It only took less than an hour before the whole village knew the Americanos were in town. My friend Al and I accepted our mutual friend or “gum bade” Davide y (of Davide’s cafe) invitation to spend a week with his “family” in the seaside resort village of Tres Fontane in southeastern Sicily. Little did we know the hospitality included the whole village!
It is my first time in Sicily, I have visited mainland Italy numerous times for both business and pleasure and made several lifelong friends but never experienced anything like this. Every stop in town involved meeting his lifelong friends, the owners and staff from every beach bar, bakery/ espresso shop and every outdoor market.
Every encounter involved the traditional handshake and double cheek kiss, it was next to impossible to pay for anything, all townspeople here were genuinely sincere in welcoming us to their village, and I mean everyone. Just walking down the boulevard you hear a horn beep and a hand wave “Buon giorno Americanos!!!
Al and I enjoyed complimentary finger food, cocktails to coffee and pastry. Not to mention our own unofficial tour guide Toniño who drove us anywhere we needed to go.
Al and I enjoyed a Valenti “family” day trip to Palermo. You may have noticed I have been accenting the word “family”, the trip included just about every member from Davide’s immediate family his lovely wife Juany, daughter Viviana, his Mom,sister brother in law, nieces, and first cousins!
Family is everything here in Sicily and it is more than evident being here and experiencing it first hand, Al and I feel like family members. (Well at least cousins, and Davide has enough cousins here to fill a soccer stadium!)
Lunch in Palermo was like nothing I could ever imagine, plates and plates of appetizers from fresh calamari, clams, cheeses, pasta, pizza, vegetables and meats that involve various questionable parts of the animals’ anatomy I’d rather not know about. We also toured the huge outdoor market area that sold anything from eggplant to custom-made suits. We visited several ancient cathedrals high in Palermo’s near by mountain towns.
While in the largest city in Sicily I was able to cruise through the wholesale jewelry quarter and check out any current trends, oro (gold) was scarce in these shops, most pieces were Argento (sterling silver) nothing really caught my eye.
Discovering the really exciting jewelry is yet to come in a couple of weeks once I arrive in Germany, Paris, and Florence on the Italian mainland.
It was now late afternoon and after an exhausting hike and a huge lunch we headed back Tre Fontane with no chance of catching our breath. Hey! What happened to the afternoon nap thing?
The natives here stay up late and the boulevard along the beach is choked with droves of people of all ages, including entire families with baby carriages, and I mean late, like after 4:00 AM late.
At home the authorities would consider these crowds an unauthorized early morning demonstration and call in the national guard! More incredibly the shops and bars are still open! Most folks nap in the afternoon after lunch and eat supper after 9:00 PM (this is so different from home where 9 PM is known as “Marco Midnight”). At 4 AM our island is a ghost town minus the tumble weeds.
Everybody in this village is on holiday, and Davide informs me it will virtually be evacuated in another month.
As far as jewelry goes, (sometimes I forget I’m supposed to be talking about it here). It is apparent the Sicilians love their gold, I see infants sporting gold earrings and bracelets and even at the beach I see young women wearing more jewelry than bathing suit. All are wearing big chains, anklets, lots of bracelets.
At night everyone is dressed to impress and that’s when you see gobs and gobs of high fashion Italian jewelry. I gotta tell you, I have never seen so many beautiful women adorned in gold and silver in one small place in my life. There are hundreds of them.
By the time this article hits the paper, Al and I will be in Mallorca, Spain where my wife Andrea and friends will be joining us where the Euro – buying journey will continue.
Ciao & Adios for now.