Today we are going to Muse about Sicily. If this is your first visit, welcome to Musings. If you have been here before, welcome back. Over time we are going to talk about many things: the past, the present, perhaps the future, travel, art, society and more. Wherever my musing takes me. I hope you will come along with me.
It was September. Jeanette and I flew off to Sicily where we caught up with some friends, Steve and Beverly. We joined up in Palermo, the four of us taking part in a Club ABC tour. They had flown out of Newark, New Jersey. We went out Miami.
Actually, we almost scrubbed the trip. Two days before our scheduled departure Hurricane Jeanne was threatening Miami. The tour group said if I wished to cancel I needed to give them 48 hours notice. That meant I would have had to cancel the trip right then, not knowing if it was a problem or not. In the end we decided to chance it, to hope for the best, and we kept our departure plans. Jeanne veered off and all was well. We flew on to Palermo.
What a fascinating part of the world that is. Sicily has been in the center of history. It has been occupied by the Greeks, the Romans, the Arabs, the Normans, the French, the Germans and the Americans, just to name a few. Italy has the majority of World Heritage Sites and 20% of them are in Sicily.
The first days we spent in Palermo just enjoying the city and skimming its history.
Here you see Beverly, Steve and Jeanette in the English Garden, a famous park in Palermo. We spent a good deal of time in cathedrals. The mosaic work is stunning.
The cathedral Monreale was one of the most impressive, but there were so many and they were so remarkable that they blur in my memory.
Here is a gate. If you look closely, the ceiling has remnants of frescos.
Of course, there is more to life than cathedrals and city walls. We also did our share of shopping.
This was not always a good experience. In several instances the shop keepers were churlish and abrupt with us. It was sort of “in your face.” But for the most part people were welcoming.
And there is more than shopping; there is food.
Surrounded by the sea, they do a lot with sea food. We enjoyed small cafes, charming bistros and upscale restaurants as we went along our travels. Our consensus was stay with seafood. Meat is not a Sicilian strong suit.
After Palermo, we headed south and west to Agrigento, an area known for its Greek temples.
Worldwide, after Greece, the best preserved Greek temples are found in Agrigento.
The drive took us through the rural interior of the island. It was quite pretty.
Along our way we stopped for lunch which proved to be a highlight of the trip. The restaurant was small and inviting with lively folk music. Beverly and Jeanette were recruited as Gypsies and kept us all amused and entertained. We were impressed.
Part of our trip was lost to me. I came down with a severe case of dysentery and spent a couple of days in bed eating nothing but rice and bananas. The others went out and about and would regale me with tales of the fun time they were having. How nice!
I came to life about the time we were at Syracuse (or Siracusa). We went to the site of a limestone quarry.
It was huge. At one time the quarry was all underground like a mine. I understood them to say that some people lived their entire life enslaved in the mine. In the last century, an earthquake caused the roof of the mine to collapse, so most of the cave is gone now. All of the area in the foreground was under the roof of the cave.
There were sections still intact and they were quite impressive.
Nearby were more Greek ruins. One was an amphitheater.
I’ve seen ruins of amphitheaters before, but this one was unique. It was not constructed. It was carved. The hill is a bedrock of limestone and the masons cut away the rock to create the stepped rows of seating. Remarkable.
Taormino is an ancient Greek and Roman city built up the spine of a mountain.
Here you see Taormino in the distance.
Regrettably, our trip came to an end. After Sicily we did spend three days in Rome before heading home. We were gone thirteen days altogether.
The night before we left Rome I turned on the television. It seems incredible, but we had not watched TV in two weeks! So I turned on the TV and saw Hurricane Jeanne was bearing down on Miami!
When we left Miami two weeks before it had veered out to sea, wobbled around, did a U-turn and was coming back!
We were the last flight into Miami before they closed the airport. A friend picked us up and we headed home to West Palm Beach. By this time we had been travelling about 20 hours with no sleep. The outer bands were sending rain squalls. We stopped on the way at the veterinarian and retrieved our dogs. When we got to the condominium it was sheeting rain and the winds were really picking up.
Our friend asked, “Do you need any help with the dogs or the luggage?”
I said “No! I can manage. Go get safe.”
That was before I went to the elevators and discovered they were all shut down. We lived on the eighteenth floor. Up I trudged carrying suit cases. Down I trudged to get more suit cases. And back up again. I was not happy.
Our hurricane shutters were closed but the air pressure kept the glass doors flexing and groaning. For a while I stood there bracing them but you know what, I was really tired. Finally I said, “If they blow, they blow.” And I went to bed. Next morning everything was OK . . . except we did not have power . . .for seven days.
More to come
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