Tomorrow I'm off on a family vacation: a week in Sicily with my in-laws. It may be a stretch to make this trip relevant to VR readers! Though there were Jews in Sicily before the Common Era began (the first Jews were brought as slaves after Pompey's army sacked Jerusalem in 63 B.C.E.) the local Jewish community converted or left during the Inquisition thanks to the 1492 edict of expulsion. (Thanks a lot, King Ferdinand.)
There are Jewish tours of Sicily, but they seem to largely involve Jewish inscriptions on castles and cathedrals, tombstones in museums, and synagogue sites (e.g. places where synagogues used to be, but aren't anymore). That said, the history of the Jewish community in Palermo is pretty interesting. And though the community mikvah has long since vanished, the city does have a hammam, open to the public, which sounds amazing -- though we'll only be in Palermo on our final day, a Saturday, and Saturdays are men-only days. Alas for me!
Palermo's really just our point of entry and egress, anyway. Mostly we'll be on the western tip of Sicily, in a town called Bonagia, which I understand is part of Valderice, which is part of Trapani. Trapani once had a Giudecca (a Jewish Quarter), though -- surprise -- nothing Jewish remains.
So though I won't get any good Jewish-travel blog posts out of the experience, I have high hopes of spending some time on a beach, reading some good books, and drinking a lot of good Italian coffee (not to mention good Italian wine). I should still be able to get my religion geek on; there are churches and cathedrals in every city, plus Erice has some very old temples (one built to Venus) which I think would be fun to walk through.
And there's plenty else to do. I'm psyched to see the early-morning pescheria (fish market) at the Piazza Mercato di Pesce in Trapani (wonder if it will be anything like the one Ethan photographed in Japan?) and I wouldn't mind driving part of the salt road to see the saltworks if we have time. Regardless, I imagine we'll eat well. Bagna Cauda (one of my favorite dishes from Elizabeth's) seems to be a local dish -- and is listed on a Jewish-Italian food site, which is pretty neat.
I don't think I have any readers in Sicily -- at least, not according to this nifty hitmap -- but if I'm wrong, let me know (within the next eighteen hours while I still have internet access) -- I'd love to meet for a drink. And if you have Trapani-region travel suggestions, I'd love to hear them. Otherwise, have a terrific week, all, and I'll see you on the flipside!