Tag Archives: Italy

Marsala – Sicily

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Marsala  (Lilybaeum in Latin) is an Italian town located in the Province of Trapani in the westernmost part of Sicily. Marsala is the most populous town in Trapani, and the fifth-highest in Sicily.

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The town is famous for the landing of Garibaldi on 11 May 1860 (the Expedition of the Thousand) and for its Marsala wine.

A feature of the area is the natural reserve of Stagnone Lagoon—a marine area with salt ponds.

The Salt Ponds and the Ancient Windmills used to pump the sea water out are so very beautiful…

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Marsala is built on the ruins of the ancient Carthaginian city Lilybaion, and includes the archaeological site of Motya island, an ancient Phoenician town.  See our visit to that marvelous place by clicking HERE.

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As we traveled to Sicily from Malta it was exciting to see the island coming into view…

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We stayed in our favorite hotel in Marsala, The New Palace Hotel

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We love walking the old city of Marsala, so filled with history and beauty..

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As with any ancient city in Europe, one must visit the Cathedral…

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We dart up the steps and enter the enormous doors …….what do we see…….. a wedding in progress…

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….up the side aisle we sneak, in order to obtain a better view of the goings on….

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What fun to observe this very formal event…we hurry to wait outside to see the newlyweds exit…

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What fun that was!

We had walked into the old town and on our way back we found the most marvelous restaurant…. Bucanieri

Look at the view from our table……..marvelous!!

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What a delightful meal we enjoyed, sitting and watching the chefs in the open kitchen….

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Crostini with Lardo and Fresh Tomato..

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Arancini di Riso and Sundried Tomato stuffed with Sardine…

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Octopus Salad

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Wild Boar Meatballs in a Rich Hunter’s Broth

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Delightful Frutti di Mari

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Tuna Steak in an Incredible Parsley Sauce

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Delightful cup of Rich Minestrone Soup

Then a walk back to the New Palace for some pastries..

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Nothing beats Sicilian Pastries…

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We so love Sicily and Marsala is always a delight to visit…..we hope you enjoyed spending some time here with us….

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Grosseto – Italy

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grosetto3You always know when you are entering Tuscany……the surroundings suddenly begin to look sculpted, as if you were walking in a work of art…

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Our destination is Grosseto, whose origins can be traced back to the High Middle Ages.

Grosseto was first mentioned in 803 as a fief of the Counts Aldobrandeschi, in a document recording the assignment of the church of St. George to Ildebrando degli Aldobrandeschi, whose successors were counts of the Grossetana Mark until the end of the 12th century.

Grosseto is enchanting, in part, due to the fact that the city is surrounded by ancient Medicean Walls.

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The walls embrace this beautiful city and no vehicles are allowed!  Peaceful, quiet and simply divine!

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  Grosseto has a long and turbulent history.  In 1137 the city was besieged by German troops, led by duke Henry X of Bavaria, sent by the emperor Lothair III to reinstate his authority over the Aldobrandeschi.

In the following year the bishopric of Roselle was transferred to Grosseto.

In 1151 the citizens swore loyalty to the Siena, and in 1222 the Aldobrandeschi gave the Grossetani the right to have their own podestà, together with three councilors and consuls.

In 1244 the city was reconquered by the Sienese, and its powers, together with all the Aldobrandeschi’s imperial privileges, were transferred to Siena by order of the imperial vicar.

Thereafter Grosseto shared the fortunes of Siena. It became an important stronghold, and the fortress (rocca), the walls and bastions can still be seen today.

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In 1266 and in 1355, Grosseto tried in vain to win freedom from the overlordship of Siena. While Guelph and Ghibelline parties struggled for control of that city, Umberto and Aldobrandino Aldobrandeschi tried to regain Grossetto for their family. The Sienese armies were however victorious, and in 1259 they named a podestà from their city. But Grosseto gained its freedom and in the following year and fought alongside the Florentine forces in the Battle of Montaperti.

Over the next 80 years Grosseto was again occupied, ravaged, excommunicated by Pope Clement IV, freed in a republic led by Maria Scozia Tolomei, besieged by emperor Louis IV and by the antipope Nicholas V in 1328, until it finally submitted to its more powerful neighbour, Siena.

The pestilence of 1348 struck Grosseto hard and by 1369 its population had been reduced to some hundred families. Its territory, moreover, was frequently ravaged, notably in 1447 by Alfons V of Sicily and in 1455 by Jacopo Piccinino.

Sienese rule ended in 1559, when Charles V handed over the whole duchy to Cosimo I de Medici, first Grand Duke of Tuscany.

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Later you will see that we had the privilege of dining in an ancient Medici building that was an amazing experience.

In 1574 the construction of the Medicean Walls was begun and we are so glad they survived and protect this beautiful city today.

We knew that our visit to Grosseto would include staying at the marvelous Grand Hotel Bastiani

grosetto4We had stayed here once before and fell in love with the old world charm and elegance of the hotel

It is located just inside the ancient Medicean Walls and on the Piazza Gioberti, in the shadow of the Cathedral of Grosseto…

grosetto6I do not usually gush on about hotels; however, this one is on the top of the list of our favorites…

A beautiful staircase….

europe2 162World Class service and an elegant dining room…

europe2 161Our suite was so very luxurious and comfortable…

europe2 163…..and nothing……….nothing beats an Italian Breakfast……..nothing….

europe2 160Okay, enough gushing…………..onto the city….

The Romanesque cathedral, the main monument of the city, is named for its patron St. Lawrence, and was begun at the end of the 13th century, by architect Sozzo Rustichini of Siena.

It was erected over the earlier church of Santa Maria Assunta, it was only finished in the 15th century (mainly due to the continuing struggles against Siena).

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The façade of alternate layers of white and black marble is Romanesque in style, but is almost entirely the result of 16th century and 1816–1855 restorations: it retains decorative parts of the original buildings, including Evangelists’ symbols.

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The layout consists of a Latin cross, with transept and apse.

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The interior has a nave with two aisles, separated by cruciform pilasters. The main artworks are a wondrously carved baptismal font from 1470–1474 and the Madonna delle Grazie by Matteo di Giovanni (1470).

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The campanile (bell tower) was finished in 1402, and restored in 1911.

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The Church of San Francesco is located on the Omonym Square, it was built in the Middle Ages.

It was an important Benedictine convent, before moving to the Franciscans.

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At the center of the cloister stands the characteristic Pozzo della Bufala (Well of the Buffalo) in travertine; another well is located in the square outside the church.

Then there is the Church of San Pietro. the oldest religious building in Grosseto, it was built along the stretch of the Via Aurelia that crossed the center and was originally a plebeian and stational church along the old consular road.

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The beautiful Palazzo Aldobrandeschi whose origins are medieval.  It is now a Neo-Gothic edifice with ogival mullioned windows and merlons in the upper part of the walls.

It houses the seat of the province of Grosseto. The architect was Lorenzo Porciatti.

europe2 165The city is filled with marvelous shops and the people are all so relaxed and friendly……………

…..I do believe it is the absence of vehicles!

europe2 166The weather was perfect during our visit and we enjoyed the moon during the daytime….

europe2 173As we venture about town we stumble upon an ancient structure whose upper portions have collapsed over the years…

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The Ristorante Locanda de Medici de Peccianti…WOW……….we must eat here!

europe2 176We find the entrance into the ancient Medici cellars that now house this fantastic restaurant…

We learn that these ancient cellars were used as bomb shelters during World War II…..

europe2 168We venture into a world of culinary delight….

grosetto10What a charming place and the wine selection……..oh swoon…….

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Leonardo, the Chef – Owner waits on us!  The pasta is hand made………no machines….

grosetto13The Cheeses are aromatic and delightful…

grosetto12the Seafood fresh and delightful…….

grosetto14What a delightful and enchanting visit we have had here in Grosseto…….now it is off to bed to dream of the rest of the journey ahead….

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……….until next time ciao!

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Syracuse – Sicily

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Syracuse  is a historic city in Sicily, the capital of the province of Syracuse.

The city is notable for its rich Greek history, culture, amphitheatres, architecture, and as the birthplace of the preeminent mathematician and engineer Archimedes.

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This 2,700-year-old city played a key role in ancient times,

when it was one of the major powers of the Mediterranean world.

Syracuse is located in the southeast corner of the island of Sicily, right by the Gulf of Syracuse next to the Ionian Sea.

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The city was founded by Ancient Greek Corinthians and Teneans and became a very powerful city-state.

Syracuse was allied with Sparta and Corinth, exerting influence over the entire Magna Graecia area of which it was the most important city.

Once described by Cicero as “the greatest Greek city and the most beautiful of them all”, it later became part of the Roman Republic and Byzantine Empire.

Our trek to Malta took us to this enchanted city for only a brief time…

on our way we passed by Mount Etna,  the tallest active volcano on the European continent, 10,922 feet high.

It is the highest mountain in Italy south of the Alps.

Mount Etna is one of the most active volcanoes in the world and is in an almost constant state of activity, which was quite amazing to watch…

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We had met a lovely couple in Messina, who suggested a stop in Syracusa to visit the Piazza Duomo

We stayed in the Hotel Roma which is actually part of the Temple of Athena, now the Syracuse Cathedral….

We arrived at night and the city was magical……with all sorts of promises for daybreak….

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We stayed in the Hotel Roma…….which was once part of the Temple of Athena..

in one section of the hotel you could look though the glass floor and gaze upon the Altar of Atena….quite literally walking on history!

Our room had a marvelous balcony with views of the Piazza Duomo …

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In the morning we dashed off around the corner to see what treasures were hidden at the back of the hotel…

There it was the Temple of Athena, now the Syracusa Cathedral…..

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The charm of this construction of a modern place of worship upon a much more  ancient one is heightened by the fact that some of the columns “trapped” within  the walls have been tilted and twisted by earthquakes that the cathedral has endured  during its history.

In these deformities one can see “frozen” in time the awesome  force of nature that shook Syracuse in its ancient history.

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The temple of Athena in Doric style was erected in the fifth century BC the tyrant Gelo after the victory against the Carthaginians in the Battle of Imera.

The Athenaion had six columns in front, with 14 columns along the sides. Part of the temple is currently visible on the left side of the cathedral…

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In the seventh century the temple was converted into a church by the bishop of the city Zos.

The church, of Byzantine style, was dedicated to the Nativity of Mary.

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The floor dates from the fifteenth century and in 1518 the nave was covered with the wooden ceiling still preserved.

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In the sixteenth century was also erected the bell tower. In 1728 the façade was reconstructed.

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We found being in this structure that survived so many years and served so many people in different capacities so very interesting…

Now off to the markets……..

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The city is brimming with beauty….

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We come upon the Fountain of Diana……

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……so this Siracusa, known to English speakers as Syracuse, was a wonder to behold…..

One of the great ancient capitals of Western civilization, founded in 734 BC by Greek colonists from Corinth which soon grew to rival, and even surpass, Athens in splendor and power.

This magical place became the largest, wealthiest city-state in the West and a bulwark of Greek civilization.

Rulers such as Dionysius filled the courts with Greeks of the highest cultural stature—among them the playwrights Aeschylus and Euripides, and the philosopher Plato

We are left, sitting on the Piazza Duomo, sipping our cappuccino, preparing for the next leg of our journey……

…..suddenly the air if filled with beautiful music…..and there he is…

a young boy sitting on the steps of the Temple of Athena with his accordion….

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……….like a dream, I say…………..like a dream…….

ciao

Napoli – Italy

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100PX-~1Naples is one of the oldest continuously-inhabited cities in the world.

Bronze Age Greek settlements were established in the Naples area in the second millennium BC.

The city was refounded as Neápolis in the sixth century BC and became a lynchpin of Magna Graecia, playing a key role in the merging of Greek culture into Roman society and eventually becoming a cultural center of the Roman Republic.

Naples remained influential after the fall of the Western Roman Empire, serving as the capital city of the Kingdom of Naples between 1282 and 1816.

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 Naples became the capital of the Two Sicilies until the unification of Italy in 1861. During the Neapolitan War of 1815, Naples strongly promoted Italian unification.

Naples was the most-bombed Italian city during World War II.

As the train neared Napoli, the sights became more beautiful…

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We had booked a room at the Hotel Mecure while we were in route…

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….we never expected these views……..

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…my goodness a Castle with excavation in progress with much older sites…..and that with just from the bathroom balcony!!!

As the sun began to set we looked down and saw this marvelous restaurant ….

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Off we went to find some of the most delightful food…Mussels, Squid, Octopus….

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followed by the most marvelous pizza…

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just delightful………….

In the morning we found breakfast on the hotel roof…..

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……we dined looking out at this marvelous view…

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Layer upon layer of history…….

It was a short visit to Napoli this time around, but she continued to delight and inspire us.

Selinunte – Castelvetrano, Sicily

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 On our recent trip to Sicily, we knew that a return visit to Selinunte had to be on the agenda.  

Selinunte (Ancient Greek: Σελινοῦς; Latin: Selinus) was an ancient Greek city on the southern coast of Sicily in Italy. It was situated between the valleys of the Belice and Modione rivers. It now lies in the comune Castelvetrano, between the frazioni of Triscina di Selinunte in the west and Marinella di Selinunte in the east.

The archaeological site contains five temples centered on an acropolis.

Of the five temples, only the Temple of Hera has been re-erected.

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Selinunte was one of the most important of the Greek colonies in Sicily, situated on the southwest coast of that island, at the mouth of the small river of the same name, and 6.5 km west of that of the Hypsas (the modern Belice River).   It was founded, according to historian Thucydides, by a colony from the Sicilian city of Megara, or Megara Hyblaea, under the conduct of a leader named Pammilus, about 100 years after the settlement of that city, with the addition of a fresh body of colonists from the parent city of Megara in Greece.

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 The date of its foundation cannot be precisely fixed, as Thucydides indicates it only by reference to that of the Sicilian Megara, which is itself not accurately known, but it may be placed about 628 BCE. Diodorus places it 22 years earlier, or 650 BCE, and Hieronymus still further back, 654 BCE.   The date from Thucydides, which is probably the most likely, is incompatible with this earlier epoch.

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The name is supposed to have been derived from quantities of wild parsley  that grew on the spot.   For the same reason, they adopted the parsley leaf as the symbol on their coins.

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Selinunte was the most westerly of the Greek colonies in Sicily, and for this reason was early brought into contact and collision with the Carthaginians and the native Sicilians in the west and northwest of the island.   The former people, however, do not at first seem to have offered any obstacle to their progress;  but as early as 580 BCE we find the Selinuntines engaged in hostilities with the people of Segesta (a non-Hellenic city), whose territory bordered on their own.

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The river Mazarus, which at that time appears to have formed the boundary between the two states, was only about 25 km west of Selinunte; and it is certain that at a somewhat later period the territory of Selinunte extended to its banks, and that that city had a fort and emporium at its mouth.    On the other side its territory certainly extended as far as the Halycus (modern Platani), at the mouth of which it founded the colony of Minoa, or Heracleia, as it was afterward termed.   It is evident, therefore, that Selinunte had early attained to great power and prosperity; but there is very little information as to its history.

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Like most of the Sicilian cities, it had passed from an oligarchy to a despotism, and about 510 BCE was subject to a despot named Peithagoras, from whom the citizens were freed by the assistance of the Spartan Euryleon, one of the companions of Dorieus: and thereupon Euryleon himself, for a short time, seized on the vacant sovereignty, but was speedily overthrown and put to death by the Selinuntines.   The causes leading the Selinuntines to abandon the cause of the other Greeks, and take part with the Carthaginians during the great expedition of Hamilcar (480 BCE) are unknown; they had even promised to send a contingent to the Carthaginian army, which, however did not arrive till after its defeat.

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The Selinuntines are next mentioned in 466 BCE, as co-operating with the other free cities of Sicily in assisting the Syracusans to expel Thrasybulus;  and there is every reason to suppose that they fully shared in the prosperity of the half century that followed, a period of tranquility and opulence for most of the Greek cities in Sicily.   Thucydides speaks of Selinunte just before the Athenian expedition as a powerful and wealthy city, possessing great resources for war both by land and sea, and having large stores of wealth accumulated in its temples.

We were well prepared for our hiking the ruins, as we were staying at the New Palace Hotel in Marsala

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and were treated to the most marvelous breakfast each morning…

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We so enjoyed this adventure in Sicily…….hope you did too!

Vacation Advice

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Well the Tin Man has been sitting still much too long and it is time to start planning the next trip.

I have decided that it is time to enlist the advice and thoughts of all you wonderful, wonderful, people I have met in the blogging world.

I am going to list our itinerary as it currently stands and ask if you would, please, give me any and all input you have of the cities listed and any wonderful sights that are a MUST SEE

Please include restaurants, as you know that I love to blog about food!

I so appreciate your input!

Lisbon, Portugal

Barcelona, Spain

Marseille, France

Nice – Monaco

Pisa, Italy

Grosetto, Italy

Naples, Italy

Villa San Giovanne, Italy

Marsala, Sicily

Valletta, Malta

Messina, Sicily

Brindisi, Italy

Patras, Greece

Athens, Greece

Frankfurt, Germany

If I have missed any places that you would suggest, please let me know.
The route was planned using the EuroRail routes and therefore is very flexible

The only absolutes are:  Portugal, Sicily, Malta………and of course Frankfurt…there is no way I could be in Europe and not set foot in the Father Land!
I so appreciate your input!!!!

Dinner at Ardigna – Salemi, Sicily

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During a recent trip to Sicily, my hosts decided to take me off to an adventure for dinner.  We drove for a couple of hours up these winding, tiny roads………….full of pot holes and parts of the road unpaved.  I was wondering what sort of culinary temple would be nestled up in this dense Sicilian forest and who in their right mind would EVER take the time, not to mention the risk of traveling to this outpost!  It was late at night, around 10 P.M…………remember the Italians love to dine late.   When the headlights shone off the edge of the road and there was nothing but darkness below,

I was reminded of my ride to the rainforest to visit my Aztec friends and wondered why I was alway being put at the edge of the abyss in my life!

After what seemed to be an all night excursion we rounded a corner and entered a parking lot FULL of vehicles!!!  There were others out there who would take this venture……..feeling more confident now!

We found ourselves at an ancient hunting lodge, in the middle of the Sicilian forest on a mountain top! 

The Ardigna was not always open to the public and for years was the private lodge for those who would hunt in these forests.

The interior was so very warm and inviting, the rustic charm so well blended with most incredible smells coming from the kitchen and the smiles of the staff……..


the meal began with a simple knotted bread, with the taste of pretzels and beautiful olive oil……

…oh a light dinner……..I thought…..

…………..and then it began……the virtual tsunami of antipasto………the first a tray of such incredible delights..quail eggs, some obscure meat on a skewer, grilled eggplant, prosciutto, delightful fresh tomatoes, fried mozzarella, olives and several items that were not of my known culinary universe……however they were delightful….

a stew of fresh lamb………..served in ancient copper pots…

………fava beans……….minus the hockey mask……..

…beautiful fresh cheese…

and we are so very, very lucky to have arrived during artichoke season and are rewarded with the most succulent, delightful artichokes……..

then……….oh might I swoon………..gnocci with saffron and pistachio……

followed by more pasta with fresh lamb………

and just when you think you cannot eat another mosel……….comes the platter full of meats that were hunted that day……
venison…….donkey……quail…….goat…..wild boar…..and more………

a most enchanting evening………oh did I mention the wine…….I consumed liters of it……most fantastic!!!

Castiglione della Pescaia – Grosetto – Tuscany – Italy

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Coat of arms of Castiglione della Pescaia

Coat of arms of Castiglione della Pescaia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Never in my wildest dreams did I ever see myself dining in a castle perched high over the beautiful Italian Coast….

……oh but yes…….it happened!!!

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The beautiful city by the sea with its ancient winding streets, invited us to slow down and be embraced by the past…….

we so enjoyed walking about and enjoying the shops and markets……

you see where my nose takes me……….so predictable….

our host led the way to the beachfront….

the magnificent castle looking down upon us….

as we approached the beautiful beachfront…

 we found that our host had prepared a marvelous welcoming feast……

We stayed and ate so many delights and enjoyed the beautiful wines,

as the sun set and we thought our perfect day was ending…..

……..but no we are told that now……the evening will begin!!!

we take our walk up to and into the castle!!!

then the culinary delights begin…..

the most delightful and succulent octopus I have ever tasted……….

and then when one believes there can be no more………..a whole sea bass……oh swoon…..

a perfectly delightful and magical evening spent inside this most majestic castle…

da Meo Patacca – Piazza dei Meranti – Rome, Italy

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To celebrate the 2,763rd Birthday of Rome, we decided to have dinner at a typical Roman Restaurant. 

Pinelli, Meo Patacca. Table 52: Nuccia accetta...

Pinelli, Meo Patacca. Table 52: Nuccia accetta Meo Patacca come sposo (“Nuccia accepts Meo Pattacca as her husband”) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Everyone pointed the way to da Meo Patacca!


Remington Olmstead created this 19th century tavern in the Trastevere Quarter.

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Trastevere 2 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fountain at Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere, ...

Fountain at Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere, Rome. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Located in the charming and romantic Piazza dei Meranti the charm and warmth is so very inviting…

There is ample seating outside; however, we were dining very late and wanted to experience the full ambience of the interior…..

once inside we became enchanted with the magic of the kitchen……the chefs all working in harmony……a beautiful ballet of sights, smells and culinary creation…….

we passed tables of wonderful food and I began to imagine what delights the evening might provide……

I was all settled in watching the dance of the chefs and so entranced with their creation…………….

…….. when at once it began with a bluster (click it if you don’t belive me!!!)…….

….the musicians…..raucous..melodic….and so very, very entertaining…………oh what fun was the night promising!!!…..

…….and then it began….the wine, flowing like an eternal river…….the food…course after course after course…….and the music continued until we were swept into the wild and gypsy past of this magical city…….

I only managed to photograph a few of the dishes…………the fault belonging to ………well you know……..

I must say that it was a magical evening and I look forward to returning to the past in da Meo Patacca……..

The Flag of Sicily

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After my recent trip to Sicily, many viewers have asked about the Flag of Sicily, so I thought I might provide a few interesting tidbits of information……..

Flag of the Sicilian Region Italiano: Bandiera...

Flag of the Sicilian Region Italiano: Bandiera della Regione Siciliana Sicilianu: Bannera dâ Riggiuni Siciliana Deutsch: Flagge der Sizilianischen Region (oder der Autonomen Region Sizilien) Français : Drapeau de la Région Sicilienne Español: Bandera de la Región Siciliana Português: Bandeira da Região Siciliana (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The flag of Sicily was first adopted in 1282, after the successful  revolt against Charles I of Sicily. 

It is characterized by the presence of the triskelion in its middle, the winged head of Medusa and three wheat ears.

Sicilian Triskelion

Sicilian Triskelion (Photo credit: NatalieMaynor)

The three bent legs allegedly represent the three points of the triangular shape of the island of Sicily itself.

The present design became the official public flag of the Autonomous Region of Sicily on January 4, 2000, after the passing of an apposite law which advocates its use on public buildings, schools, city halls, and all the other places in which Sicily is represented.

The flag is bisected diagonally into regions colored red and yellow, red representing the municipality of Palermo, yellow representing Corleone, which in medieval times was an agricultural city of renown. Palermo and Corleone were the first two cities to found a confederation against the Capetian House of Angevin rule.

The flag looks somewhat similar to the flag of the Isle of Man,

especially for the use of the triskelion in both of these; today, the triskelion (or ”trisceli”) is also widely considered the actual symbol of Sicily. The symbol is also known as the ”trinacria”, which is also an ancient name of Sicily. The name was also revived and used during the Aragonese period of the Kingdom of Sicily immediately after the Sicilian Vespers (1282) which ended Angevin rule. 

During the period of Muslim rule under Emirate of Sicily.   Sicily used a pure green flag, similar to the former national Flag of Libya, Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya (1977–2011) under Muammar Gaddafi.

The national flag of the Libyan Jamahiriya. Th...

The national flag of the Libyan Jamahiriya. This is a duplication of File:Flag of Libya.svg by Zscout370, anticipating that because of the ongoing civil war, the filename “Flag of Libya” will not be unambiguous in the near future. An unambiguous description of this flag is that it is the flag of the Libyan Jamahiriya introduced in 1977. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Coat of arms of Sicily

Coat of arms of Sicily (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Flag of the Kingdom of Sicily (1243 to 1410) I...

Flag of the Kingdom of Sicily (1243 to 1410) Italiano: Bandiera del Regno di Sicilia (1243 – 1410) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is the flag of the Sicilian Independence ...

This is the flag of the Sicilian Independence Movement of the 1940s and was used by Salvatore Giuliano. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)