Friday, August 28, 2009

Catania, Beautiful, Naughty and Nice - But Palermo Wants Me Back!

Catania is certainly showing up Palermo in more ways than one. The way the body of Catania is built, it creates for a better experience in beholding its historical beauty in the City Centro. Piazza Duomo (Cathedral) is where the hang out is at leading to a long via (street) housing many upscale retail stores, trattoria's, and gelaterias, on each side of the street hugging tightly.

A breeze is always coming in from the Mediteranean from several directions; thus the heat is not so concentrated as is Palermo. Much cleaner is Catania; caring more for how it looks for their guests, hiding its ruggedness on various side streets at dawn and at dusk.

I arrived in Catania at 1 p.m. or in Italiano e luna yesterday. Not knowing where I was walking when I got off the bus, I walked too far away from the hotel I was staying at and the hotel had to send a taxi for me to get me at a gelateria by the sea. I had walked about 2 miles away from where I thought I was going. By the way, I know how far I am walking because I have had a pedometer on my person since I have been in Sicily. To date, I have walked a grand total of 33 miles since last Thursday. Every evening my legs are sore and worn out, but I felt this was the best way to do a work out here. I think running on the streets would have drawn too many comments.

My hotel Il Principe is a new establishment barely 5 years old.

It it modern with an historical Italiano flair to it. Nestled at the bottom of ancient stairs that take you up 4 flights to another cathredral, this hotel is a 4 star with 5 star qualities. My room is spacious with two balconies - one from the bathroom and one from my bedroom. Catania made sure the hotel gave me a corner room; for those who travel know corner rooms are the best!!!!

After settling in my room for a minute, I immediately set out to do some shopping. Completing a few requests while dropping some (sometimes people get too askie - I know that is not a word, but I just made it up): I am on vacation and do not want to spend it shopping for other people. I know this is selfish, but since people who know me know I am NOT selfish, they know this trip is about me being selfinterested and taking good care of myself.

So, as I am walking on via Girabaldi - this guy is molto famoso in Sicily!-garibaldi-in-sicily.aspx, I start to get that feeling again - like someone is watching me. I stop look around me and then continue to walk. About 3 minutes later or so someone walks towards me and says, "buon giorno." I reply and keep on walking. I have been taking more than a few photos on this trip and there have been many occasions in which I am able to shoot breathtaking scenes and architecture. I saw an interesting statue and ventured down the side street to take the photo. After snapping the second shot, like a genie a young man appeared to my right - the same ragazzo (boy) who walked by me before. My thought was, "Oh he is casing me, so let me hear what he has to say." He asked me what country I was from and my name. I asked him in Italian what country he was from and his name. He replied, "I asked you first." And I replied, "I asked you second and I am a woman, so you must from Morroco and his name was Yousef. I told him I am right again, you can hardly tell the difference between a Sicilian and an Arab; at least a good portion of them. I told him my information and then you can guess what he asked next - MY AGE!

It is really something how men over here do not have a problem asking a woman's age and yes her weight too if they feel like it - clearly not at all like the U.S. When I told him I was 43, the shock sprang all over his face and he accused me of being a liar. I guess I could have got angry with being called a Bugiardo on the streets of Catania, but since something like this scene is quite the norm for me, I just showed him my Connecticut Driver's license and told him he should be cautious about who he calls liar. He apologizes.

He offers me some coffee which as you know I do not like; but I immediately say to him A Salaam Walaikum and Ramadan Mubarak and Ramadan Kareem. He was completely shocked that I said this too him. I also reminded him since it is Ramadan out of respect for him, I would not go to a cafe and drink front of him even if we are in a Christian country. I asked him if he were keeping Ramadan and his answer did not give me the assurance or clarity that he was. I actually thought he was a bit embarrassed by my reminding him.

All in all we had a great discussion about Southern Italy, its history and also the fact that if Rome did not exist or Northern Italy or if Italy were not a part of the EU or even geographically attached to Europe the way it was, we were not sure if Italy could really be classified as a First World country - since the southern part is so poorly neglected. There is a lot unemployment in the Southern regions and the only time work is some what plentiful is from May to October - tourist season.

You would think that after all of this great discussion about Italy's history and even a talk about Islam and Chritianity, this discussion would end with some sort of intellectually stimulating experience. After all Yousef talked about his family and how long they were in Italy and he even talked about Morocco and his home country's needs.

Well in the midst of the end of our discussion, Yousef told me where he worked and then he suddenly said he really needed to know what hotel I was staying at. I asked him why was this so important. He said he really needed to know. I told him Silencio Stampa (No comment to the press). He pressed again and again and again. Finally, I said, "Young man (he was 32), do you think being this aggressive really impresses a woman? This is not how you find out about a woman and where she is staying. Furthermore, it would be stupid of me to tell you anyway."

He was shocked at my boldness, but then again he was quite bold. Instead of stopping with that question, he said, that he wanted to know because he said I looked so good, he could just eat me right now like a chocolate gelato.

I had to do a lot to keep from laughing because my laughing would definitely be seen as giving him permission to continue - I kept a straight face (very hard for me to do since I envision myself falling to the ground laughing at this fool) and said "Senor Yousef giovane (Mr. young Yousef), may I kindly remind you from a Christian about Ramadan and the practices today? No eating, no drinking, constantly in prayer mentally and physically and nothing of a carnal or sexual nature." Now, with my Italian being a lot better by the day, I was proud of all that I said even if I knew inside myself I mixed up a few word orders here and there, but homey got the point.

He then claimed he was keeping Ramadan and I told him he just broke it and since I am not sure what that means when you break it, I think I should go now and leave you to you and Allah to work out this situation. I told him he was a very nice man, good looking and quite smart, but he needed to get back to his reality and religious observance. He laughed, shook my hand and said I was a very nice and respectful woman, and although he still wanted to eat me like a chocolate (after sundown now), he liked how I respected his religion. We parted company.

I walked another 3 miles after this and purchased some chatskys for my family. I met two dynamic women in a souvenir shop and we talked for a good while in Italian about my visit. I was sharing with the ladies a few of my adventures and they just howled with laughter. They asked me to come back again and I think I must might before I leave in the morning. They were admiring my dress; particularly my blouse. It was a deep purple.

There are two types of Italians in this part of Italy, the dressy fashionable (simple, clean and a touch of elegance) and the not so great moda wearers (musty looking, in need of new clothes or just wearing the same stuff daily period). Men that were clean cut carried themselves a certain way. Women here of all ages, weight and sizes do not mind showing some cleavage in a big way. I saw many women with their boobies press up and almost out. Many women, did not regard how their clothing fit their body in terms of whether their body hung over their pants or stomach did giant protrusions. Hey, I am not perfect sized either, but I found this somewhat amusing because it appeared the fashion was more important that the body that fit in it. There are loads of beautiful women here however. Just like the kind you see on television and in the magazines they exist naturally. The women also have a good sense of pride in who they are. This is what I get when watching them.

Dinner was about 7 p.m. which is way early in Italy. I had pasta and salad and a half liter of water. Like I mentioned earlier water is so necessary here. I know I am drinking at least 1 gallon per day. I am thirsty right now as I am writing this blog.

At Caffe del Duomo, I met three American women from New York City. Small world since I am from Connecticut. They were on a cruise ship and were having lunch. It was the first American accents I had heard since I had come. Americans do not seem to visit these parts that much unless they are on a cruise. The ladies told me how boring Ibizia really was and it was mostly hype. One young lady said the odd thing about their nightclubs was that you would see baby strollers parked outside, and inside were the babies with the parents. Now, that would be a bit strange in the States eh? I had a real visual about this and let out a loud laugh. Since these ladies were from the Big Apple, I know they know something about dance clubs so I took their words for it.

The waiter was very nice to me and the other ladies, but more nice to me. I asked him to take a photo of my me and not only did he do that, he took me inside his restaruant took me to the winery room and took photos of me in front of that too. I really appreciated the extra effort. He was so happy to have me as his guest, I got a free dessert and lemon soda. He also told me if I wanted to have free massage services he would be glad to help me there as well. Now, I know you wonder how this came up. I mentioned to him I was tired and was going to go my hotel to take a short siesta before going out again and then he launched into the massage services. Prior to that mention, he did try sweet talking me with compliments about my look.

I paid the man and told him, "Senor ho paura di massagio d'Italiano. C'e molto pericoloso. Non grazie - Sir, I am afraid of an Italian massage. It is very dangerous. No thank you." He smiled gave me his card I took it. A great restaurant and very good food.

I went back to my hotel room and fell out (sleep) for 3 hours. This threw off of my evening sleep and so I decided to stay in for the evening. When I awoke, I opened the doors to my balcony and went out to watch the people dine. Dozens of tables were filled with people enjoying dinner well into the late night. People were laughing, singing and talking making a beautiful sound that buzzed throughout the area. I knew at that moment I chosen a great hotel to stay in. I was happy.

My bed beckoned me to come back to it. I did, but I was not tired. So, I lie awake and meditated and prayed for quite a while. I am always thanking God for All things that happen; even the strange. When I was finishing my last prayer and feeling I am starting to get drowsy again, my phone rang, it was Palermo - he was calling to tell me he really missed me and..................

1 comment:

  1. I am not so quite sure whether you are the Ms Davis who was in rual part of Kenya energizing the youth. I was touched and inspired. I am from Kenya Originally and that made me wanna go back and work with community. God Bless you Plentifully
    Cliff Kosgei Magugui