Jim and Diana are in in Italy from May 6, 2004 to June 5, 2004.
We are off again to Italy....this time to Sicily followed by a driving trip up the coast to Rome...through the regions of Calabria, Basilicata and Campania. We will be in Italy for a month--our longest trip yet--about two thirds of the time will be spent in Sicily--Trapani, Palermo, Agrigento, Siracusa and Taormina.
|5/6/2004 Trapani Day 1
Luckily we have packed a change of clothes in our carry on as well as our toiletries. Unluckily, we hadn't followed the sage advice of Dean Gold and had packed our clothes in separate bags.
|5/7/2004 Trapani Day 2
We set up our picnic on the wall that lines the harbor.....good local bread, salami, cheese, strawberries....nothing could be more idyllic. After eating, while I am throwing out the garbage, I hear Diana scream and see her running somewhere.
|5/8/2004 Trapani Day 3
The countryside is quite beautiful--rolling hills, winding roads, farms and pastures, higher mountains off in the distance. If you didn't know any better, you might be in Tuscany
|5/9/2004 Trapani Day 4
It is jumping on a Sunday morning and the stalls are filled with all manner of sea creatures....octopus, eels, many varieties of shrimp and fish; the vendors all are calling out, telling everyone how good their wares are.
|5/10/2004 Trapani Day 5
We drive inside the walled compound which is planted with olive trees for as far as we can see. The house is magnificent...set behind a large, beautiful lily pond.
|5/11/2004 Trapani-Palermo Day 6
We succeed on our first try....a small beach with pebbles and rocks, where about a dozen people are lying on the beach, swimming or (in full wet suit gear) diving for sea urchins.
|5/12/2004 Palermo Day 7
She even tells us the story of her name--Lia, which is short for Rosalia who is the patron saint of Palermo and she urges to visit the shrine on top of Mount Pellegrino which overlooks the city.
|5/13/2004 Palermo Day 8
We stop at a jazz school which is housed in an old church--Santa Maria dello Spasimo. The classrooms bear the names of all the old jazz greats--Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis, etc.
|5/14/2004 Palermo-Agrigento Day 9
We have been invited by Sylvia and Giuseppe Bonofiglio, who run the Mandranova olive oil concern and are developing some rental properties and hotel rooms on their estate.
|5/15/2004 Agrigento Day 10
He tells that some restaurants in Porto Empedocle have begun featuring "Montalbano menus"; in the books, there are long, detailed descriptions of the meals the police inspector eats.
|5/16/2004 Agrigento-Ragusa Day 11
There appear to be teams from various Italian regions who have to make displays using exactly the same flowers and vegetables as well as plastic foliage--sort of an "iron chef" for flower designers.
|5/17/2004 Ragusa Day 12
The walls line the roads, climb to the top of hills and divide the fields into innumerable smaller plots...they are seemingly everywhere.
|5/18/2004 Ragusa Day 13
Heading out of Vizzini, we are blissfully enjoying yet another scenic masterpiece.....when the road begins to deteriorate--very badly. Soon it is basically a mud track and we are forced to concede that we have taken the wrong road.
|5/19/2004 Ragusa - Modica Day 14
Modica is set in a narrow valley...there aren't that many streets...so everyone has to pass through a one block long stretch of the broad Corso Umberto before dispersing to alternate streets that leave the town.
|5/20/2004 Modica Day 15
We eat, we pay and we head back to the hotel. We get a good, legal, free space across the steps and get our after dinner exercise--72 steps to the hotel reception desk.
|5/21/2004 Modica - Siracusa Day 16
The play is extremely interesting and it is a thrill to be watching a Greek play in one of the theaters where they were premiered over 2000 years before. I call Seth in Chicago before the play begins and he gives us a quick refresher about the plot of Medea.
|5/22/2004 Siracusa Day 17
We pass by a place (mentioned in the Rough Guide) called U.Scoggiu (a Sicilian name) which looks appealing. It turns out to be a great choice....the proprietor is extremely friendly and outgoing to everyone--tourists, young Sicilians out on dates--which makes the meal very pleasant.
|5/23/2004 Siracusa - Taormina Day 18
We walk around the first row....most headstones with crosses and several with Jewish stars on them....and read the names, military affiliation and dates - so many very young men
|5/24/2004 Taormina Day 19
We climb up to the town of Forza d'Agro, where parts of the wedding scene from Part One of The Godfather were shot. It is a picturesque town with beautiful views over the sea and the mountains...today the views are limited due to the clouds.
|5/25/2004 Taormina - Reggio di Calabria Day 20
There are actually two ferry companies--Bluvia and Caronte-Tourist--but we don't know if there is any difference, so we chose the first one we come to--Bluvia.