Another Sicilian makes a joke about cherries and you can't decide whether to laugh or be offended, is there an innuendo hidden underneath? No. Sicily is not a land of innuendos, it is the polar opposite. Nothing is suggested or implied, it is right there underneath your nose. Ruby cherries, warm from picking. We stop at a kiosk to quench our thirst with a beer. It costs all of 1 euro, money well spent to chat up the owner and get directions to our favorite kind of restaurant, the ones where "si mangia bene e si paga poco" (you eat well and pay little)! I used to rely heavily on guidebooks, now I really heavily on locals. With a bit of a beer-buzz, we prepare ourselves to seek out this seafood restaurant, armed only with the name of the owner: Aldo. We find it about fifteen minutes later, it's on the second level without air conditioning and it's jam-packed. It's perfection. There's nothing I adore more than being near the sea and having a truly satisfying spaghetti allo scoglio. By now it's late afternoon and the sun, the 1 euro beer, and the house white wine are getting to my head. We wander aimlessly through a market and for another euro, I pick up a pair of rhine-stoned earrings with my initials. I'm almost certain they'll fall apart while I'm wearing them but it was kitsch I just couldn't refuse.
Catania is life lived. I've often said the same thing about India, a place that overwhelms your sensory nervous system until you can't quite distinguish between taste and smell and sight. It's dangerous even, a sudden intoxication. We are so affected that, upon returning to freshen-up at the hotel, we collapse on the bed and wake up sweating and scrambling as dusk turns into a pitch-black night and we venture out to find dinner. If I thought the city had been lively in the daytime, the night was something to behold. The entire city must have been out in the piazza, we were literally enveloped at one point by herds of teenagers looking like they were about to audition for a Snoop Dog music video- eyeliner darker than midnight and jean shorts that could have been painted on using underwear as a stencil, that was the uniform of young Sicily it seemed. This is what I meant when I said that innuendo doesn't exist here. I want so badly to indulge in the Catanian nightlife. Every corner we turn is playing host to the most rambunctious dinner parties, the yellow-toned lights are bouncing off the walls, illuminating graffiti and creating some kind of bizarre oxymoron out of this historical city. It's beautiful and ugly, pristine in its degradation. The next day we would head to Taormina, driving along the coast through the old fishing towns and ports in our rental car that was falling apart at the seams. I drift off to sleep dreaming of sweet cherries and the salty grit of oysters, the window open as we listen to Catania's lullaby- a mishmash of tire screeches, overheated motors, banging headboards and the occasional swear. It's the most beautiful song I've ever heard.
If you enjoyed this post, you may also like to "dare un'occhiata" at the category "Travel in Italy".
For a little more Sicily, try this on for size: Scintillating Sicilia: Sferracavallo, Seafood, and Monreale or get your imagination running wild with: Creative Writing: Mulberries in Sicily.
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