Fresh Seafood, Rock Climbing and Sicilian Home-Cooking

Everyone in Italy eats dinner at the earliest, 9pm. We were dying to try Ristorante Tivitti in Cefalu, but after a time conflict, we had to eat around 7, and they weren’t even open yet. Thankfully, we made reservations for the next night, and were able to give it a try.

A beautiful night in Cefalu, we sat in the outdoor area. The waitress comes and introduces herself, with a giant chalkboard full of specials for the night. Everything sounds delicious. She leaves it at our table so we can study and make the right decision. After we get our wine and bread, we finally make a decision. Before the waitress returns, and while we are sipping our vino, a man walks in with a giant black trash bag full of…something. The shape of the bag only made me think one thing: fish. He walks in, and dumps a huge amberjack into the seafood tank. As if I wasn’t already convinced I loved this country, this made me fall even more in amore.

This night I ordered grilled squid with julienned vegetables. Juicy and flavorful, with a bite of peppery arugula on top – I highly recommend this restaurant if you’re visiting Cefalu.

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Grilled swordfish with prawns.

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Grilled squid with beans.

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Seafood salad.

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Linguine with shrimp and prawns.

The next morning, we decided to climb La Rocca – a giant rock in the heart of Cefalu, measuring 270 meters. An excerpt from a Cefalu travel site explains its meaning: “A Greek myth tells of the love and despair of the handsome shepherd Daphnis, Sicily’s Orpheus. He was blinded by the goddess Hera whose daughter he had betrayed, and was then transformed by the god Hermes into the huge crag that dominates Cefalù and that gave the place its name. The ancient Greek inhabitants saw it as a gigantic head, and “head” is in fact the meaning of the town’s name.”

If you plan to climb La Rocca, here are a few tips. It’s not a man-made trail or a million flights of stairs with handrails. It’s like climbing a mountain. Bring comfortable clothes, shoes, and bottled water. I know from experience that Sperry’s don’t work when climbing La Rocca. Be prepared with a camera, the views are breathtaking. Also, read up a little on the history – you will run into some ruins and it would help to know what you’re looking at. Oh, and be prepared to pay to get in. Four euros per person. It’s a tough climb, but after eating pasta and gelato all week, it was much-needed. The feeling of accomplishment will surely hit you when you get a glimpse of the rock from far away. You basically climbed the Empire State Building.

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After La Rocca, a family member of ours invited us for lunch. When we arrived, she sat us outside and we all began to chat. I heard her say at one point in Italian that she wasn’t prepared and didn’t have much food. So, when she brought out bread with sardines, sausage and cheese, I thought this would be it. Therefore, I stuffed my face. (La Rocca makes you hangry). Then, she asked me which pasta sauce I wanted, pomodoro or zucchini. “WHAT? There’s more?!” I thought. “I just devoured a kilo of bread and sardines!” My stomach wasn’t prepared to reach maximum capacity.

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I opted for the zucchini cream sauce. We quickly learned that in Italy, treating guests to a meal consists of antipasto, primo, secondo, contorno, dolce and caffe. Appetizer, plate one, plate two, side dishes, dessert and coffee. If you deny a plate, it’s considered rude. So, I accepted that I was about to be really full. I was okay with that, though, because everything was amazing. We inhaled the pasta, then she brought out chicken in a wine sauce with mushrooms. After this, she brought out a plate of fruit. Then, espresso.

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We just climbed a mountain; I didn’t feel the least bit guilty. Even without the mountain climbing, during my trip I never felt guilty for the way I was eating. Everything was fresh, natural, and wholesome. Also, we walked everywhere. We probably totaled five hours of walking a day. If I ate this way in America, my pants would shrink.

I was in heaven. Beautiful scenery, family, food, vacation. This was just the beginning.

Next time, I’ll talk about the second food-baby inducing family meal, and the start to our Roman adventures.

Stay hungry!
-CV

 

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