The Soundtrack to Sicilia

Ciao tutti,

It’s officially 12:24 a.m. as I’m starting to write this post, which means it is July 23rd… which means that it is my last full day here. I leave so early on the 24th that I’m not even considering it a day here. I’m feeling a strange mix of emotions right now, and I’m trying to prepare for what is to come later this day. It will be a day full of many goodbyes, but with the best people in my life. Being in great company will help, but I’m surely not ready. Before I get into this post, I need to tell anyone that will see me soon after I get back to Pittsburgh to expect me to not be incredibly happy and excited. If I’m being brutally honest, I don’t miss a damn thing and I don’t want to come home. I’ll be a little on the pissy side probably for a few days (or forever), so just give me some space. It’s not you, it’s all me. I need time. So….

While I was in Roma and Firenze with my friend Ingrid, we kept talking about how great it was when we would hear music while walking around. Among the many incredible conversations that we had, one of them was about how important music is to make the best memories. We were always so excited to hear any type of music when we were exploring the cities because it gave us more to tie memories to. When I was in Firenze, I had the idea to share this post. These are songs that I will play on repeat forever, and I think that they are great songs that everyone should listen to! There is a big range in the genre of the songs, and they are in no particular order, but I encourage you to listen to any of these that you don’t know.

*A great story from today before I share the songs. The cover photo for this post was something that I think was sent to me as a sign today. I was walking around Ragusa Ibla with my friend, and we happened to notice that a door to the *small* university campus was open. It is a university for language studies, and I have been so curious about it since I arrived. Because we are in Sicilia, and there are no rules for anything here, we walked right in. We peaked around the classrooms and the library, and what is on the cover photo just happened to be written on a chalkboard. I don’t consider myself a particularly religious person, but this was a sign from some greater force. It is just the reminder that I needed during this trying time. I got chills when I walked into an empty classroom, alone, and saw this.

1.”Occidentali’s Karma” – Francesco Gabbani

Although I may have nightmares about this song, I will always smile when I hear this song. It is Sofia’s favorite, and she asks me to play it from Spotify at least ten times everyday. This song actually has a very deep meaning about the karma of the people of the west of Europe, and it has won many important musical awards in Europe. The artist actually has many great songs that you should listen to. Occidentali’s Karma will always bring back the best memories. I have countless memories of my family and I driving through Sicilia, singing this song at the top of our lungs with the windows down. Even if you don’t understand the lyrics, I’m sure that this song will lift your mood.

2. “Despacito” – Daddy Yankee, Luis Fonsi, Justin Bieber

This song has been incredibly popular internationally for a few months now. I have heard this song playing somewhere in every single place that I have been, and it always makes me want to dance. I enjoy Spanish music so much, so I love that this song is so popular. I almost never hear the American version with Justin Bieber, but I actually prefer the version that everyone else in the world listens to.

3. “Let It Go” – Frozen

I’m sure you can imagine why this one made the list. Frozen was popular when Sofia was just old enough to enjoy it, so she is obsessed with this song. I also enjoy the song, but not quite as much as I thought I did before. Sofia’s obsession with only two songs has worn them down for me a bit.

4. “How Far I’ll Go” – Moana

Sticking with the Disney theme, I fell in love with this song just before I left for Sicilia. I found more meaning in it once I was here because Ragusa is a beach town, and I absolutely loved going to the sea everyday. It is especially meaningful now because Marina di Ragusa (the beach) has given me some of my best days and memories. The lyrics are also so true to the people here, because truly everyone is happy on this island.

5. “Bohemian Rhapsody” – Queen

This is another song that will forever make me smile. Francesco and I bonded a lot over music, and this is his absolute favorite song. When we are driving around, normally my DJing starts with Occidentali’s Karma and Let It Go for Sofia, and then I play this song for the adults. We have driven through the country side singing this as loud as we can, and I’ll always remember this moments. My family always laughs at me / are amazed that I know all of the lyrics. It’s so fun for them to hear songs in English, and then hear me sing them. It helps them to realize that they can understand the lyrics, and more English, one day, too.

6.  “That’s Amore” – Dean Martin

This is a song that I’ve loved for a long time, but I became so attached to before coming to Sicilia because it made me feel a certain way. After visiting Roma, I realized that it made me feel Roma (yes, Roma is a feeling). I still listen to this song almost everyday because it just makes me instantly happy. Since being here, my family and friends have explained some of the meaning to this song.

7. “Beyond the Sea” – Bobby Darin

This is another song that I have enjoyed for a long time. This song made the list because it is the perfect backdrop song to Marina di Ragusa. A staple of Italian life (especially in Sicilia) is to go on a long, relaxing walk before dinner (around 8:30 or 9:00 pm), and everyone dresses well for this occasion. Marina di Ragusa is such a perfect place for seeing young people in love, old couples enjoying life, and everyone having a great time. I always think of this song when I people watch at night in Marina di Ragusa.

8. “Sing to You” – John Splithoff

This is a song that I discovered while in Sicilia, and it’s the perfect beach town song. It captures my feelings for my friends and family so perfectly, and is just a wonderfully breezy song. It has become one of my favorite songs. My family enjoys it, too, even though they don’t understand the lyrics.

9. “Million Dollars” – Horse Thief

I connect with this song so much. It captures the changes that I’ve had in my heart so perfectly. The opening lyrics are, “If I had a million dollars, well I guess I’d be alright. I’d still have my problems and I’d lie awake at night. I don’t think there’s an answer for something you can buy, only in the moment you can capture what is right”. I’ve learned so much about myself, and what I truly value in life while on this trip. This song is absolutely my heart in a song.

10. “Cherry Wine” – Hozier, Live Version

I found this song just before coming to Sicilia, and I’ve been listening to it constantly. For some reason, I prefer the live version of this song to the recorded version. This song instantly relaxes me, and I think about some of the people I’ve met when I think about the lyrics. The people here always tell me I’m “the most sweet” (in Italian), and one of the lyrics to this song is, “she’s sweet like cherry wine”. Perhaps the fact that the word wine is used is why I like this song so much?

11. “Pompeii” – Bastille

I’m sure you can assume why I started to listen to this song more than usual before coming to Sicilia. I used to listen to this song all the time, but I rediscovered it just before arriving in Sicilia. Funny story here…. So obviously, when you read the title of the song, you assume it directly relates to the historical site of Pompeii. Right? Well, I assumed this too, but I figured that it had some metaphorical meaning. One night, I was listening to this song as I was falling asleep, and I had this epiphany about much this song directly relates to the stories of Pompeii. It was so strange. I was subconsciously analyzing the lyrics and thinking about Pompeii. I swear that I was completely sober and on no substances when this happened. I really felt like I discovered something life changing. It was so stupid that I actually laughed at myself when I woke up in the morning.

12. “Red Eye” – Vance Joy

This song has defined my travels, both literally and metaphorically. My travels have exhausted me in the best way possible, I’ve had red eye flights, but the lyrics just connect with me and my travels. I also just love Vance Joy so I could really list all of his songs here…

13. “00000 Million” – Gordi

I could write a ten page paper about why this song is so personal to me. The lyrics perfectly capture this entire experience, and everything that I’ve felt about anything and anyone here. This song is so important to me.


I’m absolutely certain that I’ve forgotten a few songs, but these are the most important. If you listen to any and like them, let me know!











One thought on “The Soundtrack to Sicilia

  1. So happy for your many cherished moments this summer!!!
    I’m sure you’ll find your way back…back to life in PA and again to Ragusa. After all, you’ve had many life-changing experiences which you’ve embraced and not run from!


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