It is now November and Christmas is creeping up on us at an alarming rate. I cant quite believe how fast the time has gone since our summer trip to Sicily during the last week of August and the first week of September. Whilst away enjoying the sun, sea and incredible food that the Sicilians produce so effortlessly I wrote a little about our experience and what we found interesting about the places we visited. If you are planning a holiday there or just intrigued to hear what inspiration I found on our journey please read on.
Summer in the south of Sicily 2017
Arriving on the south coast of this beautiful island has been made easy by the now direct route into Comiso airport open to commercial flights since 2013 having previously been just a military airport. We have been invited to stay with my boyfriends parents who have just purchased a property nestled on the hills overlooking the Mediterranean. The half built property was purchased only a few months ago and the building work inevitably over ran so it was lucky we planned our trip for the end of August allowing a little extra time for works to be finished, however the pool is filled and the main rooms are ready for guests. The house is positioned on a small hill which enables its residents a direct view of the ocean. From the sun lounger I'm sitting on to write this I can see the waves lapping up against the shore. So this is my first proper visit to Scilly, I did come once before on my way to the Aeolian islands but only stayed a night. As expected there is everything to love and not much to disappoint.
The food of course must be mentioned first as above all other things it's the main focus of life here. The tradition is to start your day with ice cream!! Well not exactly ice cream but a version of sorbet so pretty close. Granita are usually coffee, almond lemon or Chocolate flavour and are basically frozen slushies but with real ingredients.The granites are consumed first thing with brioche to accompany them. Sometime filled with cream or chocolate how the whole population of Sicily are not obese is beyond me. It didn't take much persuasion for me to adopt this particular habit and my daily routine became lemon granita and Brioche for breakfast. The local beach is a step back in time with lines of orange parasols and neatly positioned sun beds. The sand is fine and the water refreshing. This is the perfect family spot with a low current and a shallow swimming area that seems to stretch out into the ocean for miles. The kids play happily here for hours while the adults layback and relax! Bliss.
At night there is not much to do except.. Yes you've guessed it.....eat!!
We had a whole two weeks to enjoy so after a few days bouncing between the beach and the pool we decided some exploring was in order. The closest town is Scicli, scenically positioned in the valley that looks like it's been left unchanged for at least the last two hundred years. With the exception of a architectural blip in the town square where once a monastery stood. some genius in the late seventies decided it would be better off blest with the modernist monstrosity that represents the brutalist ideas of the time. The town is bellissima!! Scattered with stunning churches and paved with the smooth stone quarried from the local landscape. The streets weave up the hillsides while the days laundry bellows in the breeze, draped from the balconies above. Being August it's hot! Highs of 38, after a little wander around the boutiques we find a wonderful antique store that sells amongst other artifacts from the 18th and 19th centuries a collection of fascinating erotic art, the piece that caught my eye was a French painting but once the owner saw my interest we got the full tour including Japanese silk paintings and a crystal dildo used to treat fever apparently! Not what I was expecting to find in this unassuming little town. The heat was getting to us so the next stop was for a granita in the picturesque square before we headed back to the villa to cool off in the pool.
The next day we packed a small bag and headed off to Caltagirone known for its 110 steps and its beautiful painted ceramics.
That evening we found a pretty little bed and breakfast perfectly positioned to capture the best view of the medieval town of Piazza Armerina from across the valley. After a hour recovering from the days heat we ventured out to discover what the place had to offer. The short answer is not a lot. The view from the other side of the valley is probably the best aspect of this funny little place. In days gone by the ramshackle architecture indicates beautiful cobbled streets of a once pretty town but sadly the crowning glory of the town's beautiful 17th century church is the only remaining property worth admiring the rest needs a strong imagination. Thankfully we found a good spot in the town centre for an aperitif of Campari spritz where we could watch the locals go about their business, after which we found a rather fine fish restaurant that was recommend by everyone we asked and didn't disappoint.
The next day following a good breakfast of cheeses, local tomatoes and fruit from the garden we headed out to visit Villa Romana del Casale , I was expecting a pile of stones in a field. I was wrong ! We spent 3 hours wandering around the Villa and imagining how it once looked but the remains of the stunning floor mosaic are incredible and really something special. This is well worth a visit and puts any mosaics I had seen before well and truly in the shadows. Even with my short attention span this site was really something to marvel at. Having had our dose of history for the day if not week! We turned towards Etna and aimed straight towards the vine yards. The Sat nav had other ideas though and took us off piste and along a road that was so pot holded and bumpy that we scraped the bottom of the 4 x4 on the road and nearly took off going over the mounds of broken up tarmac. Still the views of Etna and the rugged country side where something to behold. As long as we didn't get a flat tire or run out of petrol we would be fine but with the temperature close to 40 degrees I was happy to make it to Randazzo. I am sure there is a much quicker and safer route!