03 April, 2012

Catania, Sicily

Our first three days in Italy were spent on the island of Sicily.  Our wonderful hosts were Becca, Elliott, and little Lena, who opened up their home and lives to us for a few days.  Becca and Lena were excellent tour guides and fellow explorers!  I was thankful for this sojourn on many levels...For one thing, true hospitality is a rarer but more nourishing experience than being anonymously sequestered in a strange hotel in a strange city.  Also, we learned a lot from observing how Becca ordered in restaurants, communicated with market vendors, and survived driving the Italian roads -- useful skills for the rest of our trip!

On our first day we explored the town of Catania.  The highlight was the lively (and pungent!) fish market, where Becca got fresh mussels to prepare for dinner that night.  I loved the melodic calls of the vendors, trying to out-shout each other and garner the most attention for their daily specials. 

Fish market in Catania
Mussels caught fresh that morning, and eaten for dinner that night!
That night we ate such a delicious dinner!  Fresh bread; steamed mussels in a sauce of white wine, tomatoes, and onions; and this completely addictive salad made with Sicilian blood oranges.  I can't wait to make this for my family when I get home...although our blood oranges won't be fresh and free from a neighboring tree!

From Becca and Elliott's kitchen -- nestled under a castle in the hilltop town of Motta -- we could see Mt Etna, lazily puffing a haze of volcanic ash into the blue sky.  Below us were lemon and orange trees, olive groves, the sound of many birds.  And there was so much sunlight.

Mt Etna seen from Motta
The next day we visited fascinating Siracusa -- but more on that later, as Carrie and I are about to set out in search of coffee, and then visit Florence's famous Duomo.  Ciao for now!

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