Giuseppe’s Generosity & Other Thoughts on Sicily

I was all set to write a post about the plethora of Greek and Roman ruins I have visited in the past few days but I’d rather share instead what I hope is a more interesting story from yesterday.

After spending a few days in the eastern Sicilican cities of Catania, Taormina and Siracusa, I decided to head back to Palermo a day earlier than expected (July 26). While I had reservations for Friday, July 27 at Your Hostel, where I stayed my first time in the city, they were fully booked for the week with a youth conference for Amnesty International. So this last minute change meant I needed a place to crash for the night.

Taking the bus back to Palermo with a German couple whom I had met in my hostel in Siracusa, I decided to see if their hotel had extra space for me. It did but at a pretty hefty rate (at least for me on this trip). Luckily, I had taken note of another hostel nearby where I decided to try my luck.

I arrived to find the hostel was really a spare floor in a young Italian couple’s apartments. It had a few bare bedrooms but it was cheap and they had a bed for me. However, I got a strange vibe from the woman who ran the place. She seemed taken aback when I asked to see the bathrooms and about the bus schedule to Agrigento, where I planned to visit the next day.

When I returned from an ATM so I could pay her for the night, I asked her if the room was as loud in the morning as it was at that moment (keep in mind the room had no AC or fan, so the window was open, and it faced a main street, so it was plenty loud). That must have been the straw that broke the camel’s back because she then said if I wasn’t comfortable staying there I should find somewhere else. She said she didn’t like all the questions I was asking and if I couldn’t relax maybe it would be better for me not to stay there. I was shocked. That had never happened before and my questions were pretty standard.

I certainly did not want to stay where I wasn’t wanted so I decided to try my luck at Your Hostel, hoping they might have an opening.

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Living La Dolce Vita in Sicily

As I ease my way into the second country on my trip, I am trying hard not to do too much. Especially in Sicily, filled with so much natural beauty, impressive architecture and delicious food, there is a tendency to see and do everything. I have opted for a simpler approach so as to avoid being overwhelmed. Thus far I have been amply rewarded.

In particular, my time with my host Giuseppe (“Peppe”) illustrates the advantages of sharing Sicily through a local perspective as I was able to enjoy certain food and sites that would have been hard on my own. Peppe is a graphic designer and aspiring tour guide living in the city of Trapani who was kind enough to let me spend the weekend with him.

Food

Right off the bat I was blown away by the food. For dinner my first night, Peppe and I drove to his girflriend’s summer beach cottage in San Vito Lo Capo, close to the sea. On our drive there, we stopped at a roadside produce stand where Peppe carefully chose just the right tomatoes and fruits for dinner.

shopping for tomatoes en route to San Vito Lo Capo
I then watched in amazement as Peppe and his girlfriend set about preparing the meal, busiata pasta with seafood and tomatoes. I did my small part by helping slice the tomatoes and of course eating. The pasta, which is dry to begin with, was prepared al dente, and mixed wonderfully with the moist fish while the tomatoes gave it a ripe sweetness. We then finished things off with espresso, which Peppe correctly assured me would not prevent me from falling asleep that night.
San Vito Lo Capo
busiata pasta Sicily
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