Hi all from bella Sicilia,
I spent my last day in Rome wandering around the ruins of the Roman Forum and the Colosseum. So much to photograph, I was easily entertained for hours. I then made my way to the Piazza di Spagna to see the Spanish steps. Not a great time of the year to try to actually ‘see’ the steps. It was more just rows and rows of tourists sitting on the steps!! However, it was still a great feeling being there.
Wednesday morning I caught the train to Sicily to meet with my new surrogate Italian Family. It was a 9 hour train ride and I had my first experience of being forced to speak the language. I was surrounding by only Italian speaking travelers and it was very interesting times trying to explain to them that I was from Australia and was visiting with family (who I was going to meet for the first time) in Sicily. It was a case of them repeating what they thought I said and then me excitedly nodding my head when they got it right. Gosh, you should have seen my hands going. Apparently it helps to be waving them about at the same time as trying to string together a poorly constructed sentence of poorly pronounced Sicilian dialect (Joy’s version of Italian). By the end of the conversation, they understood that my mother was in Sicily and I was going to visit her???? Close enough, I guess???
Fortunately I am having better success with the gorgeous family I am staying with (of course it helps that their daughter-in-law Laura speaks English). I cannot express enough how absolutely wonderful they are!!!!!!! I am staying with an elderly couple (Maria 80 & Nino 82) who on my first day told me that they think of me as a daughter (Oohhhh, so cute) and for me to make their home like my own. If you see the state of my bedroom (Suitcase contents EVERYWHERE), one would have assumed that I took them at their word!
There has been much cheek kissing, numerous hugs and many laughs as they attempt to decipher what I am saying. Nino’s sister, Pipa (76) has been here each day as well and she is the most wonderful character. She makes fun of me all the time and amazingly is the best at understanding me. She has actually been my translator when Laura hasn’t been around. My saving grace is that they all speak the old style Sicilian which Mum speaks to me back home, so for the most part, I can understand most of what they say.
If I still fit in my clothes when I leave here it will be a small miracle. I have had seven types of pasta since I arrived. Not to mention the steak, chicken, Italian sausages, spinach, salad, bread, prosciutto, and fruit that have all been part of the meals as well. Their main meal is eaten at lunch time and ALL the family turn up for it. It is just amazing. Family all drop in between 12 – 1pm and we have a loud conversation during the meal and then everyone leaves again. The close bond they all share is fabulous. They have all decided that I look between 30 – 35 years old, God bless them!!! And God bless my mother for passing on her youthful looks.
I have decided that I want a younger version of Nino for my Donatello. Nino is the sweetest old man. He heard that I love cherries, so without me knowing, off he went to the local store and returned with a bag full of different types of fruit, including my favourite cherries!!! He said that he had a surprise for me after lunch (as he had hidden them in the kitchen). And then when we had finished eating the main meal he brought out this huge bowl of fruit for me. I don’t know who was beaming with joy more, Nino or I!!
I even walked down to the local Markets with just Maria and Pipa one day. We had a great time. One minute I was walking arm in arm with Pipa and then it was with Maria. They are just adorable!!! Yes, I purchased my 2nd top for the trip (so far…). It was hanging in a market stall and when I pointed it out to Maria she said it would look lovely on me and I should buy it. Well, that was what I understood anyway!!! So of course I bought it! And yes it does look lovely on me J.
Oh, the weather has been so much colder than I had anticipated. I thought I was arriving in Summer, but apparently the cold has lasted much longer than usual this year. Which is of course is why I was also forced to purchase a new black jacket on Saturday. I couldn’t keep alternating the two jumpers that I had packed, as I am meeting all these new relations and my Mother would be most upset if I wasn’t making a good impression??
I have been made to feel like the “Australian Princess” here in Sicily. Maria’s phone has been ringing non-stop with all the relations and family friends (that my Mother called) who want to come and see me!! It’s quite amusing. The other night three ladies turned up at 9.45pm (they visit late at night here) and we all sat around in a circle talking. I had to grab out my Italian Dictionary and it was like playing charades!! I would use hand gestures and say a word that ‘sounded’ like Italian and they would all cheer with glee when they understood it right!!!
Maria’s daughter in law Laura has been so wonderful to me. She lives in the apartment below Maria’s, so I have spent many enjoyable hours with her and her new baby Antonio. I have been helping her practice English??? Earlier tonight I was teaching her to sing “Old MacDonald had a farm” to her son. And my other favourite is Rosaria, which I think is my third cousin. She speaks English really well. We spent an amazing day on Saturday exploring Catania. She is an architect and it was like wandering around with a tour guide. She gave me the complete history on the whole city. Gosh, I hope she doesn’t expect the same if she ever comes to visit me in Cairns, otherwise I will have to spend a whole week in the library preparing!!!
With regards to household chores, I haven’t been allowed to do a thing since I arrived. I have had my clothes hand washed, my meals cooked, my towel replaced each morning and breakfast set out on the table 5 minutes after I get up. I haven’t even been allowed to clear the table after meals. I wasn’t kidding when I called myself a Princess!!! This morning I took a little longer than usual in the bathroom and Nino called out to make sure I was feeling okay. I had to try and explain that when one reaches a certain age it takes a little longer to fill the facial crevices with sufficient foundation (make-up) to ensure that one remains looking 35 instead of 45!!!
Needless to say I am having the time of my life here. I LOVE my new family and 5000 relations Mum dug up and have decided to stay for two weeks instead of one!!! I will be here until next Wednesday. Although I may cling to a pole and refuse to leave if this royal treatment continues!!
Oh, just one last little story. Yesterday Laura’s young 6 year old nephew came to visit and when he found out I was from Australia he got so excited as he had been learning English at school. He dragged me by the hand to go and sit down so we could talk. He then proceeded to tell me that ‘the sky is blue’ and ‘My brother is my Dad’. HHmm, Laura assures me that he meant to say his brother was David. He then told me (in Italian) that he had a secret. He said he was in love with a girl at school and wanted to write a song for her and to give it to her the next morning. The words to the song were “Oh my love, Oh my love, Oh my dearest love”. YES, THIS CHILD IS SIX!!!!! When I asked what she looked like, he said she was ‘Bellissima”. What can I say….an Italian Gigolo in the making!!!
And on that note, I will leave you for now.
Love Princess Joy xx