As I wander through the beach side villages of Sardinia, an island near Sicily, I’ll run into a funeral or a pizza place. Sure there’s a big concern here about where your soul goes–you don’t want it to land in Satan’s brick pizza oven for all of eternity, roasting next to a pepperoni calzone. But in a tiny village where there’s a whole lot of nothing going on, a funeral is—well….an event. Italians are big on weddings and funerals, especially when there’s ravioli involved.
In Sardinia there’s a special kind of ‘leaf shaped” ravioli that all your dead friends and relatives probably had for their last meal.
And judging by the way people speed around the hairpin turns up steep winding roads, maybe there’s more funerals than weddings. One wrong move on a skinny mountain road here and your wedding party can instantly turn into a funeral procession. I mention the funeral to Francesca, my AirBnB host. When I told her that I wasn’t sure if there was a wedding or a funeral at the local town church because everything was piled up with white flowers, she said, “It’s not a wedding because it’s Monday. Nobody goes to a wedding on Monday. It’s also bad luck to die on a Friday,” she added. So you can get married on Friday, but just don’t die on a Friday. Either way, Ravioli will be served. And Octopus. Yes, that purple creature with tentacles and suction cups.
I have an Octopus problem when I visit Italy. The Italians call it “polpo” . It’s so insanely delicious tasting that I eat it every day and then –thanks to a grade B horror movie I saw when I was a kid about a giant Octopus attacking Chicago, I have nightmares about getting bitch-slapped by a giant Polpo for eating one of it’s tentacles. There’s a fishing boat trip you can go on in Villasimius called “Pescatori Tourismo” where you go out on a fishing boat with a bunch of hard core fisherman and catch Octupus then grill it and eat it on the beach.
I’m not doing that one. Polpo might be succulent and tasty, but I don’t need to remind Mr. Octopus that I’m at the top of the food chain and he will never go to Chicago to destroy the city.
Local people are very surprised to see an American here. Mostly Europeans and Australians are running around here with beach gear and bad sunburns. And why would an American from CALIFORNIA want to visit Sardinia? Doesn’t it look and feel just like California? Umm…yea sure, a lot of the time it feels like you’re driving down the Pacific Coast Highway, and sometimes the beaches look a lot like the stretch of coastline between Santa Barbara and San Francisco, but nobody here says “AWESOME” and nobody at home takes life at a slow pace like here in Sardinia. Their phrase here is “Keep Calm”. It’s on T-Shirts and souvenir salt shakers so that means it’s official.
“Why do you come to Sardinia?” They ask with a raised eye brow. My answer to that is…” To chill.” <i>Per Rillasarsi</i>. To do a whole lot of nothing.
The American attitude is to pack in a busy schedule of sightseeing , look at as much you can possibly see and take pictures of everything so you can look at it later. But my attitude is “slow down, relax, and experience.”
I arrived here 3 days ago and all I did was watch Fiery sunsets on the beach, sleep, chat with my air BnB hosts, Patrizia & Francesco who rent out the guest room of their awesome beach house just to meet visitors and socialize, and eat polpo. They cook dinner at home every night and invite me to join them. Late in the evenings we eat outside on the patio, drink wine and have interesting conversations. Italians take a three hour lunch break, so they have dinner pretty late around 8:30 PM to 11 . Yes Italians actually sit there for two hours eating and digesting which we don’t do in America. We inhale our fuel and run .So here I have to slow down and let the food settle, breathe and be in the present moment . Maybe I’ll snap a picture or maybe I’ll use my Mind, body and soul to capture the moment. After all, one day there won’t be any more moments. Death is inevitable. And so is pizza.
Don’t even think of avoiding carbs when you’re in Italy. My advice is to visit Sardinia first (before all the other cities) to unravel recharge and then go sightseeing on the mainland when you’re sane and rested. In Sardinia, doing nothing is very deceiving. Your senses are re-booting. You notice that –holy shit–food, people, plants , animals and fish are a gift from the universe to Keep you alive. Who knew? But damn it–carbs make me fat. My body expands with every carb I eat. Strangely, since no one is super fat here, when I run into a pizza place I’m not worried about it.
In Italy I always think, what the hell, I’ll have a slice. It won’t kill me.