Tag Archives: Catania


Tonight we had the distinct pleasure of dining with the parents of Jonathan Wakuda Fischer, Ed and Akemi.

Based on a previous experience and the Fischer clan interest in seafood, we ate at mM or Mm, depending on where you look. The awning reads “mM” but the online reviews read “Mm”. No matter the spelling, “mmmmmm” is sure to be moaned while dining.



We were so enjoying the company and the food that I forgot to take photos until we had nearly demolished the seafood antipasti delight! We had five varieties of raw fish, five of fried fish, a cozze (mussel) stew, filet of fried fish, and boiled polpo (octopus).



The pesce fritto misti (mixed fried fish) included crustaceans as well as calamari (squid). Buon appetito!


Filed under 5-100, Food. Cibo.

Viva Sicilia



Sicilians are breathing more easily (even me!): gas stations refilled their tanks (!!!), then refilled Sicilians’ tanks…and are empty again. Yes, many of the gas stations pumped out the balance of their refill, but in the coming days and weeks normalcy should return. Lines at the gas stations were hours long, and many waited only to be turned away when the supply ran dry. I ran past this gas station, and it was still “esaurito.” Yet, the trucks on Viale Cristoforo Colombo are gone, a clear indicator that the strike is over and protesters are turning their attention to Rome.


(Uno) 1. While I’ve enjoyed the drama of the sciopero, as well as the additional vocabulary lessons it has offered, I am happy that there is some reprieve offered. I fear nothing will come of the truckers’ efforts, however that remains to be seen. At the very least, these workers were heard by the public, if not by the state of Italy up in Rome.

(Due) 2. Maureen O’Hara! I know her as Maggie in The Parent Trap (original). She co-stars in Rio Grande, which we watched tonight (a Western, and didn’t do much for me, but then again, Westerns aren’t my thang).

(Tre) 3. The prospect of more Italian sciopero drama! Office rumors tell me that a national fuel strike is supposed to start sometime this week, and there is a transportation strike scheduled for tomorrow (???), and a national transportation strike scheduled for Friday (27 January). That means that airport personnel are scheduling four hour chunks of time when they will not be working. Of course, this will wreak havoc on the flight schedules. I’m glad I am not traveling next weekend. La Sicilia says there will be no more fuel strikes for at least a few weeks.

(Quattro) 4. Fuori! This means “outdoors” or “outside” – and I spent most of the daylight hours “fuori” today. The sun was out all day, so I made the most of it by reading in the sun, playing with the cats on the terrace and going for my long run around the neighborhood. I checked out the gas station (still “esaurito”), and ran down to the duomo (main church) in Acireale. (Say it “ah-shee-ray-all-lay”).

(Cinque) 5. New military jargon. Pencil-whip. It is perhaps specific to the Air Force (?) – and it essentially means “rubber-stamped.” As in, “Captain Tomas pencil whipped the contract” – meaning he signed it without really reading it. Throw it into your next office water-cooler-convo and let me know how it goes. If you’re really daring, you might say “Pencil whip that shit!” the next time you pass something to your boss for a signature.


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Lo Sciopero Continua (The Strike Continues)

Ciao Cinquecento-ers,


My news coverage of the Sicilian Truckers’s Strike continues today…because the truck strike continued past the midnight deadline. That’s right, the strike continued, with the support of the fishers and the farmers, the truckers held their vigil until at least sundown today. We’ve been following the news updates from the base (Sigonella), online news (La Sicilia), and rumors (facebook!). I also did a bit of investigative reporting, by taking my afternoon run on a route that passes through the Viale Cristoforo Colombo and SS 114, the intersection I described yesterday. It had even more trucks than it did last night! Viva Italia! Viva Sicilia!


Uno (1). “Tutto Finito” (All Finished) – read the sign on this gas tank.

Due (2). The gorgeous view from this gas station on SS 114.

Tre (3). This pump says “Esaurito” – it sounds a little bit like “esorry” or “sorry” – and the sad face is saying “Sorry!” – but in Italian, “esaurito” means “out of stock.”

Quattro (4). The Carabinieri is keeping watch over the protest, the SS 114 continues off to the left of the carabinieri cars, the road to the right is Viale Cristoforo Colombo. As I stopped to take this picture, I was in my running outfit, and Dave was with me. A carabinieri officer got out of his car to ask me about my photograph. With our language barrier, I just showed him the photo I took. We smiled at each other and I continued up the former-road/current-alleyway of trucks.

Cinque (5). Two-parts: A poorly backlit photo of the trucks lined up on Viale Cristoforo Colombo (part 1) and a poster from the strike (part 2). The trucks lined up on both sides of the road from the intersection with SS 114 back to where the road divides (for locals). The past two days, they only lined up as far as the hotel, and then the car dealership. I was starting to get questions I couldn’t answer, so we didn’t venture further. I support expression and fighting for your beliefs, so in that way I support these guys (at the most basic), but I’m pretty sure my Italian wouldn’t carry me too far in any political discussion, so I jogged back home.

Poorly backlit shot:

Truck display:

Close-up of Sciopero poster:

“Impact Forces

Asserting Our Rights

[Map of Sicily]

Sicily is closed from 16-20 January

Tear down this system that has killed Our economy. Delete this incapable political class. Defeat the powers that are are exploiting us. Give our earth and our children a future. Begin the fight for our freedom, our autonomy.”

***Update*** – We are hearing rumors that the truckers have finally relented and are allowing trucks filled with gas to leave the refineries on Sicily. Interestingly, Sicily reportedly supplies over 50% of fuel in Italy. The protesters may be taking the show on the road and protesting in Roma soon. We’ll see what happens next!


Filed under 5-100

Sicilian Trucker’s Strike ends Tonight!

…and the Sicilian Fisher and Farmer strike will pick up the pace, or so rumors go.


More news and excitement surrounding the trucker’s strike here in Sicily, as well as a few funny things. Face it, it’s Friday. Time to LAUGH!

First, though, the serious stuff:

(Uno) 1. Sigonella has been providing frequent updates on the strike and its effects on daily living for Sigonellans. The most recent update is this:

“NAS Sigonella
From: PAO

According to local media, after a Union Meeting last night, protesters from the truck companies resolved to end the protest tonight at midnight as scheduled; however, farmers and fishermen decided to continue the protest. Road blocks should be partially cleared as truckers will return to work and allowing supplies to be delivered to gas stations and supermarkets, but other protesters have expressed interest in continuing the protest. We will continue to monitor the situation and keep the community informed.”

Yay!!! Er…what? Okay, I guess we’ll have to wait and see what this means.

(Due) 2. Dave and I managed to gas up again this morning at a station near our home in Acireale. The station was completely out of diesel gas (gasolio), but they still had unleaded (benzina). Many more diesel powered cars over here led to this benefit for us! All reports rumors agree that trucks will be delivering gas to gas stations over the weekend, but there are additional rumors that a ten day strike may begin next week.

(Tre) 3. I saw three rogue trucks on the road tonight. “Scabs” you might call them! (Dave did). All week long the roads were pleasantly filled with cars (except the toll way and the downtown traffic). The lack of trucks on the roads makes a significant difference in the flow of traffic, in visibility, and in fear (c’mon, you try passing a semi-truck and trailer on some of these teeny tiny roads and tell me you don’t hold your breath until it’s over). The trucks had strong solidarity and these were the only trucks I saw on the roads all week. The trucks were “rogue” because the strike is not officially over until midnight tonight. The ones we saw operating were sneaking on the back roads that we were driving to avoid the toll. Okay, these are only “back roads” to us, they are neighborhood roads for the people who live in Val Verde and the other towns we traverse. Anyway, we were right behind one of the trucks as it turned into a tight alleyway. It was working hard to stay in the center of the roadway so that its trailer would not crash into the balconies of the buildings on either side of it. As it started to make a gutsy-tight left hand turn, I watched as the rear end of the trailer swung closer and closer to the building to the right of the truck. SMASH! The rear end took a chunk of concrete out of the stoop, but cleared the house. Phew!

(Quattro) 4. Arriving home on the circonvallazione (say it: “…” wait, if you don’t live here, don’t bother trying to say this one…) Viale Cristoforo Colombo to see the largest group of trucks yet. These trucks are not blocking the road, but there are about 15-20 trucks and semi-trailers lined up and doubled-up leading down to the state highway SS 114 where it meets Viale Cristoforo Colombo. Readers, I love street names and I don’t get a lot of opportunity to share them with you. Via, viale, circonvallazione!!!

(Cinque) 5. We stopped for groceries at our neighborhood market tonight on the way home. Despite the lack of trucks delivering for five days, there was still plenty of food in the market. I was actually pretty amazed. It makes me wonder if we couldn’t just pay the truckers the same amount of money, but reduce the number of truckloads delivered every week? I don’t know anything about how to organize deliveries, but I gotta think that we could get by with a little less than we think we need. And, that really applies to all areas of life. Minor calamities (oxy moron? think about it) like this trucker’s strike get me thinking about these bigger questions. Just another reason why I love it when people speak their minds, act with conviction and live out loud! Yay!


So many words above means I’m just going to give you links to silly laugh-time fun. All of these links leads to a short bit of humor. Ciao.

I’m too mad for a hug, but I’ll still give you a high five! Plus, a T-Rex drawing.

Calling it like we see it, asshole.

<a href="” target=”_blank”>Computer Says No.

A last, serious note, a somber good-bye to a legend, Miss Etta James. What a voice, what a woman.

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Sicilian Trucker’s Strike Continues…and Grows.


In the Cinquecento way – staying positive – I want to post my top five happy moments from the past 12-36 hours. However, the trucker’s strike here in Sicily is much more interesting; it dominated conversation at the office, with our landlord and on the airways. In fact, many happy moments are related to the Sicilian trucker’s strike, albeit in quite the roundabout way (punny for all the extra roundabouts I have gone through during the many detours I take to get home). So, sit back, snuggle in and laugh as you can at the ironies, the subtle miseries and the little victories.

(Uno) 1. Sciopero! (Strike!) A lovely opportunity to learn new words. This isn’t the first strike we’ve endured, but it is the first one to really force some lifestyle changes, which means everyone is talking about it, Sicilians included. Thus, in order to talk to them about the strike, I had to learn what to call it. Sciopero (say it “shap-air-roh” more or less).

(Due) 2. Camaraderie that comes from dealing with a small amount of strife. Recommendations on which route to take home, where the last open gas station is, offers for a place to stay (if we run out of bombola gas), and many more examples. It is reminiscent of the camaraderie that arises at the outset of a major snowstorm. It warms the heart.

(Tre) 3. Appreciating my commute. Driving an extra 30-60 minutes in order to avoid the truckers blocking the majority of the toll booth lanes. Our neighbor spent an hour waiting to get through the toll. We have taken three different routes the last three nights in order to avoid the traffic jam at the toll booth entrance. Today we found the best route – at the Pasei Etne exit for any Catanese reading. Whenever we return to the normal commute, it will be a relief.

(Quattro) 4. Discussing and thinking about First Amendment issues and how the courts have nearly completely gutted the first amendment capabilities in the U.S. The First Amendment isn’t just about saying whatever you want, it is also about freedom of assembly. Using the Supreme Court to address appropriate time, place and manner restrictions is the political end-run around the prohibition for Congress to pass such laws. It is a good compromise, but unfortunately, I think courts have caved to commercial interests over the power of assembly. This type of strike would never succeed in the U.S. because of these time, place and manner restrictions that have been strengthened over the years to the point that it has become part of our culture to put protesters in corners and boxes – a veritable karoke booth outside of the limelight.

(Cinque) 5. Sense of adventure! The strike is pervasive, reaching into the gas stations, the grocery stores, the bombola retailers (supplying the gas that heats our house, hot water, and clothes dryer), and did I mention the traffic jams? Working hard to stretch our resources just as far as we can lends a sense of adventure to our otherwise secure and stable lives. I don’t mean to make light of the people who chronically deal with similar problems, or those who don’t know whether they have a place to get warm every night; I just try to imagine the best way possible to put these inconveniences in their place.

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Much work a tired Jilly make



Photorama! In lieu of cinque highlights today, I am going to upload five photos from the archives and share my life through images. It is difficult to work myself into the holiday spirit being so far away from snow and family, but I am doing my best. I put up twinkle lights in the house this weekend and attended “North Pole Musical” at the school on base. About a hundred kids dressed as reindeer, snowmen, elves, ballerinas (think Nutcracker) and Russians (???) came together with Santa and Mrs. Claus to put on a delightful musical. Next up, shopping for stocking stuffers!

(Uno) 1. This handicapped parking spot was adjacent to a church buried in the old town of Pitigliano. It was remarkable mostly because it was in a place where I would have been surprised to see any car because the roads were so narrow.

(Due) 2. Tuscan flora and fauna displayed on a switchback pull-out near Pitigliano.

(Tre) 3. Bellini statue in downtown Catania.

(Quattro) 4. Ah, sweet summertime! I took this shot from a hilltop in Cefalu, after the gelato festival. The day was hot and the water was dancing on the wavetops.

(Cinque) 5. Ah, another step in the holiday direction, along with Frankenstein and Batman. Christmastime is Here!

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