Sicily! Our third Sicily stop on this magical island had a bit of a twist. Rain is a true blessing and a bt of a novelty to us drought poor Californians so we set out on our Godfather, Francis Ford Coppola adventure with other intrepid people who can watch this trilogy over and over again. The roads to Corleone, Sicily were…steep, wiggly and a bit terrifing as i had never seen i bus lean INTO THE RAVINE going around a hairpin curve before. It boggles the mind that they allow busses on these roads. Only thing more insane is paying to go! The rain resembled …as if…someone at the end of a bucket brigade…was dumping water on you…endlessly. I discovered my raincoat is more of a rain sort of resistant coat! Good to know. First we saw dead and mummified Capuchin monks in a crypt dressed in their finest from centuries past ..so much for “dust to dust” for these guys.
Then onto Vitales Bar from Godfather where Michael met Appalonia. Methinks this bar must be owned by Mafia . As we left… More walking tours arrived. Nothing else in town…but even in rain…business was booming.
As i stood beside gutter gushing a river, Brian suggested i move to side …i truly didn’t notice much difference! We slipped and slid down steps and around corners dodging umbrellas, people, and locales…but it was all good fun. Nothing you can do about rain and we have had glorious weather on this trip.
Susie and Bob meeting today with hotels in prep for beautiful daughters wedding in Revello next summer. Wow.. What a party it will be! Brian and I took another Culinary tour. We visited Revello where erin and erin had part of honeymoon..bought a few pots!
Our last day of Part one was relaxing and fun. We grabbed discovery walking tour ipods from ship desk and strolled around town. After a few churches and nearly being killed by insane crazy Vespas, smart cars and pedestrians.. We found a wood buring pizza terrace overlooking maybe.. The best views on earth.
September 24 was Disembarkation day so it was pretty swell to have the ship mostly to ourselves. Met a few other couples who were also doing this back to back trip onward to Venice. Bob and Susie arrived and many amazing stories about their adventures in Marrakesh last week.
Guess what? Today we ate!..ok so no earth shattering news but Come on…can it get more interesting and fun?? Today we met the Chef and off we went to the Catania, Sicily open air market. Chef told us as we approached the market entrance, “when you turn the corner over there…your lives will change”! Kind of a big statement..it was…wild, to say the least. Insane Sicilian men screaming and tossing Swordfish and every type of fish. Singing everytime they sold one…maybe thanking the gods for the bounty..who knows. Even the Italians we were with could not understand the dialect.
Today we stayed on ship as we have been to the CoCathedral, seen the Caravaggio and wandered the street of the old town Valletta with Bob and Susie on past trips…..and we needed to take a breather as this has been an up at 7-bed by 11 busy port intensive cruise with zero sea days.
The view from the Spa post massages was great with Paul Allens Yacht ” Octopus” moored beside us which has two helicopters, two submarines and alot of tech, I assume. Since we are onboard..I will give you a short tour of this boat…Marina. Its just a few years old and is, i think the perfect size. Any smaller and you see the same people all the time…and bigger and you are never bumping into friends.
the ship never seems crowded even though this cruise is sold out. Chairs available around pool and never a line up for anything. Staff is so well trained…which brings me to our butler…Jitu.
Jitu has worked for Saudi royal family. Many fascinating stories. He is a young father of a 22 month sweet little girl who loves princess dresses and twirling. Best butler ever. Brian has told me i cannot ask him to come home with us, which is sad.
We also did yet another cooking class. I will not bore you with apron, chef hat photos but we cooked Moroccan in Tangines..lots of apricots, safron, raisins, chicken, couscous and herbs of every shape and form. The kitchen smelled out of this world. Another evening canceling dinner plans as we were just too full. This is a foodie cruise. Tomorrow we are back in Sicily and going on a Chefs tour…something about Canolis!!!!
The question for today is..”What sparks the moment in a journey when you connect with the land?” Today it happened. Sicily is, without a doubt, one of our favorite places. The food has a unique North African, Italian and Greek flair to it. Its only a 120 miles to North Africa and its been overrun by everyone from Phoenicians, , Romans, Tunisians…and now Italians…throughout the centuries due to this tight location. Our ship docked in Trapani and we set out to discover the source of Marsala wine, the famous Salt Pans and delicious Olive oil.
At the salt pans we noticed an old man selling small reed brooms he was weaving. I picked up one and he said 3 Euros. I said Grazie…and he started to show me a recent news clipping where he was celebrated in an American paper as the Poet of the Salt Pans. He had also been on the Sicilian news a few times. He recited a poem in Italian, of course, to me. I understood…Luna, Amore, Bellissimo…and more Amore…but he spoke it with such love and passion…the words hardly mattered. He then picked up a small clay heart he created out of terra cotta and salt and pressed it in my hand with the broken english..” With life and safe travels”. One of those moments when the simple decision to buy from a local craftsman..turns magical.
We then travelled to Marsala where Brian and I found a beautiful church. Mass had ended ( Sunday) and it was empty but for the caretaker. He saw us arrive and mumbled something..I assumed ” oh no…another tourist…i want to go home to eat pasta with family”… But he then turned and welcomed us. In 100% Italian he explained the church to us…Slllooooooowly…speaking….as if slow Italian is easier to understand! Oddly…we both started to get it. The church was spectacular and he brought us downstairs to show us the Roman Frescoes from ancient underground church! Wow! A healthy euro donation to the church by Brian sealed the deal and many thanks and blessings were said to us… We think?!?
Our final stop was an old Olive Oil press farm owned by same family for three hundred years. Spectacular lunch of fresh ingrediants and music.. Brian was asked to play the Tambourine and dance( but thats another story.. There was wine involved)
Our ship arrived at daybreak into Oblia, the main port in Sardinia. This is our first time here and discovered it is smack dab in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea and just 20 miles from Corsica. We traveled across the island to a smaller island of Maddalena. Its a picture perfect beach town and only accessible by ferry from Sardinia. He solid granite outcroppings as well as the harsh winds and weather in Winter create a slightly barren yet scuptural look. Hard to discribe but the tops of the mountains all have been shapped into odd, twisted statues of granite. They name them the Bear, the lady…its like looking at clouds and seeing things…but its all granite. The base for the statue of liberty came from Sadinian granite quarries. This is now just a beautiful vacation spot for thousands in the summer…and the rest of the year when the summer people leave…communities drop from thousands to hundreds…but the locals the are busy making pecorrinno cheese and growing olives.
This ship, which has amazing food as Jacques Pepin is the creative genius, has only Culinary School on the Sea. Yesterday after walking around Sardinia, we spent 2 1/2 hours (!) learning how to make fresh pasta and all things Italian. So much fun. The evening was capped with dinner at Red Ginger. A couple sitting at table besideus started up a conversation. They had been on their first back2back cruise on this trip. They live in New York City, he flies a his own plane, have a home in the Hamptons…5 grandchildren…and…wait for it….on the cruise to celebrate 60 th wedding anniversay!!!!! They were married 3 weeks BEFORE i was born!!!!!!!!!