On Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, the Recupero family was busy at work and school, leaving Heather and I on our own to explore the town of Acireale. Heather already knew it well and directed us on Monday and Tuesday mornings to the scogli, a rock beach bathed by the sun. We climbed over them and past a lone fisherman to find flattish rocks for stretching ourselves out on to enjoy the spring sun. From a one-lane highway it was a steep walk downhill to the coast, and we seemed to be the only ones walking the grassy path both days, except an elderly couple and a young one, both in love. The truth was that almost all of Sicily seemed a very romantic place.
The photos say everything I could: the beauty of the Sicilian coast is hard to beat.
We later walked back up to the main part of town and enjoyed a breakfast supplement – hazelnut-chocolate gelato or pastries ranging from liquor-soaked baba with strawberries to a delicious cookie-marzipan treat called dolcezze. We also walked to Heather’s old house (it’s incredible to think she was lucky enough to live in Acireale for three years!!), the market, and the small shops lining the main street of downtown. Lunch both days was, needless to say, impressive as usual: tortellini with sage and butter, artichokes, leftover zucchini risotto al graten with mozzarella, and the next day, a pesto pasta salad with sweet tomatoes and mozzarella, minestrone soup, bruschetta, and salad.
On Monday afternoon we drove to Taormina, a precious town perched above the sea north of Acireale. We wandered the small streets and determined that we’d come back on Wednesday to spend the entire day there – it was worth more thorough exploring. We returned home for dinner; I made espinacas a la catalana, a Spanish dish of spinach with pine nuts and raisins. We also dined on pesto pasta, lentils, and bruschetta…and of course after all of these meals, dessert was a big ripe blood orange.
Tuesday afternoon was spent quietly at home, watching Moulin Rouge (which Heather had never seen and always makes me cry) and baking improvised chocolate chip cookies. The quiet afternoon was in stark contrast to the chaos that would be Tuesday night: a reunion of Heather’s 3rd grade class in a local pizza place. As good as my Italian might have been for only being in Italy a handful of days, it was nowhere near up to pace with what seemed like dozens but must have been about 20 Italian teenagers. I sat completely lost the entire evening, but managed, through smiles and broken Italian and English, to make small side conversations with a few of the others. Added to the French host family experience in Lyon, this was the second gathering in two weeks that I hadn’t been able to understand – and yet another crazy SYA experience I never would have imagined.