every possibility of my arrival at the train station, how I would get to the airport and then where I would need to go there after.  Clock racing when I arrived at Ciampino Stazione, I hurried outside and didn’t see any buses so I asked the autista how much a cab ride to the airport was and he said 15 euro, so I got in.  After I was safely in the cab I grilled the cab driver about where the terminal was and where I would need to go for a RyanAir flight, and he assured me there was only one gate, one check in, and maybe 4 planes, so I would have no issues. Ciampino was tiny.  On the way the driver pointed out the Appian Way lined with tall pine trees. Cool.  Then I arrived.

Still nervous to miss my flight, the line at the check in was LONGGGGGG.  I noticed the couple in front of me spoke English so I asked what time the flight was they were waiting for, their response 3:00.  So I freaked out a little because mine was at 12:20 and it was already 11:40.  So I proceeded to ask passengers when their flights were and managed to cut my way threw the line and make it to the RyanAir gate with what I thought would be only a few minutes to spare, and turned into a half and hour of waiting to board.  All that anxiety for NOTHING!

The flight was easy and even though we left the gate 25 minutes late, we arrived 5 minutes early.  The man sitting next to me showed me all the major points near Trapani that we could see as we landed.  Very nice man. Once I exited the plane I went to the Terminal and called Serena, Serena said there was a driver who would be coming in an hour or so... that sucks. But luckily when I hung up, a mysterious number called and it was the driver who said he went against what Serena had told him because he didn't want me to be waiting, and came early! Yay!!  We drove past barren field with cracking earth then finally made our way to what seemed like a smaller city.  Streets of houses popped up and we took a right down one of the roads and drove past gated houses until we stopped, the driver made a telephone call and Serena emerged from the house.  I was introduced to her family then shown my room, and then told to put on my bathing suit.  After her grandmother fed me some fish, we were off to the beach, where I immediately fell asleep.  I think I forgot to I warn her that this would be my vacation of catching up on the sleep I had lost all summer.

For merenda, Serena pulled out to pastries from a paper bag and explained that they were bombolone. I tried to be good and said I was all set, but then I saw they were filled with Nutella and I couldn't resist, plus I was rather hungry. They were cold and still delicious, and Serena assured me we would get fresh ones within the next five days and I would love them even more.  Around 5:00, Serena's friend Davidu and his girlfriend arrived at the beach, and we figured out a plan for the night.  Alessandro (Serena's boyfriend) left the beach to go play some soccer, and the rest of us hung out and decided that we would head to Marettimo (an Island) the following day. That meant we had to go get lunch, so Davidu drove us to the Coop where we picked up sandwich materials for the following day.
busiate!

After we quickly returned home to meet up with Ale, and then showered got ready and headed into Mazara del Vallo for dinner.  We ate at a relatively large restaurant, outside, and at around 11:00 PM.  I was falling asleep before my dinner even arrived, but the busiate (trapanesi cut pasta) that I had was exquisite.  Nodding in and out of conversation, we finally finished eating around 12:30, and we were in bed by 1:00, me passing out immediately after I hit the pillow.

We arose at 6:00 to prepare the sandwiches and then head to get tickets for the boat to Marettimo.  Davidu was a little late to pick us up, and it took us longer than intended to get to Marsala to catch the boat, and we were out of luck when the tickets for the boat were all sold out.  Instead we bought tickets in advance for the next day's boat, then drove around through Marsala before changing our agenda to head to the Scala dei Turchi and Agrigento.  It was a long day filled with driving and fantastic views, and the beach at the Scala dei Turchi was absolutely breath taking.  At night we drove to Agrigento, seeing the ancient temples lit up under the moonlight, and grabbing a quick arancino for dinner before returning home.  It was a long day, and I was looking forward to a nice relaxing sunday on the island full of sun and sleep!




Sunday we woke up early and drove in to Marsala. Alessandro had gone to the panificio to get the fresh bombolone, so when we finally boarded the ferry we indulged in the delicious treats, and then I immediately fell asleep for the remainder of the journey.  Once we arrived, Ale' and Davidu ran to go reserve us a space on small boat tour that would take us around the island, going in and out of the caves and let us jump in the water at points.  Once we boarded the boat I took in the gorgeous scenery, then once again laid back and fell immediately asleep.  Serena was astounded at how easily I could fall asleep even on a rocking boat.  The boat went in and out of gorgeous caves, the captain explaining the importance of each one, and then eventually we anchored for a little bit to jump off the boat and enjoy the swimming pool pristine clear water. It was fantastic. We stayed on the island until 4:00pm then headed back toward Marsala arriving in port just before 6.  On the way home we stopped at a supermercato in order to buy some drinks for the night.  Monday was Ferragosto, so Serena said it was tradition to stay up all night Sunday dancing on the beach and drinking.  We bought limoncello and chupitos and then headed back home to get ready, and eat the amazing feast of fish that her Nonna had prepared for us.





The meal was above and beyond delicious.  We each had gamberoni, Serena's favorite meal.  And were meticulous about getting all of the meat out of each of the shrimps.  And the shrimp was accompanied by a large bowl of hand made pastas covered in a garlic/butter/shrimp sauce as well.  I think I ate enough fish in the past 2 days to cover the entire summer!  Serena's Zio pourred out generous glasses of vino bianco to each of us, and kept refilling my glass, while refusing to give any to Serena.  And then at the end of the meal her nonno arrived with tall shot glasses that had been frozen, and a bottle of his home made limoncello. Buonissimo!  Oh, and of course a platter of cannoli!  By the time I was done eating I was ready to go to bed because I was put in a food coma, and I was nervous about how I was supposed to stay up the entire night for Ferragosto... eeeesh!





After dinner, around 11:00 we walked down to the beach where each beach club had something different going on. According to Serena it wasn't nearly as packed as it usually was, but she was ready to have a good time anyways.  We walked down the beach looking to see which lido had the best palco, stage with a performance, and we stopped outside of one where everyone was dancing like crazy on the beach. As the night grew deeper I slowly began to run out of energy and honestly didn't have much desire to sleep outside on the freezing cold sand at the beach, so I broke the news to Serena that I was about ready to go home. We finished chatting with her friends, said good bye to her cousin Max then walked back home, leaving the music and crazy drunk people behind.  I was kind of sad I didn't get to experience the full Ferragosto party and experience, but I was more than delighted to have my head hit the pillow around 3am, and know that I could sleep in the following day because nothing would be open for Ferragosto and the only plans for day were to sleep, beach it and eat.

We once again ate fish for lunch and dinner, and then we headed into Mazara del Vallo at night to do a passegiata and see the city that was so famous for its fish port among other things.  We walked through the town, that was hopping with people despite the holiday, and walked to what Serena claims is the most famous gelateria.  There I had a brioche filled with ricotta and chocolate gelato.  The ricotta gelato was fantastic, so rich and surprisingly a delicious flavor of gelato! After the gelato we headed home, happy to head to bed on the early side, and ready for another big day of sightseeing Tuesday with Serena's zio and zia.

Marsala
Tuesday morning we woke up late.  Probably around 10am, and headed to the beach for a quick dip before Serena's zio packed us into the nonno's UNO and we headed into Marsala.  We went to walk around the city for a few hours despite Serena's protest, and I was happy to be able to see the city and do a little shopping.  Too much beach time was getting to me!  We strolled through Marsala, I found a birthday gift for Leann then we headed back to the car, stopping at a bar to get an arancino. After we indulged on our treats, we stuffed ourselves back into the UNO and then followed the road signs towards Trapani.  Off to see the SALINE!

I hung my head out the window, camera rolling off my neck as we drove along the shoreline to where the salt mines were in Trapani.  The entire ride there you could see windmill after windmill, salt pile after salt pile, and the view was just miraculous.  Driving up Serena promised me we would park the car and I could get better pictures, so I relaxed a little bit trying to get good shots out of the moving car. We pulled up to a dirt parking lot next to a restaurant built on to the salt mines and unloaded ourselves from the car just in time for sunset.  We debated whether or not to go into the museum, then finally agreed to go in and look around, then go to the top of the wind mill at sunset to look out over the water and the rest of the windmills and massive piles of salt.  We waited in the top of the mill until the sunset, then headed back out to the shore too look at the remainder of light being cast along the horizon.  With the sun completely set, we piled back in the tiny UNO, and Serena's uncle sped on towards Trapani.

GENOVESE
We ended up driving right past the airport where I would have to be taken to the following day, and found us struggling to follow the crazy road signs pointing us toward our final destination.  An hour or so later, we were finally driving through the heart of Trapani, and then found the lot near the funicolare to take us up to Eriche.   I really had no idea what Eriche was, but once we climbed in to the funicolare,  I knew I would be entering a city too spectacular to describe.  The funicolare rose and rose, the wind rocking the car back and forth, as the shoreline grew farther and farther away, the lights of the city making the perfect coastline pop perfectly.  I should have worn more layers, because it was freezing by the time we reached the top of the mountain and walked into Eriche.  The city was literally plopped on the tipity top of a mountain.  Bricks and stone everywhere, we walked straight up the steep walking only pathway leading us to the castello.  We walked past ceramic shop after ceramic shop, stopping here and there to shop for souvenirs.  I landed upon a nice ceramic tile that had fatevi i cazzi vostri written across it and couldn't pass up buying it. After we searched for a place to eat, and I spotted a Buon Ricordo restaurant and suggested we eat there.  It was of course nearing 10:00pm but who would have thought the kitchen would be closed? We were in Italy!  But for some strange reason it was CHIUSO and they would not seat us, nor would they let me buy a plate for my mom without having eaten the meal. Rude!

Soo, senza mangia, we went forward, stomachs growling, our only resolution. CANNOLI!  So we continued walking to the top of Eriche, getting a nice butt work out and then walked around the castello, checking out the view of the thousands of lights below us.  A complete 360 degree view of the island around us.  I could only imagine the view during the day.  After taking our pictures and walking around, we headed back down the mountain to stop at the most famed pasticerria  in all of Sicily.  I offered to pay, and Serena's uncle ordered us 6 genovese  and 5 cannoli.  The genovese were hot right out of the oven, circular pastries filled with hot creme, beyond good.  We stepped outside of the pastry shop and immediately scarfed them down.  Then we headed back down the hill with our package of cannoli in hand.  Nearing 12:00 we reached the bottom of the hill town, stopping to get an arancino at the bar.  Apparently they were very terrible because Ale, Serena's boyfriend, complained and got a refund for his terrible tasting arancino.  Crazy.  Then we headed toward the funicolare to head back down the steep mountain.  In the car we opened the cannoli, and we ate the best cannoli in all of sicily.  They were quite delicious!  Dreary and full, we climbed back into the UNO then Zio drove us back to Mazara del Vallo, and we climbed into bed after I finished packing my bags.  Off to the mainland in the morning!

BOMBOLONE!! MI PIACCIONO!
Mi sono svegliata alle nove.  I woke up at 9:00, fresh bombolone waiting for me at the breakfast table.  I sat down to eat spending my last few minutes with Serena's Nonna in the kitchen.  Afterwards I got my bags out of my bedroom and headed out front to wait for Davidu and Lucia to come by.  When they arrived we said our goodbyes and took some final pictures, then we loaded the car and off to Trapani we went!  Before I knew it I had spent 5 amazing days with Serena in Sicilia, and I was already back in Rome headed to Frosinone where hopefully Uncle Bob was still planning on picking me up!