We left Ancona Central Station at 8am – 11 hours later, we arrived in Tonnarella, Sicily. It was a long journey from Ancona. But… it was worth it.
After collecting our bags at Catania airport, we walked out into the arrivals hall, and waiting for us was none other than my cousin, Carmelo – I hadn’t seen him for years.
We waited at the airport for another hour or so as my father, Gregory (or Gregorio as he calls himself in Italy) was on his way from Rome. We spent the hour catching up with Carmelo over coffee and pizza.
Gregory arrived, strolled out into arrivals with his friend Kevin (photo below), very pale white skin and a cool hat – he was in holiday mode. It was interesting waiting for my dad to arrive, perspective wise. Only an hour ago my perspective was that of Greg’s, now it was the opposite – this was the first time in months that someone, a group of people were coming to visit us.
My Mum was already in Italy – she flew the ‘kids,’ my Nonno and Nonna over a few weeks prior so they could acclimatise (which they did thank god!). Mum was waiting at Tonnarella – it was so nice to be with my folks again. I’d only spent just under 2 weeks with them in 7 months.
We spent the next few days exploring my Nonno’s old stomping ground – the Island of Salina. It’s probably my favourite or top three islands in the world. It’s simply beautiful and so local. It was nice having my Nonno talk to us about where he was born – there was and still is a real sense of pride about where he came from and who he is now; his journey. Both Dad and I spoke about the this bar we went to years ago weeks before he got to Italy, it was our sole mission of the trip to reacquaint ourselves with this bar overlooking the med. We’d been there 15 years prior and wanted to relive the memory. We found it, it was still open and the granite was just as good.
Carmelo had lived with my folks in Australia for over a year so there was a pre-existing connection between the three of them. Carmelo’s parents took a few days off to spend some time with us – we made our way to San Vito lo Capo and spent a few days there relaxing, eating and exploring. Carmelo’s brother, Mirko also met us there – I hadn’t seen him for 15 years. It was a holiday within a holiday.
After returning from San Vito lo Capo, Carmelo only had a few days left before he started a new job up north in Turin. He only had a week or so off – I was pretty keen to spend us much time with him as possible. Carmelo is from Bafia, a tiny village (<500 people) about an hour from the beach in the mountains – we spent a few nights up there, drinking and chilling out with Carmelo, his brother and their friends. Their usual hangout was a friend‘s ancestor’s deserted house. It was horror movie cool. I even managed to quickly learn a few Italian songs on the guitar so they had some music to sing along to.
Carmelo and I made plans to catch up one more time in Italy – maybe Ferrara or Turin, not sure where yet, but it was going to happen. After Carmelo left my attention moved to my folks and spending some quality time with them.
We made our way over to Lipari, where my Mum was born, and spent a night there. I’d been to Lipari when I was a youngster, and it was nice being back there with my folks as an adult this time, I was excited. We cruised around parts of the Island on my cousin’s boat, visited different towns on the island, had dinner with the relatives etc, it was a busy day. The highlight was watching my Nonno try to contain one of the cousin’s mischievous 4 year olds that was walking all over him… she even threatened him with a fork. I’m not joking. It was hilarious and nice to see my Nonno interact (negotiate) with children that spoke his language.
After getting back to the mainland, the four of us (Bianca, Mum, Dad and I) finally had a few days were we could chill on the beach and spend some quality time together. And that we did. It was interesting listening to what they had to say about what was going on back in Australia: The Election, news, family updates, what they were up to. I noticed how things essentially don’t really change back home… we all do the same thing, follow the same path, and talk about and do the same things. Hell, I was doing it before I left. It’s just what you do. And now, here we were traveling the world doing something different, it reminded me to be grateful for the opportunity we had.
Mum and Dad left early in the morning to make the +2hr journey back to the airport – we woke up early to say our goodbyes. We wouldn’t seem them for maybe +7 months. It was difficult saying goodbye. I’ll miss them but I’m grateful for them coming to see us and for the memories we created together.