It was Jonas’ birthday yesterday and he said he was craving Italian, so I headed to Eataly on the Rue Sainte-Croix de la Bretonnerie and picked up some provisions. We started with melt-in-your-mouth salumi, then dined on fresh pasta with shrimp, mushrooms and zucchini simmered in a spicy arrabbiata sauce. Paper thin parmesan shavings were sprinkled on top for an extra dose of deliciousness. And for dessert, we had Sicilian cannoli.
I told the boys to go ahead and eat the cannoli because I was full from dinner. Jonas thoughtfully left me a bite of his. As soon as I tasted the crispy dough and sweet ricotta cream, I had a Proustian moment and was transported to the island of Sicily, which we visited as a family in 2017.
As we’re not traveling much these days, I thought it would be fun to revisit that trip and give everyone a taste of the incredible island that practically touches the toe of Italy’s boot. Here’s what I wrote about our arrival in Sicily, known for its citrus fruits, volcanic eruptions, and yes, cannoli.
February 6, 2017
We adore Paris, but we’ve been wanting to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and see some new landscapes. Our timing couldn’t have been more perfect. Yesterday we saw our downstairs neighbors dragging their suitcases down our street and we thought, “Good for them. Bonnes vacances!” Then this morning at 7:59 a.m. we heard a mild scraping sound, some hammering and then full-blown jackhammering commenced. When we ourselves pulled our suitcases past the entrance of our apartment around 10 a.m. we noticed the neighbors’ front door open and what appeared to be a gutted apartment. Looks like it’s going to be a long and loud couple of weeks in our building!
Thankfully we are in Sicily now. We touched down this afternoon and although we had a smooth flight, a brief luggage mishap kept us at the Catania Airport a little longer than we would have liked. I accidentally forgot to pick up the stroller at baggage claim and the officials did not want to let me back in after exiting even though I could clearly see the stroller slowly moving along the conveyor belt and explained it was ours. I was told to go to Lost and Found and when I did, I was at a loss for words because I found an unmanned office and a sign saying they were closed between 1 and 5 p.m. – because apparently no one loses anything at the airport between 1 and 5 p.m. I used my best Italian to beg for the stroller at baggage claim (success!) and we were soon in our rental car and making our way up the Ionian Coast.
We rented a little house nestled between the foot of Mount Etna and the Ionian Sea amongst some fragrant citrus groves. The owner of the place told us where to buy groceries but insisted we did not buy oranges, lemons or tangerines as we could pick them on the property. We arrived at the house just as the sun was going down so the boys and I got to work exploring the groves while Jonas unpacked the car.
We climbed over low volcanic rock walls and investigated grove after grove until we found a small path that seemed to lead to the road we drove up on. I was a little turned around and couldn’t be sure. All of a sudden we were face to face with a large, skinny, sandy-colored dog. Rhône said, “Uh oh, that dog looks like it wants to get us.” Now I love dogs so I made a kissing noise and tried to win it over but it just stared at us. Then I started thinking, “Wait, is that a dog or a coyote? Does Sicily have coyotes?” I didn’t know what I was looking at and I think Rhône sensed my sudden fear because he said, “Mommy, we need to run!”
I picked up Rocky, did an about face and tried to play it cool while speed walking back through the groves and looking over my shoulder every 3 seconds. The dog(?) did not follow us and we made it home safely. We settled in and cooked a nice meal with locally-made pasta, tomato sauce and some prosciutto. And for dessert? Cannoli, of course. We spent the rest of the evening peeking out the window to see if Mount Etna was erupting. We were told we might see some lava!
First order of business tomorrow: Picking lemons so I can have some hot lemon juice with breakfast. Maybe we’ll make some fresh squeezed orange juice as well. This sure beats gray weather and jackhammers.