Monday, January 5, 2009

The worst...

This quality of life poll ranks the 20 regions of Italy, with Valle d'Aosta coming in 1st (apparently the pigs must climb onto the table and salt-cure themselves up there). Our beloved homeland, Sicily? Dead last in 20th place.

That's ok - we never thought to consult one of these so-called "reports" or "fact-based studies" before we decided to leave the States. Sicily continues to be a mystifying place - everyday we find ourselves bouncing from bewilderment to laughter, from frustration (with learning a new language, with the maniac drivers, with the constestants on Affari Tuoi who keep pressing their luck despite the generosity of the dottore) to enchantment (catching a glimpse of an elegant past or discovering a new favorite "gelato burger" place.

We are starting to understand more and more how difficult the life is here for a lot of people - we haven't even traveled into the interior yet. A new friend, Luigi, who we met at a party on New Years Eve, suddenly broke from the evening's theme of levity when we asked him about getting to know the real Sicily. Luigi had a sweet, calm way about him, but he dropped his smile and politely told us that we could never understand what Sicily is truly like. (We'd had some wine at this point, so I am paraphrasing) "Life here is hard. Everyone will be nice to you, because this is our way. But there isn't always work and the people struggle." The conversation lightened almost immediately when Giuseppe, our neighbor in town, asked us how we (Americans, because now we represent the nation) could possibly stomach coffee and bacon in the morning (breakfast here is coffee and maybe a pastry). But we got the point from Luigi - enjoy our time here in Sicily. Enjoy discovering this beautiful and beguiling part of Italy. There is much to see here, the history, the food, the people. We're not quite tourists and we're not quite Sicilian. We're safe enough to enjoy the wonders of Sicily, but close enough to feel some of the sadness creeping in...

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