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June 22, 2008
Today we took a walk around the outskirts of Montedoro, and I was seduced by the caper flower.  It is a delicate white four peddled flower with slight pink coloration and many fragile center stamens reaching out almost flirting – so confident of its beauty.  The real seduction though is the caper bud – round and hard and sought after for its taste by the Sicilians we often see along the roads picking them.  We stopped by one couple to ask how they prepared them for eating.  They shared that after removing the sharp spines they put the stems with the capers on them into boiling salt water and let them cook all day.  The next day they eat them.  Delicioso!  I love capers and since we are here during their ripening season I may try to prepare them myself.  It will be a summer food adventure like the time we made limoncello for the first time when we were here in the springtime. 

My eighth trip to Sicily and Peter’s sixth!  We arrived on June 18th in time to get over jet lag and be able to attend the wedding of our good friend’s Guiseppe DiVita and Maria Tuttoilmondo. It was a very special wedding – Peter was the testimonio, which is like the best man.  There were four testimoni all together – two men and two women. The wedding (matrimonio) was of great interest to us since we had never attended a wedding in Sicily before. We were impressed by its simplicity, informality and elegance.  Evidently what was most important to the bride and groom was the comfort and pleasure of the guests.  This of course meant lots of heavenly Sicilian food prepared in the way that was closest to perfection in taste and looks.  Second was the music – a wonderful combination of traditional Sicilian music by a live band (Fico di India, the name of a local plant) and a D.J.  The band of about ten musicians is local to Serradifalco. They alternated playing every half hour or so and we couldn’t or wouldn’t stop dancing.

Another refreshing addition was the number of children in attendance – from infants to teens. At the reception we loved watching those who were old enough run around and imitate the adults dancing.  At one point in the main reception room inside the building it was like a nursery where diaper changing, breastfeeding and walking was going on as the infants fussed seeming to know that there was fun to be had just outside the door.

There was the usual Sicilian attention to detail at a new agriturismo where the reception was held, in the outskirts of Serradifalco where the manager and waiters seemed so relaxed that you would have thought that this was something they did every weekend – instead of its being the very first wedding that was held there.  The tables were set outdoors on a mild, warm night – small, lighted torches lined the perimeter and the walkways were lit by dim electric lights.  The building was a recently renovated mining building – so the pleasures of the evening were in stark contrast to the photos of the starving, toiling miners that hung around the main room.  These visual reminders of a not too distant past are everywhere in Sicily and I appreciated their presence at this joyous event.  Each table had a bottle of wine that was constantly being replaced when empty. Soon after arriving the 150+ guests were led to the back of the grand building for a pre-antipasti of juice, cheese, pizza and assorted delicacies – all displayed to perfection.  Following our three-course dinner we were again in front of the 80-foot table filled with artfully arranged fruit, cake and champagne.  All guests stood in wait as Giuseppe and Maria welcomed us with their first bites. The party lasted until 3:00 am when the last of us stumbled to our cars, weary but with full hearts and stomachs.

The church ceremony was less formal and at the same time more controlled by the priest than the weddings we are used to. It was hard to stay connected to the religious parts of the ceremony - maybe because we didn’t understand much of what the priest said. We have since asked other friends who also noticed this and agreed that the mass was long and so formatted that it lacked personal feeling. The most moving part of the ceremony was when Maria cried while taking her vows. She had difficulty reading the words and was her beautiful spontaneous self. We of course were curious about the role of the testimoni, the attendants, since Peter was given that honor.  They supported the couple throughout the day and signed the marriage documents at the end of the ceremony.  The absence of fanfare and hoopla with matching dresses and tuxedos was refreshing.  No rehearsal just Maria walking down the aisle with her dad, Jacimo, and then at the end with Giuseppe.  Once outside the guests were given packets of rice and the little boys made a large circle of rice containing a heart with G+M inside, on the concrete platform at the top of the church steps. We threw rice and then went home to chill out for an hour or so until the reception began at 8:30.

While we waited at Mary Rose’s house Giocchino helped us get on the internet to see our new granddaughter for the first time.  Arya Shinde Debes was born on June 18th , on the night of the full moon and weighed 5 lbs 15 oz  and was 19'' long. We proudly shared our downloaded photos with all interested friends at the reception. 

After the wedding we needed to continue to rest and orient our life to living again for one month in Sicily.  We are in the apartment owned by Pietro Petix that we stayed in last year – small, sufficient and located in our old neighborhood across the street from Danielle’s bakery  and up the way from the grocer, Angelo. 

June 23, 2008

It is Eder’s birthday today – he is Carly’s husband of only 6 months.  There is much to celebrate – he has been approved by immigration for his Residency – a relief to all of us since they are planning on coming here next week. We are so excited about their visit here.  Again I get to share this ancestral island with my daughter and now her husband.  He could have chosen to go back to Brazil when he got his papers, but instead he insisted that they come here so he could be introduced to Sicily.  The friends here are anxious to meet him – we are sure they will enjoy his fun and easy way.  We also hope to arrange for him to do some art while here.  How wonderful it will be to have his work in our village.

June 27, 2008

So much has happened since I wrote last. Peter with the help of many of our friends here planned a surprise party for my 60th birthday on June 24th. It was a wonderful party at a Serradifalco restaurant "Woz Up." Forty-three people came from Montedoro and Serradifalco. It wasn't a complete surprise because there was some whispering going on and also some strange behavior by friends just before the party. We had been at the beach all day and at the end of our time everyone supposedly had something else to do - the excuses were many. We were invited to dinner by Mary Rose and Giocchino and when we went to the restaurant it was very strange to see Giuseppe and Allessandro outside (two of the people who said they had other plans). Then Michaelangelo ran down the street. I knew something was up at Woz Up. What was a surprise was the number of people who came - so many relatives and friends. It felt just like home. We toasted with champagne at the end and I said in Italian that Montedoro and Serridifalco were the home of my grandparents and now truly were also my home. Everyone cheered and I opened many gifts. One of the highlights of the night was the D.J. music sometimes accompanied by Giocchino's singing. We danced modern and traditional dances including the Tarantella. What great fun! I later found out that Peter had been planning the party since before we left the US. He had written to Lina Ruffino, Lina Allessi and Mary Rose asking for their help with his guest list.

AT the party I shared the photos of Eder's paintings and several people from Montedoro assured me that they would work on getting him a place to do his art. Today Fabio shared that the Commune has approved his doing a mural in town and they will pay for the materials. Yeah!

Now I will put up some photos of the wedding and later when I get the photos from friends I will post the birthday photos.