• The Art of Nothingness

    I noticed today it’s been a month since my last update so I forced myself to sit down and write to you.  I’ve been doing a lot more living and a lot less writing this month; I know you’ll forgive me for that.

    So… where to start?  How about my trip to Sicily where I spent eleven days and mastered the art of doing nothing.  (I literally cried when it was time to leave.)

    Dumping the contents of my brain wasn’t the goal of my recent holiday to Sicily, but it was a welcomed side-effect.  The Italian culture, as the world is aware, is one of a slower pace (except when they’re behind the wheel of a motorized vehicle).  The experience is not to be compromised with over-thinking.  Planning is done loosely.  And everything is always subject to change.  I’ve come to appreciate and adopt this Italian way as my own.  (So, don’t get upset if we make plans and I cancel or ask to move things around.  Just go with the flow, alright?)

    From the first morning upon arrival in Petrosino, I felt free.  Having a limited understanding of the language added to the lightness I felt.  (Nobody can force you into conversation when you have the vocabulary of a three-year-old.)  I was staying with Consuelo and Pippo in the Pipitone’s beautiful family home minutes from the Mediterranean Sea.  There were no set plans, but I personally intended on catching up on my writing.  That didn’t happen.  I planned on getting in some morning workouts.  Nope.  Not a single one.  The urge to do nothing was too strong and I was surrounded by experts in the field.  I gave in.

    Never in my life have I lounged on a beach nine days in a row.

    Never in my life have I lounged on a beach nine days in a row.

    Within a few days I couldn’t think of anything to worry about or dwell on.  The running list of things I thought I needed to get done dwindled away with every breathtaking sunset.  Every day the sky was overwhelmed with a rich hue: pink, red, orange, gold.  Wondering what color the sky would be that evening became my most pressing daily thought.

    I made Pippo pull over the car for this warm sunset while driving by the Mediterranean sea salt fields.

    I made Pippo pull the car over for this warm sunset while driving by the Mediterranean sea salt evaporation ponds.

    This hot pink sunset was my favorite.

    This hot pink sunset was my favorite.

    I slept with the doors open to my third floor balcony every night and awoke to nature’s alarm clock.  The glow of the sun rising was a tranquil reminder I had nothing to do that day.  I was free to be.  After each morning meditation I would enjoy coffee in the Pipitone’s peaceful outdoor living space, looking out onto the beautifully landscaped flowers, olive trees and grapevines.

    The view from my balcony. Vines and vines for miles and miles.

    The view from my balcony. Vines and vines for miles and miles.

    I had never eaten warm, sun-kissed grapes straight off of the vine before Sicily.  I watched Pippo’s mom dust the dirt off of the grape on her shirt and toss it in her mouth, so I did the same.  The perfectly juicy, ripe and tender grape literally “popped” in my mouth.  I’m spoiled and quite prefer that to cold grapes out of the fridge now.  I ate as many fresh grapes as I could stomach in that eleven days.  They were the perfect beach snack.

    About to eat grapes off the vine.

    About to eat sunbathed grapes off the vine.

    When we weren’t soaking in the Mediterranean sun or braving the icy cold water, I learned some excellent cooking tips from Pippo’s mom and his cousin.  I’ll dazzle you with my Italian culinary skills when I get home to Texas.  I was never a fan of melanzana (translate: eggplant) until Sicily.  And the pastries!!!  And the the famous brioche con gelato – it makes our American ice cream sandwiches laughable.  If I stayed in Sicily too much longer I would’ve been a candidate for The Biggest Loser.  I couldn’t help myself.

    Yes, sir.  Pistachio and baccio (my favskies) on brioche. I ate every bite.

    Yes, sir. Pistachio and baccio (my favskies) on brioche. I ate every bite.

    These pretty babies are filled with ricotta and crumbles of chocolate. They make your taste buds dance with delight.

    These pretty babies are filled with ricotta and crumbles of chocolate. They make your taste buds dance with delight and pair perfectly with a cappuccino.

    Sicily is famous for something called arancini (translate: little oranges), they are fried rice balls coated with breadcrumbs, said to have originated in Sicily in the 10th century.  They are filled with Sicilian ragu or prosciutto and mozzarella.  These tasty things cost one euro.  And, I could only eat one of them… a damn good thing considering I’d already had pastries for breakfast.

    The infamous arancini. I'd tried them in Bologna, but nothing compares to the true Sicilian version.

    The infamous arancini. I’d tried them in Bologna, but nothing compares to the true Sicilian version.

    A day trip to the island of Favignana is one of my highlights.  We explored the island on scooters stopping at various beaches along the way for a dip and to bask in the sun.  I shared a scooter with our friend Ciaky from Bologna who joined us for a few days.  He’d ridden his motorcycle (aka crotch rocket) from northern Italy stopping to see friends along the way.  He informed me that his life’s motto is, “Slow sucks,” as we sped away from the scooter rental shop.

    I took a selfie of Crazy Ciaky and me in between beach stops. This picture makes me giggle every time I see it.

    I took a selfie of Crazy Ciaky and me in between beach stops. This picture makes me giggle every time I see it.

    I climbed up some rocks and took a pic of Ciaky and Consuelo. The water is incredibly clear and crazy cold. Ask Consuelo.

    I climbed up some rocks and took a pic of Ciaky and Consuelo. The water is incredibly clear and crazy cold. Ask Consuelo.

    Our friend Monica flew in for a few days from Belgium to warm up and take her mind off of her pending thesis defense.  (NOTE: She knocked it out of the park yesterday, so she’ll now be referred to as Dr. V.  I’m so proud of her for so many reasons.  I love your guts, Dr. V!)  She was my roommate for a few days and we enjoyed late night girl talk and chats on the beach.  She was a fantastic dinner date when we joined Pippo and his cousins for a reunion dinner.  The two of us drank two bottles of wine as we waited…and waited…and waited for our pizzas to be served.  The food was served over TWO HOURS after we ordered.  The guys raised hell so the manager gave us a whopping 10 euro discount on a 110 euro bill.  <I’m still shaking my head>

    The Pipitone cousins (some of them) and their mates. Pippo is sitting on the far right and Consuelo is standing above him.

    The Pipitone cousins (some of them) and their mates. Pippo is sitting on the far right and Consuelo is standing above him.

    Dr. V and I had a lovely time.

    Dr. V and I had a lovely time.

    We drained two bottles of this waiting on our pizza. We ate the cold leftovers for breakfast the next morning. Pippo's mom couldn't believe we wouldn't let her heat the pizza up.

    We drained two bottles of this waiting on our pizza. We ate the cold leftovers for breakfast the next morning. Pippo’s mom couldn’t believe we wouldn’t let her heat the pizza up.

    I could tell you a hundred stories, but I’ll stop there.  We can catch up when I’m Stateside.  You can buy me a glass of wine or invite me over to sit on your porch with a cold beer and I’ll tell you whatever you want to know.  You know I’ve got an open-book policy.

    Speaking of… I return in three weeks with mixed emotions.  More on that soon.

4 Responsesso far.

  1. Laura says:

    I MUST see you and hear some of these stories when you get back! I absolutely love reading your blog…you are an amazing storyteller!!! Love you girl!

  2. Lyn says:

    Can’t wait to see you and hear more about your travels!