Another bright and early start for me here in Bologna. Although as I write that, I am thinking to myself that almost every morning has had a bright and early start, right!?! Well, today was a particularly bright and early start, early enough to catch my 6 a.m. flight to Sicily. And I couldn’t be more excited. I am looking forward to leaving all of the gloom and rain behind me, and heading to warm, dry weather, and family! Yep, my husband still has relatives just outside of Palermo, and I am headed down to spend the week with them. The love and affection of a Sicilian family is like none other, and I am so ready for it! (I am also really excited to see them because the last time I visited them, I spoke not one word of Italian, and now I can speak entirely in Italian!)
It was such a great feeling to arrive in Palermo and have family waiting for me. As much as I love traveling on my own, nothing takes the place of family. And of course they let me carry absolutely none of my bags, and showered me with hugs and kisses immediately, a great start.
We drove just outside of Palermo, where I would be staying with one of my husband’s cousins for a few days, before some more Stateside family arrived. After getting settled in, I helped Serena and Irene do the finishing touches on a surprise birthday cake…meticulously decorated with tiny little chocolate chips.
After seriously testing my skills for how carefully I could place chocolate chips onto a cake without smudging it at all, Irene and I headed out for some fresh air. We walked the town and she pointed out the main stops to me and the best places to grab a gelato or coffee. Then we made a quick pit-stop to order some fresh cheese for later in the week, and picked up some fresh bread for lunch.
And after that? Well, you can imagine that we worked up quite an appetite, so it was lunch time of course. And boy did they put on a spread. Pasta al forno, swordfish with pistachios, bread, salad, cheeses, meats, desserts, and homemade wine. There was no shortage of delicousness going on here. (I just kept thinking to myself, how the heck am I supposed to fit in my dress for the wedding after all of this!?!)
see those big boys in the back? my new fav – essentially a doughnut stuffed with fresh cannoli cream…I think that they might become a problem…
After a delicious feast, they all encouraged me to take a nap since I was up so early. And although I am not a nap person, I was perfectly happy to take them up on the offer, as I knew that our day was not going to end early.
Feeling refreshed from my rest, I got up, and it was actually time to get going right away. Today is the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner for the wedding. Although, different than in the States. In the U.S., the rehearsal and dinner are a very big and often formal event. But here, it is a casual evening for just the closest members of the family.
We drove into Palermo, and got to the church just in time for it all to get started. We sat in the back of the church, and I giggled as I watched the priest talk with the bride and groom and crack some jokes about marriage to help them feel relaxed about their big day. It was very cute and personal.
beautiful church ceiling
After settling the business for the evening, we drove (in secret), towards a restaurant to grab some pizza. We were in secret, because today is also a special birthday for Pierina, so we are doing a double dinner celebration – rehearsal dinner and surprise birthday party. Remember the cake I told you about earlier? It’s almost time for its big reveal.
We all ended up getting to the restaurant around the same time, but Pierina was still surprised, and so delighted. We piled ourselves in, ordered loads of pizzas and wine, and just chatted and laughed for hours. Finally around 11 p.m., it was time for us to say our long goodbyes, share multiple hugs, and then catch a little shut eye before our next round of excitement.
look at Tanfredi’s face, he is so excited about the cake!
It was a long but beautiful first day in Sicily. My head is swirling with the excitement of speaking Italian, the joy of catching up with family, and the overwhelming love that they all have shared with me. Buona notte!