Dave the motorhome remains steady, anchored alongside the small port of Syracuse, Sicily. He’s awaiting the festivities tonight, with some trepidation, as he dislikes loud bangs since they often mean a bit of him has fallen off.
Last night we headed over to the nearby burger van. Only it turns out it’s not a burger van, but a panini van, and a flipping well-attended one at that. During the day it sits there, sides closed, asleep. As evening falls the sides fold up like a nocturnal flower, white-clad men swarm over it setting up wind curtains and accepting a cow-sized meat delivery. Once the flat panel TV inside is set up, tuned in to a Serie A match and pointing towards the staff (the punters bending their necks to get a look) all’s ready for an evening’s panini-based action.
I’ve often wondered what is must be like for a non-Brit to walk into my local fish and chip shop and try to work out what’s going on. For one thing, ‘chips’ means ‘crisps’ in most parts of the world? We ask for a ‘bag’ of chips, but they’re wrapped in sheets of paper, not sold in a bag? The shop only sells two types of fish? And they’re in batter? And you can have a battered beefburger – seriously? Anyway, I have some idea now – the panini shop was as local as could be. We almost bought a horse-meat sandwich. Fortunately one of the staff who looked like an Italian-American in Saving Private Ryan spoke English and sorted us out with delicious chips (I had mine for breakfast) and a mozzarella and porchetta panini, with a tomato-slice-of-unknown-vegetable-sauce which he recommended, €6 the lot.
Today we’ve wandered the medieval town again behind us, the sunlight beaming down on the twisting old Jewish quarter (some of which is abandoned and rapidly returning to nature), a sardine-busy-Sicilian market and a tiny beach area good for an un-acknowledged stone-skimming competition with the locals. The place is, like everywhere in Sicily it seems, alive. Fishermen flogged their catch as soon as they untangled it from their nets this morning. Old men in dark caps and coats stood around coffee bars discussing who-knows-what. Fellow tourists, French, Americans and Italians mainly, amble about the streets with cameras, same as us, pointing them at the shaped stone and twisted metal fading signs of wealth of waves of past conquerors (including, oddly, the Normans).
Ju’s made a return appearance at the tourist office and discovered the centre of activity tonight will be the Piazza Duomo, the cathedral square, a beautiful little place. Even the local radio station will be out. Exciting stuff (especially after last year’s damp squib in Evora)! Before then there is some crabbing to be done. I spotted a chap earlier using a crab for bait, presumably aiming to fetch out an octopus or two. Depending on crabbing success, I may upgrade ambition. Although what I’d do with an octopus is anyone’s guess.
Happy new year everyone!
Jay (and Ju and Charlie)