Stepping off the plane in Palermo, Sicily we were greeted by towering mountains blanketed with thick white clouds. We made our way to the town of Trapani where we would spend the next week. On our first night we experienced traditional Sicilian foods such as Trapani-style couscous and caponata with a four course meal. We visited the hilltop town of Erice learning how to create Sicilian cookies with Maria Grammatico, a famous baker in the town for over 40 years. The cookies we created were made using almond flour. Sicily is known for its almonds, Maria takes great care in only purchasing Sicilian almonds. We spent a day taking a boat to some of the smaller islands off of Sicily where we visited an old tuna packing plant. We learned about the type of netting they used to use, simulating a coast line in order to trick the fish into capture. The next day we visited a farm where they grow olives to make olive oil. The particular farm we visited is owned by a man who is helping to run an AntiMafia organization where they encourage businesses not to pay protection money to the mafia known as the pizzo. Many of these businesses who do not pay the protection money to the mafia are threatened and vandalized. The restaurant where we ate lunch that day was a part of this movement, they have had their restaurant burned down twice. On our last day we visited a salt flat where they harvest salt from the sea, evaporating the water using a series of small lakes until all that is left is giant crystals of salt they break apart and harvest by hand in the sweltering August heat. Our last stop was Marsala where we visited the Pellegrino family winery were we tasted Marsala wine aged for 35 years. After a busy travel week in Sicily I am excited to start classes and see what the small medieval town of Ascoli Piceno has to offer!




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