This is just an introduction of my many trips to Sicily. I will post more in the following weeks.
Sitting in the far south of Italy, Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea and is just north of Africa. Its location made it a central port for Europe, Africa and the Middle East in the olden times. It also became a favorite object of colonization by the Arabs, Byzantine, Greece, Romans and many others. Therefore, it boasts of a plethora of artifacts and other evidences of ancient civilization such as archaeological sites, ruins of Greek temple, baroque cities etc.
The first time I flew to Sicily in 2009, like any other first time experiences, I couldn’t wait to get there. I wished that I could be there just by thinking about it, faster than Superman. Sitting by the window, I watched patiently impatiently every scene I could see until I could see greater London panoramically. Soon the view became an endless sea of clouds and I resorted to pretend asleep. After about an hour I noticed that the clouds have turned blue and green. “Oh wait a minute! No, they’re mountains! Must be the Alps. Yes, definitely! I didn’t know the Alps were an endless mountain ranges and I was viewing it from the airplane window at an altitude of at least 10,000ft above sea level. I was blown way. Soon we got over the Alps and the view became a sea of clouds again. Mustn’t be long now, I calmed myself and tried to sleep the growing anticipation away.
After about half an hour or so, I could, finally, see our destination island, Sicily, and the anticipation was getting more intense. As much as I love travelling, I hate the flying bit, no matter how long or short it is. The longer it is, the worse I feel, obviously.
At last I spotted a runway and a control tower and as we neared I noticed a massive rock formation–or is it called a mountain?– well, it’s just one HUMONGOUS piece of rock. As soon as we touched down, I forgot about it and it was hidden from my view now. But when I got off the plane, this HUGE!! rock appeared again and it seemed to magnify a hundred times more. I was literally taken aback and it made me feel like an ant in comparison to its gigantic size.
Getting to know the people and the place
My few days in Sicily were so full of surprises and novelties, seeing for the first time in my life, almond trees, olive trees, fig trees… I felt like I was in the Bible times in a Bible land!
Language and culture
I thought I could understand a little Italian but when I met the family, I couldn’t understand anything! They’re speaking in Sicilian! Not to mention their paralanguage and gesticulation, I was at a total loss. So I reckoned I was going to be maimed for the next 2 months of my life.
Life in Sicily, although catching up with latest trends and fashion, still involve traditional practices. But the younger generations are slowly shying away from them and embracing modernity. I think it’s not healthy. Sicilian culture is so rich and I wish they could preserve it for as long as possible if not forever.
If you haven’t had Sicilian foods, then you haven’t had Italian foods. Sicilians do make amazingly palatable homemade foods–arancini, cannoli, caponata, cavagna (fresh cottage cheese) to name a few. One of my favorite meals is Pane companagio (not sure if I spelled it right). It is, basically, bread with pickled olives, sundried tomatoes, and cavagna with fresh salad. My mouth is watering as I write this.
Well, I hope I have whetted your appetite, no pun intended, and stay tuned for my next Sicilian topic.