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.
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.
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 #[email protected] off in the winter. But I loved the mix of cliffs (that looked climbable!) and ocean. Beautiful scenery beautiful family. I WILL be back!