Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Viva l'Italia! (Part 1 - Sicily)

So, yeah. My wife and I just got back from a trip to Italy, and it was INCREDIBLE. It was a long time coming--we'd basically been saving money for this trip since we got married in 2008--and it was worth every bit of the wait and the cashdollars we'd saved.

It was my wife's first time in Italy, but for me it was a return. I spent two years in southern Italy (2004-2005) as a missionary for the LDS Church. That was a powerful experience for me, and I've longed to return since the day I set foot on American soil. So going back was cool in all kinds of ways*, and I'd like to share some highlights with everyone. Now, I've never been a fan of long, drawn-out travelogues, so here's what I'm going to do: give you a bunch of pictures to look at, make brief comments on each of those pictures, and let your imagination do the rest. This first post consists of cities and locations in Sicily, and are all places I lived in and/or visited while I lived in Italy ten years ago. It was wonderful to go back, guys. Seriously. Walking the streets I walked back then, seeing familiar faces, hearing Italians argu-speak during their evening strolls...it was wonderful. The next posts will likely archive our journey as we moved north--and I'll dedicate the third post entirely to food, because we were in Italy and ate so much deliciousness. Enjoy!

(Disclaimer: I take no responsibility for the artistry or lack thereof of these photos; they were all taken with my iPhone, and all filters are strictly ironic in nature.)

Our journey began in Palermo, the jewel of the south and the capitol of Sicily...

Teatro Politeama, where we got off the bus from the airport. Our hotel was just around the corner.

Teatro Massimo--you may recognize this if you've seen The Godfather: Part 3.

Palermo's Duomo (Cathedral)--notice the giant advertisement, intended to raise money to help restore the Duomo.

Palermo's train/bus station. When I lived here ten years ago, I lived just around the corner.
We then continued to Erice, a tiny town on top of a mountain near Trapani...

To get to Erice, we took the funivia, or tram--a new addition since I was last there. The city in the background is Trapani.

They've done a lot of work restoring this tower. When I was in Erice ten years ago, it was nothing more than a ruin.

Being awesome.

Sicily, viewed from Erice.

The main keep of the castle in Erice.

Climbing the Duomo's bell tower.

This is legit Italy, people!

From there, our next stop was Agrigento and the Valle dei Templi...

Ruins of an ancient Greek temple.

Rachel lost a contact. So, you, know, naturally I had to help her find it. By lifting this boulder.

This dude was once the facade of a massive column, part of another Greek temple that once stood here. His junk eroded away long ago.
Whoever built this temple gets an award, because look, still standing.

More temples.

We meandered through some narrow stair-streets of Agrigento to find the Duomo. May or may not have gotten lost, but worth it.

And our last stop in Sicily was la bella Ragusa...

Funny how little kids aren't little kids anymore after ten years. Met up with Francesco and Vincenzo and their family while in Ragusa, and it was a blast.

I can't even remember the name of this church. Look, there are a lot of churches in Italy, okay?

Ragusa's surrounding countryside is beautiful. Typical Sicily.

The dome of the Duomo down in Ragusa-Ibla.

Rosanna, Giorgio, Maria, and Vincenzo again (Francesco took the picture). Loved seeing this family!
And there concludes our adventures in Sicily. Stay tuned for next time, where I think I'll be covering the Calabria and Puglia regions...!

* Incidentally, one of the ways it was cool was the fact that I was able to do some research for the Blood Queen series. Dark Immolation, the novel I've been writing for the past couple months, takes place on an island based on Sicily, for one. There are also parallels between the Cantic Church in my books and the Catholic Church, so it was a great experience to go back and visit cathedrals, duomos, and Vatican City. And, in general, Italy just has history. Just being there, feeling the thousands of years of stories that happened beneath my feet, was inspirational. So, as a writer, I got a lot out of it as well. I might do a more detailed post on this later on; we'll see what I can fit in.

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