Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Being a Tourist in Our Own Town

I have just finished reading this excellent book by Sandra Benjamin on the history of my beloved island.  It really gives you a great perspective on how Sicily became the quirky place is is today.

A MUST read for Mike D'Antuono and
Chris Pagliaro, two Sicilian-American friends back in California.

This book follows the constant invasions and dominance of the island by a wide variety of civilizations that have each woven their mark into the tapestry of current day Sicilian life.

Sicily over the last 3,000 years has been ruled by, in order, the Greeks, the Romans, the Vandals, the Goths, the Byzantines, the Muslims, the Normans, the Hohenstaufens, the Spanish, the Bourbons and the Savoy Kingdom of Italy.  Each civilization has added to the advancement of the Sicilian people and their influences can still be seen in the customs, architecture and food of the island.

As great and informative as this book was, it was written in 2006 before, possibly, the greatest technological advancement in Sicilian history...

... The PosteItaliane

Those of you who followed my blog last year may recall the adventure that was any trip to the Aci Castello branch of the Italian Post Office and it's unique form of extra sensory perception queuing.  Basically, only the first three people actually stood in line with the other 20+ just scattered around the room intuitively knowing who they followed and knowing when to actually get in the 3 person line.  Of course, no one told me and I just joined the line causing a near international incident that almost required U.N. intervention.

So yesterday, I walked into the Post Office to mail Andy and Jenn three DVDs of the wedding photos and videos that we all took.  I asked who was last in my line for postage issues only (there are other lines for paying utility bills and traffic/parking fines).  The people said only the two people already in line so I queued up.  When I got to the front of the line the postal employee asked me for my number... NUMBER?

Since I left Catania last year one of the most important technological advancements in Sicilian history had taken place without my knowledge... "TAKE A NUMBER"

In the photo above you see the yellow number dispenser on the lower right.  You press the appropriate button for the line you need and voila you have your high-tech number!

IT GETS BETTER... then you sit back and read the big board with the red and green lights to see which number they are serving in your appropriate line... SLICK AS SNOT!!!

I wonder how many pages Sandra Benjamin will add to her Sicilian history book's first revision to chronicle this incredibly significant advancement?

Wasn't George Jugum #49?

After the epiphany at the Post Office, I wandered around town in a daze for several hours, taking random pictures of whatever caught my glazed over eyes.

Dried Grapes on #49's Walls

Paul got me to drive, not walk into Catania

Here you see him in a Cafe looking at his guide book for things to see today.

Paul thought that an espresso might shock me back to normal

As usual, he was right!

First stop, Catania's Roman Theater

Closed for repairs as were the St. Moritz Pasticceria, the Menza Ristorante and the Museum of the 1943 Sicilian Invasion.

Paul checking out San Nicolo l'Arena

Built on the site of a Benedictine monastery, it now houses the Catania University's Faculty of Letters and Philosophy.

Established in 1434 as Sicily's first University

C.U.'s campus is spread out at sights all over the city.

C.U.'s citywide campus has many very ornate buildings.

Drafty but VERY Interesting

On the wall outside the entrance to C.U. is this tribute the die-hard Forza Catania calcio/soccer team and their Curva Nord Ultra Fans

"Freedom Ultras Passion and Violence"

"Curva Nord Versus Everyone"

Ninety percent of all the graffiti in Catania deals with either calcio/soccer, politics or pleas of undying love.

Catania's former Cardinal Dusmet

I'm guessing that we won't have to worry about her between the legs dribble move...

Just Another Church


By walking around Catania in the afternoon, something we rarely did last year, we discovered all sorts of passageways that were open that we had never seen at night.

Whatever Flavor This Is, I'm NOT Buying Any!!!

Art Show at the Palazzo Valle

No pictures allowed of the Degas, Mapplethorpe, Matisse and Picasso art amongst many other artists and I honored their request but still took some shots out their windows.


Manchester United 0 - Inter Milan 0

After a long day of being a tourist in our own town of Catania, Paul and I agreed on dinner out in Aci Trezza in an establishment that was new to me, Chili Peppers American Bar Pizza and Pub.  He wanted to go for the food and I agreed to try it when I saw their sign outside saying that they were showing the Man U vs. Inter Champions League game.  Who would have guessed a 0-0 final result?

At the end of this titanic showdown, they aired highlights of the Champions League Roma at Arsenal game.  The Gunners killed them 1-0!


Gayleannie said...

Can't wait to be a tourist in "your" town!!

Laurie said...

I can't wait to get there, and WE can't wait for your visit, either!!! I leave three weeks from today!!!

Claud said...

3 things.

1.May i borrow your book?It would be an intresting reading for me as well.

2.Next time you need to mail something at the Post Office in Acicastello,do it the sicilian way:go there,look for Signora Buemi and tell her you know her son Claudio(a good friend of mine).No line or number for you ever again.
We hook u up.

3. "Fabrizio vive" is a tribute to a young ultras kid who died while following CataniaCalcio team during an away game in L'Aquila.

George said...


Of course you can borrow the book and thanks for the Post Office tip plus the insight on Fabrizio.

I'll make sure that Cristoforo continues to say he is sorry politely every time he pass interferes with you on Saturday.


Loren Brucker said...

Interesting how the mind of a man in a daze wandering about town works. George Jugum #49? So, I reference the game program dated September 16, 1967, Nebraska vs. Washington at Husky Stadium and in fact George Jugum's number is 49. Also listed and pictured in that same program is #52, 6'-1", 210lbs, sophmore from San Marino, California, Center George Contreras. Included in the roster for the opposition that day are these two names of interest: #66,
6'-1", 239lbs, senior all-american middle guard from Bay City, Michigan, Wayne Meylan and #33,
6'-0", 235lbs, senior linebacker from Burgettstown, Pa., Barry Alvarez.

George said...

They were both just a little better than me.