Location: Sicily, Italy
We came to Sicily to learn about their wines and see where Rich’s grandparents grew up. We had no idea how beautiful Sicily is. The coastlines were constantly changing and always impressive. The interior of the island had rolling green hills and rugged mountains with panoramic vistas in every direction. This made all of our drives pleasing when we were outside of the cities. Inside the cities was another story where chaos reined supreme and the local drivers constantly challenged us to the road that lay ahead. The food far surpassed what we had on the mainland. All in all, it’s fair to say that Sicily exceeded our expectations and left us favorably impressed.
We walked around Palermo and took in some of the sights. In the old city, the markets in the alleyways reminded us of Arab markets that we’ve been to and shows the Arab influence that still exists in Sicily to this day.
We took a drive from the north coast to the south coast to visit the winery of Planeta. The landscapes were a lush green with mountains, rolling hills and a wind farm. We were scheduled for a tour and tasting but got lost on the way down and had to settle for just a tasting. Planeta has 5 different winery locations in Sicily and we visited their Menfi location. It was a beautiful site overlooking the sea. The wines were nice and we bought both a white (2012 Carricante) and a red (2007 Cerasouolo Di Vittoria) to enjoy later.
We set off for the Alcamo DOC wine region that is the home of Tenuta Rapitala as we’ve been enjoying their wines for years. Lucia Cutrona hosted us for a tour and tasting. The vineyards cover the rolling hills surrounding the winery. It’s a beautiful location. They have one of the more advanced facilities that we’ve seen utilizing a high degree of computerization and automation. We had a chance to see their bottling line in operation and were given 2 bottles of single vineyard Nero D’Avola right off of the line. After the tasting, we were offered our choice of yet another bottle of wine. We chose the Nuhar, which is a blend of Nero D’Avola and Pinot Nero. We thoroughly enjoyed our visit and can’t thank Lucia and Rapitala enough for their hospitality and generosity.
Rich’s Grandparents on his Mom’s side both grew up in the Messina region of northeastern Sicily. So, we set off first for the town of Naso found high up on the top of a hill where his Grandmother Giuseppina Pavone lived. The town was lovely and the views were amazing. A little further east on the coast, we found the small seaside city of Patti where his Grandfather Giovanni Cavallaro lived. This was another beautiful location. After seeing the natural beauty of these locations, we found ourselves wondering how hard it must have been to leave them behind to start a new life in America.
We spent out first night in Catania at Hotel Residence Villa Cibele as our flight arrived late in the day and it was in the vicinity of the airport. The wifi was great and they served an adequate breakfast that was included in the rate.
We found a nice apartment on VRBO (Listing #401876) in Palermo where we stayed 4 nights. It was in the old Arab area of the city just a couple of blocks from the Mediterranean. It had a decent kitchen allowing us to do some cooking once again. We’re actually finding that we don’t mind cooking so much now that we have the time to do it. The wifi was decent and there was a washing machine.
We spent our last 2 nights in Sicily at a Hilton Hotel in Giardini Naxos where we celebrated Elizabeth’s Birthday. It was nice to be back in the comfort of a good hotel. The property was right on the Mediterranean and they had a decent spa and fitness center. Our only complaint was that there was a sizable fee for the wifi and it only covered 1 device.
Food & Drink:
We hate to say it but we’d been disappointed by a number of the meals that we’d eaten in restaurants on Italy’s mainland. That led us to cook our own meals while we had the apartment. When we dined out, we found the meals to be consistently good in Sicily. In fact, our last meal in Italy was our best when we celebrated Elizabeth’s Birthday at L’acquario Degustazione. This restaurant is noted for its exceptional seafood and for good reason. We also enjoyed a number of fine Sicilian wines along the way.
We took a couple of buses along the Amalfi coast to get to Naples and then flew EasyJet to Catania, Sicily. There, we rented another car from Avis. This time it was a Lancia Ypsilon with a manual transmission and it served us well as we put about 1,000 km on it. The drivers in Sicily are much more aggressive than on Italy’s mainland and especially those on motorbikes. Some of the streets in Palermo were the narrowest one-lane roads we’ve driven anywhere. That was until we got to Naso where we wouldn’t have dared go down one tiny alley until we saw another car squeeze through. The Autostrada’s were mostly made of tunnels and elevated roadways and about half of the time, they were free of charge, which was a welcome surprise.
We’d like to thank Rich’s aunt Yolanda Farra for providing all of the family background in Sicily along with things to eat and places to visit. It made for a much more authentic experience. Thanks Yolanda!
For Your Amusement:
We don’t normally have room for dessert but we couldn’t pass it up in Sicily. We were caught off guard when the Cannoli we ordered was served warm. That was a first for us but it was delicious.
Highlights: Good food, good wine and wonderful scenery.
Next Up: Our SIM card just ran out on us after a month in Italy. So, its time to move on and we’re heading for Marseille, France.