We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
When we look back from our trip, it's no surprise that we came home tired and needing a beach vacation. It's also no surprise that I lost 5 lbs. - we covered a lot of ground. Go-go, Hi-ho is us. The BD family never sits - except in Italian cafes for a short spell. Carpe diem.
But first - don't forget the "cannolis" (connolo is singular, cannoli plural, naturally). I confused a waitress by asking for un cannoli.) I got the same stern "Are you retarded?" look I'd get when we didn't want vino with meals. Even tho Italian food doesn't taste too great without a glass or two of wine (as I have said, Italian food is designed for wine on the side), I really do not want to feel sleepy at 2 pm in a special place.
A sign in Petralia Soprana:
The cannolo di ricotta is a Sicilian-origin afternoon pick-me-up treat, same as gelato is. After school, kids pack the gelato and cannoli "bars" on their way home. In Sicily, the shells are thick, very hard and crunchy, deep-fried hard. They do not fill them from a pastry bag until you order one, like an ice cream cone. The filling is thick and only slightly sweetened. At your request, they will dip the ends into chopped chocolate or chopped pistachios. Mrs. BD and I would share one, but I have no pics because we consumed them too fast.
Speaking of pistachio, a great thing on an antipasto plate: Slice of fresh ricotta sprinkled with chopped pistachio and then a drizzle of honey. Simple country food.
More good fun travel adventures and info below the fold -
Coming down from the mountains...
...we headed off to our next tenuta in the countryside outside Ragusa.
Everybody goes there, for good reason. It's a wonderful depiction of late-empire life. Lots of tour buses, crowded even in May. My photos did not do it justice, so you can google the place and see good photos. We did see the bikini dancers, and saw the remnants of the little rooms where guests could spend a little private time with the dancer of his choice. They played drinking games to determine who got first pick, and had some blond Germanic dancers which were in demand. Probably all slaves or semi-slaves.
Most interesting to me (but it all was) were the mosaics for the floors of their kids' bedrooms. Fantasy kids' circuses.
Then after getting a bit lost for a while (you can not enter "one of the dirt roads between marker 6 and 12 on Rte. 111 off to the left" into a Garmin). "Off to the left," coming from which direction? It was 5 klicks (I got to calling them miles) up a dirt farm road after you got off the main road. Anyway, a charming and elegant place with 5 guest suites in the old barn off the courtyard, with a cattle farm, some olives groves and a prickly-pear orchard, and very pleasant owners of the place. He was a sculptor, she an architect in Rome half the year, both at the farm half the year. Yay - they actually had wifi. Amazing. And her English was quite good but she apologized for her vocabulary.
As we have seen so many times around Italy, the guy had hunting dogs plus a Dalmatian house dog.
Path to the courtyard entrance (big iron gate, of course), past the woodpile:
Our rooms. Can't see the glass porch on the left. Yes, I think this once was a stall or something.
Nice breakfasts there
Naturally, we could not resist a flat country hike, so we explored the farmlands on the farm roads. Hay already cut and drying
Some pretty large farms around there, mainly cattle. To me, the smell of drying hay and a distant whiff of cattle manure is sweeter than any perfume.
Using that pleasant spot as our base, we checked out three of the classic Baroque towns (The Val di Noto) - all with major baroque landmarks due to the 1696 earthquake which devastated so much of eastern Sicily (and knocked down many Greek temples and medieval buildings there), so things were built new. We hiked around Noto (the best, but fairly touristy), Ragusa Ibla (cool, tiny), and Modica (not too interesting - but in the evening the lower Modica seems hopping and lively the way Italian towns can be, with all stores and bars open late, and streets filled with people).
Italians conduct all of their socializing in public, and especially outdoors if weather permits. Downtowns are public clubs for everybody of all ages. Very civilized. Nobody sits at home.
Pics of Nota:
Had pizza at a cafe in Noto. Mine was gorgonzola with fresh pears and walnuts on top. Not too bad but in a lfetime of effort I have never found a good pizza outside of NYC. I like them thin, half-burnt on a wood fire, and intense. I could barely eat half of this children's size pizza.
A minor church in Modica
The Duomo of Modica (long urban hike to find it, but it was closed!):
Schoolkids are part of Italian towns. They put the schools right in town, so the kids are part of the daily life
Signs in Ragusa Ibla:
Was S. Giorgio baroque? Red velvet draperies everywhere.
What's for lunch?
What's for snack?
We also took a cliff-edge hike down into the gorge of Pantalica to take a good hike and to see the neolithic cave dwellings and the 5000-tomb necropolis carved into the limestone cliffs. A challenging hike down through the gorge, and challenging climbing back up on the goat path.
Bring water. It was an easy hike at first..
I crawled into this tomb. It felt cramped:
After a few fine days there, we headed off again down our farm road to seek the highways and byways to Siracusa, which will be the final post in this series...
Isn't Sicily where the pizza is supposed to have a thick bready crust? If so, I would think you would have a very hard time finding one to your liking! The one you described is strange by my accounting (but I have to admit that I have a much more narrow pizza experience)!
Thanks for the nice pictures! It sounds like it was a great trip!
Beautiful pictures, a wonderful trip. I hope you got to Agrigento which has six (I thought I counted more) Doric temples on a ridge over the coastal area. As for the tomb, BD, how big a space do you think the bones need?