An Italian Experience


I confess that a part of the joy of this day, not the only part or even the best part, was the knowledge that my brother Bob would experience real envy at my getting meet so many wonderful people. Stephanie’s cousin invited us to lunch with them at their country cottage, set into a Sicilian hillside many generations ago, overlooking the village of Mezzojuso pictured to the right as seen from the spot where everyone is standing in the  picture on the left.

Our host, Johny [his spelling], spoke conversational English, as did two others. Otherwise, we were on our own—mono-lingual Americans. (I like to presume that foreign speakers will presume my other language is French, or Spanish, or Swahili, but bilingual people know that non-Americans always carry a language brief of the countries they visit.)

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From upper left, Rick Rogers, son of dentist, girlfriend of dentist, mother of young girl, 95-year-old survivor of German prison camp, dentist, daughter of dentist, father of young girl (I hope), young girl, Rod, me. Missing are the two hosts, Stephanie, and a hired hand. Apparently, they were making the meal we were about to eat.

The table was set outside. Rod and I agreed to sit separately, though only a few people spoke English. My dinner partner was a tall, handsome, college student with pretty good English and marvelous eyes. He is studying math at Pisa University. I could go on…

The food was exceptional—duh, this is Italy. Two kinds of fish, tuna and swordfish, were pan seared with an olive, tomato, caper, mint sauce. I am sure the cook had other secrets not divulged. The fish was served with side dishes of caponata (eggplant with celery and what must be myriad spices), sliced zucchini saluted in oil and spices, and a generous basket of Italian bread. I accepted a second helping of fish and found that I was finishing my meal last! I wonder how long they will talk about that fat American who could not stop eating? The feast was rounded out with prickly pear cactus peeled and lightly sweetened in ways I cannot guess, watermelon, various Italian cookies, and outstanding coffee.

After lunch, our host guided everyone to an abandoned monastery where a few devoted artisans work to restore ancient artworks and old books. They are particularly proud of a printed anthology of Plutarch, including his Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans, which is printed in fine-lettered Greek. It is believed to be one of only two copies extant, the other is in the Louvre. Odd that the book is being so man-handled by a restoration expert.

This will be a day long-remembered and something that other travelers cannot match. We left the group, who were headed for gelato, to drive on to Agrigento before dark.

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One response to “An Italian Experience”

  1. Jealous is an understatement but I’ll get over it and it doesn’t change the fact the I’m wishing you all the best trip of your life. St. Thomas yesterday, Tortola today, and Nassau on Friday. We’re on limited Wi-Fi access so you won’t hear much from me on your travels until I return home, essentially on Sunday. Keep the news and pictures coming and I will eventually respond.

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