23 May 2005

Journey to the Navel of Sicily

Road to San Gio
Originally uploaded by Katherine H.
Today I left the noise and the compact living of city life for the mountains and valleys of the province of Enna. Enna is known as l'ombelico della Sicilia, or the belly button of Sicily. In particular, I was headed for San Giovannello, an azienda agrituristica situated about 3 kilometers outside of Villarosa.

I found the location (amazingly!) without any backtracking, but the buildings were shuttered and the farm seemed to be deserted. After wandering up the hill and down the road a ways, I found the owners busy weeding part of their garden. Fortunately, I had the foresight to bring a copy of our prior e-mail correspondence, and Marcella reacted as though they had been awaiting my arrival.

The room I was given was aptly named La Stanza Bellavista. The location was truly stunning, hugging the mountainside with a panoramic view of the valley with its fields of wheat and groves of olive trees. For the time I was there, it was my own little piece of solitude. Other boarders did not arrive until my last night there at the end of the week.

I selected San Giovannello as my base in that region because of it’s proximity to Villarosa, the small town where my biological great-grandparents once lived before emigrating to Pennsylvania in 1908. I simply wanted to gain a better understanding of the environment and the life they would have had, and left behind, in search of better economic prospects in the United States.

Although I could have had three meals a day provided for me at San Giovannello, I knew I would be taking day trips around the region, and opted only for breakfast. Each morning I would walk down the hill to the dining hall, and there would be a table set and waiting for me. This is where I became enraptured with fresh ricotta. Marcella purchased it from a neighbor who produced it himself from his own flock. My favorite breakfast became grapefruit juice, fresh ricotta spread on bread with a smidgen of honey on top, and a couple slices of prosciutto crudo on the side.

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