Going Home Again
August 1, 2009
My Alitalia flight from Milan to Palermo, Sicily was just as I expected.
I braced myself for the sight that would unfold before me as we began our apporach to Punta Raisi airport. Jagged Mount Pellegrino came into view, seeming to loom out of the water. I had seen this view five times before, but each time, it was breathtaking. Legend has it that the bones of Saint Rosalia are buried there. (She is a huge star in the litany of saints that Sicilians adore).
Whenever I am in Sicily, I tell myself that I have come home, completing the full circle trip that my grandfather, Rosario Saporito began when he was 25 years old. He left Sicily, as many did in the early 1900s, to come to America, in search of a better life. He found it in Rochester New York, where he worked for the railroad.
It felt good to be in the culture again, one that is still not understood by the Italian mainlanders who consider Sicily not part of Italy. What I noticed on this trip was how much improved the roads were, and how Sicilian dialect is still so difficult for me to understand.
The traffic into Palermo city is horrendous and it seems that the vespa is the favorite way to get around. In all this chaos, street vendors sell roasting chestnuts, lumache, semolina bread and prickly pears!
Once I got to the hotel, the Grand Hotel des Palmes, I immediately put myself into the culture and greeted the reservation host with: sono Marianna Esposito, ho una prenotazione.
I think my grandfather would be smiling.