Saturday, July 31, 2010

Marzamemi and wild white beaches

We were supposed to go to Stromboli for a 2-day break before the high season kicks in and we'll have no more days off until September. But the weather got quite stormy and the sea was going to be rough for the crossing so at the last minute we cancelled, and opted for Marzamemi and the wild white beaches of Southern Sicily (near Syracusa). There's an international film festival on there in this quaint fishing village, with screens up in the main piazza and side streets. There is now a motorway the whole way there basically, so we were there in 2.5 hours, fantastic. After Catania the terrain changes, becoming lower and smoother, more open fields cultivated for vineyards, olive groves, hay, wheat etc and then around Marzamemi there are km and km of stretches of greenhouses – all semicircular, low-lying for the melons and higher arches for the Pachino tomatoes. I was most disappointed to discover that the Pachino,or cherry tomatoes are not indigenous to Pachino, as it would seem; but rather have been genetically modified to become the small sweet burst of juicy flavour that they are! And of course they don’t really have a season since they are greenhouse products.

Our agriturismo was in the middle of such fields with lovely views over vineyards, wheat fields, Pachino greenhouses and the sound of birdsong, very peaceful, and only five minutes drive from Marzamemi – and Pachino, not that there is much reason to go to Pachino.

We arrived 3.30ish since we found it really hard to get up on Monday morning. Our aiuto cuoco didn’t come to work Sunday night - had a fever - the Italian male phenomenon of the fever – and mia suocera was in Montalbano on holiday, so of course, as we should only have expected, it was our busiest night in months, and we were all run off our feet. The bad weather helped; everyone came to dine at ours because we have good space inside. A table of 12 in the side room who didn't book (of course not. Upstairs filled quickly, and downstairs tables had several sittings. Only one waiter. Our lavapiatti (dishwasher guy) tried to give a hand as aiuto cuoco but on his third Panini when he only had two orders in front of him, he was already in state of panic so mio marito had to keep checking in on the kitchen. The cuoco stayed calm and worked his way methodically though all the orders; I have to say there were no complaints, no mistakes and indeed several compliments, though a few tables did ask about their delay for their food, but all good natured. UNfortunately a table of 5 of our good friends were the last to order and so had quite a long wait. When we ARE actually busy we probably give the impression of being completely unprepared. Bad luck. I had to stay until 2am and mio marito later. My whole body ached with the effort of carting food and trays up and down the stairs so I was wrecked. But we got our delicious cappuccino on Monday morning at Bar Alexander, the best cream croissant in town.

We headed straight ot San Lorenzo and got sandwiches on the beach and the lido and then lay on the sand but we didn’t even get a swim because it clouded over dramatically with huge sweeping grey rainclouds and we all left the beach when the first drops fell. The sky was clear towards Marzamemi so we headed there for a stroll, lovely it looked in the evening light. The blue fishing boats in the tiny port, and the old stone building where all the cute bars are tucked away. Very pretty and picturesque. Got seated at Suruq, a cute bar on the piazza with great views of the screen. There was quite a breeze and it felt quite chilly, amazing after the tremendous heat and humidity of the last week in Milazzo. Depressing French film about immigration, called Welcome. But nice to be in the piazza. After there was an old Italian comedy about a man who collects sounds for the special effects on cartoons, so funny. Volere Volare. The next night the protagonist was sitting beside us!

Tuesday was a fabulous day on the Isola delle correnti (the Mediterranean and the Ionic Sea meet - the Med beach has choppy waves and lots of kite surfing, and the Ionic beach is calm with little breeze), beautiful beaches. We went to Pachino first in search of a newsagent. What a horrible town. Takes forever to get though it because of a weird oneway system weaving up through the high part of town, it is all built on a steep incline and the streets have no markings to let you know who has right of way. Run down houses with crumbling fronts, petrol stations in centre of town. Three old ladies gathered in the entrance ot a house fanning themselves, dressed identically in their below the knee smock dresses. Old men smoking in the piazza. Have never seen so many old people smoking. Also at our agritusimo, snow white hair, no teeth and a cigarette at the granny and the old granda’s lips.

Also had great walks on Caracois beach, just 4km from Isola delle Correnti down a dirt track. huge long wild beach with long white waves. Great beach for kite surfing. Two chiringuito beach bars but it was too windy to sit for an aperitivo. This beach is full of falò - bonfires - on the Night of San Lorenzo 10 August, we were there a couple of years ago gazing at the night sky to spot shooting stars aong with everyone else.

Best beaches in Sicily here.

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