Solo in Sicily - April 2013

May 14th, 2013, 06:58 PM
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Solo in Sicily - April 2013

Hi Fodorites! I'm back and am already missing fresh squeezed blood orange juice with breakfast, blue skies, and church bells. I'm working on the trip report and the first installment will be posted soon.

Flights went well even if they were unbearably long and boring, driving was a breeze, and I had no problems at all. I did have to buy a new camera in Agrigento which lead to a parking structure adventure!

Sicily was beautiful, the people were lovely and the food was great.

I'll try to hurry the trip report because I know Alison and some others are leaving soon.

Dayle
Dayle is offline  
May 14th, 2013, 08:37 PM
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Welcome back, Dayle, looking forward to more!
bon_voyage is online now  
May 14th, 2013, 08:43 PM
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You finally made it! Looking forward to the TR.
thursdaysd is offline  
May 15th, 2013, 06:37 PM
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After 2 connections and 30 LONG hours of travel, I’m home and reporting on my trip to Sicily. This will be detailed for the benefit of all those planning for Sicily, and those who have trips coming up right away!

I bought my ticket on Delta 9 months ago and booked it live with a Skymiles agent so I could choose my connection cities and layover times. When you use the website you only get options for the minimum legal connection times, which we all know are rarely humanly possible. I upgraded to the so-called Economy Comfort for the longer flights which was a new experience for me. I thought the seats were roomier in addition to being further apart, but that is not the case. I have short legs, so the “extra” leg room was not a major improvement for me. Taller people would probably feel it worth the extra cost.

Salt Lake City only has one non-stop flight to Europe (Delta overnight to CDG) and it isn’t scheduled every day. I worked most of the day Friday and went straight to the airport for the 5pm departure. We left about 30 minutes late, but as usual when traveling east we made up the time. The plane Delta uses for this flight is an outdated old dog of a plane. No individual screens and the Economy Comfort seats were anything but. We felt like we were sitting on a plank for 10 hours. Other than that, I and my bag arrived on time so it was a successful flight!


Because I was arriving in the evening, I had a private driver to take me to Erice, my first stop. Francesco Pisciotta was recommended to me by Hotel Torre Bennistra in Scopello. He was absolutely delightful, enthusiastic, professional, and proud to be a lifetime resident of Castellamare del Gulfo. Francesco’s company is Bugia Bianca Transfer (the name of his racing catamaran). E Mail is: [email protected]. Airport to Erice was 90E. Highly recommend Francesco and any of his services! He also charters his catamaran for trips along the coast and Lo Zingaro. When I asked for references and driver ID (traveling solo), he kindly agreed to pick me up himself to assure no problems.

My lodging in Erice was Erice Pietre Antiche apartments. Managed by Massimo, who asked that I call him upon arrival in Erice. He met us at the city gate and drove me to the apartments in the ancient town. Good thing - because Erice was the only town that defeated my normally excellent sense of direction! Massimo acquainted me with everything in the apartment, provided a city map and pointed out a couple of restaurants. The apartment was very spacious with a large bedroom and closet, living area with mini kitchen, breakfast supplies and a small dining table, and a large bathroom. Very charming little courtyard on the entry level of the apartments (4) and a lovely terrace with rooftop views upstairs outside my apt. Church bells ring, but were muted enough for this light sleeper.

Arrived Saturday evening and had planned nothing much for Sunday other than exploring Erice. I didn’t set the alarm, but woke to pouring rain. Ah, a good day to sleep late! After many hours of sleepless travel, I slept until 2pm! It was wonderful….then I went in search of dinner while the heavy rain continued. It was unseasonably cold and windy and the rough cobblestones streets were running rivers. The Erice cobblestones were the roughest I’ve encountered in Italy, very slippery with the rain, and I was very glad I had taken tennis shoes for hiking in the nature preserves. I ended up wearing them for the first 4 days of my trip.

Dinner was at Ristorante Caffe San Rocco on the main piazza and I was their only diner that evening. My waiter was not thrilled to stay and serve me, but dinner was good – couscous and grilled mixed seafood plus a glass of the house roso 28,80E.

Monday morning I was due to pick up my rental car in downtown Trapani. I took the bus down to the city, picked up the car and bought some sunglasses across the street before taking off. I had reserved an Economy car, but as I anticipated, I actually got a Compact Class Fiat Punto. Great little car. This was my first of many experiences with absolutely no English being spoken. I had expected Sicily to have less English spoken, but I was surprised that many of the hotel and restaurant industry people I encountered had no English. Thankfully my limited Italian was sufficient for most situations.

During trip prep, I had not had any success with the Garmin Europe GPS maps being able to locate ANY of my destinations. Not even most of the major tourist sites in Sicily. So, after demanding and receiving a refund from them, I bought a Tom Tom. Since it had a woman’s voice, I started thinking of it as “Tomasina”. She worked very well nearly everywhere!
I jumped right in to the Sicilian driving in downtown Trapani and off I went.

I went out to the salt pans west of town to find the windmills! Tomasina failed here, but I couldn’t blame her. She got me close to the salt museum, but couldn’t find the exact way to drive across the dikes. Not sure dikes qualify as roads. I noticed an older man moving a little herd of goats and sheep to graze on the marsh grasses. When he saw me consulting my map, he came over and gestured for me to follow him. He spoke no English, but made it clear he would show me the way to the museum. He had one of those great weathered faces, full of character, reflecting a lifetime of work outdoors. Off we went, across the dikes toward the windmills. The museum was just the old home and salt works. Some antique furniture, old pictures and a little family history. Cobwebs and some old salt equipment. There are a few explanatory signs and lots of great photo ops, an opportunity to climb a steep and narrow staircase to the top of the main windmill which has been nicely restored. The museum keeper was also anxious for me to see the Sicilian donkeys and Arabian horses in the old stone stable.

Next was Segesta. It really is in a beautiful location and it was finally a mostly sunny day. Big, puffy grey and white clouds against the blue sky enhanced the photos. Beautiful temple and very scenic theater. Very easy to drive and park. Lots of visitors, but not too crowded. Pay parking nearer the entrance, free parking just a bit further away with a short walk.

Unfortunately at Segesta I encountered one of two very negative things about the culture of Sicily, extreme neglect of animals. There was a mother dog who obviously had a litter of pups somewhere nearby. This poor dog was just days from death by starvation. She was going quietly from person to person at the picnic area, gently wagging her tail hoping for food. She was nursing her puppies, but not getting enough food to sustain her little family. I asked the site employees if there wasn’t a rescue society that could be called to help. They kindly found someone who spoke English to address my concern and he explained that there was no problem with the dog, she had beautiful puppies and he pointed to the stone hut where they were. He didn’t recognize that the entire family would soon be dead. It was heartbreaking to see all the stray dogs foraging for food everywhere in western Sicily. Some looked healthier than others, but most obviously had diseases, eye infections, skin problems, fleas….I realize it’s a cultural thing, but that doesn’t make it any less sad. Too bad there isn’t a rescue society to educate and neuter. I didn’t see dogs as pets on leashes until I reached eastern Sicily.

I drove back up to Erice on the steep and twisty road, but it was fun to be driving a stick again on those hairpin turns! Public parking was available in a small lot just outside the town gate at Porta Trapani where the funiculare (cable car) upper terminus is located. Parking is paid between 9am – 8pm and free overnight until 9am again. The bus to Trapani also leaves from here.

I really liked Erice. Charming little town with a great castle at one end and nice public gardens just next to the castello. Great views! Lots of nice shops, very much on the tourist radar, but not overrun. Very few people actually stay in the town which means the morning and evenings are quiet and great for wandering. I visited Maria Grammatica’s and bought several pastries to sample. The almond pastries were fantastic. Definitely the best of the entire trip! Don’t miss her shop.

Tuesday morning Massimo drove me down to my car and I went on to Scopello. Tomasina took me via the scenic route (longer), but it was a very pretty drive with lots of wildflowers. I encountered a small traffic jam and an ambulance passed me going the opposite direction. Evidently a cyclist had been hit and the other 3 were walking the bikes back along the road. They were obviously visitors. I think people who are willing to ride on these roads are nuts. Just my opinion.

Scopello was pretty, but very quiet pre-season. Hotel Torre Bennistra was big, nearly empty and rather faded. It’s a family-run property and operated and lived in more like a B&B – at least off season when I stayed. My room was clean, comfortable and had nice views. Bathroom and shower were both big enough to be comfortable. Breakfast was good the next morning, but I went to La Terrazza for both lunch and dinner. They have a wonderful terrace overlooking the sea and I had one of my best meals at this very authentic, traditional Sicilian restaurant. Scallops stuffed with bread crumbs, raisins, ham, herbs, and I don’t remember what else, were delicious!

Although it was raining, this was my only day to visit Lo Zingaro nature preserve, so I hiked about a mile in the light rain. The wildflowers were gorgeous and the aloe plants had stalks over 6 feet tall. Amazing! The gentleman at the nature center building was happy to have a visitor and enjoyed showing me the pictures and exhibits. Lo Zingaro has many varieties of orchids, something I did not know prior to my visit. Due to the rain, the ocean was not the beautiful turquoise you see in pictures, but still pretty. After just a mile, my shoes were caked with 2 inches of sticky red mud so I headed back.

As I left the next morning, I drove past a lovely agritourismo just outside of the tiny village of Scopello, so I turned around and went in to check it out. I wish I had found this place on the internet and stayed there instead. If you are looking for a nice place with restaurant and pool, consider Tenute Plaia. E mail: [email protected]. Phone: 39 0924 541476. Web: www.agriturismotenuteplaia.it.

My next stop was Selinute and La Foresteria Planeta Estate in Menfi. I was concerned about even having a room once I arrived because I had never been able to contact them directly. I tried many times over several months, but their web site just would not work. I finally booked on booking.com and did receive a confirmation. Later I tried again to contact them for an additional night and directions, since they are out in the countryside and I had no idea how I would actually find them! Luckily, Tomasina directed me right into the driveway and I did have a room. In fact, they had e mailed me and confirmed the second night, but because I never received that e mail, I was now double-booked for a night and could not cancel my next destination! They were very kind to cancel the second night and adjusted the rate to a double for single use. When I booked, the web site kept defaulting to 2 persons and I finally just gave up and booked it that way….

La Foresteria was just heaven! I cannot recommend it enough. I wish I had been able to communicate with them and had known the 2nd night was available. They explained that they had had a couple of weeks with internet problems and that their phones also ran on the internet. Unfortunately, that didn’t explain why I could never reach them over a period of 6 months……My room was quiet, roomy, and very nicely furnished. I was on the garden level with views across the vineyard all the way to the sea and a lovely herb garden right in front of my room. The lavender was blooming – my favorite! I was able to sit and enjoy the view with a glass of wine - just soaking it all in for about 2 hours. Aaahhh.

Hors d’ouvres was served upstairs at 8pm and dinner was in the dining room at ground level at 8:30. Everyone sits together at a very long, beautifully set table. Dinner was 3 courses with optional wine pairing. They poured 2 whites and 1 Syrah. The Syrah was very, very good. The whites were OK, but not memorable. All the whites I had in Sicily were disappointing, but I had some very good Nero d’Avola as both house wine and bottles I bought. The group at the table included Germans, New Yorkers, Brits, French, and me. We had a fantastic meal and lots of laughter – dinner went until midnight!

This inn is very, very nice with high end toiletries and linens, very professional staff. It was definitely the nicest (and most expensive) out of all my choices. Highly recommend!

Selinute was another beautiful site and very impressive just for the sheer size of the city. Sad to know that the temples were pulled down during war. I walked to the nearest temples, and then drove out to the further acropolis to walk that area. They also have handy golf cart rides for about 12E if I remember correctly. I think I spent about 2 ½ hours here. I also managed to walk off and leave my Michelin Sicily guidebook. I wasn’t able to replace it until Ortygia.

On Thursday I headed off to Agrigento. It took about 2 ½ hours on the SS115. Again Tomasina took me straight to my B&B, Camera con Vista, which is handily located across the street from the lower parking lot for the Valle dei Templi. Antonello is a guide for the site and a very nice man. His breakfast was delicious and he let me leave my luggage while I visited the museum the next morning.

However, I unfortunately cannot recommend this B&B. I am definitely not an overly fussy person. I will only say it was NOT clean and I won’t go into the details. While I walked the temples, my camera broke! Ugh. Thankfully I was able to get the rest on my phone.

This lead to the very interesting experience of visiting a Sicilian mall parking structure – on a holiday, April 25! I think the entire population of Agrigento was at the mall. If you think about the biggest mall where you live, during the week before Christmas, then multiply the traffic and aggression by 10x, then you have an idea of what this parking structure was like. I can proudly say both the car and I emerged unscathed and I even managed to park! I went in to their version of Best Buy and purchased a new camera. So now I have a charger plug that will require an adapter for the US!

This was my series of 1 night stays. I had chosen not to backtrack, just move on for 4 nights in a row. I'm a light packer.

Next stop was Piazza Armerina for the Villa Romana mosaics! Here Tomasina failed me completely. She wanted me to take the windy scenic route and I knew I wanted to drive to Gela and then inland on the main highway, longer in distance, but much faster in drive time. I started out OK, yet somewhere along the way Tomasina took me back to HER route and I ended up driving some country roads that were quite narrow and rough. It ended up taking me about 3 hours, but the scenery and wildflowers were gorgeous.

When I got to Piazza Armerina, I knew the villa was on the outskirts of the hill town, but it seemed there was no way to get there without navigating up, up, up and through the tiny streets. Tomasina actually sent me up the wrong way on a one-way street before I realized it! The street was so steep my car stalled in first gear and I had to restart quickly. Thankfully I didn’t meet anyone coming down! Obviously the street was one way going down due to the steepness……also thankfully this was the worst of my driving adventures. Everything else was a breeze.

It was now late enough that I went on to Agritourismo Gigliotto. This was my one lodging choice that I had debated about a great deal. I had wanted to stay here after reading Bob’s trip report from several years ago. Recent Trip Advisor reviews were mixed. I ended up very glad I stayed here. The property is an old monastery with incredible views and a lovely, large stone paved courtyard. The restaurant is on one side of the yard and the guest rooms on the other. Beautiful gardens, a pool with a killer view. They do lots of weddings and one was taking place the next day.

I bought a bottle of their Nero d’Avola and enjoyed a glass in my room before dinner. Here dinner was served in their large restaurant building which evidently had been some sort of farm structure. It was one of those where they bring course after course after course and dinner took over 2 hours. First antipasti, then 2 pastas (delicious!), two meats (boiled beef, not delicious, and lamb), then salad, then fruit and cheese, and plenty of wine. The young woman who was the concierge/manager was very nice, helpful. Again, I left my luggage while I visited Villa Romana the next morning. Again, another war of wills with Tomasina trying to get there – I won!
Week 2 coming up...
Dayle is offline  
May 15th, 2013, 07:17 PM
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Dayle, I SO appreciate you doing this so quickly. I signed on to Fodors to see if your TR was up and here it is. And great so far. Can't wait to hear the rest.....
I'll keep checking til we leave in a few days. Also, i may have some questions! So glad you had a good trip.
alison is offline  
May 15th, 2013, 07:18 PM
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We had no GPS and got lost everywhere in Sicily. Your mall story might even pale in comparison to the Saturday night traffic into Agrigento. One of the worst nights of my driving life. I guess there's not too much else happening down there! The mall and the centro must be the big deals for those looking for adventure.

We did not have time for Selinunte--decided on Segesta instead, as we were driving down to Agrigento from Palermo. How would you compare the two? Did you prefer Selinunte?

Looking forward to reading more of your impressions of Sicily.
Leely2 is offline  
May 15th, 2013, 07:25 PM
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Alison, I'll try to have it done for you this week!

Leely2, I liked both temple sites. I think Segesta is in the most beautiful setting, although Selinute is quite beautiful too! Right next to the sea. Segesta doesn't take long to see and there is a lot more to see at Selinute. You get a sense of the entire city a Selinute, walls, temples, homes, etc. even if they are just ruins.

I need to thank those who wrote trip reports that inspired me to visit Sicily and answered my many questions during years of on again off again planing - bobthenavigator, thursdaysd, Leely2, Kja and several others! Grazie mille!
Dayle is offline  
May 15th, 2013, 07:31 PM
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So glad you got to see the views at Erice. Do you have a link for the apartment?

Kudos on driving! No way I'm going to do that if (hope it's when) I go back.

I found the Nero d'Avola-Shiraz blend better than straight Nero d'Avola. I was able to get one of the wine stores in the US to special order it for me.
thursdaysd is offline  
May 16th, 2013, 08:22 AM
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Hey Dayle,
I am still in Sicily but have been on the lookout for your report. I am so glad things went mostly right. It's always a challenge to do it like you do. You are inspiring me to do a report as well. In the meanwhile, keep it coming!
ahotpoet is offline  
May 16th, 2013, 08:35 AM
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Great report! Keep it coming...
caze17 is offline  
May 16th, 2013, 05:59 PM
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thursdaysd,

It's www.ericepietreantiche.it. My apartment was "Ginestra".

I'll try to do more tonight....
Dayle is offline  
May 16th, 2013, 06:25 PM
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Terrific Dayle.
I am delighted you liked Sicily.
bobthenavigator is offline  
May 17th, 2013, 02:53 AM
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Nice TR, Dayle. You get a prize for driving in Sicily--DH and I were too "chicken"!
TDudette is offline  
May 17th, 2013, 08:48 AM
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Excellent report so far. Scopello, Segesta, Selinunte, Villa Romana...all such wonderful places. Nice to have the details on the places you stayed. We had lunch at Torre Benistra in Scopello a few years ago and quite enjoyed it. Thought the rooms looked nice (though we, like you, had prebooked at our next place so couldn't alter our plans and stay there). But it sounds like the agriturismo nearby is a great find. Will definitely check it out next time we're in Sicily.

Looking forward to the rest of your report.
aprillilacs is offline  
May 17th, 2013, 07:00 PM
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The story continues....

I knew Tomasina would not get me through Piazza Armerina and to the Villa Romana, so I ignored her. I watched for the small signs and followed along – until I missed one. You know how small they are and when you are watching traffic, it’s easy to do. I stopped and asked directions at a car repair place. The gentlemen waiting let me go ahead with my question while they paused in their discussion of car repairs. I was told it was “direct” and hopped back in the car. This time I saw the one little sign I had missed and the turn required my car to do a 180 degree turn with no turning radius. I managed a typical Sicilian move – I made my turn and made everyone one else wait for me!

This was the highlight of my trip! I can’t even begin to put into words how amazing these mosaics are. It’s one of those sights that no picture can do justice. It’s something you have to see for yourself. I think I spent about 2 hours here and just marveled.

An Italian family of tourists who had stayed at Gigliotto too were there viewing the mosaics. They had 2 older kids and one baby who looked to be about 6 months. Dad was carrying him, slipped on the steel stairway and went down the entire flight of steel stairs on his behind – never dropped the baby! The Mom was hysterical and in tears. Everyone was very concerned, but both Dad and baby were OK!

I went back to Gigliotto, picked up my luggage and continued on to Caltagirone for some ceramics shopping. Caltagirone was easy to navigate and I saw two parking signs right away. The first one seemed a bit far away and a long hike up to the Centro, so I drove on to the second one – Santo Stefano. This is a brand new multi-level parking structure straight down from the main street, the famous stairway up to Chiesa Santa Maria (if I remember the name correctly), and the museum. It is paid parking, but it’s also monitored, so I felt better about leaving my car with luggage there. I bought a few small ceramic pieces for gifts and wished I had more time. There are definitely the artistic shops and the mass production souvenir shops. Caltagirone seemed like a very nice hilltown. Steep, clean, and nice views.

This was Saturday and I was driving on to Scicli in the late afternoon. As I expected, Tomasina could not cope with the tiny, ancient streets so I managed to get in the general area of my hotel, park, and walk to find it. I found Hotel Novecento right away and was told I could actually drive into the Zona Limitato because I was staying at the hotel, except their limited parking was already full. So back I went to get my luggage. Fortunately, I only had to go a short distance with it.

Hotel Novecento is very nice and very modern in an old building next to the river channel that runs through the middle of the town. Excellent staff, but limited English if that is important to you. My room was very nicely done. Modern furnishings and a great bathroom, although both room and bath were very small. They had upgraded me from their single deluxe room to a double deluxe room – 75E per night. Great value, probably because Scicli is off the tourist radar. Excellent breakfast. I was here for 2 nights. The man serving breakfast brought me a sample of some special honey from the carob tree. Evidently they were unable to harvest any this year because the trees did not flower due to drought so this honey was precious - left from the previous year. It was so delicious! Really the best I’ve ever had with a very unique flavor.

Scicli was larger than I expected. The local residents told me it was a “small town” of just 20,000. Driving into it on an early Saturday evening when everyone was coming into the Centro was quite the experience. I really got a kick out of the man who rode his horse down the street. He was an excellent equestrian and his horse was beautiful. I could tell he had dressage training. It made a good picture! If I had known what Scicli was like, I think I would have skipped it and spent more time at La Foresteria in Menfi. However, there were several good reasons to enjoy this town.

First, there were really no tourists! I saw one British couple staying at my hotel and a group of 4 Italian ladies traveling together. That was it. I really didn’t see any other visitors at all so I got to experience a true Sicilian weekend in a rather fashionable town. Great people watching at the passegiatta (and no, I can never spell that word). I really enjoyed walking around the town on Sunday afternoon. I was wearing long cotton pants and a white tee shirt. Two Nonas came out of Mass in their black suits, black stockings and black, low heeled shoes. They smiled at me and asked if I was hot, because I was in my “camisa”. They observed that I was not Sicilian…..we laughed and I explained that yes I was hot and I was Americana….the evening stroll here was just simply the most classic I’ve seen on my visits to Italy. Older gentlemen in suits strolling together up and down the main street (multiple times) with their hands clasped behind their backs. Faces so full of character! I could not resist taking a few clandestine pictures behind their backs. These are some of my favorite pictures.

There was also the Costume Museum. I found this little museum on-line when I was debating which Baroque town to visit. It’s right by the Hotel Novecento and they had some beautiful evening gowns and dresses from the early 1800’s thru 1900’s, plus a few men’s items. It was a nice stop.

I had been eating mostly seafood since arrival and it was time for a great pizza at La Grotta (recommended by Luigi at the hotel). This was a traditional Sicilian place, but in a cave! Evidently some of the first residents of Scicli were cave dwellers. The next evening I went to another of their recommendations, Osteria dei Tre Colli, and had an excellent mixed seafood pasta.

I had originally thought I might visit Modica or Ragusa Ilba from Scicli, but I decided to just stay put and enjoy where I was. I had been driving quite a bit and honestly didn’t have any great desire to visit another Baroque town.

Monday I headed to Siracusa and Ortygia with a stop at Vendicari Nature Preserve to see the flamingos!
Dayle is offline  
May 17th, 2013, 07:13 PM
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Tdudette and aprilliacs,

I honestly enjoyed the driving in Sicily and thought it was really very easy. The highways and A29 have very little traffic and even in the towns and cities, it just kind of flows...I never had anyone pull a move that caused heart palpitations. No other drivers even merited a swear word . Only twice did I see kamakazi passing techniques. I even passed a couple people myself!

Qualifier - I learned to drive in a stick shift on the southern California freeways!
Dayle is offline  
May 18th, 2013, 07:54 AM
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Dayle, we leave tomorrow, so great intel! So glad you loved the mosaics since we are taking a day trip from Modica to visit Catalgirone and PA. Thanks for the tip about the parking in Catalgirone. Hope your installment on Siracusa comes soon as our time there is relatively open. You were at Planeta in Menfi, but assume did not visit their Ulmo Winery at Sambuco di Sicilia? We hope to do that as an excursion from Selinunte.
Also, can't tell whether you thought the salt museum and driving the coast from Erice (rather than the highway) to go south was worth it. We'd like to go that way and also see Mozia, but will have luggage in the trunk. Guess we'll have to see how we feel that day.
Who knows? We have the one night in Scopello and may skip Erice if we are enjoying Zingaro. We've seen beautiful hill towns. We do like ceramics -- how did the ceramics shopping compare in Erice and Catalgirone? (obviously much more in Caltagirone, but i understand it's a different style in Erice. Do you see the Erice style in Caltagirone?)
Looking forward to your next installment and so appreciate your report.
alison is offline  
May 18th, 2013, 10:35 AM
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Hi Alison,

I didn't drive from Erice to the salt pans. I drove there from Trapani. It was not a scenic drive and the museum is at the salt pans just south of Trapani. I would guess that the salt pans further south along the coast would be more picturesque. Since my first day was a Sunday and it was pouring rain all day and night, I didn't make it to Mozia. I was OK with that because it was kind of an optional site for me.

The ceramics in Erice were beautiful, but I didn't notice a specific style or pattern that was different from what I saw in Caltagirone. There was one ceramic artist in Erice, a woman, who did her own beautiful pattern, lots of fine lines. She did a demonstration for me when I exclaimed about her work. I wanted to buy one of her vases, but the shipping cost was prohibitive.

The shopping in Erice is much more varied than in Caltagirone. Caltagirone is all ceramics.

I really enjoyed Ortygia! Very beautiful little town with much of interest. Be sure to visit the duomo and the piazza in front is one of the most beautiful and enjoyable I've seen in Italy. The fort is very interesting as is the puppet museum. More good opportunities for the delicious almond pastries in Ortygia! I stayed 3 nights and was very happy I did. Be sure to try granite too - it comes in many flavors and really hits the spot on a hot day.

Be sure to go downstairs in the archeological museum to see the coin collection. I'm not in to coins at all, but this was a highlight! Works of art, plus some ancient gold jewelery. Skip the archeological park because the theater is 90% covered with modern wooden benches for their Greek drama series that runs thru June. Huge disappointment! If you can get a ticket to see one of the performances - now that would be a different story.

Buon viaggio!
Dayle is offline  
May 18th, 2013, 11:42 AM
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Dayle, thanks so much. Where did you stay in Ortigia and were you happy with it?
thanks for the heads up about the coins....and also to give the theatre in Siracusa a "miss."
alison is offline  
May 18th, 2013, 03:53 PM
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Alison,

I stayed at B&B La Via della Guidecca. Highly recommend.
Dayle is offline  

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