In past posts about where I live, I always focus on Piazza Castello, the beautiful piazza perched on top of a rocky outcrop overhanging the sea and with its very own Norman castle looming above. It is here that most of the local kids come to play and the tourists stroll through for site seeing at the castle, to take in the wonderful coastal panoramas and maybe indulge in a granita at one of the bars.
But there is also a second, less glamorous piazza, located a few blocks inland (don't actually think this piazza has a name, but it is located on the corner of Via Francesco Crispi and Via Dante). In the winter months the local kids congregate here for soccer matches. But in summer it is taken over by the outdoor seating of two adjacent pizzerias. Our current pizzeria of choice happens to be located right here and instead of going for the portare via, pizza in a box option as usual, last night we decided to combine play time in this cozy piazza with dinner time at Pizzeria Jonica.
As local legend has it, Pizzeria Jonica was originally located around the corner from its current spot and has only inhabited the piazza-facing building for the past 10 years or so. In fact, its not so savory nickmane 'i cessi' is due to the fact that its original location was virtually next door to the now defunct public restrooms! And, yes, locals are still referring to Pizzeria Jonica as 'i cessi' even though the public toilets are nowhere in site.
But have no fear, the unappetizing nickname bears no influence on the current appeal of the place nor the quality of the pizza. We thought our 8 o'clock arrival time might be a bit early for Aci Castellans to open shop, but we were pleasantly surprised to find another couple already seated and enjoying a pizza. We quickly joined in and ordered--two normal sized pizzas for around 6 euros a piece, and a mere 3 euros for the so-called 'mini-pizza' (not so mini we were to soon find out!) for the bambino.
The waiting time passed quickly for us all. From our chosen spot near the table-free end of the piazza, toddler was able to admire several groups of older kids in their big kid play and have fun kicking around his own big yellow ball with little disturbance to the fellow patrons who were steadily increasing in number.
The pizzas arrived, toddler sat and ate while people watching, his parents sipped beers and enjoyed their meals. Some more play time as we wrapped things up, got the bill and prepared for our short stroll home. While this may all seem pretty banal to most of you, for us the whole evening was a sort of epiphany, i.e., our son is old enough to be taken out to certain kinds of restaurants and actually enjoy the experience?!?!? WOW. This may be a new beginning.
The feeling of contentment and renewed appreciation for the simple act of an evening out followed us on our walk home and lingered throughout the evening. It was unanimous, our town is relaxing, beautiful, easy, kid-friendly and can be most appreciated on a summer evening out doing nothing more than eating a pizza.