ROME, Italy – It was all simply magical.It was my favorite day of my entire trip, and that’s saying a lot.
The day was all – and only – made possible due to a wonderful gentleman named Giuseppe Parisi, introducing himself to my friends and I at a bar one night while we were staying a weekend in Palermo two years ago.
Signore Parisi is more than a gentleman, however, he is the definition of caring and genuine and someone I admire greatly.
Due to the power of Facebook, Giuseppe and I have been able to stay in contact over the years and once I booked the Palermo portion of my trip a few months back, he was the first person I told.
I knew my time in Palermo would be special, but I truly did not know the extent of just how special – and that’s due to the amazing hospitality Giuseppe and his friends showed me.
To add to the specialness of it all, Giuseppe is in two bands and each of the bands had a concert while I was in town – how lucky am I!?
Well, very, very lucky – that’s an easy answer.
So, after feeling just not myself – something extremely rare for me – on my arrival day in my favorite place in the world, we finally reunited the following night at his concert and, well, that is where I was given the greatest news ever: his mother will be cooking for me on Saturday and I will be joining Giuseppe for a day as a local in Palermo.
Excuse me? Did I just hear that Signora Parisi will be cooking – what can easily be assumed as – an amazing meal and I would have the honor to join the entire Parisi family for a Saturday afternoon in paradise.
And so, Saturday arrived and I truly did feel like a kid in a candy store the second I woke up – well, while fighting through the hangover of our escapades of the night prior.
My inner Anthony Bourdain was at an all-time high and I think my fullness was also at an all-time high by the time lunch was finished.
It felt like all of Saturday was out of the perfect Italian movie, as Giuseppe rode up on his motor scooter to pick me up and bring me back to his house.
As the sun beamed down on us, we rode the streets of Palermo – first time I’ve ever been on a motor scooter – zigzagging between traffic and with a smile on my face that seemed to never go away, we arrived at the gorgeous casa of the Parisi’s.
After being greeted in only the utmost Italian ways, it was time to eat..and eat and eat and eat…and eat a little bit more.
From the spaghetti with mussels, to the humongous and fresh shrimp with swordfish that was cooked to perfection as it melted in my mouth to the dolce: a ricotta filled cake with a sweet ricotta frosting – one of the greatest things I have ever eaten.
On my first try, I ended up beating Giuseppe and with that, it was back on the scooter to keep on cruisin’.
Before leaving the Parisi’s, we were able to take some great selfies and this truly shows how happy I was. Here I am, a complete stranger to them, and they really treated me like family.
Meeting the entire family and being able to join them for a meal and homemade wine and limoncello is something I’ll always treasure – just a wonderful experience.
In hopes of easing the fullness, we stopped for some granita – a classic Sicilian semi-frozen dessert great for digestion and man oh man was it refreshing!
After more riding around and Giuseppe showing me his university, where he is going for his masters in engineering, it was time for him to drop me off at my hostel so he could practice with his band before the big show that night.
After a quick siesta, I was back on the cobble-stoned streets of Palermo as I headed to his show.
Joining me to his show and for most of the weekend was Vanessa, a beautiful young lady from Germany who is traveling around Italy for two months and someone I was delighted to me.
Being able to sit along the street with a nice cold beer while the Joopy’s performed many classic rock songs was great in itself, but that was only the beginning.
After finishing – and by this point me knowing every member of the band – I joined them on stage for some photos and some great conversations – most of which I’m proud to say I was able to have in Italian.
And then, after enjoying some drinks with the band and Giuseppe’s other friends in attendance, we headed for the harbour. Being able to sit on the docks as the late-night breeze hit us and wrap up what would be my favorite day of the trip and one of my favorite days of my life was priceless.
You see, it doesn’t matter how many counties I go to or the sites I see, it’s experiences like this one that will always reign supreme against the rest. A local experience is one that cannot be matched with anything else.
To have been so fortunate to meet Giuseppe a couple years back and for every single one of his friends to be beyond welcoming to me while I was in town again is nothing short of a blessing.
Even now, as Palermo is behind me, the smiles and laughs aren’t and it really was a day in heaven.
I love you all,