04.03.2010 - 07.03.2010 65 °F
I’m writing from my sunny balcony in Paderno, recovering from our weekend vacation to Sicily, Italy! We had such a wonderful 3-day vacation out on the beach! It was very different than our other trips. We usually try to sight see and cram as much into every trip as possible, but we decided to relax and slow down for our trip to Sicily.
I traveled with Jake, J.J., Colleen, Chris, and Jessica. We rented an apartment in Palermo, Sicily. It ended up being in this sketchy ally, with Louis Vuitton around the corner. Colleen and I took the private room and shared a big bed, while the other four slept in the main room in bunk beds. I think we got the better end of the deal. We got there really late at night on Thursday, so we didn’t do much exploring.
We took a taxi to the apartment and immediately noticed the first difference between Paderno and Sicily. Now, normally the way Italians drive is terrifying. The roads are thin, they go close to 100mph around small corners where you cannot see if anyone else is coming…. Basically every instinct you have while driving, they do the opposite. Like when you would instinctively step on the break to avoid hitting someone, they hit the gas to intimidate and swerve around said person…. It is terrifying. Now in Sicily, not only do they drive at insane speeds, but apparently lanes are just decoration. Our taxi driver drove down the middle of the highway, between two lanes, for a solid 20 minutes. He just moved in and out of lanes as he pleased, no checking, no turn signal…. I feel lucky to be alive.
On Friday morning Jessica and I went out to the market down the street to find breakfast for everyone. It was such a different lifestyle than northern Italy. First off, we were the only tourists in sight, so we were just stared down everywhere we went. The market had fresh fruit, veggies, and fish everywhere. We got a ton of fresh fruit and stopped at a Pastaria for some fresh pastries. We got everyone up and moving and caught the bus to Mondello Beach, about 20 minutes away. The beach was just stunning, incredibly blue water surrounded by mountains and fountains. We layed in the sun for hours, getting some fruity drinks, and just taking in the warmth! We walked up and down the beach where there were vendors selling all sorts of jewelry and accessories… the boys didn’t enjoy that much.
We stopped and got Sicilian pizza, which was very different than we expected! It was very thick crust, thin cheese, barely any sauce, and tons of toppings. I got one with eggplant, proscutto, and tomatoes. It was so different but SO good. We left the beach and the girls went to the strip of shops by our apartment. It felt like Worth Ave in Florida… warm, sunny, palm trees, and shopping ☺ After our long day of shopping and beaching, we got all dolled up for a night out in Sicily. We really wanted traditional Sicilan food, but we found that English was not very common. We had trouble finding somewhere open with authentic food. We settled on a small pizzaria where we tried Risotto and some local wine.
We went back to our apartment afterwards, meeting up with a bunch of other guys from the program who were staying at the same complex. They all came over and all sorts of shenanigans went down. It is very different traveling with guys, they are not quite as clean and respectful as girls. Their first inclination was to remove all of the mattresses from the bunk beds and create a “superbed” in the common room… needless to say it was an interesting weekend.
After a night of nonsense we went out again Saturday morning to the Market. We decided we wanted to take advantage of having a full kitchen in our apartment and cook a meal for our group. Easier said than done! In Italy, quality is extremely valued… applied to wine, food, clothes cars ect. So nothing is really as Mcdonaldized as in America. In order to cook our meal we had to go to the fruit and veggie stand, a spice stand, a meat store, the bread shop, and the grocery store. It took over an hour of shopping and planning. This really speaks to their culture and how important fine food is to them. We then went to the beach again for a few hours, came home, and started cooking. We sent the boys out for wine and cheese and while they were gone cooked: Pasta with homemade meat sauce (with fresh mushrooms, ground beef, and basal.) We made fresh grilled peppers and mushrooms, a big salad with tons of veggies, wine, and cheese. It was SUCH a good meal, and just so much fun to cook again, I’ve missed that. After dinner we had another night of hotel shenanigans, resulting in another superbed. It was just a great group to travel with, we all get along really well and had a good time. We came back late Sunday, exhausted but proud of our tans and relaxing time!
Over the past week we’ve done a lot of cultural Italian workshops through CIMBA. I did a “Date with a professor” night where a professor took a group of us to a local pizzaria where we got to learn and try making our own pizza from the owner. He only spoke Italian so it was very interesting! We also had a night out with Italian students who took us to a pizzaria and bar in town. This week we have a tiramisu making workshop, formal dinner, and Italian company shadowing. They just keep us crazy busy, which is awesome, but it really makes time fly. I cannot believe we have our second travel break starting Friday, I feel like that means the end is near ☹ We are going to Paris, Barcelona, and Madrid for 9 days, so I’m very excited, but also getting upset that our time is running out!
I love you all very much and will write again soon! Xoxoxo