April 27

Taormina, Italy
Posted on April 27th, 2011 at 5:50 AM by admin

Downtown Taormina was very cute!

Greek ampitheater in Taormina with a beautiful view that we couldn't see

In Taormina our beautiful weather streak took a serious turn for the worse. Taormina, supposedly one of the most picturesque parts of Sicily, was barely  visible through the fog. Did i mention it was raining the whole time too? This didn’t stop us from our tours though. First we went to an Ancient Greek amphitheater which was clearly different from the Roman amphitheaters in that the spectator seats were built into the hills instead of being built up on flat ground with roman arches. On day two we got in the bus for an hour and a half to see some craters at about 6000 ft high on Mt. Etna. Our hotel in Taormina had a beautiful view of the coast — at least I think it did. After two days in the hotel I only saw a bit of the coastline the morning that we left. I guess we had to accept a few bad luck days.

Despite the fog at Mt. Etna I did manage to find a bit of color

There was still snow on Mt. Etna at the end of April - clearly people ski here in the winter

The only upside to the abundance of clouds were these pictures....

Sunrise on our departure day finally showed me the picturesque coast right outside my hotel window


Posted on February 19th, 2011 at 2:20 PM by admin
As a kid I knew that my great-grandfather was from Sicily and although he died when I was very young I do remember him saying something to me in Italian (or most probably in Sicilian). And no – I don’t remember what he said because I didn’t know a lick of Italian I just remember it being Italian and not understanding. I definitely internalized the fact that great-grandpa must not speak a lot of English. Recently I decided to expand my knowledge and got in touch with a sicilian relative and planned a trip during my in-between-semesters break to Palermo and Partinico – the city that my great-grandfather came from and where most of the family still lives.

Fiorella and I touring Palermo

Partinico is about 35 km southwest of Palermo and much smaller of course. My cousin Fiorella graciously hosted me in her house and was so welcoming and helpful. I will be forever grateful for her hospitality and the stories she shared with me about our family. She also forced me to speak quite a bit of Italian which was great practice for me. A friend of hers took us on a tour of Palermo for nearly an entire day which I didn’t expect but ended up really enjoying. She also took me around Partinico and showed me where my great-grandpa lived and where his sister had a jewelry store. It was a bit surreal to imagine but fascinating as well. Her brother is a fabulous cook and made me two wonderful sicilian dinners that rival even the cooking of my grandpa that I have so missed since he passed a few years ago. And her parents were equally welcoming and gave me a beautiful scarf to take home with me.

The inside of Cathedral Monreale was AMAZING

A glimpse of Partinico

Where my great-grandfather lived before he moved to the US

Unfortunately I was only able to spend 4 short days there and one of them I wasn’t feeling well but I will surely return some day. That day will likely be in the summer instead of the winter though – Sicily is one of those places that isn’t cold enough for good heating but not warm enough to not freeze your #$@ off in the winter. But I loved the mix of cliffs (that looked climbable!) and ocean. Beautiful scenery beautiful family. I WILL be back!

Pizza dinner with cousins Fiorella and Benedetto