I set out with no goal today. Eventually, I sat in a small jazzy cafe, Il Gazsettino, Curtigghiu, in Catania Italy, while listening to my favorite vocal jazz classics through their speakers, and when I heard Carmen McRae over the speakers, I just relaxed and pulled out a book while waiting for my food.The staff spoke enough english that I could order a glass of the house wine and some pasta. Though the pasta wasn’t what I was hoping for, and in truth I am not exactly sure what that is because pasta is pasta, the ambience of sitting outdoors in a narrow ally was very appealing.

But being winter, the clouds were rolling in and you could smell rain in the air. The owners came out and suggested that I would “be more comfortable” inside. Very thoughtful because it began to pour rain about two minutes after. I entered, where I could feel local eyes peering my way with curiosity and the waitress asked where I’d like to sit… A little overwhelmed, I finally realized I was indecisive. Typically I am not so nervous, but in a country where, I speak zero Italian (yet), I suddenly clammed up.

A few older gentlemen, hands outstretched and with winks in their eyes, offered for me to dine with them. I would have loved to if we could communicate in any way, but Im not sure how we could. But it reminded me of the ‘old man club’ in Chipiona, Spain. The waitress swiftly chose a table for me and chastised them lovingly for flirting with a young American woman alone. That moment in itself was one of many examples of how kind hearted and welcoming Sicilian people are. Willing to welcome a stranger to their table and to break bread if you will. If Italy in general is in anyway like the city of Catania, I am very excited to move here. While absorbing my environment I can’t wait to share it with Andrew. Even if only for a few days. Next year we will finally get to live this European life together. Counting down…

Just yesterday the owner of the San Max Hotel, Max (of course), helped me find a gym to go workout in and the called his friend, Fabio, to take me there and back when I needed. I got to the gym where Andrea, who was the only english speaker that worked there, showed me around and thankfully they had a functional fitness room where I could do the workouts that I’d like to. After finding my bearings I was ready to work, but of course I forgot my headphones. For me, this is pure torture in a gym. And while doing my workout there were too many interruptions.
The Italians seem to love that I have the left side of my head shaved and would stop me, mid burpee, to tell me so. A man named Mossimo was very helpful when i was merely attempting to use hand gestures and body language to ask if I could use certain equipment to others by translating for me, but then also offered to be my tour guide in the city… A few times. Amusing, charming and a little too transparent, I thanked him and declined. I did however get a free gym day pass out of the exchange. Not sure if that makes me awful, but hey, it was €21 for one day at this fancy gym! That is insane. That’s roughly $30 kids… For one day!
After the gym, Fabio came to pick me up. If there is one observation I’ve noticed in two days of being in Sicily, it is that Italian men say exactly what they want to say and they obviously love women, if women are their preference of course. As I was about to leave, Andrea came to see how I enjoyed the gym, and as Fabio pulled up I shook Andrea’s hand and then climbed in the van.
The first thing Fabio said was, “You have a beautiful face, and I am sure the men in the gym now need to go to church and pray.” I chuckled and he said, “Courtney, you have a good soul, you wear your expressions on your face, and I can’t help but think you are a good person”. I couldn’t have been more succinctly flattered. Fabio, who is about Andrews height, with honest sleepy eyes, and an impressive knowledge of English, though he wouldn’t admit it, does tours through Sicily for a living. He offered, instead of taking me straight back to the hotel, that because it was my first time in Italy, to give a cultural gift of hospitality and to take me to try, arancini (try it, it’s amazing), an espresso and show me where the major monuments are, so that when I ventured out on foot, I will know where I am. He charged me only €7.50 (thank you Max) for two hours of basically a tour, plus stops for a cappuccino and food. He said he would love to take Andrew and I around this weekend for less than the price of a rental car because he enjoys being around good people. Really? Can Italy get better at this point?
I thought being here for a few days alone could be a bit, well, lonely. However, I have been blessed to meet all sorts of people. Some who are genuine and some not, but isn’t it interesting to know that instantly? For the parents reading this, have no fear, I am always on my guard and observing those around me (Breathe Dad). So, as I wrap up my meal here, the waitress brought me “Turkish Sausage”, which I thought was a funny name, but in truth it does resemble a sausage, and yet is instead a chocolate treat dusted in powdered sugar. Perfection.
And I’m spent… What’s next Italy? I’m ready. Time to take a walk in the rain.
Xox, Courtney