Nov 3, 2006
“…to have seen Italy without seeing Sicily, is not to have seen Italy at all – for Sicily is the key to everything” …. Goethe
If it were possible to have a love affair with an island, I will have one with Sicily. I love, Love, LOve, LOVE this place. Sicily to me is earthy and sensual, an embracing warmth that comes from country and people and it reached out and fed me. It had unusually sunny October days, the hot wind from the Sahara making it even more inviting and lazy. The warmth begs me to lie down and take it easy…slow down and enjoy the moment. And I do.
It has fed me good food…Sicilian spiced food served in a local trattoria with tall, dark haired men, unshaven but finely suited sitting at the adjoining table, eyes hidden behind expensive shades (in Corleone of all places)…or at the villa, pecorino cheese and tomatoes on crostini, rubbed with raw garlic, Anne’s lentils, proscuitto crudo and lots of delicious persimmons.
My body settles into the seat of the car, muscles tensing and relaxing keeping me in place as we round every curve, pass another car or just fly down one of the rare straight stretches. This island is pure heaven for me. My arms fly one over the other to steer to the right and then immediately to the left. The road is exhilarating; the landscape picturesque, but I see only portions of it as my eyes remain fixed to the road, enjoying every mile that we eat up.
I miss the details, but the overall scene has been that of wildness…stark, bare rock jutting out of brown earth, covered sparsely with trees that adapt to the dry inland weather; and that of lush green…the land cultivated to produce wine and olives, or produce. It is like a patchwork quilt, some dark green, others light; some dark brown with freshly turned soil; or those faded to a light brown from an unrelenting sun. We go through hills and valleys, stunned by a large outcropping of resistant rock and then wowed by rounded hills of a valley beneath us.
The land is dotted with specks of white…sheep leisurely grazing among the patches of rock. Cows enjoy their pasture as much as the horses roam freely on theirs. And we were treated to a flock of goats being herded down a country road by their shepherd seated on his chestnut horse.
We’ve walked through old towns, mostly untouched by tourism and watch people in their everyday lives. This is what I want… what I enjoy seeing. This is what I call Italy. Sicilians are people with very little personal space. At no other market have I been elbowed, pushed against, and bumped into as much as here. They touch each other frequently in friendly conversation, and I enjoy seeing so many men greet each other with the kiss to each cheek. I love it. Men of all ages gather at their favorite bar, settle in one of the many (horrid) white plastic chairs on the pavement or patio and slowly take in the world as it goes by. They seem different than anywhere else and I think that the sun….washing everything in its white heat, makes it seem that time sluggishly ticks by.
Maybe it is warm, but Sicilians are not wanting for fashion. Women all wear boots that seem to be the rage right now….in 33C weather. Nowhere else have I seen the men wearing the berets that I like - they wear them here and they look marvelous…over grey suits in mid afternoon, or with work-worn overalls nursing their tractor down the road.
Best of all, the people here are lovely. They are beautiful and they laugh a lot. It must be the sunshine. We have only visited the smaller towns, but nowhere have I run across unruly, discourteous, rude, vulgar or impertinent men. On the contrary, they have been courteous, and friendly and offer help without being asked. These are people who are interested in people and I find myself completely pleased to have my preconception shattered.