Part of traveling and living abroad is to learn things to take home with you…
It’s difficult to pinpoint what makes Sicily and especially Taormina so different from the rest of the places I’ve lived and traveled to. I could write forever about the warmth of the people, the sunshine, the food and wine…oh the food and wine! However after going back to the States then returning to Sicily I was able to narrow it down to 10 things that essentially sum up everything I’ve learned in the short 2 years i’ve lived here.
1. Family is the most important thing in your life.
Sicily has made me a firm believer that at the very least one day of the week should be dedicated to spending time and conversation together over a meal. Be it your family or a family, the sense of belonging, camaraderie, and love that fuels a family meal is an absolute necessity for health and happiness.
2. Work to Live, or Live to Work?
The choice is yours. Working to live seems more balanced to me. The US and many other countries have a different pace that makes us feel like we can’t find a balance between working and living. It takes the discipline to not let your work become your life, and thus requires a more balanced and clear mindset about what dreams you’re working towards.
3. An Aperol Spritz is the best aperitivo drink in the world.
2 parts Aperol
1 part Prosecco
1 part sparkling water
Ice and an orange wedge.
You’ll thank me later.
4. No matter how famous a country or town is for its food, no one does it better than a mom.
While the produce may be fresh and the chef world renowned, no one makes a better meal than a mom. If you want the real deal food experience find yourself a seat at the kitchen table. Your 5 star reservation can wait.
5. Every, yes EVERY, holiday is worth celebrating.
We’re all accustomed to Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years as holidays but did you know about Santa Rosalia, Santa Agata, and Ferragosto? The list goes on and on. If you find yourself in Taormina around these holidays, just plan on not accomplishing anything practical on any of these days. But that’s ok because not much practicality is needed to take a break and spend time with friends and family.
6. A dryer is a luxury. Clothes-lines and sunshine work just fine.
It takes a little getting used to, but hang-drying your clothes saves energy and helps your clothes last longer! The immediate gratification of having your clothes dry in 45 minutes is lovely, but unnecessary. You know you’re intergrating when you wake up in the morning, see sunshine and think “Yes! I can do my laundry.”
7. Truly great coffee has nothing to do with cream and sugar.
Great coffee comes in the form of a cup as tall as your thumb with contents you can swallow in two gulps. It’s dark and rich and completely enjoyable with a speck of sugar (if you can’t handle the richness). I’ve preached about this before but one word, Espresso.
8. Going to the beach is vitally important.
I would bet that Sicilians go to the beach more than any other population on the planet. Once summer season kicks in it’s time for the beach and every woman, man, and child tries and succeeds at going to the beach every single day. It doesn’t have to be an all day affair. It’s therapeutic and somehow fills you with a sense of inner peace.
9. Taking a walk makes everything better.
Lot’s of people believe that taking a drive can calm you down. Not the case when you live in a place like Sicily where driving is just plain insane. I’ve found that just taking a walk to clear your head is far more enjoyable than thinking about driving. It’s also the perfect excuse to do #8!
10. Yes, bread and ice cream are a completely acceptable breakfast.
I’ve mentioned this before but I’ll say it again. When you wake up on a hot summer day the first thing to do is go order granita and warm brioche. Do not underestimate the power of fresh bread dipped in any creamy, cold, icy caffé with fresh whipped cream …It beats a bowl of cereal or egg-mcmuffin any day.