It was tempting to stay at the villa and relax but Frank and I wanted to see more of Sicily. We dropped Andy and Shannon at the airport and exchanged our monster vehicle for a little Audi. What a treat! Hairpin curves were now fun, not nerve wrenching. Armed with a map and notes of places that looked interesting, we set off on our adventure. We had no specific agenda or hotel reservations. We’d figure out where to sleep when we felt like stopping . . .
This was not a trip for counting calories. For an island that’s relatively small (the size of Massachusetts according to Frank), we were surprised at the variation in food from place to place. Each town had their specialties and we were happy to indulge. Warning: Virtual food coma ahead . . .
The only thing better than traveling is sharing that adventure with family. For the past three weeks, we have hosted a revolving door of relatives at a mountainside villa overlooking the seaside town of Capo D’Orlando, Sicily, home of Frank’s maternal great grandparents. The ten-minute drive, up the curvy mountain road, took us to L’Aquilone, our base from which we explored the area and searched for signs of his ancestors. We ate well, drank a lot of local wine and enjoyed endless laughs around the massive dining room table.
Frank and I had a few days to settle in before the first wave of family arrived. The sleepy (in October) resort town, where everyone knows everyone, discovered fairly quickly that some new Americanos were in town. Could it have been the nine-person van squeezing through the narrow streets while residents whizzed by in tiny Fiats and Smart cars? Or was it our feeble attempt at speaking the local language, along with hand gestures and Google translate? If that wasn’t it, perhaps it was our trip to the local grocery store on our second day in . . .
Frank and I had proudly navigated exactly what we needed for the evening’s supper and, as we were paying for our groceries, the cashier asked us if the van outside was ours. We answered, “Si,” wondering why she asked until we went outside and saw the back end of a rooster and scattered feathers between our front tire and wheel well. Everyone was staring at the perplexed Americans who unwittingly “killed” a rooster. Figuring there wasn’t much we could do — Frank certainly wasn’t going to clean it out of there(!) — we slunk back inside the van and started it up. Suddenly, a man ran out waving his arms, “No morti! No morti!” Confused, I climbed back out and the rooster had disappeared. All that was left was a of couple feathers!
We picked up my mom, Frank’s aunt Jo and three of his cousins the following Sunday. They couldn’t have been easier or more enjoyable guests. We visited Aunt Jo’s relatives in San Agata before leaving her with them for the day. We also took a trip to Portacello to meet Fay and Rose’s first cousins and to see their mother’s childhood home. The extended families warmly welcomed all of us and it was interesting to view their homes and see how Sicilians live. They fed us until we were “molti chinu” (full!), which was a running theme of the Spano stay!
The Spano visit went by much too quickly and before we knew it, they were gone and we were picking up Louie, Andy, Nick and Maddie. Like myself, Frank was really looking forward to spending time with them. All had left busy schedules back home and were anxious to savor some good food and wine, relax around the pool, sightsee a bit and enjoy late nights playing sheepshead. We dropped everyone at Taormina one day, telling them we had to meet a friend in Catania for coffee. Unbeknownst to them, we went to the airport to pick up Andy’s girlfriend. The unplanned surprise was the torrential rainfall we hit along the way, turning an easy 30-minute ride into a detoured 4-hour odyssey through flooded towns. It was, however, all worthwhile to see Andy’s face when the cute girl behind the camera turned out to be someone he knew. : )