Hello family and friends! This post is a little late – almost a week late – but, better late than never right? I’ve been caught up in tests and school and fighting off a cold and just relaxing! But here it is – my trip to SICILY!
Before I start my post, I’d like to make a shoutout to my AWESOME cousin Cherida. She has been so helpful, welcoming, and flat out amazing. She has done so much for me, checks in with me almost daily, and is always ready to help me with any tiny problem – but she doesn’t just help me, she goes above and beyond. I’m so thankful for you and so glad we’ve gotten to spend time together!!! THANK YOU!
Last Thursday, I packed all my stuff and headed off to class looking like a turtle (due to a very full backpack on my back). My class ends at 12:20, I had to catch a bus to Pisa at 1:13, and then board my flight at 2:50…. It was kind of pushing it. I made it to the bus stop okay (you know, besides getting lost), and the bus boarded on time. Howeverrrrrrr… of course it didn’t arrive on time. I got to Pisa at 2:35, walked into the airport, saw the super long security line, and immediately panicked. My ticket said the gates CLOSE at 2:50! So I anxiously in line, and then began to fret more when I realized that silly me had forgotten about airline liquid rules since I’ve been traveling by bus so much.
No worries though, the Italians’ relaxed attitude about time saved the day!
I did have to throw away ALL my shampoo (i’m still sad) and all my water, but when I got through at 3, the boarding had only just begun. All was clear, until I got onto the plane and the flight attendant looked at me all worried and said I need some sort of stamp to fly into Trapani.
No such thing as traveling without any problems, eh?
Anyway, the stamp issue was cleared and the flight was only an hour and I flew into Trapani doing my classic awe-struck gaze out the window at the islands and all the beautiful water we were flying over. When I got off and walked into Arrivals, my cousin Cherida, her daughter, her mom, and more family were waiting for me! I was so excited to see them – I was too young to remember meeting them the only time I did before, so this was a totally new experience! We exchanged hugs and Grace (Cherida’s daughter, she’s 4) immediately latched onto me and held my hand – apparently she was beyond excited too, leading up to my arrival.
We got into the car and I met Ed, Cherida’s boyfriend, and we chatted about traveling and Rome (he works there) while we drove to their favorite bar. A “bar” in Italy is the coffee and pastry shop type of place, for all my Americans who may be confused. We got gelato, of course, and espresso! I got Pistachio and something else with nutella in it and it was divine.
We got settled into the house, and that night, we went to a delicious pizzeria for dinner with everyone. We ordered a bunch of different kinds and I also got to try a typical Sicilian dish called panelle – they’re yummy chickpea fritters that are eaten as a starter before a course! At this point I was still in shock that I was in SICILY eating with FAMILY!!!!! (and in shock because the pizza was so good.)
The next morning, Ed took the kids and I to the bar for breakfast. I had an AMAZING spinach pastry. Then, we walked around a little bit and went to the fish market, although it was closing up for the day. Ed had to catch a plane back to Rome in a few hours at this point, so after walking around a little bit, we headed back to the house until Cherida got home from work. When she got home, we had lunch at home – couscous with seafood, another typical Sicilian dish!
Then we were off for our adventure of the day!!! ERICE!!!
Erice is a medieval town on top of a mountain in Trapani. It didn’t take us too long to get to the base of the mountain, but the drive up took a while. No complaints – it was GORGEOUS the whole way up and each switchback offered a different view and change of scenery!!!! Here I am on the way up, with the city below me. (I’m not sure why my camera had a spot on it…. disregard it)
We spent our day in Erice walking around and simply enjoying all the sights. It was truly BEAUTIFUL! We checked out the view from the castle, walked past some gardens, played with the kids at a mini park, and were blessed with amazing views the entire time. We stopped at the “magic seat”, which Grace and Cherida showed me. When you sit on one side of the long, curved bench and say something quietly into the corner of it, the person on the other end can hear it perfectly and it echoes out of their corner. Cherida knows the area pretty well because she used to work here when she was younger, and she told me a lot of her stories. We also saw a beautiful church! The kids were a blast to hang out with and we all got all kinds of sweets. It felt so enchanting being here – truly a magical place to spend your day!
The next day, we spent the day exploring the city center of Marsala. I was really excited because my great grandma was from here and I couldn’t wait to see everything she used to see. We have so much family history here! We walked through the center, which was adorable and had all kinds of shops. In the center, there was a big church that was beautiful inside and Cherida told me all kinds of history about it. We also passed by a memorial for a bomb shelter in Marsala during World War 2. My great grandma took shelter here, and she decided to leave to go to a different one. The day after she left, the shelter was bombed and every single person there died. It felt so surreal to know that and to be standing right there – right where she made that decision. If she hadn’t gone to a different shelter, none of my family would be here today. I was blown away.
After the city center and filling up on gelato (as you can see, Grace was at it again with the chocolate face 😉 ), we continued on to the garden, where there is a playground for the kids. There were all sorts of beautiful flowers, statues, and other cool things! We let the kids play and I pushed them on the swings until it was dark.
On this night, we went to another pizzeria (it seemed fancier), because the pizza here is simply fantastic so we had to eat as much of it as possible. I got a “Araba” pizza – it had mozzerella, tomatoes, olives, giant salted capers, sausage, spicy salami, and chilis and was perfectly complimented with Moretti – an Italian beer 😀
That night, the kids went off to bed and Cherida and I stayed up for a while talking and looking at videos on YouTube. It was great having quality time with her!
I had to leave to go back to Florence the next morning and I totally did not want to. Grace didn’t want me to either, and kept saying “Amanda, today please don’t go”. I just had to keep hugging her and telling her to not worry because I would be back in 2 weeks! We got up bright and early and got croissants and coffee at the bar and then went off the airport. Even Bruce (he’s 2) caught on once we were at the airport and gave me many of his dive-into-your-legs-and-headbutt-you hugs. They’re so cute. Cherida is awesome and she gave me peanut butter to take back with me, and I also had a bunch of treats from her mom! It was such a bummer having to leave them, but I had reassurance in knowing that I’ll be back SO soon, with my mom! Thank you Cherida, Grace, Bruce, and everyone else for a FANTASTIC weekend! I love you guys!!