A few days in Palermo...

Warning: I started writing this entry and June and it's now September; I just never finished it. I guess I wasn't quite ready to let go of Europe because my summer was boring and sad compared to my life there. But now I'm back at school and I feel confident enough that my life is good to finish it! Sorry there won't be pics, I just don't feel like it, but I'm sure you all saw them on facebook anyway!

So I think I can summarize what I did in Palermo pretty quickly. I’ve been too busy relaxing on the beach and not having any deep thoughts to have very much to write!

Over the last few days, this is what I did:

Ate fresh octopus
Went to high school end of year party

Went to mall (they have chipmunks as pets?)
Went to mcdonald’s

For some reason McDonald’s felt so much like home! Because it was McDonald’s and because they were playing American music when we got there. They did have a few items specific to Italy but I still felt all happy because that’s the first time I’ve felt like I was in America since I left.

Headed to Enna for family friend’s 18th birthday party.

It was so nice! Turning 18 here is a big deal because you’re officially an adult.
Stopped at Sergio’s summer house
The Sicilian countryside is SO BEAUTIFUL

Went to beach (Mondello)
Made Shepherd’s pie – it was Sergio’s favorite dish that my aunt made when he lived in Pittsburgh

And then it happened. The flight catastrophe.

So as I’m sure you know, the French are famous for striking. I was warned that if I was ever taking the train, there was a chance I’d be messed up by some strike. But hey, I went through about 5 months and nothing happened, yay!


Basically the French air controllers are striking against something or other and my flights from Rome to Paris and from Paris to Chicago were cancelled. Can we say panic time?

Lucily Sergio and his Dad helped me find flights to get back to America on the same day…it was a little pricey, but not as bad as it could have been and at this point I don’t much care about money. I couldn’t do anything about it, so I just had to spend it.

Sergio and I decided that France just didn’t want me to leave so it decided not to let me…and Italy doesn’t want me to go, but it understands when it’s time to move on. So we’ll just say that so that I don’t get mad at the French :P

I was bound to be affected by a strike at some point; I think anyone who spends a good chunk of time in France is.

Bought cool Italian sandals
Went to park and saw cool trees
Ate Chinese food with Sergio’s friends

And then today Sergio and Alice, his girlfriend, took me to the airport. Sergio’s mom painted me this cute little picture J

And now I’m just hanging out waiting to get on the plane. It was delayed 20 minutes but what else is new?

So here’s my itinerary for the next few days:

Wednesday (today) fly from Palermo to Rome (12:20-1:30).
From Rome Fiumicino airport, get a shuttle to the bed and breakfast that I booked.
Once in Fiumicino, hang out in the hotel and maybe explore the town a little and then go to bed.
Wake up around 6am to get ready to head back to the airport at 6:30, hoping to be there at 7 to have ample time to catch my 9:50 flight from Rome to New York (Newark) airport. I hope I’ll be able to sleep on the plane so I’m not too jetlagged, but I have a feeling I won’t because it’s at 10am…maybe I’ll just stay up all night tonight :p

And then I go from Newark to Pittsburgh and I should arrive around 9pm (which will actually be 3am my time I think, so that should be fun).

Keep your fingers crossed that everything goes off without a hitch!

(I'll be writing another entry to finish up how my journey ended, recount my summer, and start in on a new blog journey of junior year.)


Beaches, Mopeds, and Spleen with Sergio

Yesterday morning I arrived in Palermo! Here's how the last 2 days have gone:

Vespa ride to rent a movie. (On the way there we stopped in a parking lot and Sergio let me try to drive it! He has a picture that I'll post at a later date or maybe just on facebook).

Then we ate a sandwich that had 3 different types of fried potato on it :P

After that we met up with Sergio's mom to go grocery shopping for lunch. This is a fish market; if you look on the right there's a swordfish's head!

After lunch (delicious seafood) we went to the beach with some of Sergio's friends.

While we were there, I tried granite. (Prounounced granita). It seems pretty similar to a slushie to my unrefined palate.

For dinner we went to the center of Palermo to get a spleen sandwich. 

It was good, but the texture isn't something I could handle too often.

Then we bought 5 of these braceletes for 1 euro, wooh!

And afterwards we got gelato. I got banana just so I could rub it in my Uncle Tom's face once I get home (he kept asking for banana but they didn't have it when we were in Taormina). Yep, these are my family dynamics, people.

Then we spent all day today at the beach. If you can't tell from the picture, I'm getting a nice tan! Except for on my feet, which are burned to a crisp because I forgot to put sunscreen on them. Ouch. 

Oh, and that's an octopus that Sergio's holding. We're eating it tonight for dinner!

And later (at 10pm) we're going to the end of the year party for Sergio's girlfriend's high school. It's not really a dance, but there will be DJs and an open bar. Yep, I guess high schoolers get open bar events in Italy. I'm both excited and nervous...

It's nice to be ending my "eurotrip" in a beach town though! I will be heading home in 5 days...weird.


La Bella Vita : Going Back to our Roots

First of all, 90TH BLOG ENTRY!!!!! I have about 6200 page views right now (can you believe that? Thanks for being such dedicated readers!) and I’d like to hit 7000 before I leave Europe? I think we can do it!!!

Also, sorry if the layout is weird or if the font is different from my usual entries. I'm not 100% sure that everything is perfect and honestly I'm not interested in spending my vacation in Sicily worrying about that!


Best part of our wine party : the cannoli.

The next day we started our journey to Altavilla Milicia, the town where my great great great grandparents lived.

On top of the incredible scenery on the drive there (mountains on our left and beautiful coast on our right the entire time) we stopped in a town called Cefalu for lunch. It seems like everywhere you look along the coast there are mountains and deep blue water. It’s unlike any place I’ve ever been!

We arrived at our hotel (can I even call it that?) and my mind was blown. It’s a modern, huge complex with 2 pools and ocean access, music playing all the time, and overall just anything you could ask for in a resort.

At 7pm we were set to meet up with Michele, a distant relative. We came here because this is the town where my grandpa’s grandparents came from…so Michele is my great great grandpa’s brother’s grandson. So basically we’ll call him a cousin and leave it at that.

We knew he didn’t speak English so we were hoping he spoke a little French (because we surely don’t speak Italian) and he does! So the adventure started there for me!

We did introductions and headed out so he could show us around the town. Look at the car we got to ride in! I was literally having the time of my life.

We got to his house and that’s where the parallels between my Pappy and his cousin started to become evident…his front yard is a HUGE garden, bigger than I’ve ever seen, and he grows all sorts of things from mulberries to basil to herbs I’ve never even heard of. Then Michele’s wife Angela and his daughter Marta came out to join us. Angela speaks a little English, so that made it easier for everyone to communicate, but Marta doesn’t speak any.

After that, Angela joined us and we headed up into Altavilla to find my Pap’s grandparents’ house and the church they used to attend. The town is a little bit run down but it still has all the charm of a cute little Sicilian town! On the way to their house, we ended up meeting some more of our distant relatives (on the Lima side, for those of you interested)! It was surprising how much they resembled my family! Almost creepy to know that there are people who look so much like your family living across the world…

Anyway, we found our way to their house! Nobody lives in it now and it isn’t in great condition, but Michele told us that his friend (who is a doctor) bought the house. He was trying to get into contact with him so we could see it but he was working :(

 Finally we finished our tour of Altavilla Milicia and headed back to Michele and Angela’s house. Michele is a lawyer and he just built his new big house. In the garage he has several cars and motorcycles…but on top of that, he collects old family relics (just like my Pap!). It was eerie how similar his basement felt to my Pap’s.

Michele played us an old record with traditional Sicilian music on it (a record, just like my Pappy used to play for us when we were little!) and then he made me dance with him…my cousin Chris took a video of it so I’m going to post that once I get him to send it to me!

After dancing, we had dinner with them! They ordered us pizza (because the market was closed yesterday) and we also had sardines and artichokes. It was soooo nice of them to have dinner for us all, yet I’m not expected because that’s just how Europeans are. Something I’ll definitely miss (remind me to write an entry about European hospitability). We ate dinner in the basement, which my Pap says is a characteristic Italian thing? He said his grandparents used to do it.

I won’t lie, there definitely was a bit of a communication breakdown during dinner. I sat across the table from Michele and Angela so I wasn’t there to navigate in English, French, and Italian (somehow I can understand quite a bit of it when they speak!) and there were some lulls but eventually the ice was broken! Their daughters Marta and Ilde ate with us as well. 

After dinner we went upstairs and ate gelato! Then it was time to leave so we made plans to meet up today and explore the church and the town cemetery.

So today that’s just what we did. The cemetery is actually just a large grouping of mausoleums because the water table here is too high to bury people since we’re on a mountain. We found my grandpa’s great grandparents’ grave and found out that his grandpa actually had another sister that we didn’t know about! And on top of that, one of the workers was actually a distant cousin of ours! As it turns out, it seems like everyone in this tiny town is related. (Incest anyone? Not going to think about it…)

After that we went inside the church. My Pap and his sister were really happy because their grandparents used to talk about the church all the time. I have to say that it really was a beautiful church and it’s crazy that I walked throughout the same church as my ancestors…weird!

As it turns out, somewhere the spelling of our last name got messed up! My last name is supposed to be spelled the way it is on this mausoleum. Should I change it?...

After that we had lunch and then we went back to the hotel! Tomorrow we all part ways again. I’ll be spending 5 days in Palermo with Sergio, my aunt’s former exchange student! From what I’ve gathered, it’s going to consist mainly of parties, the beach, and food. And I’m totally okay with that.

One week until I’m home! I’m excited but also sad. I’m still going through the ups and downs of reverse culture shock/regular culture shock (but honestly it’s probably just the ups and downs of everyday life) but I really wouldn’t want to spend my ups and downs in any place other than where I am right now.

I'm so lucky to have had the opportunity to travel to my homeland (can I call it that?) with my family. This is a trip that I'll never forget.