I am making final preparations for my trip to Sicily and found ambiguity in the midst of hospitality. So the reader knows, I pride myself on independence and lowering uncertainty as far as possible. I have a romantic side that wants to fall in love with the island and a city girl savviness that watches every step for snags. I have dreamed, saved and planned this vacation for so long, it has become my closest companion. She will have a name, somewhere along the way, that will emerge. The dreamer in me hopes that little voice inside speaks it as I gaze out from the balcony of Casa Cuseni in Taormina. But oops, I forgot a sun hat. Time to put the dreamer to sleep and get packing. Sicily awaits.
The euros are at the bank waiting for pick up this afternoon. Savvy travelers say it’s best to wait until arrival at the destination to get them. But, I want to land with enough cash to catch a ride to Taormina and a bite to eat. I am told the rates at the ATM in Sicily are better and the traveler may avoid rip off outrageous fees by your “friendly” American banker. Jeeez, no names, but the commercial bank forgot to mention the surcharge that comes along with the transaction fee. It took every bit of me not to curse out the clerk who attempted to legally swindle me out of about $300 too much. My credit union gave me a better deal and I’ll have euros for a cappuccino and cornetto at the café.
The hat, I’ll find a sun hat soon. Having passed a wicked, long, cold and frightful winter in Massachusetts, the longing to be drenched in sunshine is extreme. I asked one of my hosts would I need to pack a rain coat? As Rosi says, “Mia cara la Sicilia è la terra del sole! Di solito nel mese di maggio la temperatura è di 26 gradi.” In English, my dear Sicily is the land of sun. In May, it is usually 78 degrees. She makes it sound so enticing. We finally have crocus in bloom. There are still small piles of dirty snow along the shaded roads. It takes a long time to melt nine feet of snow. Spring woke up late this year. Oh I forgot what it is to be sunny.
A friend tipped me off to the site airbnb and now, Giovanni and Rosi await my arrival. I love the idea of staying in one place for several days and blending in with the natives. I’ll have a little house in town and then an apartment at the seaside. This sounds delightful and more appealing than hotel hoping. But, when I asked Giovanni how to find the street, his reply was “La casa si trova in Via …. Per arrivare a Noto ci sono molte indicazioni ma se avrai problemi possiamo vederci in un punto stabilito e accompagnarti a casa.” In English, the house is on … Street. There are many ways to arrive in Noto. But if you have problems, we can meet each other and I’ll take you home. Yes, but how do I get to the house? The hosts have been so gracious in their replies, so inviting, that I set aside the unknown and just trust I’ll be there just fine.
A similar reply came from Rosi when I pressed for directions to the house in Villaggio Mose, “Per arrivare da Noto ad Agrigento devi percorrere l’autostrada SIRACUSA CATANIA e poi seguire ‘indicazione CATANIA PALERMO ed imboccare l’uscita CALTANISSETTA direzione AGRIGENTO. Ti aspetto ciao” In English, to get to Agrigento from Noto, you must take the highway from Siracusa/Catania and then follow the directions Catania/Palermo and take the exit at Caltanissetta in the direction of Agrigento. I wait for you. But, how do I find the road to your house? My trip is a combination driver/tour and solo adventure. A local tour guide has sorted out a few days, and will help with some logistics of travel. I will have to rely on the driver, a map and a phone call to reach the destination. Are we lost yet? Should I be uneasy? Uncertainty incarnate!
My social friends on a travel forum tell me this is a very normal reply. I have to leave my American orderliness behind and enter a new way of navigating. Hopefully, the driver might be a local and have a GPS. I am a paper map reader. I like being a laggard at times, but I still want to get to the house before the sun goes down. Apparently, one of the nick names for Sicily is the Golden Honeycomb. Hmmmm, I think I am going to learn how to wing it on this journey.
Meanwhile, my little house cat is sensing change is a foot. I put out the luggage to air and she found it a most curious thing in her garden patch. Oh Sweetie, you can’t come this time. Her world is small. My world is about to change. Bless me that I learn to bend and not fret. Its ten years since I last took a trip far away from home. Do I know how to relax? Never mind, a few folks are expecting my arrival. Must go to the maple sugar house to pick up some tasty local treats for gifts.
I wonder if they serve pistachio gelato at Dolceria Corrado Costanzo in Noto. Only one way to find out. I shall have to give a report from the field. Buon appetito!