Sicily, Italy: The Italian Isle

After 9 months of intensive travel, moving every 3-4 days, Hannah and I elected to treat ourselves with a cruise. Exhausted, we boarded the ship ready for a more permanent home where all our needs would be met for 16 days as we made our way from Rome to Dubai.

Sunrise shone on the smoking volcano of Mount Etna as the cruise ship streaked past. After enjoying the sun peak across the dark blue waves, my morning began with a 6 mile run around the jogging track on the top decks of the cruise ship. Shortly after, I found Hannah and she joined me for Sunday mass, aboard a cruise ship, which was one of the most interesting locations I had ever attended mass. Father Oscar celebrated for about 70 of us. He belongs to an order of priests who serve as sea chaplains. Some serve on commercial shipping vessels, others on fishing boats, and some on cruise ships. Mass was celebrated in the ship’s theater, with a suspension on the usual flare of Catholic hymns and calisthenics.

The ship docked in Messina, a cruise port on the northeastern side of the island, close to mainland Italy. The barest and simplest cruise port met us with perhaps a handful of security. It made things easier without the hassle of local vendors or intricate monitoring. As it was on day 2 of the cruise, Hannah and I only undertook a short jaunt into the city. While enjoying the stop was important to us, the alluring spell of never-ending buffet lines, bubbling hot tubs, and comfortable deck chairs remained as the siren song of our focus.

Messina (Sicily) was framed by a ceiling of tall mountains and a floor of restless, shimmering blue waves. Our primary spectacle, the Messina Cathedral, loomed above the narrow promenades packed with Gucci and Coach. We ducked in and mass was being conducted in Italian. We caught short glimpses of beautiful ceilings and bid our final goodbye to Italian styled architecture. The clock tower beside the church bore one of the oldest astronomical clocks in existence. The square in front stood empty waiting for parishioners to pour into the small city.

The narrow Italian promenades burgeoned with couples walking dogs, sipping cappuccinos, and laden down with shopping bags. After watching a new driver narrowly miss hitting a man with his car 5 feet ahead of us on a street corner, we nodded and agreed it was about time to retire to the safety and fun of the Jewel of the Seas.


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