Like all good stories, this one starts in a train station. Actually, at this point, it was a story that continues in many train stations, connects at various bus points and really takes off when the plane comes.
Orange mustache man had a supporting role as Hannah's wingman.
I was skeptical as to whether he really deserved so much credit.
After a night in a German train station, (sounds about as sketch as it was), we caught our flight from Munich to Bergamo and spent twelve hours at that airport. Holler back, layovers! We can handle you.
Finally, we were on our way!
After an anti climatically short flight - we waited 12 times longer than our flight took - we landed in Sicily and were greeted by our friend Karise. As soon as we got to her apartment in Messina, we all collapsed into bed and knew no more until it was time for breakfast.
We got breakfast at this place. Yeah, be jealous.
A traditional Sicilian breakfast of granita with panna (iced coffee with whipping cream) and brioche (an orange flavored egg bread). Yum!
It honestly felt like a dream to be well-rested, eating such delicious food, walking about in sunshine and speaking English with our friend.
Beautiful church in Messina. The name bothered me for awhile as I pondered where I'd heard it before and then somehow we figured it was from Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing. Ha!
Ducklings for sale! No, I don't think it was for eating, but it's hard to know.
We bought blood oranges for a snack from a food truck (and I mean a real truck, too). Karise has a knack for languages and started learning Italian years ago. Especially at first, we were intimidated by our complete lack of knowledge and followed Karise around like little ducklings.
Star Wars church
A nifty little restaurant and an example of the Italian propensity to double park. The appropriate way to get out if your car is the one by the curb is to come out and lean on your horn until the person parked next to you comes out and moves their car. Gotta love it.
I've developed an appreciation for expresso that I never had before. It's basically a sensible way to get your coffee down quickly and yet still be effective caffeine-wise.
I also appreciate cheese, but who am I kidding; I've always loved it, especially on salad.
Messina has lots of cheese!
Also a beautiful coastline that faces Italy. Sicily is an island that is independent from Italy but often gets clumped together in people's mind and therefore in their speech. The two countries are quite dependent on each other economically, of course.
Jak ventured in and got a jellyfish sting for her trouble.
I edited my skinny jeans to capris to cope with the weather.
And this orange had a bit of a map of Europe, especially the UK up on the left.
One day, we went to a nearby tourist town called Taormina.
I always wonder how the residents of tourist towns can stand all the activity, but this lady seems to be doing fine.
Looking out over the coastline.
Jak really liked this tree. "Hey Ruthiey, get a picture of me with this tree."
It was a lovely toasty, almost cloudless day.
This is our Italian friend Maria Terreza and our host and good friend Karise. They were waiting for us as we drank coffee and ate gelato.
Speaking of which.... one of my new favorites is called English Soup. Yum.
Jak found joy in a small tasty green pastry.
We went out for pizza* and got a huge mozzarella ball with rocket and tomatoes. We poured olive oil and balsamic vinegar on it and ate it with bread. This is stuff I've only heard about!
I got the Vesuviana pizza with mozzarella, black olives, mushrooms and artichoke hearts. Crazy good. The pizzas were baked in a stone oven right in the middle of the restaurant and the crust was so delicious. Sometimes crust can feel like an afterthought, but this was front and center, plus a supporting role so I gave it a standing ovation.
View down the street from Karise's veranda.
On Sunday afternoon, Karise hosted a BBQ at her house and some of her friends from church came over. From the left, Antonino, Giuseppe, me, Marianne and Karise. My name was tricky for Italians because they apparently don't really use the R sound or the TH, so my name was most easily understood and repeated if I said it, Druid.
An evening walk along the coast gave us a view of the fiery sunset
and the ferry out in the harbor and boats beached on the shore.
Karise and her friends. Thanks for everything, Karise! You were a terrific hostess.
Naturally, we went out for pizza one more time before we left. It was only reasonable. This time, we got a ricotta, mozzarella and parmesan cheese one (far right) and a tasty pesto-based one with rocket and mushrooms. Karise had a margherita pizza.
In Sicily, although there were terrific views, we were there mainly for the food and I for one was totally okay with that.