The reason I decided to visit Acireale is because 25 years ago, a kind woman on the train I was taking to Taormina helped me with directions for getting to the area where my hotel was located. She got off in Acireale, saying that it was a small, nice town.
It must be something in the water. I called my B&B host from the train station and asked how to get to the B&B. "I'll come and get you!" She was so friendly on the phone, and even more so in person. As we approached the B&B, she apologized for the exterior, which had the same faded-glory look as the other buildings on the street. She owns the building, and installed an elevator. It was very slow, and exterior to the building courtyard. As we got off, she pointed to a door next to the B&B entrance and said, "I live here, so if you need anything, I am always around." The room was huge, with a modern bathroom and a jet-shower. The cost, with breakfast, was €31 per night, single. Breakfast was abundant, and served to the guests. I asked her, after the first breakfast, to limit mine to coffee, one egg (she served two), a roll (three were in the basket), a yogurt and a slice of cheese (three on the plate, plus ham and salami). She thought this was too little, I thought it was still a lot! At checkout, I expected to,pay €105 (as agreed in the reservation), but she discounted the total down to €93.
I accepted her offer of coffee, she showed me the breakfast room, and gave me a map and enough restaurant suggestions for a week! I went out to look around. The street looked a little sketchy at first, but then I realized that the daily neighborhood market had just closed for the day, which explained the water and bits of debris. On my way back later, the street had been swept and hosed with water. I found my way to the Main Street and a small Piazza, and was immediately confronted by a larger than life-size caricature sculpture of the globe surrounded by the G7 leaders, each with minute detail and easily recognizable. The Trump figure had rather small hands.
I went across the street to a caffe to contemplate this tribute to the conference, held a couple of weeks before in Taormina, just up the road.
Then I noticed a lot of people standing in front of the open door of the cathedral. I thought it was a lot of people to be waiting for a bus. Maybe a wedding? But this wasn't Saturday, the traditional day for weddings, and there was no sign of a wedding party. Then I noticed their business-type clothing, women wearing hats - and the hearse. A funeral. I saw the expressions on the faces of the generations of people gathered. I thought of what a privilege it is to travel, to see customs observed in a different country and still understand the common thread of love, loss, and grief. I thought about the loved one who had died, and who was being celebrated, loved, and mourned by family, neighbors and friends. Yes, a privilege to be part of this experience, even from a distance.
The group followed the slow-moving hearse, many people walking, to say goodbye and Godspeed at the cemetery.