Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Carnevale in Sicilia

We happened to be in Sicily during Mardi Gras- called 'Carnevale' in Italian.

David's cousin and her family live in Acireale, home to one of the bigger celebrations on the island. We took the opportunity to both visit relatives and experience a Mardi Gras parade- a first for both of us.

After a family lunch of lots of pasta and pressure to "mangia, mangia!", it was time to explore.

On our walk into town, the closer we got to the city center, the more confetti coated the ground. There were bags and bags of confetti for sale to throw at people. I only got hit once. I saw one little girl cry because someone threw green confetti at her and she only wanted to be covered in pink confetti. Rough life.

The main square had music playing, beautiful churches, some small flower-covered floats, and a lot of people standing around waiting for the festivities to start.

A good percentage of both adults and children were dressed up in costumes. 

I remember the life of having to cover up my pretty Halloween costumes with winter coats.

Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf.
A unicorn holding a bag of confetti to throw.
Notice the hair.
Costumes for sale.
Eventually we could see the first big float rounding the corner. It featured a slightly terrifying giant baby and blasting techno music. David was not a big fan of the creepy baby or of the music.

Jessica is David's cousin's daughter, but she is only 26 (right between our ages). She was nice enough to be our tour guide and lead us through her town to see all of the floats.

The lights came on as it started to get dark out, and before we knew it it was time for our colorful day to come to an end and head back to our home base in Bronte.

Everyone was so excited to see the creepy baby again!
Why yes, that is Mr. Bean.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Sicily: Taormina

We were lucky to have a warm, sunny day instead of wintry rain for our first sightseeing excursion outside of Bronte. 

Taormina is a touristy gem of a city perched on a cliff over the Ionian Sea. We hiked up at least half of that cliff to get from the parking lot to the main part of the city. 

Climbing hundreds of stairs is a lot easier when you get progressively better views as you go up and up and up.

Besides the spectacular views, Taormina’s main draw is this Greek theater from 3rd century B.C. We saw several Greek and Roman theaters in Sicily, but nothing could beat the surroundings of this one!

Stalking David and Antonino from across the theater.

After lunch (pretty much always a good experience in Italy), we saw some more of the town. Notice the church way up high on top of the hill.

Ceiling mirror at the restaurant.

I decided that I want to live in this house and have a pool with this view.

Before heading back to Bronte, we stopped in the nearby town of Aci Castello. Castello is Italian for ‘castle,’ so named because this 11th century Norman castle. It turns out that the Normans invaded Sicily... who knew? They took over Sicily after 250 years of Arab rule.

We decided to do a little more climbing and walk up to top of the castle. Poor David was assaulted by the paparazzi (aka both of his parents and me) all week.

We were in Aci Castello two days before Mardi Gras (called Carnavale in Italian). The celebrations had already begun and there was confetti everywhere. I felt the need start celebrating too.

Our last stop of the day was just across the bay in Aci Trezza. These interesting and bizarre rock formations are called the “Cyclops Islands.” According to legend, the Cyclops threw these rocks at Odysseus. 

David and his mom couldn’t resist touching the water. Spoiler alert: it was cold. We’d love to come back to Sicily someday when it’s swimming weather.

We could see the castle across the water as the sun was starting to set. Winter or not, the sky in Sicily was gorgeous just about every day.