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May 3rd 2016
Published: May 2nd 2016
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Hello again, it is 3 May. Cannot believe I have been able to blog every day. Such a change from last trip. Off to Erice today. Stopped at a roadside bar for coffee and restrooms. Stopped at an overlook to take pictures of Castel del Mar. While we were taking pictures of the Norman fortress on the point with the duomo in the center of town, Luca brought out another of his surprises. Yesterday it was cannoli, toda castellana de ricotta. It was a lovely pastry with a warm ricotta cream and chocolate. At this rate everyone will gain a lot of weight. Mary Ann says not her, but ask her about the breads sometime. The oldest part of the city stuck out into the harbor with the newer sections fanning out behind them.Luca says there is a big summer tourist trade there. Seems like most of the castles and churches on the western side of Sicily are Norman built. When we finally got to Erice along another long and winding road, we went into the church which had the same type of Norman facade, but the interior was completely different from previous churches. There was no Arabic influence here, rather heavier darker altars and floors over which soared white ceilings that looked like filigree carved ivory. Not sure what it was made of, but we saw similar decorations around the nave and they seemed to be plaster. It is just amazing how any intricate work like that could be achieved by humans. It is so high above the floor and just awe-inspiring. Every church we have toured has charged an entrance fee. Wonder if they charge worshippers? Erice is a strong, walled fortress with narrow steep streets whose streets are paved in squares, maybe six across. Each square's interior is approximately 18 inches square and is made of stones turned so the narrow end faces up. Around each square is four longer stones. All the same approximate length and width, with edges that looked chiseled to be curved. Streets became very slippery in the storm we encountered, had to walk gingerly down the steep slopes. Would not have been so bad on a clear day, but unfortunately it stormed just before and then again while we were there. Glad we did not get there earlier, they had a hailstorm and there were still piles of the small ice balls lying in places. We headed up to the castle, brave souls we are, as the fog rolled in. And the rain began again. Took shelter for a few minutes in the coffee shop tent then headed up. Thought we were going in, but no admittance. It suddenly struck me standing there that I finally remembered where I had seen Norman castles. Every Robin Hood movie ever made has him attacking a Norman castle to save Maid Marian. I could picture Errol Flynn, Kevin Costner and even the Disney red fox character storming those walls.It being lunchtime, we headed to Segesta, a region that was home to one of Sicily's indigenous people - the ancient Elymians from Greece. There is an unfinished Greek temple there which is in magnificent shape with soaring columns. It sits on a hill surrounded by nature. We took a smaller bus up to Tenuta Pispisa, a family owned restaurant for a marvelous vegetarian and pasta lunch followed by cannoli. The family owns over a hundred acres of vineyards, twenty of vegetables and twenty of olive trees. From the rustic but modern dining room we had a marvelous view of the temple. After lunch about half of the people piled on the little bus for the trip back to the big bus. The rest of us decided to walk back. It turned out to be about two miles over a muddy track, but I am happy to say I made it. We are really doing some walking here.Late this afternoon we arrived at Berlinger's Resort outside Mazara Del Vallo. Have a beautiful modern room. Had a wonderful dinner, eating things I never thought I would- grilled eggplant stuffed with salty ricotta, panini type bread stuffed with vegetables, fried cod (looked like sardine size), and risotto with smoked ham and cheese followed by Italian fried donuts. Good thing they use only olive oil. Several of us stayed behind and hung out in the living area and chatted. Time for besleep. Ciao!


3rd May 2016

Ok Lynn, Now I am jealous with that Eggplant Dish,,,,, I was't about walking in MUD!!!!! I would not have made it....

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