Sicily


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May 2nd 2016
Published: May 2nd 2016
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Sunday, 1 May
Today is Italy's Labor Day, although it has another name. It is supposed to be a family day, but since it is Sunday, the people kind of got the shaft on a day off. Since so many are Catholics, half the day is spent in church, but our guide says at least they get a good meal. Temperature has dropped here quite a bit. I am very glad I packed a couple of long sleeve shirts and my jeans. Afraid I am going to have to do laundry soon, otherwise my pants will probably stand by themselves. This morning we headed to Castelbuono, about an hour and a half away by bus. Have to say the bus or "coach" as they say here, is extremely comfortable. It is very large, about 53 seats. The first day on the bus, couples all sat together, which even though the seats are nice, looked very uncomfortable. Guess togetherness was the idea, but why be scrunched when there is so much room. That started changing yesterday, and by today we were spread out all over. So, after an hour and a half ride, we arrived in the town in the rain. Luca had warned us we would probably be having rain, so everyone was prepared. Some of the people were a little carsick by the time we got there because we had to travel about two miles on this extremely winding narrow road. A lot of the turns were like switchbacks, a little freaky looking out the window. Sicily is very big on castles and cathedrals, and even the castles have private chapels have highly decorated walls, either with mosaics or carved angels, saints and even gargoyle faces to remind people that sin exists. Castelbuono is another Norman castle with square walls and small cut out windows. The entrance to the castle itself was an imposing ramp with about a 30 degree slope. Visitors would ride their horses into the courtyard. It was slightly terraced, so I wonder how any carts could deliver to the gates? Maybe I will have to research it in more depth. The first floor was for the servants and included a grate which lead to the dungeons and underground storage. The second floor was for the property owners and the third for visiting guests, especially royalty. We walked into town and had a wonderful lunch at this family restaurant which was down a quaint alley. The restaurant specialized in mushroom dishes and were they yummy. Ended lunch with a panne cotta, which is almost like a creme brûlée. Heading back to the bus for the next adventure, we stopped at a street vendor and got some free samples of Manna, which was nothing like what we read in the Bible. It comes from a variety of ash tree. The tree is tapped, like our maple trees, and then reduced to form a slightly sweet, porous, crunchy taffy-like candy. They also gave out tastes of a cake and limoncello. I tried it when I was in Sorrento many years back so knew to say no. I tried to warn Mary Ann, but she took a sip. Told her it was lemon flavored vodka, but her facial expression was precious. Only took one taste to realize it was more vodka than lemon. She is really enjoying the trip, would like to visit the cemeteries, but they seem to be few and far between and not near the cathedrals.Back on the bus and off to Cefalu Cathedral we travelled from the hilltops to the seaside. The Duomo di Cefalu is anther Norman Cathedral from 1131. According to tradition, the king of Sicily erected the cathedral after a vow he made to The Virgin Mary for saving him and his crew from a tempest. As most cathedrals are in Sicily, they are in a big square surrounded by narrow streets of houses and shops. In front of the cathedral is a large terrace which originally housed a cemetery. Now the cemetery is located on top of the highest peak. The facade has two large Norman towers. Each tower has a different spire, one to symbolize the Papal authority and the other symbolizing the Royal power. Although there is some Moorish designs in this cathedral, it is not on the same grand scale as Monreale. There is a longer apse and the same figures, but the extensive gold is missing and the silver urns are tarnished and hidden in a darker area. We are going to suggest that OAT changes the order n which the two cathedrals are visited. This one was quite disappointing though the town was quaint. Early evening tonight for Mary Ann and me. Very noisy in the streets again last night and we are leaving tomorrow morning for our next town. We are off to check out the Arabic influence on Sicily.Until next time, ciao.

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2nd May 2016

Lynn, Sounds like your taking it all in... The little family restaurant sounds yummy, I can smell it! You have a blast Mama!
2nd May 2016

Loving your blog
Great to know about your travel report!that make me feel proud of beeing your TL helping to delivery contents you need for your writing and local perception. Good suggestion for OAT to visit Cefalù and then Monreale. I will ask to do so, I am totally agree!! Great post Linda, I am honoured to read this blog!:)

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