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Published: September 7th 2018
Today was a fabulous day as we travelled to the small town of Sant'Angelo Muxaro to meet up with our local guide and discover more about this beautiful region. Sant'Angelo Muxaro is one of those villages you see perched up on top of a mountain, that from a distance it makes you wonder how you could possibily get up there! Sure enough the drive to the top did require a few nail biting moments! On arrival we met our local guide and we walked along the cobbled streets to the main square. There were a couple of little cafe's on the square so we chose one and had a coffee like a local. What was absolutely so special about this day is we were the only tourists in town - this is where Back Roads Tours is better than many other tour companies as their aim is to take you places that the others either don't know about or can't get too.
Our first visits was to meet the "cheese man". Even though we arrived sometime after 10, it was still a bit early for him but before long he came running along and opened up his shop. Through our
guide he explained how he milks the sheep (I think he has 200 and they need to be milked twice a day!) and then the process of making the cheese. He also explained that the milking can only occur at certain times of the year, I guess when the sheep are pregnant. He also explained how the sheep will lamb twice a year and the first lamb/s are kept to continue on the flock but the next round will be slaughtered for the meat. So his business is two fold. The cheese was delicious - it was a pecorino.
It was time to continue our walk and our next location was the local bakery, where we met Maria, who along with her husband, owns this business. We got to taste the freshly baked bread which was a local variety and had oregano baked on it, like a garlic bread. We also got to try the local biscuits that contained pistachio and almond. Maria was an absolute delight - she spoke perfect English and she told us how she grew up in the U.K. and came to visit her grandmother in the town and she eventually met her husband. His
family owned the bakery, so they are carrying on the family business. While we were standing outside the bakery enjoying the goodies, a small truck came along and the man was selling fruit and veggies. Maria told us that in some days another man comes along selling fish and meat. We were a bit of a novelty in town and the locals came out to chat to us, even if they didn't speak English, which was fun. Amazing how well you can communicate with your few words of Italian and a lot of hand gestures haha. We said farewell to Maria although we would be seeing her in a little while, as we were going to her house for lunch. Actually, her husband was inside the bakery making the pasta we were going to have later. Doesn't get any fresher than that!
Next we walked up to the local market, that just happened to be in this town on Tuesdays. We were free to wander around and explore for a little while. Even though I wasn't interested in buying anything, it was lovely to just be a part of the town. In typical Italian style, the women seemed to
be doing most of the shopping and the men found seats in the shade and chatted or had coffee.
Once the group reformed we continued our walk, this time to met up with a guy that produces the local honey. He was a fairly young guy who had left the village for many years but eventually came back and was now producing honey. He explained to us how sets up his bee hives and explained how he needs the queen bee to be in a certain part of the hive, to ensure the bees continue to build the honeycomb further up the hive. We got to sample some of his honeys as well as olive oil that he produces. It was all very delicious!
Time to head back up the road and head to Maria's place for lunch. We were all so impressed with the location of our lunch table - you will see this in the photos. Maria, her husband and her father-in-law welcomed us and then the food started to arrive! There were olives, more of the freshly baked bread, grilled vegetables, a dish where eggplants is wrapped around a piece of pecorino cheese then baked
with capanata on it, an Italian salad like my grandma used to make - tomatoes, cucumber and onion and lots of olive oil, vinegar and salt. And then our pasta! It had local asparagus in it which is very different to our asparagus back home - it is thin and even tastes different. I am not sure what else was in the pasta, probably some eggplant, but it was really, really yummy! And all of this was washed down with red wine that came to the table in jugs and some aqua minerale. What a feast!
After our long lunch we ambled (waddled?) down the streets towards the square to visit the Museum, which contains many ancient relics that were discovered in tombs in the side of the mountain that this town sits on top of. It is believe that this village dates back to 800 years BC and was part of the Iron Age. There are many prehistoric Necropolis' located in this area. Many of the items that have been located are stored in this museum except for a special golden bowl that was donated to the British Museum in 1772. Every time we visited a place that
talks about anything BC, blows my mind a little!
Eventually it was time to say farewell to this beautiful town and its friendly citizens as we headed back to Agrigento. Once back at our hotel, Sue and I decided to go for a walk down to the beach area and along the sand to the town we had visited for lunch yesterday. It was a nice walk and it was good to be beside the sea, as it was still quite hot. The walk back was a little tougher, as there was quite a bit of uphill required but it was nice being able to chat and feel like we might have walked off some of the lunch we had enjoyed today. Time then to freshen up and head down to have a Aperol Spritz for happy hour! We sat outside as it was quite lovely at this time of the evening. We then headed into the restaurant in our Baglío for another great (included) dinner.
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