The life…

It was a very hot day!

I decided last week already that this planned stay, was going to be a quiet time of contemplation & recovery…when I get back to the office next week, I will need a lot of energy…

Energy that I might have expended already or have not yet recuperated…so, today was it…

I started by climbing another hill & following two French tourists up the mountain to a sanctuary…(Photo: stairs up to the mountain top)

It was a quiet day for me…

This does not mean there was not a lot of noise, buses full of tourists arrived as Taormina was closed, not only to me…

There were to crowing cocks on opposite sides of the mountain, the crows echoing…a crowing competition…dogs barking, a hound child singing jingle bells in Italian incessantly…

I spoke to the owner of the shop on the piazza this morning…if I have worked out all my stories, he is married to an Irish woman, from Northern Ireland…his & his children’s English quite decent…

I spoke to Maria…who left America 40 years ago to settle in Savoca with her Sicilian husband…years that were not easy or how she could have imagined it…isolated until about 10-15 years ago…

But I spent the day relaxing…soaking in the Italian dolce vita & time on my balcony (Photo: balcony where I spent my day…black chair toward the left)…just being…

It was a beautiful day!

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Touching people…or being touched

I had a wonderful chat with two ladies from India at breakfast this morning…

Kusum & Nandini…we spoke about journeys & I shared some of my previous experience with them…

They are thinking of doing some of my Italian trip in future…

I would be very happy about it as I had done a lot of research…

I went to say good bye to Ortigia, then…

Walked to the train station & waited…

Met an English couple that have had a mini break in Ortigia…chatted to them on the train back…

Strange encounter with a Scotsman… I realise that he was so full of his own experience that he had to share or burst…

He had gone to a place where his father had fought in World War II…but he was talking so softly, I only heard partially…but he needed an ear…

He was overwhelmed by the friendliness of the Sicilians….especially with how they handled his request…

Then Don & his wife, as well as the English couple, got off the train in Catania…their places filled with talking Sicilians & at the next stop school children…

There was a misunderstanding between my hostess & myself when I booked in Savoca, she offered me a place by the sea…

But, I also think because she is going through a difficult time with both her brother & husband being ill…I was almost in tears with the helplessness I felt, how I could not express my concern & sympathy…

But we reached a compromise & I get two days in Savoca (heavenly place) & will spend the third day by the sea…

I love Savoca!!

I will then be close to the station & my next trip to Stromboli…

It was a good day!

Noto – crowding infiorata

Funny how I end up in places I had decided to skip…

Not because I thought the place inferior, but due to some time-constraint or some transport problem…

However, Noto was on my list (& then off it) because of the infiorata…

The city, like other places, have a flower festival & decorate a street with pictures composed of thousands & thousands of flower petals…

Beautiful!!

I also said…& realised this is not necessarily a secret…which means the whole of the available Sicily is there…

Which meant No to went off my list…

& them, when I realised I had no specific plans for today, it was the only city of the baroque heritage villages that had transport to it…& back to Siracusa…

& had completely forgotten that this weekend was infiorata!

It was as busy & chaotic as in my thoughts…even more so…a 2nd hand goods market & a goods market taking place at the same time…

Crowds moving in waves up & down the old city centre…

Overwhelming…

A block away from the flowered street, lines of people waiting to see it…

I could not…

I went to the opposite church to see from the roof, but realised I had the wrong lens, so did not bother going up…

I continued down the street until I had out-walked the crowds…

Breathed & plowed back in…as I got closer, I saw that there were people on top of the Banca Siciliana building next to the street…

& that is how I experienced a small portion of the infiorata…

On top of Banca Siciliana…a few photos…some complete & some only partial…others only far-off…

But, as much as I could handle…

The rest of the time waiting for the bus was on a bench & in the 2nd goods market…not nearly as crowded as the streets of old Noto…

#enoughcrowdstolastalifetime

Cooking in Siracusa

Today, I had a cooking class with Alessia from http://www.smileandfood.com

But calling it only a cooking class would be doing Alessia & the whole experience an injustice…

We started in the market…

Alessia grew up in the old market as her father was a fish monger…& it is easy to see that she knows & is known in the market…

Our passage is slow as she catches up with this one & that one…friendly banter is exchanged & the same story shared with different people

We taste different meats & cheese at a famous salumerie, Fratelli Burgio 

& get educated about the different types of tomatoes at one of the stalls…

This one is better for sauce, this one is too dry & the flavour is deeper…

As we are people with different tastes, there is a moment of indecision on what we are to cook…I don’t do fish & one of the other people does not eat meat…but after some debate, we style on stuffed squid…

Which the fish monger cleans for us while we taste biscuits & sweets…

Then, we set off to Alessia’s home from home, a flat she rents in town for her cooking classes…she lives with her family on a farm…which means all the vegetables we cook with are fresh & organic…

We learn about the delicate balance of flavours in Sicilian cooking, in the vegetables we make as well as the stuffing of the squid…

We learn to make a Sicilian pasta from organic wheat & water of a dry dough as well as a medium dough…with the wet dough, we make a flat bread that we baptise in olive oil & origano

Although we have been tasting food, since we started this morning, we still manage to eat the pasta, with a fresh tomatoes sauce from the farm & grated, dry ricotta & the stuffed squid with vegetables…

Siracusa…

It seems that patience is my thing at the moment…

First waiting for the bus to go to the Parco della Neopolis…

At the park, waiting, yes, patiently, for people to move so I can take pictures…

Then, again, the bus, after having expensive, freshly squeezed orange juice so that I have change for the machine on the bus…

Patience while I navigated the markets, full of gaping tourists…

Patience when I heard that I have to find new accommodation for Monday…due to the G7 summit next weekend, Taormia & the surrounding villages are off-limits from Monday..so, not only no Taormina, also no Castelmola…

Patience while I searched for a new place…although many places sound nice, I have to consider that I need to leave that place & get to Milazzo on time for the ferry to Stromboli…

Patience while I waited for the B&B to respond…which they did positively…& will fetch me at the train station on the coast 4km away…

& then, finally patience as I waited for the sun to set…standing in the strong wind blowing over the sea for more than an hour…

But, despite patience, it was a good day!

I really enjoyed the Parco – in the Ear of Donisius, a French group sang Frere Jacques, a young tourist collected my camera lens inside the catacomb when I was trying to change lenses…

I loved watching the interaction between people where I waited for the sunset…

Families with young, mischievous children, young lovers embracing with fervour, & just about everybody taking a picture or selfie with the fort behind them…

The fort in everyone’s picture

& I enjoyed my interaction in the shop with the butcher that cut my very yummy salami for my sandwich tonight…

All in all, a lovely day!

Travelling between places

Today was one of patience…for most of the day…

I missed the first bus to Catania airport…the ext one was two hours away…

So, I waited…on an iron bench under thee shade of a palm tree…

I wrote, checked Facebook & waited…

The last hour I spent being adopted by an old lady named Lina…she fed me sweets & spoke to me in Italian…loudly…

I loved it…I stowed her suitcase, she made up stories about me to her friend & kept a place for me on the bus…

We parted at the airport after I collected her & her friend’s bags…

Just missed the bus to Siracusa because their was two crazy ladies in front of me…

You cannot blame the Italians for getting frustrated with their tourists if this is what they had to deal with…

So, I waited the 35 minutes for the next one…& on the bus met two Australian ladies & a couple from the States…

I accompanied the latter on a walk to Ortigia where all of our accommodation is situated…

Spent some frustrated minutes trying to find my accommodation, but in the end, it was easy…there was a brown tourist sign to tell me where to go…

I was swept in & up to my room, leaving me almost breathless, I recovered in my room with a bowl of cherries…

When I went down after an hour, my hosts made me welcome & explained everything to me…

They are a lovely couple, older, the younger of the two the practical one & the older one, the romantic…

I spent the rest of the afternoon falling in love with Ortigia…

Because it is contained on all sides by the sea…it is old…narrow lanes with old buildings, yet wide open piazzas & elaborate architecture…just the way I love my Italian villages…

Sometimes life surprises…

Today was one of those that ended up being quite different than I would have imagined…

If I have a plan, I should stick to it…

But I always listen to others…& end up in the strangest predicaments…however, some times, like today, life surprises…

In my research, I had decided to go to Villa Romana del Casale early, before the hoards come…

Two things pole axed that…

1) My landlady that wanted me to eat breakfast later

2) Eric & Dominique told me that the Villa was very quiet after 16:00

So, I spent my morning walking up & down the old village of Piazza Armerina using my camera a lot…

After a nice siesta, I decided to walk down to the Villa…about 6 km’s away…

It was over an hour & here & there I was not quite sure of the route…but it was a good walk…places where the perfume of wildflowers surrounded me…beautiful scenery & the threat of rain…just a few drops fell…

I was almost there, another 15 minutes walk…a man on a vespa came from in front…I smiled as he passed…

A minute later, he came back…

& surprised me!

He works in the bookshop at the Villa, he not only offered me a lift, but arranged free entry into the Villa for me…

The cynic in me wandered what he wanted, but when I came out later, he asked if I was done & found out that I had missed the last bus back to town…

So, I smiled & started walking…

I had walked some minutes talking to God…in tears…not moaning or complaining, just disappointed that I had to walk that distance again…

& then it started to rain lightly…

A few cars passed me on my walk…& then one stopped…

My second surprise for the afternoon…

A black Mercedes…he beckoned to me to get in…

I asked if he was going to Piazza Armerina & he said yes, he saw me when I was walking down from there…I had recognized him as a guide at the Villa…

& then it started to rain in earnest!

He dropped me, not five minutes from where I stay, just as the rain lessened & even stopped…

I know one could say I was lucky…

But, I know that I serve a good, good Father that arranged these things for me…

& I will remember today as the one where I was surprised…