Thursday, April 10, 2008

My 100th Day in Europe

The Flag of the Regione di Sicilia

The three legs signify the triangular shape of the island of Sicily, with Palermo, Messina and Syracuse located at each corner.

Noted European travel guru, Rick Steves, bases his expertise on the fact that he has traveled in Europe for at least 100 days every year since 1973.

Today, April 10, 2008 marks my 100th day in Europe. My experiences are not anywhere close to Rick's yet but I have seen a lot of things and met a ton of wonderful people!

With this in mind, pardon me for writing a rather long blog today recapping some of the highlights.


Easily the very best thing that I have experienced has been the wonderful people of Catania in particular and Italy in general. Even though their driving is insane and their ability to argue about anything and everything at the proverbial drop of a hat, in sign language no less, is comical, I just can't say enough positive things about them. The people here have been friendly and have welcomed us into their lives with open arms. We have been invited into so many people's homes for dinners and BBQs and been made to feel as part of their families.

I'll remember many of the great places I've seen, but I'll remember my new friends much longer!

A "Tipical" Sicilian dinner at Titziana's and Salvo's home

For Easter I was invited to the home of Davide's mother.

This is Daniela with her mother, father and brother before brunch.

 Alessandro was still in hibernation at this stage.

We have been to some great BBQ's, this one at "Tony the Pony's" brother-in-law's house was one incredible food festival!

People watching is a fun and inexpensive way to spend your free time in Catania.

The beauty of a day playing golf with your friends can never be undervalued.

Il Picciolo Golf Club in Castiglione Di Sicilia is on the north slope of Mt.Etna.

Two SMOKIN' hot chicks we met in Taormina.

Little Ricky: "Jason, throw me the ball, Jason!"

The Elefanti are colorful if nothing else!

Matt, shown here, and Brandon are now the official spokesmen
for Jonathan's Pannini Stand

Although many Americans talk a good calcio game, only Matt and I have stood with the Ultras of Curva Nord for a
Forza Catania soccer game.

Catania won of course!

The Odd Couple goes to Milan

That's Oscar Madison on the left with his housemate Felix Unger.

This is in the mountaintop town of Enna in the home of Gino Milano's parents.

Gino and wife Connie own a great Italian ristorante in Camarillo, California but are planning on retiring soon to their bed and breakfast just outside of Enna.

I'll always remember Gino's mother's advice to me:


Can there be anything better than a pack of Elephants gathering to graze?

Then there is the cutest thing in all of Milan, my second cousin Maria Clara's daughter Isabella.


Italy is really old.

When do you think they installed this door locking device in Cefalu'?

If you like ceramics or tile work, come to Sicily.

Although I first discovered gelato two summers ago in Venice and Rome, these first 100 days have brought my consumption of it to a near two fisted art form!

What I did discover in Catania was cannolo.

Think slant, pistacchio, riccota and snow blizzard!


One of the great advantages of being here this long, and realizing that Europe is not all that big, is that I have been able to travel about and see some of the greatest cities in the world. Each city is indeed unique with it's own charm and attraction but if I had to pick one only it would be Prague. The only thing that would have made Prague better was if my wife Laurie could have been with me.

I still have Madrid, Barcelona, Berlin, Paris and Cairo on my radar scope so we'll see how they stack up to Prague in the next few months.

London's Big Ben on a very cold January day.

Westminster Abbey also in London

The Colosseum in Rome

St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City during Holy Week

The Trevi Fountain in Rome

Vatican City State, home of "THE CHURCH"

The Santa Maria del Fiore Duomo in Florence

Pisa's "Field of Miracles"

Milan's magnificent Gothic Cathedral

"A poem in marble" according to Mark Twain

The Charles Bridge in Prague is a VERY romantic stroll.

The Old Town Square in Prague

The Tyn Hussite Church in Prague

The Palace Garden in Vienna

St. Michael's Church in Vienna near the Hofburg Palace,
winter home of the Hapsburgs

The Schonbrunn Palace
The Hapsburgs' summer Palace in Vienna

In Vienna, the main entrance to the Hofburg Palace Complex

The very ornate stone pulpit in Vienna's St. Stephen's Cathedral


While traveling around Europe has been fun, there is an amazing amount of things to see and do right here in our own beautiful island of Sicily. Sicily does not get the attention from the tourist trade it deserves, but maybe that is a good thing.

As Goethe once wrote in his book "Italian Journey": "To have seen Italy without seeing Sicily is not to have seen Italy at all, for Sicily is the clue to everything."

Here are some of my favorite Sicilian sights.

The Greek Theatre in Syracuse

They will actually be holding plays here in the summer.

We plan on attending one.

Amazing hilltop towns like this one,
Piazza Armerina

Festivals are everywhere, but the best  for my money is
the Festival of Sant'Agata, the Patron Saint of Catania.


It overlooks the Ionian Sea and has a Greek Theatre too.

What more do you need?

The Valley of the Temples in Agrigento

Inside the Cathedral at Monreale

The Benedictine Cloister in Monreale

The entrance to Palermo's Vucciria Market

A main part of our dinner one night was purchased from this vendor at the Vucciria Market

1 comment:

mdantuono said...

I know that Caltanissetta will always remain as a lasting memory for you and glad Laurie was able to share the experience and heart and soul of Sicily