Sunday, June 28, 2009

Last Sunday in Aci Castello


Sunday was our last full day in Aci Castello, so we started the day with a granite, mandorla e cioccolato of course, and brioche at Mythos.

Claudio and Roberto joined us which made it all the better!

Aci Trezza'a beach was crowded on this beautiful morning.

After an afternoon of packing, cleaning and preparing for the Grand Tour, we met for dinner with some of the usual suspects at Jonica's Pizzeria in Aci Castello.

Giulio brought his halo

Nice T-shirt!

Pietro and Marzia joined us

Claudia and Attilio Di Fazio

Attilio, the owner of Fondo Bianco, and Claudia just got married about two weeks ago.

Attilio is one of Catania's
"Colorful Characters"

A master with flames and alcohol!

A happy group of eaters

PANINI!!!

Gustavo is the Elephants'
"Social Butterfly"

Mathieu decides to do an
impromptu Dead Lift

Laurie and her boys

What a good time we had tonight, THANKS ELEPHANTS!!!

Farewell Tour Sicilian Style


Last two full days in Catania. . . WOW!

We went over to Giulio Romano's family summer home right next to the castle in Aci Castello for lunch. We anticipated a great meal, we would not be disappointed!

On the walk over, we caught sight of some of our favorite things.

The Agip Gas Station Chain's
Fire-Breathing, Six Legged Dog

No one has ever really explained this very cool logo to me.

Hams hanging in a local
"Mom and Pop" grocery store

A small Flower Shop staff working hard at their craft

"MANGIA, MANGIA, MANGIA"

Giulio's Mom was more than ready to feed the assembled multitudes! What a GREAT cook and wonderful hostess, GRAZIE A LEI!!!

Botero has been commissioned
to paint my portrait!

The Romano's have several of his prints throughout their summer house.

Gustavo recounting his recent accident

What are they up to?

At dinner Friday night, the subject of my tonsorial splendor came up. Laurie mentioned what a tough time she is having trimming my hair and beard with the cheap hair clippers we bought back in February at the IPerSimply Super Mercato.

Upon hearing this Gregorio sat up straight in his chair and eagerly volunteered to cut my hair Saturday after lunch at Giulio's.

I'm not sure of the exact psychological dynamics but over the years I have noted a primal need for men to unite and gawk anytime someone volunteers to have his hair cut away from a real barbershop.

Crowds assemble, opinions are given, ongoing critical analysis is offered, the group must be satisfied!

After our GREAT meal, we assembled on the patio with a gorgeous view of Aci Castello's harbor. Gregorio pulled out his bag of tricks and the game was afoot!

First Things First

A detailed survey of the territory in question is a must before the fun begins.

Gustavo finds a new job

Gregorio allowed his able bodied apprentice, Claudio, to work his magic for awhile.

Giulio provides his Manicuring Services

#1

Claudio carved this into my dome which reminded me that in the Final 2009 IFL Season Statistics, the Elephants were ranked #1 in the ten team league in Pass Defense allowing a league low 902 yards in nine games.

The Catania eleven finished ranked #4 in Total Defense allowing 2,401 yards on the campaign.

Both of these defensive marks were tremendous improvements over 2008's defensive performance. I am VERY proud of how hard our players worked this year to attain this level of performance.

The preliminaries finished,
it was time to get serious!

For this part of the haircut, an experienced master is a MUST!

Analysis, Analysis, Analysis

Gregorio wanted Claudio to get
a "feel" for perfection!

Those assembled became very emotional watching a "Capolavoro" in progress!

Final Touches

Claudio trims

Gregorio massages

Giulio and Gustavo blow dry

All are proud!

Giulio was out of camera range crying at the sheer beauty of it all.

Magic Moments in Sicily

Looking more Italian every day

Piazza Bellini and Quaranta Gelato

We arrived here at about 10:30 p.m. to hook up with some more of the Elephants at the Fondo Biancho. Having a mandorla and coco gelato first was a must!

Ika and Laurie

If you need to laugh, just hang out with Ika for about 30 seconds.

Ika and Tony "Call Me Pony" Gulisano

Pony had a GREAT season at Falcon for the Elephants this year. Look for their son Edoardo "Call Me Bambi" to have a great year at WR as a rookie on the Junior squad this fall.

We saw several Elephants and their friends at Fondo Bianco. It was hard saying goodbye to people you have grown close to and don't know how long it will be until you see them again.

Piazza Bellini at 1:30 a.m. as we left.

The walkway by the harbor where our car was parked was quite deserted.

Dubai
It ALWAYS comes back to
mysterious DUBAI!

As we approach our final day in Catania, we continue to struggle with the conflicting emotions of sadness in leaving treasured friends, anticipation in going on the 17 day Grand Tour and anxiousness in seeing our family and friends back in America.


"Barber Shop" action

Italian Football League Super Bowl Game Results



SUPER BOWL GAME RESULTS:
Saturday, June 27, in Milano Marittima
#1 Bolzano 35 - #2 Lazio 21


FINAL 2009 IFL REGULAR SEASON STANDINGS:
Bolzano Giants 10-1 *
Lazio Marines 7-4 **
Parma Panthers 6-4 ***
Bergamo Lions 6-4 ***
Ancona Dolphins 5-4
Milan Rhinos 4-5
Reggio Emilia Hogs 4-5
Catania Elephants 3-6
Bologna Doves 2-7
Bologna Warriors 1-8

* Record includes two Playoff wins
** Record includes both a Playoff win and loss
*** Record includes a Playoff loss


SUPER BOWL NOTES:
Congratulations to the Bolzano Giants! During my two seasons of coaching in the IFL, the Giants have run up an overall record of 21-2, easily the best in the league over this time span.

According to the pre-game paragraph in the 48 page "La Gazzetta dello Sport", Italy's pink national sports daily newspaper, this Super Bowl was the first one in 11 years without the Bergamo Lions earning one of the two spots. The Lions were the antagonist franchise of John Grisham's book "Playing for Pizza".

Arrivederci!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Isola Bella Good-Bye


Since we try to avoid going to the beach on the super crowded weekends, Friday would probably be our last chance to enjoy the relaxing decadence of an umbrella, a couple of lounges and the wonderful waters of the Ionian Sea.

But which umbrella at which beach?

The question really came down to which of all of the beaches that we have been to in the last two years on Sicily would we want to declare as our favorite? The answer. . .

The Mendolia Beach Club at Isola Bella

This is one of the rock beaches at the base of Taormina, just a gorgeous setting with crystal clear water and lots of marine life.

The house atop the Isola is privately owned.

Medusa

Unfortunately, there was a little too much marine life today as hosts of medusa, i.e. jellyfish, invaded the cove.

Though not by the bazillions like last year in the Egadi Islands off of the west coast of Sicily, there were just enough to make you nervous to go into the sea past your knees.

We thus just laid on our lounges and took in the beauty of it all.

Roberta and Laurie

Two of my favorite and most attractive women in all of Europe.

Dinner in Pedara

We met Gregorio, Roberta, Claudio and Peppe at a pizzeria in the town of Pedara, high up in the Mt. Etna foothills.

We enjoyed a delightfully slow, two and a half hour dining experience that allowed us to enjoy the company of some of our best friends one last time before we leave.

Days like today make it REALLY hard to leave Sicily.

But it is time.

Fireworks


Former Elephants Newsflashes: Happy to report that our QB, Arturo Sanchez, has apparently hooked up with a team in England whose QB went down with an injury. He will be there for their last five games. . . sounds strangely familiar.

CB extraordinaire, Larry Atkinson, has returned from the Arena II Maryland Maniacs (LOVE that nickname) and has joined a team in Finland. L.A. continues to rack up his frequent flyer miles this year!

Thursday was a day to hang out at Malibu enjoying the views, researching our upcoming trip and. . .

. . . Reading

It was also the last day of the three day Festa di San Giovanni Battista in ever so close Acitrezza. At about 8:00 a.m. the first of the days skyrocket bomb reports rattled the glass windows to remind us that it was time to get up and watch another round activities.

We resisted the temptation.

At about 11:30 p.m., the Festa decided that if we were not coming down to the Festa, the Festa would come to us with a spectacular 15 minute fireworks display to rival anything of the sort I've ever seen.

We just went out onto Malibu's lower patio and took it all in. If there is one thing I've learned about Sicily in the last two years, it is that they are absolute masters when it comes to fireworks displays!!!

ENJOY!