samedi 3 mai 2008

Catania, Sicilia: Day 1 and 2

Where do I start? This is going to be difficult. An in-depth day to day post would be too much for both you and me. And as much as I want to remember everything that happened, the posts that will follow will recount the best of the best.

Because I've come to know and love just a little bit of the Italian language and culture, I will refer each city to its Italian name rather than it's English one. Rome will be Roma, Florence will be Firenze and so forth.

Catania, Sicilia: Day 1
In true Darjeeling Limited style, I brought drugs with me on the trip. I had a little cough, so I went to the pharmacy to get cough syrup. I didn't want this cough to spoil the trip. Anyway, I know that we'd be greeted by warmth and sunshine in Sicilia and that I'd finally leave the last days of Paris's winter.

Arrived in the afternoon in Catania where Adriano, Keisha's bf, picked us up with his cousin Francesco and Agata, Francesco's fiancee. Francesco and Adriano are really close and it's been three years since they've seen each other. Adriano and his family are Sicilians that immigrated to Paris. In fact, most of the family including Francesco, his Mom Rosa, his sister Amara--they all speak fluent French. So it was a bit odd yet cool to arrive here and to speak French to this Sicilian family--it was the only way we could communicate since their English was limited and our Italian was non-existent.

Met Adriano's grandparents, an elderly couple who live by themselves a floor below Adriano's aunt Enza and her husband Maurizio--they're hairstylists and own a salon around the corner. We met them too and their dog Max. Everyone was really sweet and welcoming, offering us food and coffee--best espresso I ever had had been in their homes.Ate tavolo calda style in Downtown Catania--so good. Had arancine, fried rice balls stuffed with meat and cheese. So tasty. We met Francesco's sister Amara and her boyfriend Eratzio. Amara spoke French and Eratzio only speaks Italian and very little English. They took us around the city at night, we got shots at a bar--their thing is a shot of gin and then this juice--and then we went home. We were pretty tired. We finally got to the house and we were all slightly disappointed that it was nowhere near the beach. When an Italian says that the beach is "right behind the house" in French, it means that it is 2 kilometers away. Keisha seemed pretty disappointed, but I didn't really care--we got free room and board in this amazing place. We were staying in the countryside, far from that incessant buzz of the city.

Catania, Sicilia: Day 2
Early start. Got granita, a flavored slushy, and brioches for breakfast with all the cousins and their significant others. Lucia and I went in Amara and Eratzio's car to drive to the coast where the Cyclops Riviera was located. The Cyclops from Odysseus since legend has it that the Cyclops came from Mt. Edna. Eratzio was speaking Italian and Amara translated to French and he talked about Odysseus and Hercules--it was pretty cool. I used to read a lot about this stuff when I was a kid, and here I was seeing it up close. Eratzio was hilarious, I almost wished he spoke English just a little more. He parked on the dock in front of this huge boat and said, "This is my (insert Italian word for boat here)". Went to Amara's and Francesco's parents house and met Adriano's aunt Rosa. She prepared this amazing lunch with bread, deli meats, and salad. Obviously, I'm going to be talking about food A LOT. Rosa also speaks French. Her husband, Rosario, came home and we met him too--he's a fire captain and works at the Catania airport where we arrived. He knows little French, and he spoke to us in Italian even though we didn't understand. He kept telling us to eat more and more, "Mange! Mange, les petites filles!" We later got to bond with him more--he was super cool. After, hung out at Enza's hair salon, and Lucia got this great haircut. Enza used to work in Paris and has won awards as a hair stylist. They asked me if I wanted a haircut, but I said I wasn't sure. They have an open spot for Tuesday, the day before we leave for Roma, and I said okay.For dinner, we all went to a Sicilian pizzeria. Oh. My. Gosh. You have not eaten pizza until you have eaten pizza in Italy. We got potatoes first--the best fries I have ever tasted ever. Even better than the fries I've had in France. Then we all got different pizzas to share. I got the same one as Amara--tomatoes, ham, mushrooms. Lucia got a spicy one.
That night, we drove to Taormina. It reminded me of Mont St. Michel except with bars and nightclubs and high fashion shops. It was surreal walking through these old cobblestone streets at night and seeing brands like Gucci and Prada and Burberry in store windows and then an old church around the corner.