Let's see..my last post was Thursday evening. Picking up where I left off -- Nato and Graziella took us to an agriturismo, which is basically like a bed and breakfast on a working farm. They are very popular in mainland Italy, and are gaining popularity in Sicily. They have rooms for stay, but the best ones are also great restaurants too. This one was no exception. The food was out of this world! We started with antipasti, including local meats, local cheeses like pecorino, parmesan, and ricotta, grilled garden vegetables, olives from the grounds of the farm, aranchini (fried rice balls--love them!) and bread. Next was the pasta. It was a dish of handmade rotini with garden fresh tomatoes on one side, and handmade ravioli in a gorgonzola sauce on the other. I was in heaven. Dessert was chocolate flan. We had great coversation at the table -- all in Italian of course -- about immigration, school systems, agriculture, and the economy. Needless to say, our Italian is improving. =) Nato and Graziella then took us to their condo and showed us some pictures of Babs, Perry, Paul, Peter (Boston-based DiNatales), and some other relatives. It was a great night!
The next morning, Mark and I ate way too much breakfast at the Hilton. Free food?? We couldn't pass that up. Nato picked us up around 11am and we did a whirlwind tour of the area. We drove up a huge hill to the church of Black Madonna in Tindari, walked around the grounds for fantastic views, saw the ancient Greek ruins that have been uncovered in Tindari, had a five course lunch with Nato's grandmother, went for a boat ride around the Oliveri-Tindari area, and relaxed on the beach a bit after. The boat ride was a highlight. Italians have a word for beautiful, panoramic scenery: belvedere. Vedere is the verb 'to see', and bella means beautiful. I think I said 'belvedere' about 30 times on a 30 minute boat ride. It was a private boat, with just Nato, Mark, the captain, and me. Because of this, Mark and I were both able to steer the boat. Very fun.
Unfortunately, Mark and I came down with something that afternoon. After the boat ride, we started feeling very tired, and sick to our stomaches. By evening, we were toast, and couldn't even go out to eat with Nato. We aren't sure if it was food poisoning, or the flu. Mark is upstairs sleeping (we went to bed at 9pm and it is now 1pm!), but I had a piece of toast and felt well enough to sneak in some computer time. While I was explaining to the receptionist this morning that we needed a train to Letojanni, an English woman who is staying at the hotel, and visiting Taormina for the evening, overhead and offered to drive us!! The trains here are pretty reliable, and affordable, but a 3 hour drive from Trapani to Oliveri took us NINE hours by train. So we were not looking forward to the train from Oliveri to Letojanni. Needless to say, this arrangement seems like a gift from God! We meet her in about an hour and a half.
On a slightly comical note, as I mentioned before, we got our laundry done here at the Hilton. I knew it would be expensive. I figured maybe 30 or 40 euro. When I saw the bill for 145 euro, I almost fainted. I explained to the receptionist that had she told me it would be that expensive, we NEVER would have washed all our clothes. (And I suppose I can take some responsibility for it as well. Had I asked...) To spend $215 on laundry is absurd. We have been sleeping on people's couches to save money, so this was a slight setback. She just smiled and said, 'Yes, you should have washed them in town. It's only about 5 euros per load.' Right. Thanks for telling us this now! Ha. Not much we can do about it, so I will just chalk it up to a lesson learned.
So, this afternoon we are off to Letojanni, which is a small beach town next to Taormina, a more touristy but very beautiful town set up on a hill. We spend two nights on an agriturismo there. Then, on the 29th, we take a 12 hour train ride back to Trapani, stay at Podere San Giovanni, the first place we stayed at when we arrived in Sicily, and fly to Girona, Spain at 4:30pm. We spend two nights in Girona, and then come home. I am not sure if I will have any access to a computer in the next 6 days, so don't worry if you don't hear. Thanks for reading!! =)