SicilyPosted: March 20, 2011
To me Sicily is an enigma. I was not expecting an enigma!
It’s an island, as complex, multilayered and conflicting as it’s varied, Greek, Norman, Arab and Italian past.
I had imagined I’d find some beautiful beaches, some glitzy shops and lots of lemon and orange groves. Instead I found:
Greek temples and amphitheaters, the remains of which rival many of those found in Greece. One of the best preserved castles in Italy! An active, smoking, snowcapped Volcano called Mt Etna. Oranges that can be picked from trees on the nature strip and fields abundant with olive, almond and lemon groves.
There is 1000 kms of coastline and a green, rocky interior. Industry borders farmland and concrete ramshackle suburbs that are crying out for a lick of paint and a good sweep, butt restored Medieval or Baroque town centers.
We also ate a sweetncannelloni to die for, crispy rolled pastry filled with a creamy sweet mixture of ricotta, and the freshest fish from a market teamed with a delicious eggplant lasagna cooked by a café owners wife.
It was ambitious to think we could do Sicily justice in 5 nights of travel. We met a German couple that had been in Sicily for two months and had not even ventured into its hinterland. (A lot to do with the size of their van mind, and the fact that it may not make it through the narrow, hillside town streets.) Fortunately, we could and had one of our best experiences of Sicily there.
As the sun was beginning to set, we veered off towards a sign for Caccomo. Not mentioned in any guide books, and hardly on the map, we had no idea what to expect. What we found was wonderful. A medieval city, weaving streets on a steep incline, a fortress castle became our beacon and we camped in its shadow. Wood fired pizza from the restaurant beside the castle was divine and no surprise the locals had virtually booked it out. Luckily we eat early!
The next morning we walked “up town”! And I mean up, up the steep little streets, paths, steps. I wanted to get to the “top of the town!” Once again we marveled at how old people can survive in these hillbound towns……. how do they get their milk??
It was Wednesday, about 9.30 am, and it must have been housekeeping day. We passed women, doors open, mopping and sweeping, banging the dust from rugs and leaving them air, washing being hung on balcony clothes lines. Tidy bundles of recycling plastics and cardboard were sitting on doorsteps, one enterprisingly hanging from a 4th story home by a cord and hook, suspended away from curious dogs and cats. We hear what sounds to me like an Islamic call to prayer, and a little van prowls around the corner. Not Islamic prayer, Antonio informs me, just a microphone announcing spuds for sale. For a morning we were part of what’s off the beaten track. Sharing, in a small way, the every day life of being a Sicilian.