New York City Blog March 24 – March 29

 

Ever been to the underworld? Ever read The Inferno? I’m feeling the afterglow of Sicily and all its classical illusions: temples to Persephone and to Heracles; churches that were once dedicated to Minerva.
Agrigento. Hercules's Temple

Agrigento. Heracles’s Temple

In NYC we’re lacking in classical ruins but we do have a version of the underworld and it’s called the Chelsea Market. Unlike Hades these are shops burrowed into the cavernous ninth avenue structure. Virgil would have had a field day. Chelsea Market’s dark, uneven, winding corridors are crowded with people milling about looking determined or lost. I was among the lost circling back and forth in the semi-darkness, searching for Buon Italia. As I passed the euphemistically called waterfall that resembles an open drain, I found it, finally. What a shop. With a low ceiling and no windows, packed with Italian delicacies and knowledgeable employees it seemed other worldly, a magical apparition. My quest was to find Sicilian goodies. Working my way through my 401K, I bought different cheeses:  Ainuzzi, caciocavallo ragusano, caciotta, canestrato vacchino, peccorino. I planned on serving them with different kinds of honey: Fiora Alpina, with the consistency of floor wax, Aneto, Mandarino, Cardo and mostardas such as pumpkin. The Sicilians often serve this instead of dessert. My final indulgence was a lovely serpent green olive oil.

New York City Blog March 17 – March 23

This time last week I was packing my bags in Agrigento and heading to Palermo. On March 17, wearing green earrings, I returned from Sicily having been there for two weeks.

The Palermo Cathedral was erected in 1185

The Palermo Cathedral was erected in 1185

I knew something was a foot (pace Sherlock) on my first day back in NYC at the Y pool. Our water exercise instructor showed up with luscious locks and wearing lipstick. Katie Couric was in the building!  We were going to  be filmed. We started stripping off shower caps that some wear in lieu of bathing caps. We practiced smiling. First, the advance person got into several huddles with our instructor. We, like kindergarten children, had been told to do a particular exercise to keep us busy. Then four men arrived. One was holding a sound instrument, another a pad, another a camera and, finally, one to give directions. Our instructor sprang into action. Exhorting us in a jolly way through a series of exercises while the Couric staff recorded this seemingly impromptu session.They weren’t required to take off their street shoes, unlike the rest of us.

It sure wasn’t Sicily.  Going back to Italy is stepping into a time warp. I lived there for eight years and have gone back and forth for years, dragging physical and mental baggage with me.

On March 3, four of us coming from different parts of the States, beat the predicted snow storm and arrived in Palermo. Our hotel had a cage like elevator with swinging doors that had to be adjusted just so before it chugged its way to our bed and board, run by a charming man who started the pensione because he couldn’t find work.This was a light motif of our trip: Sicily’s high unemployment.
We four had skills that dovetailed: one person who drove well and loved driving in Sicily, one who managed the finances fairly and efficiently and read maps well, one who kept us abreast of the historical significance of the sights and kept an eye on the wild flowers and one who spoke Italian.
We went to the Norman Byzantine twelfth century Cathedral of Monreale, outside of Palermo. In addition to the wonderful mosaics, it’’s possible to climb to the roof and look down at the cloister.
Monreale Cathedral is packed with wonderful mosaics

Monreale Cathedral is packed with wonderful mosaics

Catania was our next stop. The Roman amphitheater was one of the highlights. We drove to nearby Etna, covered in snow.
Etna covered in snow. No smoke in sight

Etna covered in snow. No smoke in sight

On to Enna, the navel of Sicily, which we stayed in to visit the Villa Romana del Casale, a hunting lodge built in 4 AD. The mosaics are evocative of a time long gone: charioteers, figures crowned with laurel, girls doing exercises, hunting scenes.
Aerobics, 4 A. D. at Villa Romana Del Casale

Aerobics, 4 A. D. at Villa Romana Del Casale

The Ortygia island is part of Syracuse. This is where we stayed, surrounded by water and history.
Out our hotel window in Syracuse on the Ortygia island

Out our hotel window in Syracuse on the Ortygia island

 

Remains of the temple of Castor and Pollux, Agrigento

Remains of the temple of Castor and Pollux, Agrigento

 

Agrigento was our last stop before heading back to Palermo and the States.

Have an espresso. You deserve it.
Salute!

Salute!

New York City Blog Feb. 23 – March 1

Musings

No service from Verizon has turned into a benefit. I’m up close with my cell and realizing I don’t need a land line, but what lousy service. There was the promise of a repair person who never materialized and no notification from Verizon. I have been without the land line since Feb. 23 and it won’t be restored until March 8, plenty of time to whine and plot an escape.

A watery scene at 34th Street

Isn’t Chris Christie interesting? He’s a hometown boy. Attended a local school and a local law school. He not only knows New Jersey, he knows how to manipulate it.
 IMG_0927
Are you tired of de Blasio’s photo ops of shoveling snow or shoveling earth at the building of a new school. What’s with hard hats? Why do politicians and billionaires love to wear them? The Honorable de Blasio claims to want to bring the two cities together. By appointing five new members who are sympathetic to renters to the Rent Guidelines Board he will have a golden opportunity.
 IMG_0926
Have you been watching 30 Days of Oscar on Ted Turner? The things you notice in movies. For instance, in Casablanca Humphrey Bogart and Paul Henreid didn’t go through one scene without a cigarette.
 IMG_0925
A contemporary entry, Her, has the voice of Scarlet Johansson. I thinks it’s a clever cheat. Her well known voice conjures a beautiful woman who looks like Scarlet Johansson. She’s also the infamous Scarlet Johansson, promotor of SodaStream, whose main factory is based in Mishor Adumim, an Israeli settlement in the West Bank.
 The four tiles are in Penn Station.