Potpourri & The Sixteenth Week in Sicily

The alarm clock rang this week too, but fortunately, not at 5 a.m. The trips were few, but didn`t lack beauty and a little bit of crazy stuff, as some would say. My first destination was Vittoria, an unexpected experience with … our coach from Focsani. Then came Tindari, the lagoon that inspired Quasimodo and lastly, when less expected, in the cool evening, going for a walk in the port I came across a flash mob – a lot of people were dancing Argentinian tango in the street.

As I was saying, this week I went around Sicily by a Romanian coach, Robin Group from Focsani – this is the company from where I bought the plane tickets and whose coach comes in Italy weekly, passing through Messina, Catania and Vittoria. I asked the drivers, Florentiu and Catalin, to take me with them, this being an opportunity for me to admire the views and the towns, especially Vittoria, which lies on the other side of Sicily, in the south-west. The scenery was indeed magnificent along the coast up to Catania, but from there to Vittoria, crossing Sicily, there wasn`t much to see; only plains that look very much like ours, but greener, maybe. We made a short halt at Catania to take some people, but I didn`t have time to visit the town – I had already seen it, anyway. In Vittoria I had two hours only to see the town, which I did in the biggest hurry ever, since I walked from the coach station to the center. I was disappointed in the end, and my extreme thirst for touristic wealth wasn`t really quenched as I hoped it would. Even if on the map the town is marked as being rather big, Vittoria is much simpler and poorer than everything I had seen till then. The town was founded by countess Vittoria Colonna in 1607 so its architecture is old and quite poor, but this is what makes it beautiful if you have an eye for the old. Finally, I reached the main points of interest and I photographed some imposing and interesting cathedrals: Madonna delle Grazie, 1754, the Town Theatre, neoclassic buildings and  Madre Church also called San Giovanni Battista – patron saint of the town. I breathed in the provincial air of the town with the same narrow streets that characterize the whole of Sicily and then I rushed to catch the coach lest it shouldn`t have left without me. Although I didn`t see as much as I had expected, it was a very pleasant experience, the first of the sort, and I had a good time in the company of my friends from Focsani chatting about all kind of Romanian trifles that somehow mellowed my homesickness. Anyway, you won`t find many people travelling around Sicily like crazy, as I did …

As a counterbalance, I evaded at Tindari, a historical locality in Patti bay, an hour journey by coach from Messina. Named Tyndaris to honour Tindari, the king of Sparta, the locality is less known by tourists and the main attraction points are up on the rock with a view over the bay and the lagoon-shaped beach.

The Shrine of Madonna Nera in Tindary is an imposing building right on the edge of the rock, overlooking the whole village underneath. It houses Madonna`s (Saint Mary`s) miracle maker statue, an antique cedar wood sculpture that attracts millions of pilgrims asking for Madonna`s help. Behind this shrine, there is another one, small and old, offering a beautiful panorama of the beach and the bay. There are important archeological vestiges of the old town of Tyndaris that can still be seen today: the defense wall of the city, the Greek theater, the basilica, the baths, and several houses with precious mosaics. I managed to “steal” only a few photos of the archaeological site because the time spent in Tindari was limited (1 hour and a half) and I also wanted to see the other beautiful things I had read about. So I ran to see the famous beach, the beautiful lagoon that inspired writer Salvatore Quasimodo apparently due to its shape, with its small portions of inland water that change shape according to the movement the of sand caused by the tide. Known as Marinello or the dry sea, the beach has its legend according to which it seems to have formed on the place where a child fell from the terrace of the shrine but miraculously escaped alive. From the terrace of a restaurant I had the best view of the entire beach, whose sand is very fine and which I would have liked to feel under my bare feet. But time was too short, it was too hot outside and there were too many means of transport that I had to change to get down that far. Nevertheless, I can say that I am pleased that I got there and finally, let`s admit it, you can`t see it all during a lifetime.

Or … this is exactly what happens when you least expect it. Having strolled through the port one  evening (as I do every day because it’s chilly outside at this time of the day and you can`t really stay in anymore), I was on the point of heading home, when I saw a group of about 30 people installing a laptop and speakers and beginning to dance Argentine tango.  How could I possibly have missed such a thing? I approached and asked for permission to film and the one I suspected to be the dance instructor explained the reason for the flash mob: solidarity with Turkish and Greek dancers who had danced in the streets with gas masks over their faces to protest against the current political situation. The young and less young people who danced in the harbor were dancers from various schools of Argentine tango in Messina, but the event was repeated in Catania and other cities of Sicily and, apparently, as Antonio, the dance instructor, told me, at the Romanian National Library as well. I will ask again for confirmation, maybe I’m wrong and I did not understand Italian well … Anyway, I watched them for about an hour and I admired the beauty with which they treat one of the most beautiful types of tango in such a picturesque place as this. And of course, I attach the film made with my phone – that’s to apologize beforehand for the quality of the film uploaded on You Tube and the Potpourri website.

So, my dearest, as you can see, every week I get something new and beautiful and the days that follow will not be outdone, as announced, even if we have much work to do at CESV where there will be important elections at management level. But, as we all know, the more pleasant the atmosphere, the less tiring or stressful the work.

And now I`ll let you enjoy tangooooo monsieur!


 Translated by prof. Irina Bicescu – Potpourri member