Well, I have finally found a little bit of time to write this message, which has been long-awaited by Govtcheez. Be it known that the time to write this thread became available because of a personal injury to myself while riding my bike...that is...a fracture in my foot.
Anyways, once upon a time there was a 19 year-old C++ programmer, who was actually quite strong in his church, and he decided to serve a mission for his church for 2 years. This programmer got everything ready and went to Italy for 2 years, in 2004.
[switching to 1st person]
So I got to Italy in October of 2004. My first home in Italy was the city of Palermo, on the northwest end of the island of Sicily.
A picture of Palermo from my apartment window
In Palermo I got my first chance to know the Italian people and Italian culture. It is truly an amazing place with some amazing food. Sicily has many specialty foods, including delicious arancini and cannoli. If you get these anywhere outside of Sicily, they just arent the same.
While in Palermo, I also had the opportunity to see an amazing site! This, my friends, is the largest jar in the world!
the largest jar in the world
In terms of missionary work, my friends, Palermo was a fun place. I got the opportunity to teach an exorcist and a really weird lady who yelled all the time. However, there was also a really bright young couple who listend to our message and they were baptized. That was a great moment.
I lived in Palermo for about 3 months, until I was transferred to the beautiful small mountain town of Castrovillari in the foot of Italy. The region is called: Calabria. This region is definitely the most beautiful part of Italy, by far. The great part about it is that it is completely unknown to outside tourists. Whereas places like Rome, Capri, Palermo, Siracusa, and many other cities receive fair amounts of tourists, Calabria receives very few. It is not because there is nothing to see, because actually, it is an incredibly rich land in terms of heritage and things to see. But the people in Calabria are poor, and it is known as pretty much the poorest region of Italy.
Crossing from Sicily to Italy, i got to take the ferry!
That was a fun ride. I lived in Castrovillari for about 4 and 1/2 months. This, my friends, is where I found the BEST pizza in souther Italy. If you ever find yourself in this remote region, go to Castrovillari, and search for the Pizzeria Cantuccio. It has absolutely the best pizza you will ever taste. It is amazing. It is also fairly cheap. Pizza ranges from 3 to 6 euro.
overlooking the town of Castrovillari from the top of a nearby mountain...a small mountain...
In May of 2005 I moved yet again to the small beach city of Crotone. This city is well known for having....well...beautiful girls. Of course, as missionaries, we couldnt do anything with them. However, the beaches of Crotone were beautiful, and the people were amazing. In Crotone, and also throughout all of the region of Calabria, I came to know the taste of spicy Italian food. Most people don't think of Italian food as spicy. Calabria is the "mexico" of Italy. In other words, they like their food spicy. They also have an amazing thing that we called, "black and whites." It is a cornetto, or croisant, filled with both nutella and white cream nutella. It is amazingly delicious.
me on the streets of Crotone
After living in Crotone for about another 4 months, I moved to the big city of Bari, on the east coast of Italy, in the region known as Puglia. Other major cities in this region include Lecce, Foggia, and Taranto. Bari is a great place with some great people and foods of its own, although it is a quite dirty place...I guess like most big cities are.
It is amazing for 3 foods: focaccia, panzerotti, and mozzarella. Bari has the absolute best mozzarella cheese you will ever taste in your life. It is AMAZING. Panzerotti are, in a certain sense, similar to calzoni. They are normally deep fried, and delicious. Focaccia is similar to pizza, but has a thicker crust. It is also delicious. Bari is the center for these 3 foods.
While in Bari we got to know these way cool Albanian guys that owned a pizza restaurant. He is one of them tossing a pizza:
While in Bari, we also had the opportunity to visit the ancient city of Matera. Matera is one of the most amazing sites you could see in a trip to Italy. It is an incredibly ancient city. It is actually where Mel Gibson chose to film his movie, "That Passion of Christ." He chose that particular venue because he felt it imaged the ancient times. Much of Matera is abandoned and not inhabited anymore. Many, on one side of the city, ancient houses are crumbling and not in good condition. This site is not kept up very well because of the poorness of the people in this region of Italy. We, of course, decided to go into the completely abandoned section of the city and explore a little bit. To our utter amazement, we found a chamber completely full of human bones:
There were probably several hundred bodies in that chamber, although none were intact. It had obviously been found before by somebody else. We tried to dig to the bottom and find the floor of the chamber, but we couldn't because the bones were so deep. I still wonder to this day if the Italian government is aware of that chamber.
I remained in Bari for just about 3 months, and then I was transfered to the wonderful island of Malta. Malta is an island below Sicily. There they speak Maltese as their primary language, and English as a second primary language. Italian comes in third. Malta is a small island of just 400,000 people, but it is its own nation. While in Malta I had the opportunity to meet some of the most amazing people I had ever met, including African refugees who had walked from the Congo all the way to Tunisia in order to escape corrupt governments.
A view of malta:
While in Malta, we also saw some funny store signs. Lets see if any of yall can get the joke:
Malta store sign
I remained in Malta for 5 months. During that time I was able to eat the delicious Maltese Ftira and the interesting Maltese pizza, which is almost like American cafeteria pizza. The most amazing stuff in Malta though, is cheese cakes. Cheese cakes in Malta are not sweet cakes as Americans know them...but rather salty pastries filled with ricotta cheese. The are delicious.
After leaving Malta I went to my last city in Italy: the city of Siracusa, back in Sicily.
City of Siracusa
In Siracusa I learned that cars can melt quite easily:
car with melted side
Siracusa is a really beautiful city, and has a great old city. It also has a few more tourists than some other places I had been to.
Finally, after 2 years of doing solid missionary labors, I decided to become a tourist myself for 1 and 1/2 weeks. My parents came to Italy, and we visted the cities of Pompeii, Sorrento, Capri, and Rome.
During our drive, we also passed through Calabria again, and I was able to return to Crotone and Castrovillari and see some old friends. Here are some amazing pictures from the Calabria region:
A view from the Sila mountains
A view of the ancient medieval city of Morano
While we were in Rome, near the Collosseum, we saw some famous ladies who were being filmed, but I have absolutely no clue who they are. Maybe one of you can identify them:
famous ladies making some film or documentary
Well, that was my trip to Italy! Enjoy! (Especially you Govtcheez)