Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Healing Properties of Sicily

Written by Nina Hersher, Student, CET Intensive Language and Culture Studies in Catania.

On Friday July 8th I took a day trip to the beautiful city of Siracusa with a small group of friends, where we visited the historic part of the city known as Ortigia. On our way to this gorgeous place of antiquity, we passed a market filled with meat, fresh fruit, and, my favorite, massive blocks of cheese. The breads, spreads, and aromas of fresh fish and cured meat wafted through the air making me feel as if I could always be hungry!

Since my arrival in Catania, I have heard about the spectacular July sales and sure enough, on July 2nd, the signs went up and the racks came out, filled with Italian clothing in every color and style imaginable. These sales were especially evident in Siracusa and in the historic district everything seemed to gleam with Italian sophistication. When I concluded that I could not realistically buy everything in sight, I bought Sicilian lemon perfume, colorful scarves from Zara, and of course a cannolo to fuel myself for my shopping excursion.

After we had satisfied our totally understandable materialistic needs, we headed to the beach where the sign read: la playa “che non c'รจ,” which translates as: the beach that is not or does not exist. This was the perfect way to describe how I felt. The water was so clear and refreshing it felt surreal and therapeutic. Why was this?

The other day, our delightfully down to earth Professoressa S. told us that the ocean and the volcanic soil of Mount Etna had healing properties that often affected our minds and bodies without our knowledge. Whether or not this was a true, scientists did confirm that a paroxysmal eruption occurred on Mount Etna the day after our trip to Siracusa! I distinctly recall sitting on the porch watering a basil plant I had purchased at the market, when I felt something fall onto my head! At first I suspected a bird might be the culprit, but as a thin layer of ash covered all exposed surfaces, it became apparent that it was something else. Though the eruption was harmless, the ash had drifted from nearly two kilometers away! The weekend had given me an glimpse into the two diverse sides of Sicily: the tranquility of the water and the fervor of Etna, two distinct but complimentary aspects of nature. What a wondrous experience!

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