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“Take the Cannolis”

The healthy days: an incident in Sicily …

Our guidebook was right. It was beautiful, and nearly deserted. As we slowly walked up the rocky path toward this celestial beach in Eloro, Sicily, I gave no thought to the fact that I had just left my wallet inside our rental car, which was parked just beyond an isolated dirt road. Instead, I thought only of swimming the ocean’s blue waters and frolicking in the sand with my loved one. After all, my wallet would be safe inside a car that was under Mother Nature’s gaze. Why would I risk having it lay naked on a beach towel while swimming at a magical, intimate beach?

… “How did you just open that door?” I said.

“It was already open, you must have hit unlock by accident.” I calmly opened the back door of our rental car and reached for my bag, which was unzipped. My clothes were strewn on the backseat floor. I immediately checked to see if all my other items were in place. As I emptied out the rest of the contents from my travel bag like a crazed meth addict, it hit me.

I slammed my fist off the seat. “Oh Fuck. No, No!” I paused and then said to my wife, “Someone broke in. Someone broke in.” The back door panel of the car was busted, the window pulled forward.

We took a step back and examined the scene from afar: there was a small field of dirt; all but one conveniently-located, neighboring vehicle; and acres of Sicilian brush. My wife had warned me that the burglarizing of tourists’ cars is a national pastime in Italy. I was a believer now, whether I liked it or not.

We searched inside the car two more times, on the ground outside the car, and along the perimeter of the woods. Niente. My money, my credit cards, my licenses, my train tickets, my health insurance card, and my pride—all were gone.

Still searching outside the car and refusing to give up after some time, I took a brief moment to look ahead. Walking right towards us was a suspicious, nosy old man with a bad mustache and Mitch Buchannon beachwear. I could tell right away, he wanted to play detective. Not even a minute went by and I found myself watching this Italian man and my wife converse in French—both pointing and gesturing, as I stood there, confused as hell. He walked over to his car—the only other car and parked directly next to ours—and unlocked it. No problems on his end. The thieves were evidently pretty choosy bastards. Was it a fortunate exclusion? A timely escape? Regardless, I wanted to lunge at him, toss him to the ground. The verbal French affair would soon end and the man would be on his way, and we would be left standing there in wonder. I felt like I had just been kicked in the nuts.

Our suspect turned out to be somewhat useful, however, as he left us with one little piece of information: Eloro did not have a police station. We’d have to travel back to the town of Noto, Sicily, if we wanted to file a police report. So that’s exactly what we did. And it was like a movie script from hell.

“We’re not the first this has happened to,” said my wife, “and we’re certainly not going to be the last.”

“Yeah,” I said, my listless body nearing death from the post-traumatic stress.

For almost a full hour and with darkness nearing, we drove around the town’s cluttered streets in an effort to find the Carabinieri (police), even making a wrong turn down a shady dead end street where a small clan could be seen drinking liquor, Boyz n the Hood style. Two little kids on bicycles rode right up to our car as I desperately tried to negotiate a three-point turn. “I can’t see the other kid. Where is he?” I said while steering the car in reverse.

“Just go. Who cares about him, he can see. Let’s get out of here, will ya!” said my wife.

“Good enough,” I thought to myself. I punched the gas, nearly picking the kid off with the front of my vehicle, and sped out of there. We discovered the great Carabinieri moments later, but not before feeling stressed out and mentally drained.

With our Fast Talk Italian book and eight words of English exchanged between the three of us, my wife and I told our story to the officer, an affable man whose dark features and navy uniform gave him the appearance of a militant commander. The look on my face presumably told more than words could have, as we were promptly given a pen and police form; and with the sanction of the officer, we recorded the incident. My wife was our resilient leader, as I fell by the wayside, sitting on the waiting room sofa like a man who had just been freshly defeated on the battlefield. Hunger was also staring me dead in the face and the anticipation of an OK from the officer’s superior was torturous. But we got through it, and the Sicilian law dogs proved to be on our side. Now all we had to do was hightail it back to our resort for some comfort food.

“They can knock us down, but we’ll just keep getting up. They’ll try to break our spirits, but we’re not gonna let them,” I sermonized to my wife. She looked at me like I was an idiot as we sat on our hotel room bed contemplating whether to use the car for a trip to Mt. Etna and Taormina the following morning. We were gun shy, but understandably so. Still, after careful deliberation, we came up with a yes vote. (It’s pretty hard to stop a German on vacation and a determined, ignorant American.)

The decision to carry forward would be worth its weight in gold. On the last two days of our vacation, we steadfastly soaked up Sicily. There was some driving among the Italian daredevils, carefully avoiding all the renegade speedsters and a softhead who navigated through traffic on a scooter while simultaneously snacking on a panini; an earnest meeting with the formidable Mt. Etna, its cold, impressive face giving us a lasting impression of the devastation it’s capable of; some zipping up and down the beautiful Ionian coast, with a buoyant jaunt through the charming town of Taormina; cannolis and espressos and espressos and cannolis; the bumping of elbows with the locals in Ortygia’s bustling little fish market; and lounging by the pool among boisterous Italians who sipped their wine and laughed under the sun. It was grand. Grand, indeed.

Sicily—it gives you a mouth full, which is something to be savored, so as long as you don’t mind loud Italian talk and out-of-this world cannolis.


The beach.

ARUNDO DONAX (the Latin name of that giant grass growing there in the mid ground of your beach shot...)

"All is Gone".....another burglary? Hah- it seems we have any NUMBER of these.

- my husband told me the electronic sign on our highway, which did say:

For those of us who aren't Italian, what is a Canolli?
ARUNDO DONAX (the Latin name of that giant grass growing there in the mid ground of your beach shot...)

"All is Gone".....another burglary? Hah- it seems we have any NUMBER of these.

- my husband told me the electronic sign on our highway, which did say:

For those of us who aren't Italian, what is a Canolli?

Wow, a name for it. Cool!

Cannolis are quite the indulgence!

“Cannoli are Italian pastries consisting of tube-shaped shells of fried pastry dough, filled with a sweet, creamy filling usually containing ricotta—a staple of Sicilian cuisine.”

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