After visiting Sicily last year with my girlfriends, I knew I wanted to come back! So at the end of this summer when we *reaaally* couldn’t squeeze any more sunny days out of England, we decided to sprint away from the oncoming Autumn by packing our bags and hopping on a plane, this time heading for the south of the island.
After a summer of travelling we really had to watch the budget for this one, and we wanted to go off the beaten track and discover somewhere new, so after some searching I found a lovely Airbnb apartment on the island of Ortygia, just off Syracuse.
When we first landed there, late one night in the torrential rain (which our taxi driver told us had something to do with activity from Mount Etna), we felt a little bit lost. waking up the next morning that feeling stayed with us and our fears mounted when we woke up early to find the place pretty much deserted. Just some crumbly old buildings and closed up restaurants. Coming from London, our first reaction was to panic: ‘How on earth are we going to stay here for a week??? We’re going to be so BORED!’. I was actually kicking myself for going so off piste and bringing us to the middle of nowhere. Thankfully though we decided to try to relax and enjoy it, after all we had no other option, and slowly but surely we began to shift down our gears and relax into the Sicilian lifestyle.
The more we relaxed, the more we enjoyed ourselves! We noticed than when we would eat, everyone around us seemed to be taking at least twice as long as us to finish their meal,and when we asked for the bill it would take at least half an hour for the waiter to let us pay. At first this was infuriating, but then we realised that we had absolutely nothing to rush for! It finally dawned on us that we were supposed to just relax and talk for hours, which was wonderful.
We met a lovely Australian lady, who has this theory that in Italian and Sicilian culture you don’t define yourself by what you do, which isn’t to say that Italians and Sicilians are any less competent, it’s just that they are perfectly OK to just ‘be’ and work when work needs to be done (which seems to coincide with when they feel like it 😉 ). To my boyfriend and I, fresh from a manic summer in London, this style of living is a revelation. The next day, over coffee, we got so absorbed in conversation that were approached by a shy waitress who basically said ‘umm…can you guys pay please?’. Finally, we’d cracked it!
We spent our time having beach days, followed by long evening meals. For lunch we’d usually stop by the local market and pick up some fresh ingredients. I loved all the colours. This one street vendor cracked me up, shouting ‘Prego….Prego!…PREGOOOOO!!!’ at anyone who walked past. From the old man who saw that we’d bought some roasted red pepper and insisted on giving us some fresh herbs and an onion from his stall to go with it, and wouldn’t take any money for it, to the lady who walked down the street with us just to show us where we could buy some fresh pasta, everyone was so friendly!
Stay tuned for part two!