Sicily

Sicily Travel Blog

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Sicily is like one may imagine all of Italy to be compressed with the rich history that Italy transcends: greek, roman, byzantine and christian. Taking the train, the train is loaded, tracks inside a passenger ship. On the ship starts Sicily. Noone in Sicily drinks the local water, purified water are on tap in every cafe. You order an espresso and purified water is then given. I drink the local water in India, bacteria is good for the digestion. I can say the Sicilian water is worst tasting, it taste salty. I explain the water "non potable" pumps that are in dissuse once were what the older people drank from, they didn't die so it must be drinkable. I drink it.

Palermo (not to be confused with Rafeal Palmero of Chicago Cubs lore) I always say it wrong, it is difficult for people to get angry when one is so obviously ignorant so I am lucky.

Palermo is like an old spaghetti western compared to the red carpet entrance of the north. Palermo is a real town, vibrant, dirty, steeped in local and world history and yet outside the large Duomo (church that in reality is present in every Italian city and for the most part same same same for the non secular) and the main boulevards- it is the working class. The streets are real, they meander up and down, the city is hilly, they turn and then you all of sudden are in a market. Sicilian markets are famous for their beauty. The tables are set out early at 6am, the displays are washed, the fruit and fish sprayed with water, jovial laughter between stall owners, espresso is bought and the day is started.
Fish of all sorts and stalls of vegetables line the street, mothers do their daily shopping. People of all origins are the sellers, you see a Bangladeshi and Sicilians bartering for the attention of each passerby. Very few people speak English and this makes the culture more alive. The more English is spoken the more we assimulate to one culture. Hand gestures accompany every word. Every word is at least two syllables and accented hard, sounds incredibly masculine. I only stayed one day when I arrived, the next I met my surf host and he decided to change plans and we go to a party. David  is British but after 20 years in Sicily, he is as Sicilian as one can be yet still has the British sensibilities. I like him and plan to stay in touch. I dropped my big bag with David and carrying only a daypack I start my coast journey.
This party I met so many wonderful people I plan on staying in touch with.

The party is in SanVito. David had other plans but there were 80 more beautiful people to meet so I never felt alone. I havent been swimming in 10 years it seems and the party is a couchsurfing party organized on the coast, the nature preserve is next to the camping grounds and just magnificent. Swimming in the sea so heavy in salt you float, to dive down 4m is like fighting the wind in a tornado. English does carry some value to be spoken cause with couchsurfing events there represents maybe 15 or so countries and being able to communicate with so many people at one time is breath taking. I met Putins girlfriend (Russian), Swedes, Slovenian, Spanish, Italian, Sicilian, Canadian, American, French, Welsh, Dane, Finish, Lithuanian, Japanese, Taiwanese, Malaysian and probably a few more nationalities.

We drank wine, and laughed, we ate and swam. The value of couchsurfing to the world is immeasurable. I must hop to get into the water, we were going to set our blankets back but when I asked if we could set closer to the water noone objected. This may seem like nothing but people I meet are the best part of traveling. Continuously I am reassured of mans ability to be selfless and kind. The party broke up Sunday evening, I then went to Trapani. Not much in all honesty but inside the city, on the edge there is a hill. On top of the hill there is an older city dating back (much later but...) at least to 1200 or so the sign of one church said. The older city of Erice is small by any sense, maybe 2 acres it seems but compact! The streets are laid with large paving bricks, 6 or so old churches, a few plazas (plazas are like neighborhood meeting points the streets empty into) and a neat old castle you can't go inside.
The only modern convenience is the cable car that rises 15 minutes from Trapani. In Sicily, all mass transport stops at like 8 or 9 so it was morning when I could go onward so I slept on the beach.

Next I arrived in Agrigento. Two reasons to go here. The sea turtles lay their eggs and it has incredible valley of the tombs. Tourist Info called this guy who saves turtles, he said I missed it by a week so no need to go to the small islands. Off the coast of every major city in Sicily are islands. Some inhibited and some not. I have heard the nature is incredible. (I really should go to 1 at least). In Sicily, Doric columns dating back to Greek 700bc can be seen everywhere but in Agrigento it is world heritage.

There still stands 3 acropolis'. One in minty condition. To lesser note are the caves dug out of the hills, if I didn't go to the Archeology museum I might have completely discounted these tiny caves but most off all the pottery, coins, and jewelry that are in museums today came from these caves. There are still caves that may have art. All major Sicilian cities today were once greek states and once fighting each other as well as the Carthigans and Romans. Oh and in the pics there are modern art bronze sculptures that impressive of mans talent. Talent transcends time. They are beautiful. So about 3:30 I finished seeing what I came to see and went to the bus station but the bus for Gela had left so I was stuck... if not for hitchhiking. 5 minutes on the road I was picked up by a cat listening to Blues music, believe my luck! No English but we communicated and he lived in the next village so just out of reach to stay in town and to early to look for a hotel, I continued to hitch.
I ran out of water as I walked the side of the road some 2 hours, salt from perspiration had stained my shorts and shirt. I stopped to put suntan lotion on my foot, in sandals the foot gets burnt easily. So many cars passed but because Sicilians are reknown for aggressive driving none stopped for fear of causing an accident and then Mario and his lovely wife did stop. Thank god for their kindness, I was some serious sun burnt and dehydrating. Mario if you read this, don't get angry this is a complement (never step on another mans penis is my rule)- your wife Antonella is super beautiful. Freckles are way under valued! Women with freckles are always so lovely. We drove to her parents place overlooking the ocean and then to his parents in Ragusa to eat dinner.
He offered me a bed at his parents, amazingly kind. His two daughters didn't speak English but we had fun and communicated while eating. I was suppose to join them after seeing Siracusa, in their villa in Marina Ragusa. Excited, from Siracusa I called and called, I was suppose to call and say yes or no. "the wind customer you are trying to call is not available." Sad but so is life... In Siracusa, there is a complete Greek amphitheatre but during the Summer they hold concerts so I what I saw were a few stone seats and boarded planks covering the rest. In one respect I would really like to see the original amphitheatre but this is selfish and I am amazed that concerts are still held 2500 years later.

In Cartina, at the base of Mt Etna there is ongoing excavation of Greek Thermal Baths next to the hostel.

Actually the thermal baths run under the hostel. The city apparently in 1622 was covered in lava and then rebuilt. There is a saying that the lava moved the whole castle a few hundred yards. Well, in reality the lava created more land mass. The city is quite navigable and I enjoy the ruins of another (only a quarter) amphitheatre. My roommate at the hostel is a bible thumper, 3 boxes of bibles, like 500 bibles, to hand out to the Muslims as they reach the island. It is gods work for him. It seems kind of insulting to say one religion is better than the other but he insist this is what is necessary. The bible is in Arabic, it seriously downplays Mohameds role and tears at the Koran. God apparently is  vengeful and capitalist! Oh bless thee spreading the good word to so many. He wasn’t at all interested in the ruins that laid right out the window of the hostel.
 I met up with a girl I met in Palermo and we went to Toramini (?) to see the ruins of the amphitheatre as it sits beneath Mt Etna, the bay of blue green crisp water lie between- quite lovely.

Back in Palermo now, I can say the antique market is pretty cool if you want old tile- it may be the best around. At night, I went out with some new friends and they took me to the plazzas where everyone gathers in the street talking and drinking- if you come to Palermo you must go to the plazzas at night!! These party scenes have been the same since time. It really is a treasure.  Now I go to Rome.

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Sicily
photo by: spocklogic