Tag Archives: Sicily

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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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

Avignon – France

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Avignon  is located in southeastern France bordered by the left bank of the Rhône river.

It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

It is a place I have dreamed of visiting since I was around ten years old.

When we checked into the hotel and opened the window, we were greeting with an amazing view of the Palais des Papes

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Often referred to as the “City of Popes” because of the presence of popes and antipopes from 1309 to 1423 during the Catholic schism.

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Avignon is one of the few French cities to have preserved its ramparts.

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In addition, its historic center, the palace of the popes,

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 and the bridge of Avignon………..

……… Pont d’Avignon  Only four of the eighteen piles are left; on one of them stands the small Romanesque chapel of Saint-Bénézet.are well-preserved.

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But the bridge is best known for the famous French song Sur le pont d’Avignon.

In 1309 the city, still part of the Kingdom of Arles, was chosen by Pope Clement V as his residence, and from 9 March 1309 until 13 January 1377 was the seat of the Papacy instead of Rome.

The Palais des Papes is an amazing building….

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By choosing to “move” the Vatican to Avignon Clement caused a schism in the Catholic Church.

At the time, the city and the surrounding Comtat Venaissin were ruled by the kings of Sicily of the house of Anjou.

The French King Philip the Fair, who had inherited from his father all the rights of Alphonse de Poitiers (the last Count of Toulouse), made them over to Charles II, King of Naples and Count of Provence (1290).

Nonetheless, Philip was a shrewd ruler. Inasmuch as the eastern banks of the Rhone marked the edge of his kingdom,

when the river flooded up into the city of Avignon, Philip taxed the city since during periods of flood, the city technically lay within his domain…..interesting tax laws!

Here the flood levels were recorded ….

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The Popes who resided in the Palais des Papes were

Clement V: 1305–1314

John XXII: 1316–1334

Benedict XII: 1334–1342

Clement VI: 1342–1352

Innocent VI: 1352–1362

Urban V: 1362–1370

Gregory XI: 1370–1378

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This period from 1309–1377 – the Avignon Papacy – was also called the Babylonian Captivity of exile, in reference to the Israelites‘ enslavement in biblical times.

The inside of the Palais is eerie and haunting…

europe2 799It feels strange to walk these empty rooms and hallways….

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….and of course there is the garden of the Rocher des Doms…

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Now time for some lunch at 46 Bistro……….escargot …….of course…

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…then a walk about town……to the place to be…………the Place de l’Horloge..

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….looks like these two have been sitting around here for a while…

…amazing Carrousel…La Belle Epoque…

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We visited the most wonderful Musee Lapidaire, CLICK HERE to read about that visit…..

……………..we encountered wonderful architecture, as we strolled about….

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….of course the cafes attract our attention….

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….and we decide to have dinner at lou Mistrau….beautiful outdoor dining with wind shields….good because it is quite nippy….

we begin with………….you guessed it escargot…..the best we have ever eaten…

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….followed by my very favorite dish on the planet…..Cassoulet……

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….then perhaps some beef and potatoes….

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……ahhh but let us not forget dessert and cappuccino ….

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walking about we encounter these wonderful ladies dressed in vintage clothing….

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It has been a most wonderful visit, filled with discovery, wonderment, lavender, culinary delights…..

…..but we must move on….

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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!!!

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)

Pasta Making – Mazara del Vallo – Sicily

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During the second World War, Vito Gallo made a bet with a companion-in-arms that if  he could make a safe return home to Mazasra del Vallo, Sicily, he would set up a large pasta factory where he would produce one of the best Italian pastas.  He was convinced, in fact, that the values of peace, friendship and family could also be enjoyed around a table. 

Since then the Pastificio Gallo has been producing pasta that appeals to everyone’s taste, thanks to its taste, savour and smell.   This is pasta that makes you experience the yellowing Sicilian cornfields, the burning sun and the beautiful sea breeze.

The recipe comes from Vito Gallo’s sons Natale and Calogero who are personally engaged in the selection of the best hard wheat bran of Sicily, as well as the daily monitoring of the various production stages.

Vito Gallo has succeeded in winning this ancient bet with his marvelous pasta and I had the grand privilege of touring his amazing factory and watching the pasta in action.

From the tons of and selected flour that arrives around the clock to the flour silos…

the pasta is made into large sheets that continually pour from the machines towards the bronze dies that will cut the most amazing shapes……..

out come all the marvelous pastas on their way to the drying bins…..

the drying bins turn the pasta and dry it at a very low temperature………the pasta spends from six to twelve hours in the drying bins………

the out comes the most fragrant, beautiful pasta……..

treated like gold by the Gallo sons…….

then it is off to the packaging portion of the process…..

the robots stack and wrap the packages of pasta……


and then it is off to all parts of the world…………

but this is my favorite part of the entire process………

Mangiare Con Gusto!

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 Polski: Flaga Regionu Sycylia Português: Bandeira da Região Siciliana (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mozia – The Whitaker Museum – Dinner at Fior di Sale

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Mozia is a small island, formerly known as ”Motia” and ”San Pantaleo” in the Trapani province, in Sicily and lies in the Stagnone Lagoon, and is generally included as a part of Marsala.

Mozia at its Peak

Modern Day Mozia

Just 400,000 square meters in size, the history Mozia is very ancient: as a shipping centre and staging post, and due to its presence near the coast of important trade city, it was one of the most important Phoenician and Carthaginian settlements in the Mediterranean Sea area. The Phoenicians transformed the inhospitable island, which they called ”Motya”, into one of the most affluent cities of its time, naturally defended by the lagoon as well as high defensive walls. Ancient windmills and salt pans were used for evaporation, salt grinding and refinement, and to maintain the condition of the lagoon and island itself. Recently the mills and salt pans (called the ”Ettore Infersa”) have been restored by the owners and opened to the public.

In the 6th century BC, due to the struggles between ancient Greece and Carthage over Sicily, Motia sided with the Phoenicians and Carthaginians against the Greeks. The ancient settlement at Motia, founded in the 8th century BC, was destroyed by the Syracuse tyrant Dionysius the Elder in 379 BC.

During the Middle Ages, Basilican monks settled on the island and renamed it San Pantaleo, and in 1888 was rediscovered by Joseph Whitaker (ornithologist).
Today, the island of Mozia is owned and operated by the Whitaker Foundation (Palermo), famous for Marsala wines. 

The Whitaker Museum contains a virtual plethora of artifacts gathered from the island……..

The grounds were not only beautiful, they were cluttered with magnificent artifacts…….

After an amazing day exploring the island it was time to catch the last boat back to Sicily…..

…..and then off to Fior di Sale (Flower of Salt) for a marvelous dinner…..at sunset….

The chef awaits us with some wonderful artistic delights……..

another evening of culinary delights………..

……and the final moments of this marvelous day……….

Lunch on the Beach – Ristorante La Pineta : Marinella di Selinute – Sicily

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The weather was perfect, about 70 degrees, the sky clear and the Mediterranean breeze so very refreshing.  We were off on an exploration and my senses were heightened with anticipation of what we might encounter. 

We pulled the car over to the side of the road, at the edge of a cliff, sloping steeply to the beach below, as I peered over the edge the most beautiful, isolated beach came into view.

 
It was then that my companions turned to me and informed me that I was in for the culinary experience of a lifetime…………all I saw at the base of the earthen staircase was a small unassuming building with some beach chairs outside. I thought perhaps that we did not share the same culinary visions…………….but I trusted, so off we went to Ristorante La Pineta

I was reminded about so many beach front restaurants that I have visited in the past…………extremely casual, relaxed and promising below mediocre food and service. Inside I groaned and thought of all the other wonderful places on the island of Sicily we could now be. Then it began………….
A pure symphony of food and service…………I nearly swooned and soon forgot that there were any others in my presence; I so became one with this culinary experience. The very lines between reality and the tastes, smells and vision of the most marvelous food became blurry and the air around me seemed to shimmer with the perfect harmony of smell, taste and sight. This was nirvana!

I had been transported to a celestial table and Edesia herself was presiding over this magic.

The notes awaiting the skillful hands of the Chef to arrange them into a marvelous symphony

The antipasto arrived one dish at a time………..here they are nestled together…..

Octopus – Swordfish – Anchioves – Shrimp

…but now it was time……..the orchestra had warmed up and the room filled with the fullness of the majesty of the symphony…..

The melodic sweet and light clams dancing like the notes of the woodwinds in front of the uplifting notes of the French Horn – Trombone and Trumpet Pasta entwined by the Drums – Snares and Tympani of the Olive Oil and Herbs

……….the composer does not rest……….. he completes the symphony by joining the complex movement of Mussels – Shrimp – Clams into a euphony that brings the participants to a near euphoria….

the eyes are rolling back, the palms sweating profusely………the heart no longer rhymthic….the conducter senses that the audience must be calmed and introduces

a simple melody of fresh fruit to return us back to the earthly plane……..


………..we slump in our chairs and hold on to the fleeting glory that just passed us ……… like satiated lovers…..

we wander into the sunlight and delight in our experience….