Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Of Shopping, Trattoria Casalinga di Nino Mannino and Airplanes

Jason and Christie enjoying our 71st day without internet connection at Malibu as we all pay for yet another hour of internet service (3 euros = $4.50) at the lovely Baia Verde Hotel near the heart of Aci Castello. 

Land sharks guarding the parking lot at the Etnapolis Mall.
Note the sad hat that is floating near their last attack.

A sign of the American football fever sweeping Catania.
This vending machine is located in the middle of the Etnapolis Mall!

One side of this large ceramic jug in the Mall depicts the traditional story that I grew up with about St. George slaying the dragon.

The other side depicts the WAY more interesting Italian version of the same tale that makes much more sense to me!

Fajitas at lunch Mexican/Italian style.
They were quite good actually.
Yes, I had a gelato after lunch.

With Nino after a great dinner and incredible hospitality.
Yes, I had another gelato after dinner.

This is my 71st day in Sicily, still no internet at Malibu. Christie offered to go with Gustavo to get some action out of the slackards. Now remember, Catania is the second biggest city in Sicilia (Palermo is the biggest) and it is the ninth biggest city in all of Italy. Gustavo informed us that we would have to fly to the island of SARDINIA to physically see someone from the company providing our internet service. They do not have an office anywhere on Sicilia!!! Hope is dwindling daily.

We continue with our routine at Malibu even with our two newest members. Monday we made lunch at the house consisting of breaded veal cutlets and veal cordon bleu cooked in extra virgin olive oil, add on ricotta cheese ragu sauce and sprinkle it with incredible parmesan cheese, throw in great spiced tomatoes ala Christie, some red wine that Laurie let us share with her and you have a memorable meal!

It was then on to the Elefanti War Room to review Saturday’s practice DVD. We had a very productive meeting as we made plans for the Milan game that is now less than three weeks away.

Practice last night was well attended and we saw great improvement again as we serviced each other offensively and defensively. It was a slower paced teaching practice with the emphasis on cleaning up details that needed tending. I thought the players were quite receptive and got one day better.

As always after our Monday practice we met Brandon and Matt at Jonica Pizza in Aci Castello for dinner. We were joined for dinner by two of Brandon’s friends from San Diego, Kyle and his girlfriend Renee who are visiting for a few days. The good times continue to roll!

Today we shopped at the Etnapolis Mall. We only bought a few small trinkets but we did eat in their food court's Mexican restaurant. Not bad for Mexican food in the Eastern Hemisphere, the Coronas were excellent!

For dinner we drove into the downtown area only to find our designated ristorante closed. This fortunately forced us to go exploring and we stumbled upon another great place, the Trattoria Casalinga di Nino Mannino, Via Biondi 19, Catania if you are in the neighborhood. Nino’s son, Salvo, was our waiter as they gave us the back room to ourselves since the front room was packed. Everyone’s pasta was great, the involtini meat dish was fabulous and the wine was indeed flowing.

At the end of 2 ½ hour dinner Salvo asked if we wanted dessert or an after dinner drink. After two bottles of very solid red wine and with the desire to go to our favorite gelato store, Quaranta, in Piazza Bellini just a few blocks away when we left, we said no thanks, il conto per favore.

Suddenly Nino is heatedly getting after Salvo, something is very wrong. The next thing we know, we have two different very rich desserts on the table for us to share. From nowhere four glasses of Limoncello appear. Salvo leaves the bottle of Limoncello and a bottle of another almond based after dinner drink for us to sample. We decided to just stick with the first 4 Limoncellos.

When our bill arrives, Nino has comped us the desserts and Limoncellos! Apparently he loves Americans, Christie wisely omitted the fact that she is Canadian. It was a great evening all the way around. By the way, we still had the gelato afterwards!

Met up with Brandon, Matt and Kyle as well as Gregorio and Gustavo at La Chiave for a little concert in their backroom stage area. The trio consisted of two male guitarists and a female singer. We stayed for about an hour as they were very good singing both English and Italian favorites that had everyone in the audience singing along and the obligatory one crazy girl dancing up a storm by herself in front of us.

This morning I had to drive Jason to the airport to catch a 9:20 flight to Milan for a photo shoot for an Italian sports magazine article about all the American QB’s in the league this year. Jason will get to meet all of his fellow American QB’s at the shoot. Sounds easy but in Italy it never is as easy at it should be.

The photographer wants all the QB’s to be in full game uniform and Jason has no game gear. No problem, one of the players would drop off both game jerseys, game pants, helmet decals and an Elefanti jacket at the Dorm for us to pick up either before or after dinner. We decided to go after dinner. At about 1:00 a.m. we meet up with the boys, as I said earlier on Piazza Bellini. We ask about picking up Jason’s gear only to find out it never came! We drove to the office and did find two game jerseys but that was it.

We awake at 7:00 a.m. call Davide, not happy, who gets the offending player on the phone and lets us know that we can pick it up at the Dorm as we are driving to the airport. Sounds simple, it is sort of on our way, except it is now rush hour in Catania.

When I was growing up in SoCal, we had Figure 8 Chicane Auto Races and Destruction Derbies both held at Ascot Motorway in Gardena televised on weekends on channel 5 or 11 with Dick Lane announcing. Basically it was just an event to watch cars and people get destroyed. Both of these childhood memories pale next to rush hour in Catania!!!

After many near death experiences, a few hand gestures and the complete disregard for the Italian Vehicle Code (does one really exist?) we got the gear and Jason to the airport with about 3 minutes to spare before they closed the gate!

We all just keep having a good time here and we are all usually sporting big smiles as we continue to enjoy our new home, our Sicilian friends and the quaint customs of Sicilia.


stradavarius said...

Just a thought. I live in Canalicchio (between Catania and Aci Catena) and use videobank for my ADSL service provider. They have an office in Belpasso with friendly and helpful staff. We have been satisifed with while friends have had nothing but problems with Alice/Telecom.

George said...

Thank you for the advice, supposedly we get internet this Monday at 2:00 p.m.

We'll see...