Last week, the Automattic Store Team met up in Palermo, Sicily to work on projects and spend time together in person. Our team has grown to roughly 30 people, many of which who have yet to celebrate their first anniversary at Automattic. It’s so exciting to be part of a group that has so many fresh eyes and diverse experiences, and to get to know everyone even better. We work closely every day, but we don’t always have the chance to work closely in real life.
In Palermo, our developers participated in an intensive learn up, while our Store Happiness team worked on projects to improve and enhance the user experience. All in all, it was an extremely productive week, filled with excellent discussions, ideas, food, fun, and jokes.
Palermo was our work spot, so once our projects were completed, we had two leisure days to explore the area as a group. Together, we drove from Palermo to Agrigento, where we visited the Valley of the Temples. It was an absolutely gorgeous walk. That is, gorgeous until the sudden downpour.
Sicily being Sicily, the rain stopped shortly after and we were left with a beautiful day as we continued on our drive to Cefalù.
On the last day, we took a trip to the island of Ustica. The ferry over from Palermo was about an hour and a half, and the vast majority of us discovered that sitting in the front of a hydrofoil boat is a fantastic way to get sea sick. Once we touched land again, we were met by a lovely tour guide who set us up with breakfast, a boat ride around the island, and scooter or electric bike rides.
Ustica is a very small island, only about seven kilometers, and one of my colleagues and I decided to walk instead of joining the others on bikes and scooters. What we didn’t realize is that walking the island takes more than an hour, and the last ferry leaves at 5 o’clock. Unless you want to spend the night on the island, you better get to the port before that last boat takes off.
While we were walking, our scooter-riding colleagues screeched to a stop and told us that we were only about half way around the island, with a half hour left to get to the port. In a panic, we hopped on the back of the scooters and made our way through the tiny roads, including a wrong-way trip or two down one-way streets. While I was somewhat terrified at the time, it was also one of the most fun parts of the trip. We managed to make it back to the boat early, and with enough time to pop some more Dramamine before returning to Palermo.
I’ve said before that leaving Italy is always really hard for me. This time was no exception. Sicily was absolutely beautiful, and I had so much fun meeting my new colleagues and the various people whose paths we crossed in our time on the island.