Nick and I enjoyed several travel adventures in 2016, both national (San Francisco) and international (Costa Rica). After some medical issues were resolved, we had ourselves added to the wait list for a Rick Steves off-season tour of Sicily. Continue reading Sicily Day 0, November 16, 2016
Our plane landed in Rome, and we made our way to the gate for our flight to Palermo. I realized that November 17 was the 109th anniversary of the birth of my uncle, John Nucatola. A member of the Basketball Hall of Fame, Uncle John traveled around the world to promote basketball. In addition, his wife introduced Nick to me, so I have very fond memories of them both! I wondered if Uncle John had ever been to Palermo. We so enjoyed our 2005 trip there, and I looked forward to seeing my Palermitan relatives again. We would be having dinner with two of them that evening. Continue reading Sicily Day 1- November 17, 2016
We awoke at 9 AM! We were amazed by that until we realized that our bodies were on Connecticut time where it was 3 AM. Last night, my cousin Giuseppe told us not to miss the view from the rooftop breakfast room of our hotel. Giuseppe is a health inspector, so he is familiar with every food-serving institution in Palermo. He was so right! The view was fantastic! We could see the entire panorama of Palermo, including the sea, the mountains, many ancient cathedrals, and several apartment buildings whose dwellers were hanging their laundry out to dry. Continue reading Sicily, Day 2 November 18, 2016
Several years ago at nursery school, I lifted a child who was attempting to escape, and pop! went a muscle in my lower back. The same muscle has acted up many tines through the years since then. The problem is, I never know when it’s going to act up. While I was in the shower on Day 3, I reached down to get the shampoo, when I felt that familiar pop! Continue reading Sicily, Day 3 – November 19, 2016
November 20, 2016: our fortieth anniversary. Unfortunately, because of my back pain, I was unable to do any celebrating. One of Nick’s hobbies is gardening, so I suggested that he go to the Botanical Garden, Orto botanico. Continue reading Sicily, Day 4 – November 20, 2016
When I awoke, I was amazed and thrilled to find that I could walk! Typically it takes days before I reach that point after a back muscle flare-up. I was able to walk to breakfast, slowly and carefully, where I ate sensibly (granola and yogurt) and passed up the cannoli.
After breakfast, I wanted to walk to an nearby neighborhood called Vucchiria. Continue reading Sicily, Day 5 – November 21, 2016
Our tour was to start at 3 PM that afternoon. At breakfast we met another couple who had arrived early, Barbara and Bob from California. We discovered that Bob is of Arberesh ancestry, as is Nick. Although NIck’s father was from Calabria, there is a large Arberesh community in Sicily, where Bob’s ancestors originated. We have never met another Arberesh in our travels before.
Nick and I decided to try to walk to the Archives to try to find someone who could help me with research. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find the address we had. Instead, we decided to see one of the highlighted sites of Palermo, the Cathedral, which was about half a mile away. Continue reading Sicily, Day 6- November 22, 2016
We learned that in addition to our tour director, Susanna, we would have a local guide in many of the towns we were to visit. Today’s guide was Jackie Alio, a Sicilian who lived in California for years and writes books about Sicily. With Jackie, we walked through the old Jewish neighborhood of the city. There the street signs are in Italian, Hebrew and Arabic. Continue reading Sicily, Day 7 – November 23, 2016
Today was Thanksgiving Day back home. After our breakfast buffet, our bus took us to to Sicily’s west coast, where we stopped to explore the ancient Greek site of Segesta, the location of a magnificent Doric temple and a hilltop theater. We enjoyed a light breeze as we hiked. Continue reading Sicily, Day 8 – November 24, 2016
Our breakfast buffet in Trapani offered bacon and eggs, a variety of breads and cakes, jams, whole fruit, fruit salad, cold cereal with yogurt, and a variety of teas. I chose the cold cereal with yogurt and orange cinnamon tea.
After breakfast, our bus took us to the salt flats of Trapani, where salt has been harvested since the 12th century. Continue reading Sicily, Day 9 – November 25, 2016
We had an early departure because we had a long drive ahead of us. Our bus was parked five blocks away, so we were again grateful that the Rick Steves Company insists that its tour participants take only as much luggage as they can handle themselves. Once on the bus, Susanna received a phone call from the hotel saying that one of the room keys had not been returned. Nick checked his pockets. Uh oh! He made a mad dash back to the hotel and then ran the whole way back to the bus. Off we went southeast to Agrigento.
Our first stop in Agrigento was its Museo Archeologico. Continue reading Sicily, Day 10 – November 26, 2016
There were more rich choices for breakfast! Croissants, either plain or with almond or pistachio filling, lemon and chocolate pound cake, the choices went on and on. Trying to show some restraint, I chose granola with yogurt again. Then I spied pizza rustica, something I used to make with my mother for Easter. Continue reading Sicily, Day 11 – November 27, 2016
The breakfast offerings varied as we changed towns and hotels. Today, along with many other choices, frittatas or individual orders of eggs were prepared on site. My favorite items at the buffet were the delicious bread and butter!
After breakfast, we boarded the bus for a visit to a small family run olive oil producer called Gulino. Continue reading Sicily, Day 12 – November 28, 2016
We tried the frittata for breakfast. I again loved the homemade bread with butter, while Nick preferred the pastries.
Today’s first stop in Modica was at Sicily’s oldest chocolate factory, Antica Dolceria Bonajuto. Continue reading Sicily, Day 13 – November 29, 2016
For the first time in the entire trip, I didn’t sleep well. I heard a constant sound through the night that reminded me of an old percolating coffee pot. In the morning, we saw that below our window was a courtyard with a water fountain that was responsible for the strange sound.
Because we had changed hotels, we were faced with new breakfast selections. The breakfast included sweet choices such as granola and six other cereal selections, fresh fruit including apples and pears, chocolate pudding, and cakes. Continue reading Sicily, Day 14 – November 30, 2016
Nick and I awoke at 5 AM and decided to eat the second half of yesterday’s lunch sandwich. We weren’t surprised that we weren’t hungry at breakfast time. We packed and began our journey to Catania, the last city of our tour.
Our first stop on the way was a visit to the Museo Storica della Sbarco in Sicilia 1943, a World War II museum that has an extensive collection of actual memorabilia, photos, and newsreel footage of the events of Operation Husky, the invasion of Sicily from Africa by Allied forces. Continue reading Sicily, Day 15 – December 1, 2016
We arranged for a van to take us to the airport with five of our co-travelers after breakfast. Ah, yes, the final breakfast had every food imaginable, including gluten free options! We had absolutely no problems with our flight from Catania to Rome or our flight from Rome to JFK. There were short lines at Customs, and our luggage arrived quickly. Our driver was ready for us. Home, Sweet Home!