Once upon a time in Italy

Ok, so, here’s the report on my trip to Italy, the pictures have been up for a while, and this has been partially written, but now I’ve finally put all the pieces together. Yes, I’m lazy and just didn’t get around to posting it. So sue me…

I upped and disappeared off the face of the earth for almost 2 weeks. It was a lovely time, I spent 11 beautiful, hot, and sunny days , and one cloudy, windy day, in Italy. It was fantabulous. Well, mostly fantabulous.

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I stayed with Dave and his family in their “home away from home”, a beautiful house overlooking the Stretto di Messina, on the Calabria side. From the house, you can see the lights on the mountains of Sicily.

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Almost every day, we were invited to another family member’s house for a feast, at least 4 courses (ante pesto, pasta, main course, and dessert) each time, and sometimes more. I felt so welcomed… not only because of the way I was welcomed into at least 10 different homes as a member of the family, but because every time I saw anyone I was hugged and kissed hello, and good bye. I know it’s just he normal greeting there, but it’s not for me, and so it felt wonderful.

While there, I had two new food experiences. The first was sea urchins. There’s not very much meat in those very spikey outsides. In fact, there’s not enough to justify the effort it must take to open the things up. The flavour was ok, but mostly it just tasted like sea water.

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(and that second picture is of Dave’s hands, not mine)

The other thing I ate was horse. Now, I’d heard that horse is usually tough and stringy, but the horse steaks we had were delicious. They were tender, juicy, and just slightly gamey… at least, I think the right descriptor is gamey… having not had what is traditionally called game meat in at least 7 years. I liked it… maybe it’s just that in Canada and North America, horses are rarely raised for meat and so it’s not as high quality as it is in Europe.

Another interesting food thing (not eaten by me) was this:

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Yes, you are seeing that right. That is ostrich babyfood. That was just the one that looked oddest to me, they also had swordfish and grouper and flounder (about 6 different types of fish in total) and of course, horse babyfood. I’ve had ostrich before, it’s odd in that you can get steaks from it, despite it being a bird. But for it to be so common that they make babyfood out of it??? wow.

We also spent one day in Taormina, which was lovely. There’s an ancient Greek amphitheatre there, and it’s still used for operas at this time, which I thought was marvellous… well, except for the insects which I’m sure your eat you alive in the twilight.

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The other major event was the feast of the Madonna. The patron saint of Cannitello is Maria di Porto Salvo, and on the weekend after the Assumption (August 15th), they take the icon from their church and have a water procession for this statue on a swordfishing boat.

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As the boat (and the statue) pass by each beach along the shore by the town, the people light a bonfire and set off fireworks. I’m not talking one or two fire works here though, I’m talking a full sky…

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It was amazing… seriously , that night they must have lit almost as many fire works as you see on Parliament Hill for Canada Day

Other than to Taormina and Reggio (the city, about 15 km away), we didn’t go about very much, we just ate wonderful food and relaxed, eating salad from freshly picked tomatoes for lunch every day and figs straight from the trees to finish off most meals. All I can say is that this was a marvellous trip, and that I can’t wait to go back (hopefully knowing a little more Italian next time!!)

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