November 19, 2013
Somewhere deep in the heart of Sicily, there’s a moment of pure peace.
October 14, 2013
Ponies a-prancin’; olives a-dancin’.
That’s how it is this time of year in Sicily.
You can do it by hand.
Or use a big red comb.
Or a motorized gadget, sort of like a fan on a heavy long pole.
Olives bounce everywhere, along with an avalanche of twigs and leaves.
“Could we do this?” I ask the olive pickers, pointing to Diana (whose trees these are) and myself.
They laugh at the idea. “You have to be strong, signora.” They flex their muscles, just in case we don’t get it.
The men wrestle the whole back-breaking mess into the tractor and hurry to the olive press, which is heavy with the scent of hot sun and bitter soil. Total haul: 570 kilos of olives.
Nearly three hours later, after the olives are washed and thrashed and mashed and milled, out gushes the good stuff, a thick ribbon of green velvet.
We sip it from paper cups and taste all of Sicily: it’s like fresh-cut country grass still wet with morning dew, squeezed with sweet lemons and spattered with peppercorns.
September 1, 2013
I was in Sortino, “Città del Miele”, prowling the streets for a jar of wild-thyme honey.
And there was Gino Cavallero, poking his head out the door. We got to chatting. Turns out he was on the crew of the Irminio Bridge near Modica, the highest bridge in Sicily. I often drive to Modica on little back roads and see his bridge. I wasn’t sure I liked it–modern things in Sicily don’t usually impress–but now I think of Gino and his sweet smile and two years of hard labor whenever I see it. For me it’s “Gino’s Bridge.”
The central pier is 144 meters, he tells me. He went up and down it in a cable car. No, he didn’t have vertigo, not like some of the other men, who were afraid to work that high up. It didn’t bother him. A metal worker, he welded stuff together, from what I could gather, and worked on the bridge for 2 years. He is very humble. “My part wasn’t important; we were a team.” But from the gleam in his eye, I know he’s also proud.
If you go to Sortino, don’t miss the cathedral!
April 4, 2013
Easter is long gone, I know.
But not here in Sicily. After an intense week of processions and candles and dirge-tolling bells and Roman soldiers on horseback and skies aflame with fireworks and Easter lambs and ricotta tarts and cassata cakes, we’re just starting to come to our senses.
Sicilians confirmed, once again, that they’re a strong and passionate people.
And absolutely loco.
In the little village of Ferla, Jesus and Mary wafted out of churches at the opposite ends of town on the shoulders of a dozen hale and hearty Sicilians. The Madonna went uphill; Jesus down. When they got within sight of each other, Jesus broke into a joyful downhill sprint toward Mary.
Twelve pairs of legs were scrambling, centipede-like, to balance his incredible weight while flying downhill. Onlookers gaped just inches away.
I had been casually snapping pictures–la-dee-da–when the stampede began. Aghast, I was–a straniera innocente more or less in their path.
I am sending you some virtual ones. xxxxxxxxxoooooooooo
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