Noto, the First Days, by Way of Enna……….WHEELS DOWN!

Holy Saturday ended our exploration of the marvelous Sicilian area of Agrigento through miles of divine landscapes and happy memories. We shared in that last glorious breakfast of every imaginable sumptuous traditional breakfast dish, reloaded the back of the faithful vehicle, and took off for lunch at a rustic Sicilian restaurant in the town of Enna, Sicily’s highest city, Man of Mine’s current desire. Stephano and Lucia had driving/navigation skills intact, and away we went!

Enna, while boasting the highest point on the map, quite frankly left something to be desired visually. To these travelers, it was just not too cute. However, as fate would have it, just as we were giving up on both the town and the restaurant, there perched at our “Let’s-get-out-of-here” point was a sign to the restaurant. Park, we did, and were we glad afterwards! Just two blocks away was the anticipated Tratorria La Rustica where we were entertained royally by its owner and experienced savory, rustic Sicilian cuisine. I had the soup. I can still savor it! It saved the town’s reputation in our eyes and through our taste buds.

Andiamo! Filled to the brim with both yummy morsels and generous memories, we pressed on to Noto in anticipation of a week’s retreat at our villa outside the town. The pictures of the villa had been quite impressive, but locating the road to it proved to be problematic to the point we had to be led in by the custodians on this tiny, uneven gravel road. Once there, our expectations were more than satisfied; and we settled in for the first amazing Sicilian dinner, this time prepared in house by the lovely chef Simona. Yum! Cuddoes to her for brilliant ceviche, pasta, and so much more I cannot recall! Man of Mine had spoken “pasta” for months now, and he was not disappointed! At this point, I was secretly pinching myself asking if this all was real!

And so it continued……a week of funny, exhilarating outgoings from our haven including participation in the traditions of their Holy Week such as Mass at the Noto Basilica with a cardinal who only spoke Italian, but when he profoundly exhaled repeatedly “Dios es Amore,” “God is Love!” my simple heartfelt divine pressure and was glad. They process there Holy Week and seeing the people rejoice when the statue of the Lord greeted His Mother in front of the basilica amidst the musical joy of the crowd and blessing of the priest and then borne up the stairs to the church, Easter eggs and bunnies and spring flowers seemed so remotely unimportant. This was what mattered and made my heart glad!

Sicily, its beauty, and its people will remain with me always. From the lovely filmmaker guide in Syracusa to the market people both selling and buying to two priests in traditional cassocks to the orange juice seller dressed in all orange to the young Indian fish worker gazing to the heavens to the stout fish seller to the handsome chef and lovely waitress wife to children on the street to the Wonderful Bono family who have the largest olive oil business wholesaling all over the world with precious son Christiano, they all are in my heart and prayers. The visuals of them are here for you to share as well. Their joy, their warmth, their fresh approach to life with little agenda have touched me to the point I shall always want to return to Sicily in the spring.

Two other things stand out after the people. One is the amazing landscapes from the limestone mountains to brilliant sea coasts to Mt. Etna looming in the mountain background with snow covering and smoke ascending where we had lunch in a restaurant with a fourth generation family serving. And then, of course, there is the food! From street to starred restaurant, the magnificently flavorful foods of Sicily call to you! Pictures are worth a thousand words, so hopefully you can visually join our little group through my small attempts.

I have heard it said one can never go home again. I learned that sadly years ago when Man of Mine and I chose to return to the city where we met in high school during a very magical time in life. I reached out and reached out to old friends who never called back, much less hardly spoke in public. I grieved over that but made a new life with the collage of marvelous people God replaced the others with, both black and white, who are now my peeps I truly love. They seem to get me and, like the people of the South of Louisiana, love me back. I am both happy and very grateful! However, that being said, I pray that won’t be the case with Sicily because like this place I now live or the South of Louisiana, my heart is now there, too. Thank you, Sicily! Brava, Bella Donna!

And so, dear readers, wheels down. Wheels down to a home filled with love and grandchildren laughter, to still having a youthful mother at almost ninety, to cherished, loving new friends, to health, to joy from loving God back……spring flowers abloom both outside and within my heart. Thanks for flying with me! Next time, should God say the same! Ciao!


Blog by Carolyne Howard

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