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‘Stuck’ in Italy
‘Caffe e granita di pistacchio, per favore?’ Moments later, the waiter delivers about 2 teaspoons of strong coffee and a glass of cold pistachio ice: Breakfast of Champions, Sicilian style! Italy is rightfully famous for gelato, but in the northeast corner of Sicily, granita reigns supreme. A dairy-free concoction that still manages to taste sumptuously creamy, it’s available in a variety of flavors-almond, lemon, chocolate, but especially pistachio. If you’re feeling indulgent, you can add a buttery brioche to the order. Break off bits of the bread, spoon some of the ice on top, and wash it all down with strong coffee. It beats Starbucks and a bagel ANY day.
Daily espresso and granita while people watching in a cafe was one of my favorite experiences in Sicily. Others, in no particular order: conversations with winemakers, discovering new wines, visiting Feudo Montoni, watching Stromboli erupt. Hiking the crater of Vulcano, lots of new yoga friends, the Cappella di Sant’Anna in Castelbuono, a new found love of capers.
The less good: a rental car with no reverse, a couple of downright frightening roads, and the everlasting perplexity of southern Italy: a scene of incredible natural beauty or cultural significance….strewn with garbage.
The not good at ALL: an Alitalia strike that resulted in flights cancelled, re-booked, re-booked again, and an extra 2 days’ stay.
I adore Sicily. But by then, I wanted to go home. I was running out of clean clothes. I missed my husband, my dogs. I missed the store! On Wednesday afternoon, poking around a beautiful wine shop in Taormina, I advised a gentleman from Minnesota on his grappa purchase…then sold him about $350 worth of other items. (The proprietor gave me a bottle of balsamico and offered me a job.)
I used the two extra days well. A hike to Castelmola, an excellent dinner with old friends, a stroll on the beach in Isola Bella. More people watching at a cafe, where I enjoyed the waiter’s incredulity at a request for almond milk. ‘Latte DI Mandorla?! No!!’ Another espresso. Another granita. And then home.