The bit about us being rockstars in a seaside village that doesn’t see many international tourists, and even less tourists with blonde hair – is not an exaggeration.
The village is pumping and the piazza is swollen with people, clustered or strolling – all with one eye glancing sideways, people watching. The good cars are out; BMW’s, Audi’s and the odd Porsche. The local football team has won, so there’s black and white everywhere. The young bucks pass in souped up little cars, muffled doof doof music vibrating, and rosary beads swinging from their rear vision mirrors. It’s actually not unlike the traffic jammed Chapel St, South Yarra at midnight on a Saturday night.
We go to Carmel’s cousin, Franco’s bar for a gelato. It looks like a classic American soda bar with retro chrome stools. I am still trying to work how a gelato bar serves alcohol – but they all do. The bar staff are mixing cocktails. It could get ugly. There’s a bald headed, short DJ roaming his microphone, half-rapping and calling out, Australiano! Over and over.The bar erupts. After all downing a creamy shot or two, (including Julia, our elegant 72 year old golfing enthusiast) – and followed by a few cocktails – Carmel has 10 missed calls and finally gets a text. ‘Where are you? You’ve got to come down! Your girls are dancing on the bar!’
It’s like a family wedding with 6 year old Italian girls grooving on table tops, with their parents swinging their hands back and forth, laughing. The Italian men are all looking at these crazy Australians, they cruise in and out – the bar does well tonight. Girls come up and ask for photos with us, too. One says to me in English, ‘You are all beautiful, beautiful people. Thank you so much for coming to us.’
We are given Italian cowboy hats and some are cheeks are painted with red, white and green stripes. Then the whole bar bounces. Bruno Mars’ , Locked out of Heaven comes on. It’s one of my favourites and it like a 3 minute party pumper. The atmosphere is charged. It’s just a lot of FUN. The kind of energy that makes you think, Oh, THIS is Sicily!
The moments of hilarity on this tour, seem also to produce a moment that tugs on your heart strings.
We look across and see Sophie dancing with one of Carmel’s relatives who is handicapped and in a wheelchair. The pure joy on their faces was spellbinding. We get lumps in our throat. This is not just what Sicily is about, this is what LIFE is about. I turn to SJ and say, ‘Carmel’s cousin will love ‘Sofia’ forever.’
She’ll never forget the very special Australian girl who drew her in and showed her how she didn’t need her legs to dance.