Days in Sicily:
Sicily, the island where my family is from or for the most part. I’ve always described Sicily as an uncut diamond, those who venture to this island will come away with something special. That’s what happened to me. Regardless, my aunt and I see this place differently. We see the potential and what guests can take away from the region, which is how I know how excited my aunt is about bringing people there. Of all the places in Sicily, Taormina is probably the most special. From its checkered piazza to the view of Mt. Etna and the coast line. It reminds me how diverse the country really is and it’s hard to think just a few days ago, I was looking at snowy mountains. Taormina also reminds me of my grandparents. It is after all, where they went on their honeymoon. I traveled the main street window shopping then explored some back allies, which eventually led to a hiking path along a cliff then to steep steps during the midday sun. Regardless, it was an exploration of a lesser-traveled part of town. All the while, my aunt was actually doing work meeting with people. After we were both done, we met up for lunch. Now growing up in an Italian home complete with a cooking nonna, there isn’t much I haven’t tried at least once. One thing that is hard to come by in the states is squid ink pasta, which is a regional delicacy. The name is slightly misleading because it’s not actually squid, but a cuttlefish (think squid, but adorable). Sicilians take the ink sac and make it into a sauce then cut the rest and throw it in. Needless to say, this makes the sauce black. You would expect this black pasta to taste really fishy, but actually the opposite is true. The taste was subtle almost like a creamy cheese sauce with the texture to match. The unsettling thing about the dish is that it turns your teeth and lips black.
Someone once told me that the island of Sicily has islands close by, which have many Greek legends like Cyclops. One time, I had read that sirens were actually based on the seductiveness of Sicilian women’s voices, which would attract enchant sailors to stay on the islands and never return home. I’m sure if I looked into it, I could probably find some vague information about Lipari being one of these islands. Without the Internet, I was left with only informational source. A museum located in a fortress. During my visit (and my first visit may I add), while my aunt was conducting business (as usual), I made my way up to the fortress to check out the museum. The island is small and getting around by foot is easy. Admission to the fortress is free. I spent time walking around looking at the public ruins and taking some great photo shots of the area including the town and two ports. Admittance into the museum is a few Euros. The museum is modest with about 8 rooms filled with relics explaining the history. The island was a hot zone for trade due to the obsidian found on the island. After hundreds of years, people moved up into the hills and built a fortress for protection. After my little tour, I ventured back outside, but before I left a sign caught my eye, which said, “abandoned film set”. I headed in that direction, which I discovered 5 rooms in an outdoor corridor. In each room, hung 6 photos of an abandoned film set. After a few moments a man approached me to explain everything. From what I understood, he told me that the photos were of an abandoned film set called “Gangs of New York”. Now I was under the impression that the show was filmed on the island, but in actuality it was built in Cinacitta (THINK HOLLYWOOD IN ROME) and for some reason the artistic photos of broken windows and morphed shadows were on display in the fortress. Really though, the details are unimportant. It was an interesting art gallery, it killed time and it was free. After I walked around a bit more and realized the church was open. Now I’m not super religious but I always tell people that some of the best art is found in the Italian churches and the best part is more than half the time admission is free or a donation. Once I walked in, someone greeted me and asked me if I had seen the Nordic museum. The short answer is no and I was quickly whisked away on a private tour. I learned the church was first a pagan ceremonial ground then a church was built. By the time I finished, my aunt was ready to meet up. We finished our day with a simple lunch and strolling around Lipari before returning to the island of Sicily.