January 21, 2010
Here’s how I got into trouble.
After teaching a short course in Ragusa in 2002, I’d returned year after year to Southeast Sicily to root around for a little casa. The Fates pushed back with all their might and I finally admitted defeat.
In the spring of 2007, I came to see friends one last time and close the Sicilian chapter of my life. Ciao, Sicilia.
A day before bidding the island farewell, I scaled the long staircase up from Ibla’s Piazza Duomo to see the cupola from on high. After many years cocooned in scaffolding thick as wool, it had reemerged triumphant.
It looked good enough to eat, like whipped cream on a tumbler of granita. I felt a secret joy. Bells tolled, clouds slipped up from the valley. I inhaled la zagara—orange blossoms on the breeze—like a drug.
I turned. There, on an unassuming little row house with a mottled wall and weatherworn door, I saw the magic words: VENDITA.
I saw. I called. I bought. Cast myself into a new world just like that. 1-2-3.
Never imagining for a minute what was in store.