I did a third lap around the streets of Siracusa, since trying to find a place open for dinner on a Sunday was proving to be difficult. All the places listed in my trusty guidebook were closed, at at this point I was just stalling the inevitable of having to eat at an unknown and therefore terrifying place. On my final trip through the same streets, a restaurant proprietor called out to me, "Hey, I've seen you walk by three times. Do you like mussels?" I didn't, but he offered me bread, wine, and mussels for 10 euro (in Milan, where I was living, this was the price for approximately two pieces of lettuce), and, not wanting to think about dinner anymore, I acquiesced. We exchanged the usual pleasantries as he seated me on the patio outside, and when he brought over the bread, he pointed to the man two tables over from me, "You know, he speaks English."
I ended up talking to this older stranger (given his gray hair, I'd put him around 45), speaking loudly across the two tables until he moved his seat over to me. He spoke English pretty well, had the owner bring over some good wine, and as far as I was concerned he was my new best friend for the evening, which had taken a significant turn for the better. During the conversation, he mentioned how I should come live with him and teach him English in exchange for rent, but I was used to Italians saying a bunch of shit they don't mean, so I brushed it off. He said he was meeting with some friends for pizza the next day, and we exchanged numbers to meet up. The part that I did find creepy though was when, as we were walking out of the restaurant, he asked me what my sign was, and then said, "Ah, a Gemini! Your sign is trouble... my exgirlfriend was a Gemini - she was about your age (22), too." Yeah, OK, weird that you had a girlfriend who was so much younger, but whatever.
The next day, I went to Noto for the SOLE REASON that I heard there was a gelateria there that was, "a taste of Sicily in your mouth," but more on Noto in the next chapter of this tale. Suffice to say, I came back from my journey a little shaken, and was glad to not be on my own for dinner this night.
My new friend had texted me the pizza location, and mentioned that he would be with people who spoke English. I arrive at the pizza place and find: 1) The Italian man I met the night before 2) His Italian friend, who spoke no English 3&4) Two women from the Czech Republic, who speak great English. I thought it was pretty crazy that there were Czech women living in Sicily, but whatever. There was a very odd group dynamic here, but I couldn't quite figure out what was going on - my "friend" is shamelessly hitting on the women, who are married - suggesting a romantic walk around the Old City after dinner. I find myself mostly talking to his friend in Italian, who seems a bit moody since he can't join in the conversation. After we finish our pizzas, the two men go outside to smoke, and I ask the women how they met the guy who invited me. "Oh, we just met him today, walking around the city." I'm very innocent and a little incredulous as I realize that he's creeping on married women, but they say they know what he's trying and they're playing the game to get free food but they are, y'know, married, and have no desire to let anything further unfold.
So now I'm wondering how I came to befriend and agree to dinner with the town's skeezy foreign-woman Casanova, and I'm trying to think of how to get myself out of this extremely awkward situation, when the guy comes back and says - in Italian so the women can't understand - "Erin, we're going to take a walk around the city now...but just the adults, ok?"
"FINE BY ME!" I say, and get the hell out of there, chuckling to myself at how these dudes are about to strike out big time.
I leave very early the next morning, and shortly after my train pulls out of the city, my phone starts blowing up. It's my "friend," saying that I am so beautiful and he never should have let me leave Siracusa and how I should come back because he was serious about me living with him and that he would take me on a motorcycle ride through the countryside of Sicily and blah blah blah. He kept calling and probably sent me 20 texts to this effect, as if he had not dismissed me to hit on some married women less than 12 hours earlier. I politely declined the first text, and then deleted the shit out of everything else.