Remembering The Summer - The Shoal in Sicily
It came round pretty quickly after months of planning and waiting for travel restrictions to ease - June 8th 2022 Diane and I flew out to Sicily, accompanied by Felix and Katie, our youngest son and his partner. It was a holiday for them and definitely work for us. With the news filled with horror stories of chaos at the airports and UK citizens queueing for hours at passport control, we breezed into Sicily with no issues at all.
We had a couple of days to settle in and acclimatise to 35 degrees heat before we had to head west to spend two days with Gianfranco (let's call him GF), his family and his team. We hired a gleaming Fiat Panda Nera (nera = black in Italian), an amazing car with the most minimal of features that the four of us squeezed into, we could not even reach the motorway speed limit of 130kph... but it was great round the streets of the Sicilian cities, towns and villages.
Arriving in GF's home town on the coast, we dropped the kids at a beach club and proceeded immediately to the factory. Actually we didn't, we got lost around the backstreets for 20 minutes with no mobile signal before we eventually found GF's wonderful workshop.
It was the first time we had met in real life and it was just great, with the warmest of welcomes from GF, his wife, grown-up daughters and the small team. We were shown round, all elements of the ceramic process, like kids in a sweet shop. It was clear GF and everyone there are passionate about what they do and why they do it, with a deeply help passion for the sea. They don't speak English. We don't speak Italian, or Sicilian for that matter. Somehow we managed to communicate extremely well, maybe it was the shared passion, the shared excitement and the power of the internet.
GF had arranged for us to stay in his cousin's hotel (of course) and we had a fabulous stay in a local historical part of the town and a beautiful evening watching the sunset over the sea followed by a local Sicilian dinner.
Next morning we had a leisurely breakfast and headed back across the island to our seaside apartment, however we went via the incredible ancient temples and spent a couple of hours exploring the valley. It was the first time Diane and I had returned to the temples since 1990, it was very moving, seeming like a lifetime had passed since...
Back in Siracusa where we were staying, we spent a lovely few days relaxing, swimming, hanging out on superyachts (you know why if you know us) and eating and drinking very well. Till next time, bella Sicilia!