A Holiday from Passopomo

It is a beautiful sunny Monday morning and Frank and I make a spontaneous decision to practice leaving Passopomo. We’ve become so static that the grass below the van has turned a different colour! We load up with water, have a shower in the sun and then roll off down the hill – Sicily is our oyster for the next few days! Luca, Rosi’s ex-husband, who lives 70km from Passopomo, invites us to come and visit his land up in the hills of the Cava Grande di Cassibile, however, we want to spend a couple of days by the beach first, so he leads us to a nice beach nearby.

The weather is fantastic, comparable to a British summer, and we practically have the beach to ourselves, apart from a few locals taking their dogs for a walk and an older guy who runs up and down the beach 30 times every morning! Unfortunately, a holiday from Passopomo does not mean a holiday from picking up rubbish. We’d like to have a view free of discarded items when we open the door or when we sit out in the sun and have breakfast. It seems that in Sicily you can only have this if you are prepared to put a bit of activity into your holiday – two hours and 7 large rubbish bags later, we have a clean car park and entrance to the beach. During this action, I discover the good side of all this rubbish: There is nothing better than cleaning a place around you to make you feel connected to it. And of course, besides, litter picking is a fantastic workout. For the next two days, we really feel this is ‘our’ beach. Breakfast on the beach, strolls along the sandy water’s edge and along the rocky coastline, dips in the cold and clear water, looking for creatures in the rock pools, reading books, soaking up the sun, sleeping…

 

One morning, Susan and Franco pay us a visit from Noto and bring more of their delicious organic olive oil with them. We have a great morning together, sharing food and stories. After breakfast we take a walk along the cliffs and Frank and Franco go off foraging for wild food while Susan and I dive deeper into stories of motherhood and families.

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Fontane Bianchi, the nearby village, is all closed up for the winter, but we don’t mind. 3km inland is Cassibile, a drafty, sad little town, but it has everything we need, a fantastic hardware store, a very nice greengrocer and a guy who proudly sells local honey, bread, wine, olive oil etc. The honey is very nice, but we don’t particularly take to the bread – too stodgy for our liking.

Frank makes a long-standing dream come true and buys himself a fishing rod. Remembering my childhood experience of fishing with my father, I show him how to fix the lead, hook and worm, how to hold the line while casting and to switch back the hoop once the lead hits the water. A couple of times, Frank comes back home with a long face and a tangled line, ready to give up, but I won’t let him. We untangle the line and off he goes again. He doesn’t catch a fish, but he’s hooked – happy to sit in the sun and feel the fish nipping at the bait.

We make friends with Guido the maintenance man, an Eritrean who lives in a little concrete shack in the nearby holiday compound. We hear from him the sad story of immigration into Europe. His daughters went on to live in the north, one in Holland, one in Sweden, and they have a good life. He made the ‘mistake’ of registering in Italy upon arrival, and once his fingerprints were taken, he couldn’t move on into any other European country. He’s worked for the same person for the last 15 years. He says he’s lucky in that he has got work and a roof over his head while many of his fellow countrymen sleep rough with no prospects of finding work, but the deep sadness in his eyes speak volumes about the suffering in his heart.

 

The nights are starry and lit by a full moon. Stray dogs come and sit in the clearing in front of our van and serenade the moon, underpinned by the quiet lapping of the water against the shore. In the mornings, the first rays of light tickles our noses to wake us up to another beautiful dawn with mist hanging over the bay and the sun rising behind the rocks.

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When we leave, we fix a little sign to a rock in the hope that this beach may stay clean – at least for while.

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for more photos, go to flikr


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