Somebody Else’s Grandmother’s House

So it’s been a couple weeks now, and we’ve gotten settled in to life here in the old world. Two years ago we stayed by the sea in Archimedes’ old neighborhood, and last year we split our time between zombieland and an old palace in the city. This year, we wanted to return to the ocean, so we’ve found a small apartment near where Odysseus fled the cyclops.

One of my favorite things about Sicilian culture is how what the rest of the world considers mythology is just history to the Sicilians. We’ve seen the lake near where Hades took Persephone into the underworld, resulting in the creation of the seasons. We’ve seen the fountain where Aretusa fled from a suitor who came on way too strong.

The view from our living room, dining room, kitchen, pantry, and office!
The view from our living room, dining room, kitchen, pantry, and office!

Now we live across the street from the boulders that the blinded cyclops Polyphemus threw at Odysseus’ ships as he fled. They’re called the isole de ciclopi, or sometimes i faraglioni.

Maybe that’s a story for another day.

The courtyard of our building.  It's covered with a glass roof, so it really feels like we live in a greenhouse!
The courtyard of our building. It’s covered with a glass roof, so it really feels like we live in a greenhouse!

Regardless, our living arrangements are best described as adorable. We are living in the guest apartment in a building by the sea. The owners – a couple in their seventies – live in the main house which takes up the entire downstairs and some of the upstairs. They’re pretty adorable too, which helps since they speak no English.

The entry has old maps, beautiful hardwood, and period fixtures.  Pretty much everything I ever wanted out of "shelter".
The entry has old maps, beautiful hardwood, and period fixtures. Pretty much everything I ever wanted out of “shelter”.

The rooms are pretty good size for Sicily, and all the hardware in the house comes from a time before the war. The doors are solid wood, the doorknobs are brass and marble, the faucets are all chrome, and most of the furniture has a very stately, heirloom quality to it. Very nice for something being listed on homeaway.

Another view of the front door and the guest bedroom.
Another view of the front door and the guest bedroom.

It really reminds me a lot of my grandmother’s house. The art is very grandmother-y. The furniture, very grandmother-y. The closets have little potpourri packets that give them a very grandmother-y smell. But it’s not my grandmother’s stuff. It’s not the same smell as my grandmother’s house. It’s somebody else’s grandmother’s house.

A whole wall of storage... I'm pretty sure my dad would move in if he saw this.
A whole wall of storage… I’m pretty sure my dad would move in if he saw this.
No space left unused... although if they have storage under the stairs, what's holding up the stairs?  Windex?
No space left unused… although if they have storage under the stairs, what’s holding up the stairs? Windex?

Our living room/dining room/kitchen appears to be what used to be a rooftop terrace that has since been enclosed in glass walls and a glass roof. The space isn’t very large, but it’s perfect for two people. Tiff is up here all the time in her greenhouse with a view of the ocean.

Our extended view of the faraglioni.
Our extended view of the faraglioni.

Some days I wonder if she’s a plant.

Our kitchen is only five feet wide, but it has just about everything we need to not starve – fridge, cooktop, and sink.

This is our entire kitchen.  Everything you need, nothing you don't.
This is our entire kitchen. Everything you need, nothing you don’t.

Times like this are when I come to realize just how little space we really need, when you only have only exactly what you need. We have one pan and one pot, which is more than enough. Really, our cooktop has two burners too many. There’s one spatula, place settings for four, and a couple serving dishes. That’s it. We don’t need much more than that, because it’s just us. We don’t need a dishwasher, because everything we have can be washed in five minutes. And you’ll definitely be washing it right away, because otherwise you won’t have anything to cook with!

I suffer from the same affliction that I have when I walk through the showroom at Ikea. I see what can be done with 500 square feet, and I think hey, I could totally do this! I want to move out of my apartment, rent the smallest place I can possibly find, and only have like, three possessions. Its weird, I know.

The master bedroom, from a different angle.  I don't know why, but it feels like grandparents sleep here.  We have a ways to go.
The master bedroom, from a different angle. I don’t know why, but it feels like grandparents sleep here.
Our bathroom.  Dual vanities?  Check.  Toilet and bidet?  Check.  Huge (for Sicily) shower?  Check.  Shower curtain? Shower curtain?
Our bathroom. Dual vanities? Check. Toilet and bidet? Check. Huge (for Sicily) shower? Check. Shower curtain?
…Shower curtain?

As much as I love this place, there are still elements that are, well, Sicilian. A couple of the window shades are attached by some wire and a prayer. The toilet isn’t really attached to anything, and has a tendency to rock back and forth if you’re not careful. A lot. The shower leaks. The toilet runs all night. The paint is peeling in places.

And for goodness' sake, if you get up in the middle of the night to get a glass of water, DO NOT FORGET TO TURN RIGHT ON YOUR WAY DOWN THE STAIRS.  There is no railing.
And for goodness’ sake, if you get up in the middle of the night to get a glass of water, DO NOT FORGET TO TURN RIGHT ON YOUR WAY DOWN THE STAIRS!

But that’s all okay. It’s Sicily. It’s somebody else’s grandmother’s house.  And I love it.

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