One of my favourite bloggers from Sicily, Rochelle Del Borrello, just posted her list of Ten Ways To Tell You’ve Been Living In Sicily Too Long on her Unwilling Expat blog. She’s not alone. Veronica di Grigoli** posted a similar entry on her blog The Dangerously Truthful Diary of a Sicilian Housewife and Jennifer Avventura wrote about The Forty Ways You Know You’ve Been Living in Sardinia Too Long in My Sardinian Life.
Nick and I haven’t been living in Sicily nearly long enough to write a similar post, but, instead, I offer the Eight Things I Am Most Looking Forward To When We Get Back To Cianciana.
- One of the things that I miss the most from our house in Cianciana is the view. Our stunning 180 degrees of beautiful Sicilian mountain-side, the charming houses in the old part of the town, and our glimpse of the Mediterranean off to the south calls me every day that we are away. The first thing that I will do when we get back to our home will be to climb the stairs to the kitchen, open the door to the terrazza and then stand at the rail and take in the view that I have missed so much.
- The next morning, I will get up early – well, early for me in Cianciana – and walk down to the fruit and veggie shop to by fresh peaches or a melon and some pecorino cheese, into the butcher to buy salami, and then I will walk up to the street above ours and by fresh, warm Italian bread. While I am doing that, Nick will be making the espresso and when I get home, he and I will sit on our terrazza, drinking our coffee and eating our first breakfast back in Sicily.
- Every day, Sicilians partake in a centuries old practice that I find to be the utmost of civilized customs. This is a custom that Nick and I have embraced and indulge in while we are in Sicily and wish we could indulge in while we are in Canada. This most wonderful of customs is the afternoon siesta. From about 1:00 – 4:00, all businesses shut down and everyone heads home for lunch and a nap. Many parts of Italy are humid in the summer, but Cianciana lies in Agrigento, a region that is known for hot, dry summers. I love to lie down and feel the heat, soft and dry, envelop me as I drift off to sleep for an hour or two. In Palermo, the summers are humid and the same nap would leave me sweaty and sticky but in Cianciana, I wake up warm and refreshed, ready for the afternoon.
- Every Tuesday morning in Cianciana, and every Thursday morning in nearby Ribera, there is a market. I LOVE shopping Sicilian markets. There is everything you can possibly imagine that you could need plus a whole lot that you don’t need but are still interesting to poke through. Having people over for dinner and don’t know what to make? Ask the fishmonger what’s good and how he would make it. After politics, I think discussing food – eating it and how to make it is the second most debated topic of conversation. Looking for a new shirt or dress to wear out in the evening? Rows upon rows of the latest styles in rock bottom prices are there for you to peruse. Need something for the kitchen? Bathroom? New curtains? Sheets for the bed? New light fixtures? Furniture? We have bought all of these from the market. I leave Nick to run his errands (he’s not as fond of shopping as I am) and I am in heaven wandering up and down the alleyways that make up the market.
- Gelato. What else can I say? Oh, except, gelato in a sweet bun. I love Sicily.
- One of the things that I really hoped to find in Sicily was community. Nick and I have been living in the same neighbourhood in Canada for years – seven on my part and twenty on Nick’s. On our Canadian street, I have met four sets of neighbours, actually been in the homes of one and I rarely see or speak to the other three. In Cianciana, we met our next-door neighbours even before we had decided to buy the house! The people in our Sicilian neighbourhood have had us over for dinner, for coffee, to their homes in the country. We have met their children, their parents, their grandchildren. Even our friends who are stranieri (foreigners) we see and visit more often than our friends in Canada. It is not possible to spend time in our small Sicilian village without making connections with the people there. I can’t wait to sit out in the evening with Guiseppe, Anna and Antonio from next door just chatting, or drop by to visit Enzo and his wife Enza in the street above, or see the new renos on Bernadette’s house in town and Doug and Ian’s house out in the country, or sit having coffee with Sav in the Clock Tower café, or share the view from Linda and Bruno’s new home on the other side of the island, or have lunch with Nick’s Sicilian family including Cettina, the coolest nun I have ever met. The people here are what make an already wonderful experience, simply amazing.
- Sicilians really know how to celebrate. All summer long, every evening, there seems to be a reason to celebrate something. The harvest festival, the hunter’s festival, music and dance performances, the Ferrari evening, Ferragosto (the celebration of the Ascension of Mary). And the evenings in which there is no specific festa organized, the Ciancianesi, like Italians all over the country, take part in the passagiata or the evening stroll. It took me a little while to understand the passagiata. In my North American mind, an evening stroll was about getting a little exercise, enjoying the surroundings, helping out my digestion. The first couple of times Nick and I went out for our evening stroll, when we had walked up and down the street once, I figured we were done. But this is not what the passagiata is about. Sicilians go out for their evening stroll to visit. Who else is walking up and down the street or the piazza? Who is sitting at the bar enjoying a caffe, caffe with brandy or grappa, wine or beer? Who is out walking with whom? I have learned to love walking up and down and the rare evenings when Nick and I don’t go, I find I really miss this simple pleasure.
- I asked Nick what he was most looking forward to and his unhesitating answer, not surprisingly, was ‘going to the beach’. Many of the beaches on the west coast of Canada are covered in stones: stones worn smooth from the frigid waves on the beach, but stones nonetheless. They make interesting-looking beaches, but they are not so comfortable when it comes to stretching out and soaking up the sun. The Sicilian beaches, on the other hand, are, for the most part, covered in beautiful fine sand that stretch gradually down to the warm Mediterranean waters – perfect for swimming in. There is very little more pleasurable than spending the day enjoying the Sicilian sun with your toes dug into warm sand as the salty sea-water evaporates from your tanned skin as you embrace your inner Italian and sport your skimpy bikini or speedo.
**Veronica di Grigoli has published a new book on Sicilian card games available on Kindle and in paperback – the only one, I believe, written in English. We purchased a copy of it and will be leaving it in our house in Cianciana.