Goodbye London, Hello Sicily...Meet The Family
Catania Travel Blog› entry 4 of 15 › view all entries
September 26th, 2009 – by: puttyland
On the plane I met Renato, a Sicilian living in London for bank work. He was very nice (sounded and sorta looked like Raul Julia) and gave me lots of advice for Catania, etc.
When I arrived, my cousin's husband, Lino, was waiting outside customs, and my cousin, Mariolina, was waiting at the car outside.
After one stall-out (I’m not used to driving a stick!), I followed them to my hotel, Le Dune. It’s a cute place with Saltillo tile floors and Mediteranean colors. The parking situation was terrible though - I got the last space, and the whole parking lot was extremely tight and confusing.
They asked if I was hungry, and of course I was, so we dropped the bags in the room and Lino drove us to a pizza place in Catania and parked. I thought they said we were going to eat pizza at their house, but turns out it was Mariolina's sister Sevi's condo. They had called her in the car and she said she was sleeping, but I guess we were going to barge in anyway. She lived 2 flights up, and then inside the condo there was another flight up. It's lovely - HUGE, bright and modern. No a/c though, and it was extremely humid out, so it was a little stuffy.
Mariolina introduced Sevi's husband Ale (Alessandro) and Lino & Mariolina’s daughter, Elvira. Sevi brought me a glass of wine, and we chatted in the living room - Savy can speak some English, and actually Lino can as well, although they much preferred letting me struggle with Italian! We went into the dining room and they opened up 3 pizzas - one with eggplant (delish), one with ground beef and potato (not my fave), and another with veggies and prosciutto (also delish).
Then we drove Mariolina and Elvira back to their condo, and Lino ostensibly was going to drive me to my hotel, but all of sudden he brightened up and said, “Let’s get a gelato.
Then he took me to an Italian soda kiosk in the middle of town. I got a mandarin and lemon, and he got a coconut one. Apparently a Catania specialty. It was like a cocktail the way they mixed it all fancy. Then he gave me a mini-tour of the city, which was a lot prettier than I remembered. The streets were wet like they had been hosed down for a movie set, so all the lights were glimmering. I saw the church, the university, the elephant statue and Bellini’s house. Gorgeous archictecture, and not the dusty, polluted square that I remember from 20 years ago.
Yesterday, it was a little rainy so I had breakfast and waited for information from Mags & Liz to go pick them up at the airport. Got word that their plane wasn't coming in, but I didn't want to drive to Taormina by myself, so I texted Savy to ask if I could stay with them for a night (they were giving me grief about getting a hotel in the first place). I got their address, and eventually figured out the rented GPS (Magellan) and braved the driving to mid-city. I really can't stand the narrow streets - I'm always nervous about hitting something, but otherwise, it wasn't too bad. The drivers are indeed crazy, but it's kind of like driving in Manhattan, but with worse signage.
I found their place, and Ale came down to help me find a free parking spot, and to help me squeeze into it (I couldn't do it without taking out a few cars). I met their 18-month-old daughter Anna, we chatted for a bit, and then I went down to my guest room and just relaxed. Savy made some pasta for Anna for dinner, and for us she made a delicious porcini risotto. Went to bed early and checked again to see what was going on with Mags and Liz's flight.
Today, having found out that their plane STILL hadn't left, so after breakfast of toast, homemade blackberry jam and a latte (they have a professional espresso maker from a cafe!) and Ale, Anna and I and went to the Saturday market in Catania.
I'm still waiting for word from my parents to make sure they've arrived safely -- hopefully I can meet them at the villa tonight!! I understand it's very difficult to find this place, so I'd prefer to drive there before it gets dark!
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