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A Weekend in Sicily, Continued

After our late breakfast, we decided to hit a clothing store before everything shut down for the afternoon riposo (Italy’s version of the Spanish Siesta). Justin was in search of a men’s carryall (It’s not a purse, it’s European!) so we decided to hit Scaringi, a clothing store in Misterbianco that has a decent selection of Men’s clothing and accessories.

We struck out with the men’s carryall but look what I found in the parking lot!

Like I’ve said before, you just never know what you’ll run across in Sicily.

Isn’t this the scariest looking tree you’ve ever seen? It took about ten minutes of googling when we got home, but I figured out that this is a Floss Silk Tree. And guess what? They grow in San Diego, too! I guess I’d better watch my step when I get there!

The cool thing about this tree was the contrast between the frighteningly evil-looking trunk and bright beautiful flowers hanging off the branches. It was really quite amazing and I have no idea how I missed these trees all the other times I shopped there. If you’re interested, you can go check out some more spiky tree photos on my flickr page.

After shopping, we came back home for our own ‘riposo’ and decided to head out to Catania later in the evening to continue the quest for a decent man purse.

Riposo in Sicily generally lasts from 1 pm until 4 pm. Pretty much everything closes up except for restaurants and bars (I’m talking about espresso bars, not whiskey joints). And then most businesses grudgingly open their doors back up by around 4:30 or 5:00 and will continue to do business until about 8pm.

It’s a completely different lifestyle because many Italians are still working during a normal American dinner time. Dinner time here is 9 pm or later and most restaurants will not even be open before 8 pm. It’s not uncommon for large groups of people, kids in tow, to come rolling into a restaurant at 10 pm or later on a weeknight.

So what do Sicilians do in the evening when most Americans are eating dinner or passed out in front of the TV?

They walk.

They shop for dinner.

They sell vegetables.

They bake bread.

I love wandering around Catania after dark. The city comes alive. The dirtier, crumbling aspects of the city disappear with the sun and streetlights bring alive baroque details along side streets and in shadowed courtyards.

It’s always a shock to my system to walk inside one of Catania’s modern department stores after first wandering the dark cobblestone streets. But we were still in search Justin’s carryall, so into Coin we went! I will miss Coin not because of the clothing (I don’t fit into most Italian clothing), but because of their housewares department! They have the coolest kitchen stuff and every time I go there, I find something different! Oh, and they have good shoes too 😉

We did eventually find a bag for Justin, and then it was time for pizza!

The restaurant was too dark to take photos of our actual pizza, but I did manage to get a shot of their pizza kitchen on the way out. I would love to have one of these ovens in my house!

While we were eating pizza, it started raining. At first it was nice because we were sitting on the second floor, and our table was next to an open door that led out to a covered terrace. We could hear the rain and it was relaxing. And then it started raining harder.

And then it rained harder.

Then it was raining so hard that the rain was coming in the restaurant so we had to close the door. I didn’t think much about it until it came time to leave. As we were walking down the stairs we noticed a group of people gathered around the exit.

It was then we realized that we were trapped. You see, the streets in Sicily don’t drain. When it rains hard, the streets turn into rivers. Since it’s been a while since I’ve experienced it, I had forgotten how bad it can get. The water outside the door had risen so much that we would have had to wade through it. But, the restaurant owner quickly took care of the problem.

They somehow managed to build a bridge to get us across the water to a dry patch. It wasn’t until we crossed the makeshift bridge that we saw the real problem.

Remember the photo earlier in the post, where people are walking down the street? Well, this is the same street a couple of hours later. Again, we were trapped. We huddled under the umbrella we purchased from one of the enterprising street vendors who were out wading in the water and I managed to take a few photos. But we saw some crazy things that I wasn’t able to photograph.

We saw restaurants and stores flooded, cars and scooters stalled in the road, an old woman bravely wading across the river (street) with water up above her knees, two friends fall into a manhole at the same time (the lids of the manholes had been washed away).

It was crazy. Ambulances and fire trucks were everywhere. All of this had happened in the time it took to eat some pizza.

Luckily, the rain slowed and the water started to recede after a few minutes. We did have to wade through some ankle-deep water a few times as we made our way back to the car but at least we didn’t fall into any manholes!

So that was our Saturday.

If you haven’t already, don’t forget to read part one of A Weekend in Sicily.

More pumpkin recipes coming up!