And so I have returned. I'm happy to report that I stayed "in the upright" on my bike the whole dang time. With some help from Zaza, of course. Speaking of, Zaza will have some exciting pizza findings to report. She's currently hard at work compiling them, but she's only about 10 years old, so we must be patient as she sharpens her crayons.
In the meantime! I, Elana, have some fun photos for you: food, travel, interesting grafitti. You name it. How was my trip? It was all at once magical, disturbing, exciting, terrifying, delicious, icky, sweaty, dry, humid, smelly, grueling, fast, slow, incomprehensible (language-wise), wacky and beautiful.
So, in other words, fan-freakin'-tastic. Here are some highlights:
I went renegade a few days and used this new bike kit (inspired by Bianchi bikes) from Ten Speed Hero. It made me feel like one. Especially when I was charging through terrain like this:
Dry enough for you? Don't light a match. Although the Sicilians frequently did. Everything was burning. On purpose! Mostly, I mean farmland, but the smell of smoke sure emphasized the 104°F heat.
There were lots of good things to eat:
And a Sicilian bakery on every corner. I had the above sugary loaf one morning pre-ride while I chugged multiple espressos in a café that claimed to have WiFi. Not so much... but the coffee and pastry were excellent. Who needs WiFi? But I do need pizza.
This was my favorite roadside pizza sign. I really have no idea where the pizza was that it was advertising. I didn't find it. But I did sample some other roadside pizza, made fresh just for us hungry cyclists at a beachside food stand:
This little beauty was stuffed with fresh olives and cherry tomatoes with a little herbed parm topping. A nice refresher before having to deal with scenery like this:
And odd little roadside shrines like this:
Looks rough, doesn't it? But in all honesty, Sicily is a uniquely beautiful and terrifying place. And I would categorize it was "rough" in many ways. Rough spots of town (especially in Palermo) that I walked into by accident. Rough around the edges...this isn't polished Tuscany.
But the Sicilians are a very warm and caring people. And helpful! I got lost on my bike about 37 times (each day). Sicilians offered directions, drafting options (off their cars), and an occasional lift (thanks to Julio from the grape factory). Other members of our group were invited in to a wedding and served cake! I'm sorry I missed that....they're now friends on Facebook (clearly SOMEONE has WiFi).
Another thing that was not scarce was gelato. My favorite flavor was a combination of pistachio, lemon and almond. Sicilians love their pistachios, and I must agree with them on this point.
One day, in Cefaú, I ate this capicola, arugula, primosale (young cheese) and parmesan pizza:
The whole thing...
And then hiked up to the top of a crazy mountain to explore some castle ruins. Keep in mind I was carrying a wedge of local Pecorino, some olive oil, ceramic bracelets and some black licorice candy at the time. And an umbrella that I clearly didn't need:
And speaking again of pizza, here are some other slices I found and enjoyed:
Sicilians love zucchini and eggplant!
The pizzaiolo at Frida Pizzeria in Palermo made my pie heart-shaped. No one else's was...
This little thick-crust doozy was topped with potato, caramelized onion and breadcrumbs. Ciao, carbs!
And this fluffy, oblong number was topped lightly with roasted tomatoes and breadcrumbs and cooked by a young ragazzo in this wheeled contraption:
Sometimes I grabbed a slice and had a picnic, much to the delight and amazement of Italian passersby (thanks to Giovanni, a local tour guide near the Palazzo Reale, for snapping the evidence):
But when I looked up from various slices of pizza, I couldn't help but marvel at the sights:
Crazy, spikey cucumbers in the Palermo food market.
A "special" car.
Miniature crockery heads in Siracusa.
I don't know about you, but all this had made me hungry. Dessert, anyone?
Italian cookies from Capo d'Orlando.
Please stay tuned as Zaza works on her pizza chronicles. I'll be keeping you updated. In the meantime, please remember these handy Italian phrases:
Sempre diritto: Keep going straight!
Tornato subito: BRB
Mangia bene!: Eat well!
Pizza, ti amo: Pizza, I love you.