One Big Apple a Year Keeps Sicily Near
Our marketing team from Sicily is on the way back from New York City as I write these lines. It was our first major effort in getting our message out in one of the world’s largest metropolitan cities. In short: we were talking about the great stuff going on at Arucimeli Arucimeli Resort.
It was a big success.
Just after purchasing our tickets in late February, I activated efforts every evening. Mass emails to friends and family living in the greater New York City area letting them know of our arrival; emailing tour operators and destination wedding planners in the city; getting in touch with old friends and sharing great stories. The response was phenomenal.
After setting most of the ground, our itineraries and literature needed editing. A few rounds of drafts produced two unique new products: a Sicilian Culinary Experience and our Sicilian Cycling Camp. The former for the foodie looking for secret recipes, the latter for the active cyclist looking to eat them. Cool stuff.
With a few Skype calls we booked a lovely venue on March 21st: Bar Veloce in the West Village. Frederick and his team are flexible and accommodating with a vast selection of wine (strictly Italian!) and great eats. The venue was the perfect size for the group we were expecting. It’s a pity we had such horrible weather on the day of our presentation.
Rounds of social media blasts helped us raise interest in our event to friends and future guests. We sharpened our skills with Photo Editor (which could use a lot more work) and saw high response and share rates. We got excited. That was great for us. After booking a few more dinners and lunches with friends, we packed our bags and headed to the airport.
On the flight from Malpensa, I drafted a quirky little power point presentation describing everything we were doing in Sicily. This, too, was a program I hadn’t used in a while and the basics come back during our 8hr flight. The pressure was on.
New York City Touchdown in Manhattan:
The bustling streets and tall buildings of New York are a far cry from the ancient architecture and vast fields of Sicily. You could almost say the two localities are opposites of each other. But there is one thing they have in common: they’re both filled with Sicilians.
We were spun-around coming out of the subway the first time; we headed uptown (when we wanted to go downtown). Luckily it was a sunny day, so we stopped the first friendly face that appeared to know something about the city.
“You’re definitely headed in the wrong direction,” the man said and graciously pointed us in the right direction. “Where are you from?”
Once we told him we were from Sicily, his eyes widened. “My mother is from Palermo!” Franca and I laughed. Our first episode getting lost in the city and it’s a descendant of Palermo that gets us on the right track. Right then we knew it would be a good trip.
Let’s Talk Sicily:
We met with a good friend of mine at Prune Restaurant in the East Village. We were starving, and the wine was fantastic (Nero d’Avola, obviously). After gourmet hamburgers and enlightening conversation, we made our way back to the hotel in Midtown and checked in. A quick shower and I was off again that evening to meet a cyclist friend of mine.
This time I dared meet him in an Italian restaurant called Il Bucco Alimentari. This fine Italian delicatessen reminds me of an old Italian salami shop with the old-world art decor and the fashionable industrial black piping on warm wood planks. The food was spectacular, especially their own cow’s milk ricotta. The dinner was fresh and inviting after a long first day in the city.
Second Day in New York:
In the early morning on the second day we made our way to the printer: reformatting brochures and catalogs and rescaling images took a while. But we got a few samples to take back to the hotel and review before our big event the next day. We traveled downtown to Bar Veloce to see the space and get ourselves set-up. We returned to the hotel for a late afternoon nap before heading out to Greenwich Village to meet other friends at Amelie: a small but unique French restaurant. The menu and wine list seem limited but are bursting with flavor and creativity. It surprised us how busy they could be for a Wednesday night, but that’s life in the city.
As Franca and I were coming back to the Hotel, we stopped by the Blue Note Café and had the pleasure of catching some live Jazz. It had always been a dream of mine to catch a show at the Blue Note. Luckily Nate Smith + Kinfolk delivered the goods. The sharp staccato drum riffs played to my inner rhythm-child. Although exhausted and jet-lagged, we stayed until midnight and grabbed the train back to Midtown.
Then Thursday came. Our jazz performance. Showtime.
Big Sicilian Night:
We spent the morning back at the printers, confirming numbers and colors of our brochures and packets. A quick trip to the health clinic helped us fight off any flu symptoms that were trying to pull us under. We returned to the hotel room for a quick 20-minute kip and then we were back at the printers to receive our materials. Assembling the folders involved the use of scissors, a glue stick and a lot of Franca’s patience. I eventually finished editing the presentation adding a few more pages and from there we jumped into a cab to avoid the rain.
Yes. It poured.
Everybody seems to need a cab when it rains in New York and the roads were gridlocked. You never seem to have enough time in New York, but we got to the venue with 15 minutes to spare, just enough time to set up wine and food. Antonella from Bar Veloce was adorable and took great care of us. We spread our brochures on the tables, began a slide show of pictures from Sicily, had a little drink to calm the nerves, and waited…
Then people appeared. And it was fantastic.
Talking Sicily in the Rain:
Regardless of the bad weather, our friends and their friends showed up. We had a cozy group of about fifteen people – all we needed. It was a time to discuss Sicily, the cuisine and people, and enjoy the atmosphere. Allison Scola from Experience Sicily arrived much to our joy. Allison runs a travel agency out of New Jersey specializing in Sicilian cultural destinations. It was a great pleasure meeting her. If you are ever interested in going off the beaten path in Sicily, make sure to check her out.
The night was lively and cheery and people seemed to have a great time. By 6:30 the conversation was rolling along skills and we discussed every aspect of Arucimeli. We described all the highlights and the improvements, presented our new packages and proudly displayed pictures of our daughter. By the end of the night, Franca and I were tired, and we slowly made our way back to the hotel for an early evening.
On Friday we took a culture day. We needed time to do something else. Some friends of ours had given us tickets to the American History Museum. We took a lovely walk around Central Park before enjoying deep space in the planetarium and checking out the woolly mammoth on the top floor. We marveled at how, in the middle of Central Park, you can see yourself surrounded by the city, but you can’t hear the traffic. I wonder if the woolly mammoths noticed that too…
We quickly made our way back to the hotel for showers before heading out again to the upper east side. Another dinner with six friends awaited and they wanted to hear what we were all about. We had great food and wine and went to the rooftop for pictures. It was another late night in the city.
Our last day entailed a walk up to Rockefeller center to Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, a walk around Radio City Music Hall and a stop into FAO Schwarz for gifts for Isabel. I then sprinted to Soho for my last lunch with more friends and one or two stops in local bike shops.
Back to JFK:
We jumped on the shuttle for the airport, checked in and now most of the team is fast asleep 35,000ft above sea-level. In the calm and quiet evening, we are all reminiscing of the incredible time we had with our friends and in the city. Thank you, everybody, for your support and your encouragement while we were in the city. It meant so much to us. And if we didn’t have time to see you this time around, don’t worry…
We are already planning our trip for next winter. In the meantime: see you in Sicily!