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I was wondering....

Ellen is very observant and mentioned something while walking around Taormina. It was, I admit, something I had never thought about, but which, when you do, gives you pause.

Why are the majority of novelty T-shirts in international countries in English? In the streets of Taormina you saw, as you would expect, T-shirts with local names for sale. It seems that if there was additional wording on the shirts, it was invariably in English. Some of the few shirts we saw in Italian were ones connected to The Godfather movies. Lots of Don Vito and Michael shirts in Italian. But even these had English versions.

We also saw a number of Sicilians, Italians, Brits and others wearing American-related T-shirts, many seemingly focused on New York City. Individuals from other countries, if they want to seem cosmopolitan, look to the U.S.

In remembering our previous trips, it seems that the theory holds true. No matter where we have gone, the shirts are in English. This is, of course, a marketing decision. Sell T-shirts in English to American tourists and sell T-shirts in English to others who want the cache of the U.S. With the number of T-shirt and touristy shops, it must be working.


Race car driving in Sicily

Not really driving a race car, just a regular car, but it sure seems like a Grand Prix event. My quick thought: Never. Drive. In. Sicily (or Italy, as we remember from previous trips to this region).

Ever since Taormina was first inhabited in 734 BC, it has been a product of its geography and topography. Set high on the hillside overlooking the Ionian Sea, it is majestic in its beauty and built and rebuilt by various civilizations. They all had one thing in common...working with the terrain.

The original paths have given way to the narrow, winding streets and roads in the area. When we got off the train Friday night, we began a long drive around narrow curves up the steep cliffs. More than once we had to either give way or move away precipitously before a collision. Tot the driver, it was another fare and another night. To us, it was a bit off-putting.

It seems driving here is taken as a challenge and a competitive sport, where speed limit signs are mere suggestions and passing on curves is the norm. The one saving grace...many of the cars are on the small size giving them a little extra room to maneuver.

Some cars, however, are neither small not inexpensive. One of the funniest sights so far was a bright yellow Ferrari (probably worth more than my house) being a scooter, and the scooter was getting ready to pass. It does make you wonder why you have a car than can go 200 miles per hour in a town on a hill on an island.

We also saw similar driving in Naples, coupled with some rather unusual parking quirks. It seems drivers in Naples park where they want and when they want. No one seemed to parallel park, they double and triple parked, they parked on sidewalks and on the corners. We even saw a plastic chair in a crosswalk which appeared to be saving a spot for a soon-to-be parker.

And pedestrians, no better. To them getting across the street is not the goal. Rather they treat it like a weirdly combined Olympic sport that relies on speed, points for form, and attitude. Crossing is street is a be damned. They will walk/cross where they want, challenging the vehicles, often buses, to hit them. The looks on the faces of both pedestrian and driver makes one cringe...and hope there is no bloodshed. Of note are parents with kids in strollers. Evidently they think they are immune and invincible. I hope they're right.

Of course, though, they do drive on the U.S. side of the road.....


Hats, hats everywhere hats, blocking out the sun, breaking my mind, fedoras, ball, sun, wide brim can you see the hats?... (with deepest apologies to the Five Man Electrical Band)

Our days here so far have meant temperatures in the mid-70s during the day with bright blue skies and very direct sunshine. A lot of sunshine. Too much for those of us follically-challenged. The solution: A hat.

But not just any hat. One sure way to ID a tourist is the logo'd ball cap. It doesn't matter what the cap says, even touting Sicily or Taormina, wearing one is a sure sign you're not from around here. Inspired by my brother's jaunty travel hat, it was my turn. Two days in, I gave a new hat.

And with a tip of the hat, that the latest blog.

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