Sunday Sept 15, 2013
After breakfast on the outside terrace of our hotel, Monica and I bought some cookies at the farmers market set up in the piazza in front of the hotel. We also bought a potted plant to take to Maria in Cesarò. Interesting that the farmer who sold us the cookies explained that they were made from the wheat on his farm outside of Sigonella.
After a walk to the supermercato to pick up some Coca Light and some detergent to wash clothes, we arrived back at the hotel by 10 o clock. By 10:15 we were on the way to Cesarò, although it took forever to get through Catania. It was a weekend and traffic was crazy.
Driving through the campagna, or countryside, of Italy, we noticed the cactus bearing fruit of prickly pear. We could also see Mt Etna looming high above us to the north. No train routes exist here on the way to Cesarò, and I could feel the elevation increase as we drove along SA 284. Every once in a while a house would be interspersed among the trees. The edge of the road was strewn with trash. Such a shame in a place with so much natural beauty. We passed vendors selling prickly pear, and cyclists out for a morning ride to Bronte.
We ended up driving through Bronte, apparently after taking a wrong turn, and the town was full of narrow winding streets, a lot like I remember Cesarò.
Finally we reached Cesarò and stopped at the Bar Central, the first place open, so we could use the restroom. Not such a pleasant place since there was no toilet paper. The GPS was not so accurate in helping us find Angela and Teresa’s parents’ home on via Piano Ramusa, but we finally arrived there at 12:30.
Maria was standing on the balcony smiling as we arrived and Teresa ushered us into their two-story home. Teresa had arrived yesterday and was cooking lunch for us, since her parents are in their 80’s.
It was helpful to have Teresa there to help translate since her parents only speak Sicilian. Lunch was fantastic, with rigatoni pomodoro, made with homemade sauce. The ample meal included sausage, figs, mulberries, grapes, tasty Sicilian bread Teresa brought from the panificio, and homemade red wine. It was so much better having a meal in their home rather than the terrible pizza that we had two years ago at Bar Saraniti.
With great care he showed us around the three-room home, and then outside, where he had almond trees, olive trees, a persimmon tree, and more. Maria chewed on a piece of chicory Teresa picked for her. The scene here was one of tranquility and quiet. Il dolce far niente.
After almost an hour we said good-bye so we could spend a little time in the town and on via Monte Pieta, where our grandfather’s home was. I was disappointed when we found it, though, to discover that it now had a padlock on the door, and was told by some workers that the house was vacant.
My hopes for a look inside were dashed, but I still felt this strong connection to my ancestry as I stood on that sloped street and thought about what my grandfather’s life must have been like in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Sobering.