Shannon’s Super Sexy Blog. Music. Travel. Randomness. And a Lot of Wine.

Archive for the ‘Sicilia’ Category

Lust and Pomegranates

Saturday, January 7th, 2006

A few years ago, I wrote a trip report on the internet, about a month I spent in Venice. The trip report, in a different form, still exists, and in fact you can find it here. In those days it was posted on the AOL message board, and it’s been so long, the first report I wrote is probably gone forever.

Anyway. After I wrote that report and posted it on AOL, a woman wrote to me. She thought that she and I traveled in the same way, and that perhaps she had the same sensibilities as me. She had just come back from a second trip to Sicily and was finishing up entering her journal into her computer. And she sent it to me! She sent me her private journal. It was like taking an unedited glimpse into someone else’s life. I was riveted and it was her journal that made me plan my solo trip to Sicily in September of 2000.

Last night, looking through some old papers, I found the sixteen printed pages of her journal, getting a bit yellow, at the bottom of the box. I read it again and not only was I transported to the place I was in five years ago; I was also transported to a Sicily that doesn’t seem to be there anymore. After only five years.

She stayed in a small town on the Northern coast, and she made me promise not to tell anyone about it. At that time, it was a quiet village where you could see every building from the main piazza. Everybody knew everybody, and there was sex and intrigue around every corner. She spent her days dipping her toes into the sea and gossiping with the young women in the town, and her nights eating fat strands of macaroni with almonds and garlic and oil, meeting up with dark and lusty Sicilian men, and dancing at parties thrown in the pensione where she stayed. The way she wrote about it made me want to drop everything and get to Sicily as fast as I could. If I could make people want to go somewhere just by reading my totally unedited journal! It is pretty impressive stuff, let me tell you.

So I went. Sicily was, and remains, an incredibly beautiful, history-rich place to visit. Just five years ago, there weren’t many tourists. I remember seeing tourists all over Taormina, of course, but other than that I only saw them in hotels and in big buses driving around. I had monuments and castles to myself, and I remember the two dinners I ate in hotels, where I was the lone single diner in a sea of ten-tops. I was hit on by an insane amount of men. Oddly, this is not what I went there for, though the journal had plenty of practically Harlequin-esqe situations. What did make me go? Her evocative writing did. The promise of an unknown land full of prickly pears and pomegranates and the smell of lightning hitting the sea. A place raw and untouched.

I went to the little town from the journal. Now, everyone who has visited Sicily seems to know it. It’s not a secret anymore. When I went, I had to stay in the third and last hotel I inquired at, so how unknown could it have been, even then? Or maybe they just didn’t want to be bothered. I saw some of the people from the journal, and ate at both of the restaurants she wrote about, and dipped my toes into the same turquoise water. It was trippy, like stepping into the pages of a book you once read, but a book that only you knew about.

I wonder what it is like there now? We are living in a different world, even five years later. With the internet, and all these low-cost airlines, there aren’t too many secret villages in Europe any more. Just like only five years seperated the Beatles and the Sex Pistols, five years has made an incredible difference in the life of the traveler. I am a part of all that, so I cannot complain. What has helped me has also destroyed. Progress. I guess.

Hang On, Little Tomato

Thursday, March 17th, 2005

Yesterday, Colleen fell and broke her finger in Siracusa! She had to go to the emergency room.

She is OK but she has a big white thing on her hand.

I was sitting and reading on the terrace at the villa when Cheryl called, she was like, “so, how are you, are you having a nice day?”

Then: “I’ve got a little news update for you…”

By the time they got home several hours later I had prepared a bunch of food and got out the wine. Colleen was a little shaken up but by the end of the night, she was giggling just like she always does.

We went through quite a bit of wine last night. At the hospital, the doctor almost put the splint on the wrong finger. “Was the doctor Swarthy?” I asked. (Swarthy is one of my words-of-the-week.) I guess he wasn’t, but he was nice and there was no bill.

Everything is cool now. Lisa, Colleen and I went up to Castelmola, a tiny town on the top of this rock looking way down on Taormina, which is already pretty high up. In Castelmola they have this bar where there are all these sort of phallic decorative touches. They also have a cute balcony looking over a pretty square. For the phallic touches, you pay an extra price for the prosecci, but I think the tile-work in the bathroom is worth it.

From Castelmola we walked all the way down, zigzagging for three miles, to Taormina. I won’t even go into the views up there because it is impossible to describe. Maybe Lisa will email me some of her digital pictures later and I can post them. The volcano, Taormina, the sea… wow.

I’ve decided dinner tomorrow will be at a place called Al Duomo, and they know we are coming and why. There are two guys riding bikes all around here today and everytime they see me they say “Ciao, Capelli Rossi…” but I think I am going to go purple tomorrow because, yesterday after the hospital, the girls were driving around in Siracusa and there were all these hookers on the road, and they all HAD PINK HAIR. And that guy thought I was an Albanian, way back in Palermo!

Tomorrow we are going to chill at the villa, and head out in the afternoon for wine at both the Wunderbar AND the Grand Hotel Timeo, then dinner.

Tonight we are having a farewell pizza… Sicily is almost done. I would be sad except I still have three weeks to go, Malta and then home to Venezia, then on to Rome.

Giant kisses to my Mom. Mom if it was not for you I wouldn’t be in the place I am, physically or in my head. I love you.

Next time I write I will be in MALTA.

If you listen hard, maybe you’ll hear me screaming

Wednesday, March 16th, 2005

OK, I am officially in love with Taormina (again.)

It is so unbelievably beautiful here! Today it is very clear and you can see Mt. Etna perfectly, covered with snow and smoking. And it is warm, a perfect day to sit and stare at a volcano with your face in the sun.

I am on my own today. The ladies all went to Siracusa. I did not go because a) I have been there and b) there was no room in the car for me. Also c) I am cooking for them tonight, so came into town to forage for provisions. Plus d) I want to play my music really super loud and run around the villa screaming for a while.

That villa is AWESOME. I think what is making me allergic is in my room. There are some ugly Picasso drawings in my room and that may be what is killing me in there. But in the morning everyone goes right outside my window to have coffee on the terrace, and I throw open my window and say Buon Giorno, looking all glamorous (not.)

I think those Picassos may be originals because they are way too ugly to be prints. Also in my room there is a framed thing that says “Love with Sex” and some other weird stuff. I think it was decorated circa 1967. Some kind of bizarre love nest. I am having crazy dreams.

Yesterday, we walked around Taormina and then ate a huge lunch (at Rosta-whatever, Tom) and then went to the ancient Greco-Roman theater. It was so hot. Between the pasta and the sun, I could have laid right down on that ancient rock and slept. But then we went next door to the Grand Hotel Timeo, all faded elegance, and had a bottle of white wine on the outdoor patio there. The view was killer and the wine good and not too outrageous.

There are ghosts everywhere. Ghosts in the crazy fish market in Catania, ghosts in the Greek Ampitheater. There are ghosts in the Grand Hotel Timeo. I am high up on a mountain surrounded by ghosts, in search of the perfect Salsiccia. God, I love it here.

Harsh Little Baby, Don’t You Cry

Monday, March 14th, 2005

We are cruising around Catania today, a big, crazy city, waiting for Lisa’s plane to get in. We’ve stumbled into the student area where there is cheap internet. I could spend two hours here trying to catch up but can’t keep the ladies waiting. So I’ve got half an hour – I will do my best.

Our villa in Taormina is fantastic. It is huge! There is a big terrace and yesterday it was so nice out there we did not even make it into the town until almost 2 P.M. We look out onto the Isola Bella and the sea. All of us have our own bathroom. My room is eclectically decorated with some fairly bizarre stuff.

The only bad thing is I seem to be sneezing alot and Cheryl says it is because I have been eating so much sugar and white flour, that my spleen is out of whack, so I am having allergies. And this could be true because basically I am living on fried pastries filled with ricotta, crumbly dark chocolate spiked with hot pepper, pizza Diavola, fried seafood, and, of course, a LOT of wine.

It could also be the mold and the old books in the villa.

Tom – we will definitely try Piero’s place in Taormina… Kelly I think you recommended La Botte and we ate lunch there yesterday… it was awesome. Last night we hung out at the villa and ate cheese, proscuitto and cannolis for dinner.

So what is all this Harsh Little Baby all about? You might ask. In Cefalu, I had some grappa, and I was trying to tell the owner that it was smooth (morbido) not harsh. But we could not figure the way to say harsh. The owner spoke pretty good English and I said the word harsh, and she said oh yeah, like harsh little baby.

So know I keep thinking those words, along with Bitte this and Bitte that. Also, yessssss…. like Napolean Dynamite says it has been in our vocabulary alot, and I have taught this to all the ladies.

Between the food, the wine, and the guys here, one could seriously think about moving to Sicily. It is pretty awesome so far.

Everyone at the Vine – I miss you guys too.

It is a clear day and we can see Etna smoking. I am getting very thirsty for my first Vino Bianco of the day. My Italian is coming back a little – I talked to three guys from Ragusa yesterday for a while. Man. It’s a good incentive, to be sure.

Swallowed by Sicily

Sunday, March 13th, 2005

Shannon called to tell me that she has been “swallowed by Sicily” and will post again when she can.

Meanwhile, I have made some changes to her blog colors. Either a pleasant surprise when she next logs in, or a green shock.

La Chiesa de La Rocca & Rolla

Friday, March 11th, 2005

Here we are in Cefalu, and this is the big Norman church, that sits right up against the rock that overlooks the town and the sea. This place is fantastic. Beautiful, warm, sunny and hardly any tourists. Though I have been taking up the phrase “shut up, bitte.” Just kidding. Maybe.

In Cefalu I am trying to sort out my feelings about Palermo. I feel that I only scratched the surface of something the size of the Great Wall of China with my pinky nail. And yesterday, after being stuck in traffic on a bus for an hour, I was really ready to get out. But fast travel is not my gig, slow travel is (just not the kind of slow travel that involves a bus going one mile an hour.) I was really intrigued by all the bombed out buildings with graffiti all over them. And the outdoor market that goes on forever. And the food didn’t suck, either.

We are very happy here in Cefalu. We climbed halfway up La Rocca and now, I am going to try to get Colleen to go to a wine shop that has a little tiny balcony on the sea, where we will drink a bottle of Duca Enrico. This is a good place to walk slowly and breathe. I was walking too fast in Palermo.

Tomorrow, we head to Taormina and the villa. Tomorrow we will eat dinner with Cheryl and Nancy!

I love Sicily. It is so beautiful here, my heart hurts.

Doing Palermo the Rick Steves Way

Thursday, March 10th, 2005

I have to be really, really fast here so no editing just writing and I will take care of the rest later.

I was a little worried yesterday about that guy thinking I was Albanian the other day, like maybe I look like a maid, or a hooker. Is it the purple hair? Cannot figure it out.

Because of our lost afternoon Tuesday, we got out early yesterday and ran around Palermo like crazy women. Went to the opera house in the morning – would not have done that, if not for Colleen – but it was awesome, the opera was rehearsing and we got to see for a minute and it was fantastic. Then onto the archeaological museum where I saw something truly weird, a small bronze of an erect penis, that HAD a penis, also a tail and legs. We walked around the port a little, also almost got bit by a rabid dog, then went to get a pizza.

This was the best part of the day. We went to a famous place called Antica Foccaciaria di San Francesco, which also happens to be where we breakfast every morning. We sat next to this big table of seven guys and two girls. After some eyeing of each others food and smiles and stuff, the one girl who spoke some English spoke to us (all the guys were speaking too, and we did the best we could.) So Colleen tells this girl we are here for my birthday, and she tells the group, and they bust out singing Happy Birthday to me. Then all the guys got up and kissed me! (Cheek kisses, not Albanian hooker kisses.) I turned all red and my heart was beating so fast. It was pretty awesome, let me tell you.

So after that Colleen had it in her mind to go to the Crypt of the Cappucine where there are all these dead bodies decaying on the walls. Like 8000 of them. So I decided we would walk, but instead of on the main street, on the back streets. CRAZY. PAZZO. More on this later… then we got there and Colleen was totally grossed out but I made her look at all the dead bodies for a really long time, like 10 minutes.

I am really running out of time now, we are off to Monreale and later, Cefalu… more when we stop running. Fantastic dinner last night, at a place recommended by a friend in Rome… called Sant Andrea. I told Colleen she should start telling everyone it is my birthday and we are going to start counting the cheek kisses. Eight, so far.

Palermo, Pazzo

Tuesday, March 8th, 2005

I am having a bit of a writers block situation and I think it is because this place is so insane that I cannot even begin to write about it. So this will be really boring but here goes.

Got here OK, even with four flights it seemed to go by pretty fast. But my luggage did not make it. Colleen came in several hours after me so I walked around looking for something to buy to sleep in. There are tons of clothing stores and everything is on sale. Our room is really a suite with two rooms and a little kitchen, and the owners have been so awesome… if it was not for them I am not sure I would have my luggage back…

I feel at home here so far, walking around I seem to know my way, and I am even crossing the street like the locals do, which can be a little terrifying at first. Because seriously, red lights mean nothing.

Right when they opened, I went to this cool wine bar right on our street called Mi Manda something or other and had a glass of wine in there… so far this place is the coolest place I have found, bar wise, but it is possible that I am just from another planet. I may as well be. Then I went home to wait for Colleen.

Colleen finally came in (she missed her connection and arrived at 9:30) and we immediately went back to the wine bar to eat dinner.

OH MY GOD. OK, I was starving but starving or no that was one of the best dinners I have ever eaten. Or maybe I just have not been to Sicily in a really long time. We had a salad with radicchio and pomegranate seeds and pancetta, ravioli stuffed with eggplant and with an eggplant tomato sauce, and I had this pork braised in Chianti. It was huge, like a whole leg or something. It was so good that I ate almost all of it. Plus they had these little rolls stuffed with olives. All that with a bottle of Montefalco Rosso was only 47 Euro.

After that we went back and totally crashed until mid morning. Outside there was thunder, and really heavy rain. But that stopped right when we went out.

After coffee and cornetti, we headed out to the big Cathedral here (awesome on the outside, but the inside did not do much for me) and then walked up to this park where there were some kids playing soccer. We sat on a bench and this old guy comes up and starts talking to us. I tell him my Italian sucks. “Albanese?” he says… (do I look Albanian?) I tell him no and then he asks if I am Italian! Dude, if I was wouldn’t I be speaking it a little better?

We left there and went to where the President of Sicily has his quarters and there was some kind of demonstration with lots of cops. I kind of like Italian cops, so we hung out there and thought maybe we would see the President. The old guy comes back, tells us it is some sort of demonstration for the workers. Then he asks if we like Bush and we say no, and he says Bush is always making war. (Colleen got that one – don’t give me the credit.)

Sadly after this we had to rush back to the apartment because the guy who had my luggage didn’t understand me and I didn’t understand him, and he thought MY name should be on the door instead of the B & B’s. So, after many calls by the B & B people and many hours of waiting (plus I was starting to get really nervous, also stinky) the luggage arrived.

More walking around and now we are headed to eat at a place called Vino Rosso.

Sorry this is so boring but I will try to do better. I think my body is all the way here but my brain has to catch up.