The Sicilian Adventure
The Sicilian Experience
If you thought turning 50, 60 and 70 were special birthdays for me, wait until you hear abut my 72nd birthday in sweet Catania. My neighbor and dear friend Cathy May decided to do something for herself that she had never done in her fifty-some years; she decided to explore her roots and spend the summer in Sicily where her mother’s parents were from originally. She booked an apartment for a month in Catania and an apartment in Palermo for almost three weeks to begin her adventure. She invited me to tag along as well as her nieces. I jumped on the bandwagon quickly as I knew I would never get an opportunity like this again. Her nieces, Rachel and Makayla, were excited to join for shorter visits.
July 6, 2019
This trip started out rough as Rich and I were just ending a trip to Greece with Alison and Dodge. We had a wonderful time on the Greece trip and made it back to Athens from Mykonos to head for home where everyone was longing to go. Alison because she is headed to college shortly, Dodge and Poppa because they were tired of Greek food. Me—I was headed for my lifetime trip to Sicily. My flight left early Saturday morning and Rich and kids were leaving at 2:15 pm that same day.
I made it to Catania with no hitch. Cathy, Frank (brother-in-law) and Rachel, the niece, welcomed me and we headed out for the first of many six, seven, and eight mile hikes. Frank and Rachel wanted to go to the beach. The beach in Catania being thousands of years of built up lava rock bordering crystal clear water from the Ionian Sea. Cathy and I had spritzer drinks while sweltering under an umbrella while the others frolicked in the cold water. We had lunch at a lovely café called Cutilisci overlooking the sea.
That evening Cathy had booked a cooking class for us and we set out to find the historical home where the class was being held. To our surprise, we entered an old building (historical, right?) with lovely features but somewhat disheveled inside. As a matter of fact, the chef was a disheveled red haired woman with a charming, toothy smile. We kept smiling and nodding as we progressed to her kitchen where the class was to be held and was greeted by two giant dogs, hot and panting. I thought Cathy might turn and run, but she graciously smiled and nodded as though this was a normal occurrence; however, she refused to pet the animals, but the rest of us dog lovers did.
As our Italian speaking chef introduced herself and started to explain what we would be doing, I got my courage up and said, “Maybe we should wash our hands after petting the dogs.” Everyone nodded agreement and we got that accomplished quickly.
Our next surprise was when Signora Angelina asked if we minded if she smoked. We all looked to Cathy at once just knowing she would say “No”, but to our surprise, Cathy nodded politely. Okay, we are thinking to ourselves. We can handle this because she will undoubtedly go outside the beautiful, historic 20 ft Baroque windows with the tall, paneled doors to do her smoking, but no, she fired right up inside the kitchen. I have to admit the smoke was not bothersome and no ashes dropped into our food that I could see. We just found it a bit odd; however, Signora Angelina was a character and by the end of the four hour session, we were all best friends.
Unfortunately, at the beginning of the class, I learned that Rich and grandchildren’s direct flight to Chicago had been canceled. Our travel agent worked with Alison to rebook them and advise them of their rights. Another unfortunate is that the agent booked them through Istanbul. Russell was not comfortable with that plan so the agent was working on changing that. A lot of back and forth, Rich calling me to complain, Heidi and I both stressed and Alison handling beautifully. At one point, Rich said, “Alison took my passport from me.” I said, “Good, now you know exactly where it is!.”
Finally, the Travel Agent got them rerouted through Frankfurt, Germany and everyone was happier and I started to relax. The story gets worse the next day when their flight is late and they miss the Frankfurt connection, but I am not so stressed now because they are in Europe and not Turkey when they have to go to another hotel for the night. Finally, the next day they got to Lisbon, Portugal and then on to Chicago. Heidi had a flight booked for them at 9 pm to get back to their home town of Cape Girardeau, MO and we all were so relieved when they finally arrived home.
Signora Angelina did her best to keep my spirits up, but it was difficult until near the end of the evening when we enjoyed a beautiful meal of Pasta Norma (standard Sicilian pasta dish), zucchini antipasta, limone meatballs, canolli and wine which everyone helped prepare, except for me. I participated minimally because I was dealing with the crisis.
For the next month we had many excursions, tours, getting lost and enjoying the opportunity to immerse ourselves in this ancient culture.
July 7, 2019
Frank, Rachel and Sue had a walking tour with Antonio for about three hours that Rachel and Cathy had done previously, but Rachel opted to repeat. Antonio took us to a couple of places that Rachel had not seen to make it interesting for her. We toured the Piazza Bellini, Piazza Duomo, Teatro Roman ruins, a monastery and more.
That night we went to Antica Marina in the fish market area for a wonderful dinner of fresh fish and Mt. Etna wine. We wound around and found our way to a charming bar called Boheme Mixology Bar with live music. The musician played a guitar and sang a variety of music, but some blues by Buddy Guy and Muddy Waters which thrilled the Chicagoans in the group—all of us except Frank who lives in Seattle, but was originally from Chicago area.
They didn’t have a drink menu; instead the waiter asked questions and builds a drink for you. Cathy and I have the same tastes and got a delightful spritzer that was delicious as well as beautiful with sprigs of rosemary and berries adorning the drink. A delightful evening.
July 8, 2019
We enjoyed Trattoria Monte Sant Agata for an antipasto buffet lunch. The restaurant is nestled in the area of the Basilica Sant Agata. Today is Alison’s 18 birthday and they finally made it home to Chicago. Frank and Rachel left to spend a couple of days in Siracusa.
July 9, 2019
Cathy and I went to the Museum of Contemporary Art which is a small museum but very interesting. We bought some candles shaped like flowers for gifts and lunched at Il Crociferi. Along the way back to the apartment we saw a darling little boutique called POD where I found some cooler tops.
July 10, 2019
Pasticceria Spinella’s for espresso and people watching. Spent some time shopping and browsing. Frank and Rachel returned and that night we celebrated, sadly, Rachel’s return to the USA the next day by going to another favorite place called Mt Etnea Rooftop where the food is delightful and the view is spectacular. For some reason Mt. Etna (the volcano) is spelled differently than the rooftop restaurant and the street near us that takes us straight to Piazza Bellinini, Piazza del Duomo, Piazza Universite and Piazza di Assisi. We have learned that spelling can be different and names misleading; hence, our being lost a few times.
July 11, 2019
Monica was our delightful guide that picked us up in front of our apartment and was a wealth of information as we drove to Mt. Etna. We hiked up Mt. Etna to the first large crater and walked around the cavern. Monica took us to a lava cave and we climbed down inside it praying that we could climb back out. Mt. Etna is the world’s most active volcano and the largest active volcano in Italy, one of the oldest in the world being created over 500,000 years ago. We learned so much about the volcano and how the people have an appreciation for her because of the richness of the soil from the years of lava production. They say, “Mother Etna brings the bad, but also the good.” A great example of learning to live with what you cannot change and finding ways to appreciate it. This will be my motto for the remainder of my life.
We had a honey and wine tasting at the Murgo Winery and purchased a few small bottles of honey for gifts. Lunch at the winery was cheese and charcuterie with bread.
So that night when we returned to Catania we walked to Piazza Duomo and wound around to find a quaint restaurant that was inviting. Putia dell Ostello is a lovely restaurant that has live music, outside seating, inside seating and a special grotto cave seating. Of course, Frank, Cathy and I wanted to sit in the grotto cave with the real underground river nearby. The staff was friendly, the food good and the music was nice and relaxing.
Each day we learn something new about the Sicilians; some good and some not so good. Like there are no rules for walking, driving or parking—pedestrians beware. The streets and sidewalks are narrow made with huge, lava blocks that make walking quite difficult. All the shops and restaurants and cafes close every afternoon about 2 pm. Everything is closed on Sunday so forget about Sunday brunch after church. Despite their brusque manner in Catania, the people are kind and helpful. We are told that Catania’s population is somewhat less friendly than the rest of Sicily and certainly the rest of Italy. We are finding that to be pretty accurate although not many are downright rude. We are learning how to adapt.
We have had an architectural walking tour, a street food walking tour, the famous cooking class, Mt. Etna hike and wine tour, museum and Duomo visits, and found many charming trattorias and coffee establishments.
We took a side trip to Taormina, a lovely tourist resort town perched on the side of the mountain overlooking the Ionian Sea. Frank treated Cathy to two nights at this wonderful resort, Capo Taormina, and we added another night because it was so fabulous. We enjoyed the beach, the pools, the restaurants and the spa. Additionally, we went into the town and had a cannoli making class that was so much fun. We drove to Castelmola where we could see both Mt. Etna and the Ionian Sea. This is a small tenth century village nested above Taormina. The village was built around the ruins of a Norman Castle.
July 15, 2019
The day we left Taormina we drove to Noto and Ragusa. Noto is a small town with wonderful Baroque architecture in the Siracusa province. Noto was rebuilt, as many cities and towns have been, after the 1693 earthquake and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Ragusa was also rebuilt after the 1693 earthquake and became two cities; Ragusa Superiore and Ragusa Inferiore or Ibla. Ibla is the lower city and that is what we visited. Ragusa Ibla is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Ragusa Ibla is a beautiful Baroque town with a friendly atmosphere. Nothing is in a straight line; you are either walking uphill, downhill or sideways. Lunch was outdoor at a restaurant called Il Barroco at the bottom of Ibla near the park .
Cathy and Frank explored the Basilica while I browsed through shops in the main square. There is a lovely park at the end of town where we went before we headed back to Catania.
July 16, 2019
One of our favorite restaurants is La Deliziosus and is run by two women. There are about six tables in the place. One woman is the chef and the other does the setups, waiting tables and taking orders. Cathy found this place before I got here and has been there twice. Very charming and the food is wonderful.
Dinner was at the apartment that night and consisted of kebobs from a small shop next door that Frank had been itching to try. He wanted to stay low key since he was leaving early the next morning.
July 17, 2019
Cathy and I are alone for the first time on this trip. We strike out to have lunch at Mt. Etnea Rooftop and decide we really did not enjoy lunch there as well as dinner. First of all, it was hot and second, hardly anyone was around. We were, likely, eating too early again. We shopped a bit and tried to delay going to the apartment because the cleaning people were there. We had dinner at home.
July 18, 2019
On one of our more adventurous treks we set out walking to find a Thai restaurant having a taste for something not Sicilian. A walk that was supposed to be 1.1 mile turned out to be almost 4 miles. We have found that our GPS gets confused by all the tiny dead-end streets. If we are not careful, we turn onto the wrong street and then GPS starts to recalculate—so maybe it is not the GPS that gets confused, but us. We are learning everyday. The restaurant was fabulous, by the way. We want to go there again. We took a taxi home just to be safe and not have to walk another four miles.
July 19, 2019
Another favorite restaurant is called The Teapot which is a small, but fascinating place with unusual décor and friendly atmosphere. They serve breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner. We loved our lunch there and determined to go back.
July 20, 2019
Anna was our guide for the Gastronomic Street Food tour. We walked to the designated piazza to meet her and walked up to a young woman who was checking her watch as though waiting for someone. Cathy called her name and she nodded. Cathy proceeded to ask if she was a guide and she nervously said, “No, but how do you know my name?” Cathy explained that we were meeting our guide whose name is Anna. We had a good laugh over that one even though we scared the poor girl. We still cannot believe what the odds of someone named Anna being almost exactly where we were to meet our guide.
We started our food tour with a cheese sampling; fresco and aged pecorino. Next we had a small bag of fried fish that is very popular for business people to grab for a quick lunch. We stopped to have fresh fruit juice at one of the many drink kiosks. There are drink kiosks all over Sicily and they sell drinks such as coffee, selza which is freshly squeezed lemon juice, seltzer water (sparkling) and a pinch of salt – great for hot weather and helps to replenish the salt you lose when you sweat. Next stop was at Nelson’s where we had a pistachio tasting. Delicious creamy pistachio that was like peanut butter and a savory pistachio pesto. Also, delicious organic chocolate bars. Of course, we bought some of both. Last stop was for granita (pronounced granite) for dessert. Granita is not ice cream or shaved ice and although the texture varies through the area, granita is uniquely Sicilian and delicious. They make every flavor from almonds and pistachio to fruits, chocolate and coffee flavors. Although creamy, it does not have milk. Below is a recipe I found in epicurious.
2 to 3 large lemons
1 cup filtered or bottled still water (not distilled)
1/3 cup superfine granulated sugar
With a vegetable peeler remove zest in long pieces from 2 lemons. Squeeze 1/2 cup juice from lemons.
In a small heavy saucepan heat water and sugar, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Stir in zest and transfer syrup to a bowl to cool. Chill syrup, covered, until cold. Discard zest and stir in lemon juice.
For eastern-Sicilian granita:
Freeze lemon mixture in an ice-cream maker until spoonable but not crumbly and serve immediately.
For western-Sicilian granita:
Freeze lemon mixture in a metal bowl, stirring every 30 minutes to remove ice crystals from side of bowl, until liquid has become granular but is still slightly slushy, about 3 to 4 hours. Serve granita immediately.
July 21, 2019
We went to services at a neighboring church on Sunday. We set out to return to The Teapot anticipating Sunday brunch. We got lost again. When we finally figured out what we were doing wrong and memorized some landmarks and got to The Teapot, the restaurant was closed because it was Sunday.
We walked to our familiar neighborhood restaurants and had apertivos at Uzeta Bistro. Then we walked to Boheme for a nightcap but decided to move on down the street where we could hear live music. We went to The Joyce, an Irish Pub and heard a man on guitar accompanying a woman play a saxophone and clarinet. Delightful evening.
One important task that we were proud to have mastered is Netflix. We both have Netflix accounts so looked forward to watching some movies or series during our down time. We have smart televisions throughout the apartment, but had to figure out how to change the language to English. Even though we have taken Italian lessons and Cathy is still diligent about that, we couldn’t follow the dialogue well enough to leave the language in Italian. Cathy’s brother got us hooked on Stranger Things and we have progressed through two seasons. I am watching The Crown alternately.
July 22, 2019
Cathy wanted me to experience Aci Trezza which is located on the coast of the Ionian Sea and where many Italian vacationers come to swim and sunbathe. She had brought Rachel here previously where Rachel and our new best friend, tour guide Antonio, jumped off a high rock into the sea. It was beautiful and we enjoyed a paddle boat for an hour before heading back into land.
Off the coast of Aci Trezza are three tall, column-shaped islands. According to local legend, these great stones are the ones thrown at Odysseus in The Odyssey. The islands are referred to as the "isole dei ciclopi" (islands of the Cyclops, or Cyclopean Isles) by locals. The patron Saint of the town is St. John the Baptist.
Lunch this day was at McDonald’s because we had almost waited too late to eat lunch before the local restaurants had closed for the afternoon. We thought it would be interesting to see the McDonald’s as well as give us a change from pasta and seafood. We had to use an electronic board to make our selection and determine if we wanted table service or take away. We were surprised to find beer on the menu and decided to partake. When we sat down at our table we noticed a sign that said, (in Italian), “since plastic is harmful to the environment McDonald’s does not offer straws or lids”. We applauded the concern for the environment and laughed that we didn’t get a lid or straw, but we got beer. A very fair exchange, indeed.
Cathy and I are trying to adapt to the Italian lifestyle—sleeping late, eating lunch midafternoon and dinner at 8 pm. We are enjoying a long walk each day although we come home sweaty and have to shower multiple times a day due to the heat.
July 23, 2019
Today we consulted our map and GPS and headed out for a dry run to the rendezvous point for our pistachio tour on Thursday. We did get lost a little bit, but not bad even though this was a completely different direction from where we generally traverse.We found our spot and was relieved that it is within walking distance. As a matter of fact, going home was quite fast. We found a great place for lunch called Chan. Of course, it was only about 12 noon and we were the only patrons. Cathy had sashimi and I had a maki roll. We thoroughly enjoyed the food.
Well, we finally did it. We stayed out late doing the Italian thing. At 6:45 pm we set out (still about an hour too early for the average Italian) and went to dinner at a place Cathy had researched called Fud Off. We were curious to see what kind of place this was with this funky name, but the reviews were good and it sounded interesting.
We had to use our GPS although when we found street we realized it was close by and we must have walked by Via Umberto a thousand times but always kept going straight to the Bellini Square or the Duomo Square. By making a left turn for one block at Via Umberto and then a right turn, we found this charming tiny street or alley where several interesting looking bars and restaurant were. Turns out that Fud is on one side of the narrow street and is a full restaurant. Off is across the alley and is a bar that serves small plates or appetizers served by the Fud kitchen.
I had to ask about the name of the establishment as it is by far the most unusual name we’ve seen and seemingly the least Italian or Sicilian. The young man said, “Fud is how Italians say the American word food” (it is not the Italian word for food) and Chef just wants to prepare food so that is the name of the restaurant. He continued, “Chef decided to add a bar off from the primary restaurant so people can go there to have a drink while waiting for a table.” So not such a funky name afterall and very cleverly conceived. The ambiance was pleasant with an arched wall of mirrors making the small place look larger. There were small tables as well as comfy armchairs to sit in. We chose the comfy chairs and settled down to have some tapas and a bottle of French wine while we enjoyed the classic jazz music being piped in.
We enjoyed ceviche, fried oysters, and a bruschetta topped with guacamole and fresh salmon, another bruschetta with onion rings and eggplant. We could have done without one of the bruschettas because it was too much food.
Lovely evening that we ended at our favorite Mt. Etnea rooftop restaurant having an after dinner drink and enjoying the view. It was wonderfully cool on the roof and we saw the end of the sunset with a pink sky framing Mt. Etna and the smoke rolling off the mountain. We met an interesting young woman with a broken wrist who is an emergency room doctor and lives in Bermuda. She was on holiday and hiking with a friend when she fell and injured herself. Her husband, who is a doctor too, arranged for her to go to Germany to have surgery on her arm. We gave her our email address, wished her well on her upcoming surgery/recovery and hope to stay in touch.
I don’t know what time we made it back to the apartment, but I do know that I did not need a limoncello and an aperol spritzer to end the evening. Had to drink lots of water to compensate, but the enjoyed our night out.
July 24, 2019
Lazy morning with late sleeping and leisurely breakfast of cheese and crostini with coffee. Checking our email and updating our journal and resting up from our late evening.
July 25, 2019
Mid morning start with a 20 minute walk to our meeting point for the pistachio farm tour. What a lovely event that turned out to be. Sonya, our guide, was a delight and spoke good English. We had two other companions join us, Rachel and Katrina, who were ending a three week European trip and were headed back to Chicago. We made fast friends with them even though they are in their late twenties; therefore, much younger than us. We drove for about thirty minutes out into the countryside which is very mountainous and arrived at Sonya’s family farm perched on the hillside with Mt. Etna overlooking the area. Sonya’s parents, sister and brother-in-law greeted us as well as a small dog named Stella. After introductions and some refreshements of water, juice and fruit we set out to walk over the farm and wend our way up the mountainside viewing the pistachio trees. Mixed in with the pistachio trees was the occasional olive tree, almond tree and peach tree. Sonya explained that the mature trees do not need water, but the newly grafted trees do. Her father and brother-in-law showed us the covered structures where the hand-picked pistachios would be spread out to dry at harvest time.
The trees were terraced up the side of a mountain and it got really steep before we stopped to view the wonderous vista of the farm with the hundreds of trees seemingly mangled together. It was explained that at harvest time in September and October about twenty worker will take rows of the trees and pick the individual pods off the trees. We could not imagine how labor-intensive the harvest must be. After the nuts are dried, some with be sold in the shell, some with be hulled and the raw nuts sold commericially and still others will be aged to become a special pistachio for exclusive dishes.
We returned to the farm house to enjoy a meal of bruschetta with fabulous tasting vine-ripened tomatoes and a basket of parmigiana cheese topped with pistachios. Next course was a pasta dish with pistachio sauce—also fabulous, but starting to get full already. We were being served homemade wine as we went from course to course. Then the host brought out traditional Sicilian meat rolls and a salad course. Next was the digestives of Limoncello and a homemade digestive made for Sonya’s mother. We loved both. Espresso was offered and the Sicilians and I partook of that where others continued with more lemoncello or wine. Last was the pistachio ice cream. By this time we were so stuffed. It was pleasant to sit under the portico and visit with the family and the other Chicagoans while viewing Mt. Etna in the distance, letting the breeze keep us cool and let our food settle. There was a swimming pool and the younger Chicagoans went to sit by the pool as they were still trying to get a deeper tan before heading home.
Our air conditioned apartment never felt so welcoming as it did this day. Sonya dropped us off so we did not have to take the twenty minute walk and we appreciated it. There will be no going out later tonight.
July 26, 2019
Friday morning dawned about 9:30 am and we decided to walk to Teapot for brunch. We made it this time without getting lost. We decided to sit inside because it was already warming up outside. The instant cool we felt quickly gave way to heat and humidity. I ordered an Italian benedict that was a poached egg with prosciutto and a bechamel sauce. Delicious. Cathy had a bacon sandwich which she said was delicious. We traversed home in a different route hoping we would not get lost. Luckily, we came across via Settembre which was very familiar to us. We weaved our way through a street market that was blocks and blocks of meat, fish, vegetables, fruits, clothing, jewelry, novelty items, household goods and more. I bought a sundress for 5E and we headed back to via Monseratto 23 to get out of the heat.
That night we decided to go somewhere close and went to Sushilive for Sushi, of course. Cathy had a list of restaurants she had researched and so far, we have gone to many of them and found them to be excellent. Sushilive was no exception. They even offered take home boxes which is unusual. We walked to the small street that has bars and live music and decided on one of our favorites—Boheme where they ask you questions and make a drink for you based on those answers. Also, they have a cute dog who is the mascot and namesake of the club.
July 27, 2019
Saturday we got up midmorning to walk to the Castle museum which is a 11th century castle that is still standing. The inside has been renovated somewhat to house painting, tapestries and sculptures. The tapestries were of primary interest to me and were exquiste with coral beads, red garnet stones and tiny detailed flowers, plants, animals and porticos embroidered. Many were in excellent condition with only slight tears or wear marks. Truly amazing.
We walked to a restaurant called Liska, which means “bait” and has a fish design around the letters. I had a tuna club with eggplant fries that were so delicious, but I could only eat half. They gave me a take home box. Cathy had a squid pasta dish that she thoroughly enjoyed. We walked through the squares and markets and stopped at one shop we had eyed along the way, but made no purchases. Temperatures are climbing again and it will be 95 tomorrow but only 91 today. We are so glad we have airconditioning in our apartment. Still deciding whether to eat out tonight (after 8) or stay home. I suggest we go out since we feel like we need to stay indoors tomorrow.
July 28, 2019
Sunday was a lazy day for us and we got caught up on our rest. It was 95 degrees outside and our apartment felt wonderfully cool. By evening we were ready to do some exploring and find a place for dinner. Our first choice was Fud, the restaurant, since we had eaten at Fud Off, the bar and enjoyed both the food and the drink. However, when we reviewed the full menu, we expected the offerings to be different than the bar, but it was mostly apertivo style food, tapas and sandwiches. We explained that we were looking for something different and left the establishment. We determined to review the menu before we were seated next time.
It turned out that most of the restaurants along this charming alley or street strung with twinkling lights above offered sandwiches and pizza so we wandered down some other streets, past the Trattoria de Cavaliere which specializes in horsemeat although offers other choices as well, which had a long line of people waiting to get seats. We did not want to wait in line nor try the horsemeat which is on many other restaurant menus as well, so we moved on.
We found another small street with interesting looking restaurants. We settled on Polpeterria which specialized in pizza and meatballs. We decided to give it a try. I ordered the pumpkin and ricotta meatballs with a tomato salad. Cathy chose the Greek meatball and insalata with mozzarella. My salad was delicious being almost all fresh tomatoes with some grated mozzarella, but I did not like the meatballs as they were dry and pretty tasteless to me. Cathy’s Greek meatballs had more taste.
Fud Off was our choice for an after dinner glass of wine since we did not spot any music coming from Boheme or The Joyce. We got a little bit lost on the way home by forgetting to walk to Mt. Etnea after we came out of the alley. It was not long before we realized our mistake and backtracked a little to get to a street that was better lighted with restaurants and people walking around. It was an early evening with us getting home before 11 pm. We wanted to get to bed early since we had a destination the next morning.
July 30, 2019
Both Cathy and I being prompt people, we were dressed in our bathing suits and coverups and ready to go by 8:30. We needed to be at Porto del Catania by 9:45 am. Knowing that we did know where the port was, but not the exact location of Caffee del Porto, we decided to go ahead and leave.
We suspected that the café would be in the area of the Avis rental car building or perhaps even in the same building, but were not certain. Sure enough, the café was just a few yards farther down the edge of the harbor. We were still the first of our group to arrive. We have learned to identify guides because they are looking for us or people like us who are standing around with hats on and their phone in their hand.
A small man with dark skin named Ivan, pronounced E-von, introduced himself to us and explained that we were waiting for a few more people. We were relieved that we had been identified and were in the right place. Soon two beautiful young women arrived and were looking at their phone. We asked if they were going sailing and one of them said “yes” in perfect English. She had dark skin and origins from India but her family lived in Italy and Valerie and her friend, Kristina live in Siciliy now.
Ivan brought over a group of people that filled out our group. Maureen with her three daughters, Charlotte (Charlie), Ellen (El) and Joanna joined us and before long we were all fast friends. We had an excellent three hour sailing excursion in the Ionian Sea. The wind was perfect and most of the young people hung out in the front of the boat capturing as much sun as possible. We arrived at an area where Ivan let people jump in and swim if they wanted to while lunch was being prepared.
Lunch was a caprese salad, a tomato salad with a little onion, olives and grated mozzarella cheese. Some delicious dried tomatoes in olive oil, olives and crusty bread. Prosecco was served for those who wanted it and water for all to stay hydrated.
The excursion ended all too soon and Maureen and daughters walked with us to the Piazza Duomo. Cathy treated all to drinks and appetizers at Una Hotel’s Mt. Etnea Rooftop restaurant with Cathy’s new friend Marco serving us once again. We had a lively discussion about American politics and were really pleased with the level of interest of the three younger women. Charlie lives in Denver, Colorado, Ellen is in Catania being a nanny for the summer and Joanna will be a senior in high school this fall. We promised to stay in touch and invited them to Chicago any time.
July 30, 2019
We didn’t necessarily sleep late, but we puttered around the apartment most of the day getting organized so we can pack easily for our move to Palermo on Thursday. Tomorrow is a spa day and we have to walk about three miles so we are taking it easy today.
We walked to the grocery store and picked up just a few items to get us by the next two days. I got some fish and salad greens while Cathy got some baked chicken and spinach for lunch. By late afternoon we had cabin fever and decided we needed to get dressed and go out for dinner. The evening was the coolest we have had so far when we left at seven to walk to Princess Thai on viale Africa. The first time we walked there we got lost and walked twice as far as necessary so we took a taxi back. This time we, or especially Cathy, had her bearings and we were able to walk there in about 20 minutes. We tried different dishes this time—a curry dish with prawns and a noodle dish with chicken and our usual appetizers of golden bags and spring rolls. All was delicious. We both felt like the food was better the first time; however, that may have been a result of having eaten Sicilian food for two or three solid weeks so the Thai food was a delightful change.
It was an easy walk back to the apartment, but we still had to have another shower to cool down for bedtime. I watched two more espisodes of Tales in the City, a series I had downloaded to Cathy’s ipad before we realized we could pull it up on Netflix on the televisions in the apartment. Cathy had watched the entire series on her ipad and got me intrigued to watch it again. Totally enjoyable.
July 31, 2019
Last day in Catania. We left about 10:15 to walk to the Hotel Grand Gaia for our spa day. It turned out to be about a 4.5 mile walk and it was hot but we made it. We got there about 11:45 so we went to to the pool bar to get some lunch. We had fruit salad and a brioche. Cathy had a granita; a chocolate and almond one. I had an espresso following our lunch. The hot stone massage was the best I have ever had and Cathy expressed the same. We took a taxi home and relaxed the rest of the day. We worked on our packing for the next day. We are scheduled to be picked up by Antonio by 8:15 am to take us to the bus terminal to catch our bus at 9 am. I am still watching the espisodes of Tales in the City.
August 1, 2019
We got up early to finish last minute packing and meet Antonio, the landlord to give his keys back to him and young Antonio, our taxi driver to the bus station. Young Antonio was prompt as is his habit. We had him for walking tours, dinner, a ride to Aci Trezza and more. He is a school teacher and does tour guiding part time. Older Antonio is a lawyer who owns rental property. He slid in just a few minutes past his agreed upon time, but not too bad. I know he wanted to catch up with us before we left and Cathy told him we were leaving promptly at 8:15.
Young Antonio helped us get our bags out of the taxi and pointed us to the right place to wait for our bus. It was an interesting bus ride across the island of Sicily. The terrain became more mountainous yet greener. I saw more fields of vegetables including some corn being grown as well as the usual olive trees and fruit trees. Palermo is blessed with sunshine all year round and is nestled in a natural harbor. The peak of Mt. Pellegrino (the Pilgrim Mountain) lies at the edge of Palermo. Palermo is renown for its lemons and oranges.
We arrived in Palermo about 11:45 am and quickly dragged our bags to a taxi stand and was lucky enough to get a father/son taxi who helped us figure out where our apartment was. They even spoke to our landlord in Italian to let him know we were outside the gate. Feeling confident that we were in the right place and Alessandro was sending someone to help us, Guisseppe and son left us.
We were allowed to stow our bags in the apartment and go to lunch until 2 pm which was the official check in time. The setting with a beautiful courtyard full of trees, plants and cats was wonderful with the magnificent Cathedral of Palermo across the street. The Cathedral was built in 1185 on the site of a previous Christian Basilica which had also been a Mosque in the days of the Arab occupation.
However, we were not pleased with our apartment because although it, technically, would sleep six people, there was only one bedroom and one bathroom which was not what Cathy had booked. She quickly made a decision to book her niece, Makayla and her three friends into a hotel nearby. We knew that the two of us could get by with one bedroom and one bathroom, but six women simply could not. We are still negotiating with Alessandro because we canceled eight days off our stay because of this inconvenience plus Cathy had to spend more money to accommodate her niece and friends.
We stayed working on plans for the intervening days that we canceled from Palermo by planning a road trip down the coastline of Sicily ending up in Siracusa where we planned to go on August 18 anyway. We took a break to try to find a convenience store that our darling waitress told us about at lunch. As usual we found ourselves wandering down alleys and small streets with cars and motorcycles barely squeezing past us and wandered onto a major street in which we could not find the name. It looked like an international marketplace with all kinds of shops, bars, eateries, kiosks and more. We found the little convenience store and bought some snacks to tide us over until we can find a real grocery store. If we get hungry, we can always go in our back alley to a wonderful restaurant called La Galleria where we had lunch. We enjoyed a delicious appetizer of caponata of melanzone (eggplant with celery, onion, tomatoes and green olives—recipe below*) and shared pasta with clams. Everything was wonderful.
We get back to our room and Cathy resumed working on reservations for our road trip and I set about to work on this journal. We are thinking we will want to go to dinner which, of course, is not available until 8 pm. It is now 8:07; time to go.
La Galleria behind our apartment is again our restaurant of choice because it is so delicious and mostly because it is so close. Ravioli for Cathy and insalata with shrimps for Sue (note I did not misspell shrimp; this is how everyone in Sicily indicates a dish with more than one shrimp). La Galleria gets rave reviews on TripAdvisor and we are lucky to have them nearby. We made friends the first day because the lady cleaning our room took us over there to speak to her daughter who speaks good English. Even though we did not have a reservation last night and the place was packed, Dahlia told us she would find a table for us.
August 2, 2019
After a good night’s sleep we are starting to enjoy our apartment more even though it does not have some amenities we expected. The air conditioner works very well, but we have to turn it off to get our key out when we leave. So far the rooms have still been cool when we have returned.
We found our way to the Quattro Canti, an open square located in the center of Palermo. Constructed in 1608, the square provides a crossroads for Via Maqueda and Via Vittorio Emannuelle, but it is the architecture that makes it famous. Here is where we got on the Hop On Hop Off bus this morning and enjoyed a brief ride around the city. As is usual when we take a riding tour like this, we find that things are much closer than we realized. The Cathedral di Palermo was a big attraction with everyone because it is so important to Palermo and it is magnificent. To think that we reside right across the narrow street from it is so wonderful.
After we got off the bus, we wandered up some street trying to find a real supermarket to no avail. We walked back to Via Emannuelle and strolled through the big park behind the Palace of the Normans or The Royal Palace. Cathy is taking lots of pictures and posting on Instagram. We had lunch at Trattoria Latino on Via Emannuelle.
We got back to our room and showered and napped a little and then got back on our computers to finalize rooms for the road trip and look up more restaurants to go to here in Palermo.
I researched lots of restaurants on TripAdvisor because Cathy was worn out from researching hotels for our road trip, we struck out for Al Fondaco which was not far from us. My directions took us nowhere so Cathy pulled out the GPS and it took us almost exactly back to our apartment but a few blocks to the north. We walked down some steep steps and wandered through streets that looked residential. We came up to the “arrived” address and a family was cooking outside their door. We looked at each other in surprise when Cathy spotted Al Fondaco off to the right.
We had a wonderful meal there with the chef, Alex, speaking to us directly and recommending his specialties of caponata di melanzone and pasta pistachio with prawns; both having his own special treatment. He recommended a Mt. Etna wine that was a soft, dry white that paired wonderfully with the food.
Our walk back to our apartment was ten minutes once we realized where we actually were. My directions had been correct but we should have walked across via Emannuel instead of turning right on it. We will definitely go back if time permits.
August 3, 2019
Walked to Teatro Politeamo still in search of a grocery store. Stopped at Rinacente department store and enjoyed the panoramic view from the roof and had lunch on the inside. We plan to go back at night to the terrace bar to capture the panoramic view from the rooftop. We finally found a Carrefour market a couple of blocks from the Teatro (after we walked for blocks out of the way following our GPS) and bought supplies. We grabbed a taxi at the Teatro to take us home with our load of groceries. After our usual shower and rest time, we struck out to find a restaurant in our neighborhood.
We walked to the square on via Emannuel called Il Cochino. Cathy was hungry for meat so we shared the famous Sicilian salad of fennel, oranges, olives and capers and a t-bone steak with roasted potates and grilled vegetables. We had a nice bottle of red wine with it. Then we each had a dessert—Cathy had ricotto with an orange reduction while I had a pear tart with whipped cream. The waiter brought us a limoncello to end the evening. We had walked into the Museum of Contemporary Art hoping to hear some live music, but we were too early so went to dinner and then was too late after. So we went back to our apartment with the streets and restaurants full of people because it was only 10:00 pm.
August 04, 2019
Early morning walk to the sea which was about a mile one way. Along the way we saw people setting up for markets and joggers. We saw a sign for Carrefour and followed it on our walk back from the sea and found the store. We bought water and a couple of supplies, but were glad to find the store close enough for us to walk.
We stopped in the same square as last night and had a croissant and coffee (tea for Cathy) and enjoyed the morning. Back to the apartment to rest before the nieces come and we have an evening with them once we get them settled in their apartment. We found a hotel, Quintocanto, that has a spa, but it may not be open on Sunday as many places are not. I have emailed them to see when we can get a manicure and pedicure. It would be perfect to do that this afternoon. I still have to purchase some postcards and we want to walk in a few boutique shops too.
Heard back from Giovanni at Quintocanto and we are confirmed for Thurday for manicures and pedicures. The young women got in about 7 pm and Cathy met them at their hotel. Cathy said their hotel was nicer than our apartment. They quickly stowed their bags and walked back down to our apartment for apertivos and aperol spritz drinks. I had stayed behind to set out the assorted food we had purchased to have on hand like prosciutto, spicy salami, salami with pistachios, bread, chips, olives and an assortment of cheeses. They were hungry and fell on the food with joy.
At nine we set out to walk the hundred feet to La Galleria behind our building for dinner. We started with Caponata di Melanzone (traditional starter dish of chopped eggplant, tomatoes, olives, capers and usually another secret ingredient by the chef). Three of the group had pasta Norma (very traditional Sicilian dish with aubergines or eggplant), I had caponata di pesce spade (a caponata with swordfish and the usual except no eggplant), two shared pesto pasta. Everyone enjoyed the ambiance and Cathy and I learned that the young women identified good looking men by saying “there goes Guiseppe”.
They are so adorable and nice young women. They all graduated from college at the same time and from the same school. Makayla is Cathy’s niece and is an assistant curator at the Smart Museum of Art located on the campus of University of Chicago in Hyde Park. Emma works at Trump Enterprises in Chicago, Marlie is a high school teacher in Arlington Heights and Michelle is….. They are all so mature and level-headed to be so young (24ish).
Nothing would do but we stroll down via Emannuele and end up at Mixology Bar on via Maqueda (street name we cannot pronounce so we call it Makayla’s street) where we sat on couches and comfortable chairs and had a nightcap. The night was magical for the group as they all expressed awe at being in Sicily and viewing the diverse architecture, food and art. Tomorrow we are planning to meet at ten to go through the Cathedrale di Palermo right across the narrow street from us. Ciao!
August 05, 2019
Met the Makayla crew at 10:40 to go through the Cathedrale di Palermo which was so magnificent that words cannot even express. So many colors of marble and statues with gold and silver and carvings so intricate with ceilings so high that it is impossible to imagine how the workers built this structure centuries ago. Of course, history tells us that the cathedral was built in sections over the centuries with Muslim and Christian religions dominating depending on who the conquerors were at the time. The church was built in a unique Normans/Arabs style in 1185 on a previous Christian basilica site. There is a bell tower that is Medieval at the base and becomes more modern as the height grows. The four smaller turrets around the bell tower were added in the eighteen hundreds.
Makayla and friends left to go tour the catacombs while Cathy I walked to the Capo region in search of a restaurant we had heard of; Le Volte, only to find that it was not open for lunch. We ate at Pizza e Cucino and had a beer with pizza that was a nice change. We wandered in and out of shops and actually bought a piece of art each from a street vendor. At the end of five miles, we returned to our apartment and took our afternoon rest.
Cathy made dinner reservations for all of us for 9:00 pm at Locando di Gusto, a charming restaurant located in the Quintocanto Hotel. Another late night, but we had a good nap and I got some laundry done by hand since we don’t have a washing machine at this apartment.
Wonderful meal in a charming location. We decided to have dinner family style with a starter of vegetable tasting (not exceptional and arrived with all the other courses. Three pasta dishes (pasta Norma, ravioli and pesto pasta with shrimp—all outstanding) and lamb ribs and swordfish. Everything was excellent; however, the protein dishes were very small and we definitely could have eaten bigger portions if available. We enjoyed the meal with a red wine and a white wine and finished with a limoncello and cannoli and tiramisu for dessert.
Of course, no one was ready to go home so we wandered off to an area that was known for bars and young people. The hotel rooftop we wanted to go to was closed at midnight and we were there at 12:03 am. We walked back to a champagne bar and had an aperol spritz for Sue and mojitos for everyone else except Makayla who enjoyed an old fashioned. Walking over five miles this day helped to offset our food and drink intake.
August 6, 2019
Three of us went to the Royal Palace across the street from the Cathedral di Palermo; Cathy, Sue and Makayla. We viewed the Palatine Chapel, the Royal Apartment and an exhibition—more to come. Makayla waited for the other three to show up to go through the Palatine Chapel with them and Cathy and I went to the exhibit and then left.
Cathy and I walked to a Laundromat to check out our options for getting our clothes refreshed; the hand washing is not a great option.We got all the information and will go on Friday morning when we have a free day. Thursday, when the women leave for the airport Cathy and I are going for a much needed manicure/pedicure at the Quintocanto Hotel and Spa.
Cathy and I parted company when she went to meet them for lunch and I retired to the apartment to shower and wash my hair and get rested up for the big evening. I had some cheese and bread and olives for a light lunch and enjoyed my time alone.
Special dinner to at Gagini Restaurant at 8 pm. Cathy wants to treat the young women on their next to last night in Sicily. Tomorrow we have an all day boat ride so she wanted to do the dinner tonight when everyone is rested.
Gagini was fabulous; the ambiance was intriguing and the food delicious. We did a prefixe menu and had seven courses served with red wine for all but me and I had white wine. Here is the menu:
- Amberjack carpaccio (raw fish) with bonito mayonnaise & lemon balm oil
- Scampi, frozen sea urchins with tomato and melon
- Camorli risotto in black & white of roasted cuttlefish (delicious)
- Spaghettoni Gerardo di Nola with garlic from Nubia, pine nuts and parsley oil with buffalo stracciatella cheese and red shrimp
- Catch of the day (sea bream), tabacciera peach, mushrooms & citrus
- Rockfish, celery, tapioca, herbs from Pellegrino Mountain & lime
- Summer: caramelized milk chocolate, apricot and watermelon
Of course, all were tiny portions and I ate half of most, but was still stuffed. Everyone loved the restaurant with its rustic, medieveal walls and interesting artwork. We walked back to our apartments and got in earlier than previous nights. (12:30 am) On the walk back I confessed to Cathy that I really was not that interested in the boat ride and she, quickly, said that it would be no problem if I didn’t go so that is what I decided to do.
August 7, 2019
I got up before Cathy left to walk to the women’s apartment to meet the van that was driving them to the port for their boat ride. I puttered in the apartment and had my tea and coffee with apricots and cheese for breakfast. I decided to walk to the sea to get some steps in for the day, so dressed and left the apartment by noon. It was hot, but pleasant enough in the shade.
As I walked back I searched for a new restaurant to try for my lunch. I settled on Caponata, primarily because they had air conditioning, wi-fi and hamburgers. I knew the hamburgers would be different that what I am used to, but I decided to order the chicken burger with fries. I was shocked at how big the sandwich was with a square of rolled chicken that was fried with a hunk of buratta-type cheese on top, tomato, roasted peppers and lettuce. I cut the sandwich in quarters and proceeded to try to eat one quarter. I finally took the bottom off the bun and gnawed on the sandwich. It was tasty, but not delicious.
So I was not terribly disappointed when I got a text from Cathy saying they had a problem and were headed home—details to come later. I communicated to my waiter that I had an emergency and needed to take my food with me so he wrapped up the massive remains of the burger and the Texas style fries and got my bill for me. I gulped down more water and the rest of a beer and took off. Later I read Cathy’s text and she said they were an hour away which tells me the port was much farther away than we anticipated. I am wondering if they were late getting there in the first place.
On the way back to the apartment since I now realized I didn’t have to rush and not feeling eager to finish the sandwich, I stopped at the bakery and brought a piece of orange pound cake which turned out to the the best cake I have eaten since my sixtieth birthday party. I had made an espresso and enjoyed every bite of the cake. I am so anxious to hear what the problem is and hope that everyone is okay. By the way, I have discovered NCIS on the television and enjoy watching episodes even though they are all in Italian. I can figure out what is actually happening and also pick up some words in Italian. I saw one episode of Homeland which Lee Anne and I used to watch together. It’s the first time I have been able to watch that series in five years.
Cathy texted and made it home by midafternoon. The boat ride was not the peaceful cruising anticipated and everyone agreed when they docked for lunch to get a taxi and call it a day. Cathy spotted a travel agency and explained the situation and they got a taxi that would take them home (180E later). The motor boat went to fast and beat the dickens out of everyone—to the degree that they were sore by evening and even sorer the next day.
After showers and a brief rest we met to walk to lunch pausing to stop by a cute boutique store where the group had bought artisan rings and wanted to show us. Cathy and I ended up buying a piece of jewelry as well. We walked on down to the sea and dined at an outdoor restaurant by the harbor. It was a lovely evening and everyone had a tale to tell about the boat experience. It was a bittersweet evening as it was the last for the young women. They were leaving to fly to Milan early the next morning and then taking a train to Venice for a few days before heading back to the United States. All of the women had jobs to go home to so they were trying to cram both adventure and relaxation into this trip. Lovely women who were a pleasure to be with. Bon Voyage!
August 8, 2019
Leisurely morning for Cathy and I as we slept in a little and had our tea and coffee before heading out to find a breakfast spot. We had manicure/pedicures scheduled for 10:00 am so went directly to Quintocanto Hotel for a bit of breakfast before our appointment. They had a nice buffet of pastries and savory items that we enjoyed.
We did not know what to expect with our spa treatments as we had been somewhat disappointed in previous treatments in Siciliy; however, this lived up to our expectations and we have beautiful nails to show for it that will hopefully last until we make it home.
We stopped at a small wine bar that we had passed many times—name unknown—and Cathy had chicken scaloppini while I had an appetizer of eggplant caponata. We shared a cannoli for dessert.
Walking back we went into a shop that I had noticed yesterday and wanted to see. Raro…déjà vu is a unique artisan shop when they make some original tops and dresses as well as refashion used clothing. They hang a tag with a picture of the original dress or shirt on the newly refashioned garment or jewelry (rings from men’s cufflinks, arm and ring bracelets from earrings, earrings from buttons and more). There was a small sewing shop upstairs and original paintings on the walls by an artist friend. The shop was created and run by a mother/daughter team. Cathy bought a dress/top and I think I may have to buy one later today or tomorrow. Will be especially nice for cruises.
Also, located the ceramic/pottery shop (Angela Tripi) that Makayla told us about where the owner is an elderly woman that reminded her of her Nonnie (Cathy’s mom). Angela’s son is an artist who specializes in anatomy and helps his mother with the shop. He was a charming man that we liked immediately because he was not a Trump fan and espoused exactly why. He and Cathy had a stimulating conversation. He showed us the backroom where three men and a woman were painting the ceramics. The works was brilliant and there was a lot of crèche scenes as well as Arab figurines and dwellings. Cathy bought some pieces for souvenirs and gifts; I bought a small tile with a cactus painted by Angela herself. Cathy bought some interesting lemon juicer tools that will make nice gifts that I may think I need to pick up tomorrow.
Back to the apartment for a nice rest and sorting out of items as we are nearing the end of this adventure and will head out on Sunday for our road trip. We had a simple dinner of pizza at Bar Duomo just down the street from us where we have made fast friends with a young transgender person named Leo. He is not transitioning, but just getting his name changed in Spain in September then will come back to Italy and start proceedings here to get his name changed. He said that people in Italy are very closed-minded.
August 09, 2019
Slept in this morning and then set out to get our laundry washed and dried at a local Laundromat that is semi-automated. They have a couple of industrial machines and another smaller washer and dryer. There are two or three women that run the facility and they will wash for you plus dry and iron if requested. However, we just washed our own, dried and folded ourselves (actually Cathy did the drying and folding while I waited for her at our lunch destination)
We left the Laundromat to get a cup of coffee and lunch, but at Bisso Bistrot, the restaurant was not going to be open for lunch until 12:30 pm but we could have something to drink and wait (we got there at 11:07), so we did. Cathy decided to check on the laundry at 11:20 since we had done some shopping at Nana Aristova Jewels where we had shopped previously with the Chicago girls. Cathy picked up some gifts and then we stopped at Angela Tripi to check out the ceramics and pottery one more time, but didn’t purchase anything. Cathy thought our laundry might need changing over to the dryer so she left to deal with that while I waited.
Cathy got back about 12:15 and I was getting a little worried, but figured that the machines were taking longer; however, they were faster and she was able to wait and fold the clothes to bring with her. Lunch had been delayed a little longer so she was just in time. Cathy enjoyed vegetable coucous and I had pistachio pasta with mussels (I had ordered ravioli with vegatebles but they did not have that today so I tried the special of the day.) Both dishes were delicious, but of course, we could not finish all the food.
We went back to the room, showered and rested and calculated how much money we owe each other and canceled it all out to date with some eye cream I ordered for Cathy. We are keeping careful notes because it is so easy to forget.
Our plans are to go to Hotel Ambasciatori (Terrazze) for apertivos and drinks for dinner.
Dinner at the Hotel Ambasciatori on the rooftop was spectacular. The food was mostly delicious but the view was amazing. We could see the bell tower of the Cathedral by our apartment as well as the magnificent mountains surrounding the city on three sides. We arrived just as the sun was setting, but dark clouds were rapidly covering the mountain tops so we quickly took pictures. We did not have reservations, but they worked to accommodate us and told us to go on the terrace and enjoy the view, so we did.
The menu was a little complicated and filled with the usual Sicilian fare. Cathy asked if we could share food and they said we could. So we ordered the fried squid, pasta of the day which had chunks of shrimp and lobster (delicious) and a rolled branzntino (fish). They served us each a small aranchino (ball of rice with various vegetables—there are literally stands that sell on this product and people stand in line for them. They are a little heavy for summer eating, but tasty and there are many varieties.) We had a dessert that was called Pavlova cake but it was a green and creamy swirl on the plate and tasted like basil and had little stars of meringue—bad choice.
We agreed that it is well worth a trip her for drinks only. We walked home and crashed.
August 10, 2019
Twenty more days to go on our Italian Adventure and while we have some exciting things planned, we are getting weary. I woke up craving Mexican food today and there are five Mexican restaurants in Palermo, but when Cathy reviewed them, some did not even have tortillas—What!!! So we decided we would have to wait for that food until we get home.
Most of the morning was spent packing up for the road trip. We finished about 12:30 and headed out for a hearty lunch since we decided we would just have cheese and bread for dinner and get to bed early.
We decided to go back to our favorite restaurant Locanda Del Gusto and order the lamb ribs because at dinner the other night with the Chicago Girls we only got a taste of them. We sat outside under the magnificent, tall palm tree in the center of the courtyard and had a delicious lunch of just lamb ribs on a bed of hummus with tiny chopped vegetables. We started talking to the young couple seated near us and discovered they were originally from Argentina but lived in London now. Natalia had lived in Chicago in Rogers Park for 15 years previously. Cathy exchanged contact information with them. Adorable couple who were there because Natalia loved Sicily so much that Jose surprised her with the trip. Now he loves it too.
The rest of the afternoon we showered, rested and continued to finish packing. I spoke with Rich for a while, Heidi and Dodge called as they were driving to Alison’s new school and then Alison called when her Mom told her she had just spoken to me. Everyone is excited about this new adventure and apprehensive at the same time. Alison has a busy schedule so, hopefully, she will not experience too much homesickness. Dodge had freshman orientation yesterday. He is all set for high school.
August 11, 2019
Picked up promptly at 8:45 by the son of the father/son taxi service and driven to the aeroporto to pick up our rental car. Soon we were on our way to Cefalu, a resort on the northeastern coast of Sicily that has a medieval old town with a Norman cathedral, but the town was so crowded being one of the last weeks of European vacations that we drove around and back out of town without stopping.
We drove to Marsala, the western most city in Sicily, by way of the coast for most of the trip. It was a beautiful drive and soon we were within five or ten minutes from our Suitebeach Bed and Breakfast, but it took us another thirty minutes of driving down one deadend street after another to call our hostess for help. She sent us a map to follow and finally asked if we wanted her to come meet us and we, quickly, replied “yes”. Once we followed her little smart car to the residence, we realized we had almost been there but for one small, narrow street that we were afraid to go down.
The B&B is beautiful and overlooks the Mediterranean Sea. The town, rich in history and charm, owes its name to Arab influence: Marsa Allah, the port of God, has always been a city of fundamental strategic importance for routes within Mediterranean Sea.
Cathy and I have joked about our living quarters diminishing on each leg of the trip; first a huge, three bedroom, two bath apartment in Catania, then a one bedroom, one bath in Palermo where my bed was a trundle in the same room as Cathy—she said it was like sleeping in a dorm. Now we are in the same bed in a B&B, but we are managing and enjoying our Sicilian adventure.
August 12, 2019
After a delightful breakfast of croissants, cheese, ham, eggs and fruit, we were well fortified to start our explorations. We drove to Erice directly to the Funiva that would take us to the top of the mountain where there are majestic landscapes, numerous churches and palaces (known as the city with a hundred churches; however there are less than that in reality). Even at the top of the Funiva, one still has to walk up a steep hill to visit the medieval village. Erice is known for their hand made woven carpets and hand decorated ceramics.
We ate a typical Sicilian lunch at a wine bar with an Aperol Spritz for Cathy and a Violetta Spritz for me. We shared a salad with tuna and an apertivos board. We headed for the Museo de Sale or the salt museum and salt pans. The museum was small and the gift shop was charming, but small also. Seeing the salt pans was fascinating and learning the history of the Phoenicians who started the salt mines and industry.
That night we enjoyed a dinner prepared by our host, xxxxxx. We had an appetizer of bruschetta and eggplant caponata followed by some wonderfully fresh mussels. Then we shared a piece of grilled dorado fish. Finally, we had a spaghetti with fish that was delicious.
August 13, 2019
We enjoyed a lighter breakfast this morning of primarily fruit and coffee. Cathy and I each took a separate walk as she wanted to power walk and listen to music. I chose to stroll down the beach to the beach bar and have a coffee then back the other way until I had gotten my almost three miles in (2.78 miles). Cathy is sunbathing the rest of the morning while I sit in the shade writing. We have to stay out of our room from 11:30 to 2:00 pm to allow for cleaning.
About 4:00 pm we are leaving to go to a winery and then back to the salt pan area to motor out to a small island for dinner. The winery, Floria, was a wonderful experience. We enjoyed the tour as well as the tasting was very enjoyable. We met two couples from Toronto; a couple and their parents. Cathy and I enjoyed the wine so much that we both bought some to take home as well as some other souvenirs even though we have zero room left in our suitcases. We will figure it out.
Then off to the Salt Musuem to pick up our tickets and take the boat ride to Isola Lunga for dinner. We had plenty of time, but we like to be early and we figured we could just walk around the area again. To our surprise, we were at the wrong place. Our hostess, Valeria had misunderstood us and nodded when we said pick up the ticket at the Salt Museum and she said yes under the big windmill. So we jump back into the car and head off to the correct location. Now we were at risk of being slightly late.
When we arrived at our destination or actually “near” our destination, we noticed that people were parking some distance away and walking up to the dock area so we did the same. Probably only a quarter of a mile walk, but when we got there, it was packed with people. Some people were at a dockside restaurant having drinks, others were milling around and all were taking pictures of themselves and the sunset.
We got our tickets and got in line to get on the boat only to find that the boat was full and would come back for the next group in a few minutes. So we watched the selfie picture-takers and the sun slip behind the windmill as we waited for our boat. We expected that we would be going to a lovely restaurant with a beautiful view of the sun setting in the West, although clearly we had missed that portion of the lovely evening.
The boat took a little longer to get back than anticipated and we did not know what would happen with us being late for our reservation, but hoped for the best. The pontoon style boat eased out of the docking area and we took off across the water in the growing darkness. By the time we docked, it was about 8:00 pm and we followed a guide through a darkening forest being careful not to trip on the gnarled tree roots. The guide stopped to point out some droppings from the cycadia that were common to the area and another time at some rabbit burroughs. Finally, we arrive at our restaurant where white tablecloth tables were set up. Someone guided us to a table for two with the name May on the nameplate.
We were happy that we made our reservation as there were several tables for large groups and numerous other tables for two to four people. We had water on the table and two wine glasses, but no wine, so Cathy found someone and got us a bottle of white wine on order. We settled in to wait for our waiter to bring menus when I noticed that up by the building it appeared that a buffet style meal was being set up. I warned Cathy that this might be what is coming and sure enough it was.
Soon people started flocking Sicilian style to the veranda where the food was laid out. No order of seating or method to the crowd gathering, but it was every man, woman and child looking out for themselves and their meal. Cathy and I parted after securing a paper plate and I managed to secure a little food on my plate and snagged a real fork for myself. Cathy had no food when I caught up with her because she went to the main table where the scores of people were serving themselves. Cathy tried to find a fork for herself and was given a shrug by one of the staff, so she snagged one off one of the serving platters. Finally we got enough food our on plate and headed back to our table.
The food was delicious, but we did not like the buffet style serving at all. It was not what we thought it would be from our “fine dining” expectation. We did not go away hungry, but I was concerned about walking back through the forest after dark. Of course, after a bottle of wine, neither Cathy nor I could manage to get our flashlight to work on our iphones so we stumbled along behind some other people as soon as Cathy spotted people heading toward the boat. We made it to the boat safely and were on the first boat out of there. A couple smiled and waved at me and I waved back not having a clue how I knew them, but they did look somewhat familiar. Cathy asked who they were and I said “I think they are staying at our B&B—remember the couple who went outside for their meal because the dining area was too cold for them.” Sure enough that’s who it was because as we started our quarter mile trek back to our car, they stopped to ask if we needed a ride. Of course, we told we were parked down the road. We arrived back at the B&B right behind them, so the gate was already open. Believe me when I say that Cathy finding the B&B every time was delightful because every street is narrow and many are deadends.
We got up about 5:30 am to pack our car and be ready to leave by 6:30 am. Edwardo was already up and turned our car around so Cathy would not have to turn the car around in the wide, but crowded parking area. He had prepared coffee and croissants for us to have before we left.
We set our GPS for Agrigento to The Valley of The Temples and struck out on the next leg of the adventure. As usual, finding the tickets and parking was challenging. We quickly found a parking spot with a sign that showed the way to get tickets; however, when we bought water we learned that the tickets were purchased a distance away so we decided to drive and thank goodness we did. It was over a mile away. We got parked and bought our ticket and set out to see the sights in 90 degree heat. The Valley of The Temples was awesome with seven temples to view, all built in Doric style. According to my research, it is considered one of the best examples of Greater Greece Art. While it is one of the main attractions of Sicily, it is also, since 1997 a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Here is a list of the temples; not all of which Cathy and I viewed due to time and heat.
- Temple of Concordia. Turned into a church in the 6th century AD, it is now one of the best preserved in the Valley. We saw this one plus it has the bronze statute in front.
- Temple of Juno. Like the first one, it was built in the 5th Century. But, in 496 BC the Carthaginians burnt it. We saw this one.
- Temple of Castor and Pollux. The symbol of the Valley. We saw this one from the car.
- Temple of Olympian Zeus, After the victory of the war with Carthage, the Greek built this temple to celebrate.
- Temple of Heracles. Today, it is the most ancient in the Valley. But, unfortunately, after an earthquake, only eight columns have left. We saw this one.
- Temple of Vulcan. In the past, it was one of the most imposing in the valley. However, now it is one of the most eroded.
- Temple of Asclepius, located far from the others. In the past, it was the destination of pilgrims seeking cures for illness.
Back in our car to head to the Turkish steps. The Turkish steps is a rocky cliff of unusual white color that lies between two sandy beaches. It was beautiful and we took pictures one at a time as we parked illegally across the street, but we opted not to try to walk down to the area due to heat. Instead we headed on to Siracusa to find our Una Hotel.
Of course the GPS kept saying we had arrived but the hotel was no where in sight. Finally, we spot the signs and make it to the destination. Our lovely receptionist gave us a recommendation for a local bar/restaurant and we had lunch at Bar Drago which was within walking distance.
August 15, 2019
We woke up early even though we did not need to. We hung out in our room until 8 am and went down to the traditional Italian breakfast of fabulous coffee, pastries, bread and fruits; although eggs and omelettes were offered too.
We took off for our daily six mile hike to Ortigia and located the hotel where we will be staying in a few days. We walked along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea watching people lying on rocks and swimming in the beautiful sea. Our destination was the Duomo of Santa Lucia because Cathy wanted to light a candle and say a prayer for her friend whose brother is ill with a serious eye problem. Marilee had requested this because Santa Lucia is the patron saint of eyes.
When we decided to head back to our hotel and find a spot for lunch along the way, we twisted and turned through the Venice-like streets to finally find our route back. We had spied a couple of Japanese restaurants on our way there and sought to find them again to have lunch. We found both places, but they were closed due to the Holiday of the Assumption (Ferra Gosta).
We had almost walked back to our neighborhood bar/restaurant and decided we would stop there and maybe have a granite (granita) because it looked like they served the creamy style that Cathy had fallen in love with in Catania. Suddenly, we came upon a restaurant with indoor/outdoor seating overlooking the sea. We switch gears quickly and decided to sit inside where there is air conditioning. Remember, this is almost always a mistake because while we could have benefited from the nice breeze from the sea, instead we suffered from the weak air conditioning that is common in Europe.
We both had an arance and cipolla (oranges and onion) salad that was very refreshing. Cathy had a steak and I had a spinach flan. Both were tasty and we enjoyed the meal and ambience. Getting back to the hotel, we showered and had a rest and waited until our appointment for the Jacuzzi tub at 7 pm. We feel like we could benefit from soaking our tired feet, back and neck for a while. Cathy is researching things to do while in Siracusa and Ortigia while I am updating our journal. We enjoyed our Jacuzzi/sauna experience to a degree and felt refreshed when done, but we didn’t like it well enough to go another time.
We did not want to go back out that evening so wandered up to the rooftop to take advantage of the honor bar, but was disappointed to find lots of potato chip snacks, but no wine. So we took off down to the dining area and found our wine, but no snacks. We asked Rosario if it was possible to eat at the restaurant only to discover that the restaurant is closed for the entire month of August. All they prepare is the breakfast items during this time frame. Rosario did offer to make us a toast (a grilled ham and cheese) and we jumped at that opportunity because we were so hungry. I ran upstairs and snagged the partial bag of chips that we already had and we enjoyed a nice snack for dinner with a couple of glasses of wine.
August 16, 2019
We left right after our breakfast and coffee to try to beat the heat during our walk to the Roman and Greek teatro as well as Archimede’s Ear. The area was only 1.5 miles from us, but of course, by the time we twisted and turned, it was about 3 miles. We found the location and viewed the ruins, but they were somewhat disappointing. Cathy had read that the Greek theatre could seat 100,000 people. Finally, after walking some more and coming up with a dead end, we decide to hop in a taxi and go to the Greek theatre. However, we we found a young English-speaking taxi driver, he told us the Greek theatre was right across the street where we had been. So back we go and find the next exhibit which is the large Greek Theatre.
Next on Cathy’s list was Archimede’s Ear and we did find it and it was amazing. Research the height, etc and details about this. When finished there, we do jump in the taxi with the same young driver and go to our neighborhood restaurant, Bar Drago only to find it crowded and the lunch offerings were not what we wanted. So we left and walked back to the hotel thinking perhaps that someone would offer to make us another sandwich or snack that would tide us over, but no, they told us about a take-away place a couple of blocks aways. We trudged up that hill and found that the place had no sandwiches left so we had a granite (granita) with a brioche which is a typlical lunch for many Sicilians, but while refreshing, did not fill the bill for us.
We walked back to the hotel, showered and had our usual afternoon rest. Cathy made a reservation for dinner at 8 pm in Ortigia and we cabbed it down there. It was a lovely restaurant with a nice man and young boy seating people and taking orders. While they had sushi, I thought it was only sashimi and I did not want that so we ordered the tempura squid and vegetables as an appetizer. I had prawns and eggplant caponata while Cathy had seafood and couscous. My dish was just okay, but Cathy’s was delicious. I tasted some of the bouillibase type sauce and it was yummy. We wandered through the streets of Ortigia and finally found the bridge where taxi’s are located and took one back to the hotel.
That night Cathy suggested that I go home early as we were starting to get on each other’s nerves. I agreed to start working on that and was able to leave by 11 am the next morning.
August 17, 2019
I am sitting in Catania’s airport waiting for several hours because the midafternoon flight that I thought I booked for today, but actually booked for Sunday which would cause me to miss my rebooked flight from Rome to Chicago. So I canceled that flight because I had a 24 hour grace and rebooked the only available flight to Rome from Catania today at 7:05 pm. I have found a quiet spot back by security and lost baggage to while away the time. I have let Rich and Heidi know that I am returning home Sunday.
Cathy and I both agreed that we had a wonderful trip, but it was just getting to be too long. She feels that I am unhappy and I have to agree with her. Also, I think I have worn myself out. Maybe at 72, it is time to slow down. Cathy is staying for the remainder of the trip unless she decides to bail on part of it too.
It was good that I returned home early because I only had about two months to enjoy time with my husband. On the day that Rich and I were to leave for Australia and New Zealand for a month, he passed away at 3:30 am. Cathy and John, my neighbors and good friends, helped me through this ordeal. I couldn’t have made it without them.
2020 came and with it the Covid pandemic. The
three of us supported each other, sang on the rooftop every Saturday night and
longed for the day when the pandemic would end. Little did we know that it
would continue for a very long time. Nor did we ever dream that Cathy would be
diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer in May of 2020.
We were stunned and overcome with sadness as we did our best to cheer her up and try to be helpful. It was challenging because we could not stay with her during appointments or treatments. Her family rallied to support Cathy with her niece, Rachel, moving in with Cathy. This summer was completely opposite from our great adventures in 2019. We were consumed with sadness and hope that Cathy’s time would be extended without pain and sickness, but that hope was denied. Cathy passed away on September 23, 2020.
I am so happy that Cathy was able to make the Sicily trip as she had dreamed about and that I was able to be with her. I will treasure this trip forever.
Caponata di melanzane
Hello everyone from Sonia, welcome to my kitchen. Today I will prepare for you the sicilian eggplant caponata. Let's see the ingredients we need for 4 portions: 800 grams of eggplant, 300 grams of celery, 400 grams of ripe tomatoes, 150 grams of onions, basil leaves, 10 grams of green pitted olives, 1 tablespoon of sugar, 1 tablespoon of capers, 40 grams of pine nuts, a little less than half a glass of white vinegar, salt, extra virgin olive oil. Let's start the preparation by cutting first the eggplants into very thick slices, about 2 cm, and then cut into cubes. We put them in a colander and add a pinch of salt. We mix so that the salt is well distributed , so we cover with a plate. Put a weight on top and let them stay for 40 minutes or so, in order to let the eggplante to release the vegetable water, which would be bitter for the cooking. In the meanwhile we clean the vegetables. So we peel the onions and cut them into julienne strips, we clean the celery too, we remove the lieves as well as the tough strings, then we slice it. Finally we cut the tomatoes into cubes, by putting them in boiling water for a couple of minutes or putting pressure on them with a knife, we can easily remove the skin. So we cut the tomato into 4 pieces, remove the seeds and cut it into cubes. At this point let's start cooking, so we heat up 3 tablespoons of oil and add the onion, and let it lightly fry. At this point we add the celery and keep cooking. After a while we can finally add the olives, the pine nuts and the capers deprived earlier from salt. Then let's add the tomatoes. Add the salt. We should keep in mind that it's not necessary to add too much salt because both olives and t cappers are already salted and we put earlier the salt onto the eggplants. We put the cover and let cook for ten minutes or so. Meanwhile let's start frying the eggplants. After drying them well with paper towel, we fry them in olive oil and then drain. After about a quarter of an hour the sauce is ready and we can turn it off. If it turns out to be too dry, you'd better add a little bit of water. Once we have fried the eggplants, we add them to the sauce and bring the mixture to boil. We stir a bit. We add chopped basil. Then sugar too. Finally vinegar and let cook for 3-4 minutes. Instead of fresh tomatoes you can use peeled tomatoes too. At this point our caponata is ready, so we can turn it off and let it cool. The eggplant caponata is an excellent starter or side dish. It can be served both hot or cold. This recipe has different versions. If you wish, you can enrich it with peppers or raisin. Bye bye from Sonia and see you to the next video recipe. Welcome to CucinaConoi English, the YouTube channel of cucinaconoi.it, the popular Italian recipes website. Are you looking for a way to surprise your guests with a tasty original Italian recipe? Than you are on the right channel! Subscribe not to miss any new recipe clicking on this link
What Does the Triskelion Symbol Mean?
Derived from the Greek word "Triskeles" meaning "three legs", the Triskele or Triple Spiral is a complex ancient Celtic symbol. Often referred to by many as a Triskelion, its earliest creation dates back to the Neolithic era, as it can be seen at the entrance of Newgrange, Ireland. The Triskele gained popularity in its use within the Celtic culture from 500BC onwards. This archaic symbol is one of the most convoluted to decipher as symbolists believe it is reflective of many areas of culture from the time.
Firstly, the triskele can be thought to represent motion as all three arms are positioned to make it appear as if it is moving outwards from its center. Movement, or motion, is believed to signify energies, in particular within this Celtic Symbol the motion of action, cycles, progress, revolution and competition.
Secondly, and the more challenging area for symbolists, is the exact symbolic significance of the three arms of the triskele. This can differ dependent on the era, culture, mythology and history, which is why there are so many variations as to what these three extensions in the triple spiral symbol mean.
Some of these connotations include: life-death-rebirth, spirit-mind-body, mother-father-child, past-present-future, power-intellect-love and creation-preservation-destruction to name but a few.
It’s thought that through the combination of these two areas we gain one meaning of the Celtic triskele. It is believed to represent a tale of forward motion to reach understanding. However, this is thought not to be the only meaning, as it is also believed to represent three Celtic worlds; the spiritual world, the present world and the celestial world. Like the ancient Trinity knot, the number 3 holds a special symbolism within the triskele.
The meaning of the triskele is diverse, varied and has many possibilities. This Celtic symbol is far more complex than others and has much prominence in modern day Celtic jewelry. Most notably as Celtic pendants, earrings, Irish charms or Celtic brooches.
Triskelion (symbol of Sicily)The Trinacria, also known as Triskelion, is the familiar three-legged symbol of Sicily, Italy’s unique little nugget. The three nymphs – the birth of Sicily
This is one of the most ancient stories. A long time ago, three nymphs danced all over the world. They stopped where nature was most luxuriant and collected lovely stones, juicy pieces of fruit and handfuls of fertile soil.
One day they reached a region with a wonderful clear blue sky and they fell in love with the place. Their dance became even more graceful and they decided to throw into the sea everything they had collected around the planet. The water shone and produced an incredible rainbow.
From the waves, a new land surfaced that was splendid, fragrant and colorful. The new island had the shape of a triangle, whose three capes were exactly under the feet of the nymphs.Colapesce – the hero of Sicily
story I love is Colapesce.
Nicola, nicknamed ‘Cola, was a young boy from Messina who loved swimming. He actually spent most of his day in the water, so much so that his body changed and he became more and more like a real fish (pesce), diving at great depths without any effort and staying underwater for many hours.
The boy was very popular because he helped the sailors to avoid the dangers at sea and he always came back to shore with a great story to tell about the treasures lying on the bottom of the sea.
When King Frederick II learned about Colapesce’s extraordinary skills, he sailed to Messina to meet him off the coast. The sovereign threw overboard a golden goblet and asked the kid to dive and bring it back. Colapesce did not waste any time: he plunged, came back promptly with the precious goblet and narrated the wonderful submarine landscape he had just admired.
Impressed, the King asked the crew to sail where the water was much deeper and threw overboard his crown. It took Colapesce two days and two nights to find the crown and when he came back he told Frederick II that he’d discovered that the island of Sicily rested on three columns: the first was intact, the second was chipped and the third was about to break.
Frederick II was now even more intrigued and decided to throw into the water one of his rings. This time Colapesce hesitated because he sensed that he would not come back. At last, he decided to go and said: “Give me a handful of lentils. If you see the surface, you’ll know I am not coming back”. A few days went by without any news, then the King saw some lentils and his ring return to the surface. That’s how he learned that Colapesce had decided to stay under the sea and take on his shoulders the broken column.
Ever since, whenever an earthquake shakes the island the Sicilians know that it’s the poor Colapesce being tired and moving the broken column on his other shoulder.
Now that you know that Sicily is something more than a beautiful tourist destination, you are in the right mood to learn about its symbol.Trinacria – the three-legged symbol of Sicily
A ceramic plaque with three bent legs and three wheat ears surrounding the head of Medusa is widely known as the symbol of Sicily.
In Italian we know it as Trinacria, three capes, that is how the Greeks named the island thousands of years ago when they circumnavigated the island for the first time and realized that it was shaped like a triangle with three beautiful ends: Cape Pachino, Cape Peloro and Cape Lilibeo.
Triskelion is also a common name for the symbol of Sicily. It originates from the Greek “three-legged” and it obviously refers to the three bent running legs, whose meaning is not at all clear. Some scholars have written that the Spartans used to have this graphic sculpted on their shields to make the enemy aware of their strength. Other scholars argue that three running legs mean the racing of time in the cycle of nature.
Right at the center of the Sicilian symbol, we can identify the head of Medusa, with her snake-haired head and golden wings. Don’t worry though: she is not meant to turn the island’s inhabitants or the guiltless visitors into stone. Instead, the Medusa represents the Goddess Athena of ancient Greek mythology, the Patron Goddess of the island.Added to the graphic by the Romans, three wheat ears surround the head of Medusa. They celebrate the extraordinary fertility of the island of Sicily that at the time used to be the granary of the empire of Rome.
The Valley of the Temples
Discovering the Valley of the Temples, one of the most extensive, representative and best preserved archaeological sites of classical Greek civilization, granted Unesco World Heritage status in 1997.
The archaeological area corresponds to the remains of the ancient Akragas,
the original nucleus of modern Agrigento. Along a long rocky scarp, chosen as
the southern limit of the town, are still sited the great Doric temples
dedicated to the gods.
Within the area of the ancient city there is also the Pietro Griffo Regional Archaeological Museum, which houses 5688 finds that illustrate the history of the territory from prehistory to the end of the Greco-Roman age.
What to see in the Valley of the Temples Agrigento
Due to its size, perhaps you will not be able to visit the full site in one day. Currently, the archaeological
First, the Valley of the Temples Agrigento is an archaeological site in Sicily. Indeed, despite the name, the site is located next to Agrigento. Currently, it is one of the best examples of Greater Greece art.
Finally, you should also know that Domenico Antonio Lo Faso Pietrasanta was the head archaeologist of much of the excavation and restoration. In total, the Park is the largest archaeological site in the world. Indeed, it measures 1,300 hectares.
But where is the Valley of the Temples? How do you reach it? And, which are the opening times of the site?
Let’s see together all you need to know about the Valley of the Temples Agrigento.
- Temple of Concordia. Turned into a church in the 6th century AD, it is now one of the best preserved in the Valley.
- Temple of Juno. Like the first one, it was built in the 5th Century. But, in 496 BC the Carthaginians burnt it.
- Temple of Castor and Pollux. Currently, the symbol of the Valley.
- Temple of Olympian Zeus, After the victory of the war with Carthage, the Greek built this temple to celebrate. Mainly, it has large-scale atlases.
- Temple of Heracles. Today, it is the most ancient in the Valley. But, unfortunately, after an earthquake, only eight columns have left.
- Temple of Vulcan. In the past, it was one of the most imposing in the valley. However, now it is one of the most eroded.
- Temple of Asclepius, located far from the others. In the past, it was the destination of pilgrims seeking cures for illness.