Sicilia

22 Decemeber 1999

Greetings to all from paris! I hope all is well. (you may notice i am writing in msword again, as there are more capital letters than i normally use) i thought i would catch all of you up on what we have been up to since new year's eve in sicily.

We stayed at leonardo cannizzaro's house for almost another week of the new year. This was largely spent catching up, but we did explore castelvetrano and nearby archeological park, selinunte. Castelvetrano is a small city with small winding streets. On these small streets are 2 or 3 storey apartment-type houses, many with shops on the ground floor. For the first week we were there i felt like the city was huge in area, since it always took forever to get out of town from the house. We found when we went exploring on our own that the city isn't very large, but the streets are very confusing for me since i am used to the city block layout. We walked across town one day, it wasn't very far. It was an amusing place, very sicilian.

Before i go any further i have something to set straight: winter in the european mediterranean is not tropical. It is considerably warmer than other places in europe, but it was only in the 11C range (55F.) it did get up to a balmy 18C one day! It was very frustrating because the mediterranean is beautiful-- the water is clear and the color is amazing, ranging from green to indigo, but it is much to cold to do more than put one's toes in the water! Othewise the weather really wasn't a big deal, except that the expansive stone building we were staying in was colder inside than outside! It was little odd. Most days were sunny so it looked like it should have been warmer than it was, espcially with all the citrus fruit ripening on all the trees!

So one day we went to selinunte, "the largest archeological park in europe!" (it would seem that every arch. Park in sicilia has some 'most something' title.) this was the site of a greek settlement some couple of thousand years ago. They have put a couple of the pilarred temples back together again, but much of the park is in 'ruins' form. The area of the park is large. There was originally a settlement and port and three separate temple sites, some with multiple temples. Now you can walk through the settlement area and see the layouts of the houses that have been uncovered. There is a temple almost in the middle of this that has been reconstructed. From the hill opposite the water the view of this temple with the mediterranean in the background was quite stunning, especially near sunset! There were other temples and piles of stones that were once temples, but none were quite as stunning. It was your typical greek temple scene: sandstone pillars and building stones on a hill over the water. i'm glad we went, i suspect it will be the only site of it's type we will see this visit since we did n't go to any others on sicily and we aren't going to greece.

Oh yeah, we also visited trapani one day. This is a city on the norwestern tip of sicily. There are many remains of the spanish occupation in sicily found in trapani. We didn't see much on our visit because we were only there for a few hours. One thing you have to understand about sicily (and italy in general) is that all shops close in the afternoon for a long siesta-lunch. This includes cafes and restaurants as well and clothing and other shops. It is a bit odd not being able to buy food at lunchtime, but you learn to adapt. In any case, when you are hanging out in a city it is a bit frustrating that just about the time you get the lay of the town and know what and where to go, everything closes for 2 or 3 hours. We would often just head home at this point. This was only a little of what happened to us in trapani that day. We were also trying to get some logistics done for the next week and contact another distant cousin of mrk.'s that works in trapani, the two of which took up a lot of time. We had two goal for trapani: cannoli and erice. We were told by mrk.'s first cousin, from mississippi, who lived in sicily for a while, that the best cannoli in sicilia was to be found in trapani. So we went and had some. It was pretty good. Maybe i'm not the best judge of cannoli, but i didn't think it was a ton better than anything else we had had. But it was a good quest in any case. Erice is an ancient town on the top of a hill just outside of trapani. Unfortunately our errands took longer than anticipated and we left for erice late. We only hade time to take the bus up the mountain-hill and run around the tiny cramped roads between stone buildings for 5 minutes before we had to get back on the bus to go back to trapani. We didn't want to miss our train home (only an hour ride and train frequency of about 1 every 2 hours.) So we were a little disappointed with our visit to trapani, and erice specifically. We kind of wanted to go back. When we found out the next week that there was a youth hostel in erice we were very disappointed to not have had an opportunity to stay there!

That was about the extent of our activities while we were staying in castelvetrano. We decided what we most wanted to do before we left sicily was go to mt. Etna, on the opposite side of the island. This was our next adventure. Leonardo insisted on driving us to the trainstation to catch our train to catania at 6:50 in the morning, despite the fact that he and the family never went to bed before 2 a.m. he also insisted on buying us cannoli on the way there. This was a bit odd, but we went along. The thing with cannoli is that they make them to order. You don't just go and take what you see. We thought we ordered 8 little cannolis, they are only about 6 cm long, but we got 8 big cannolis, each about 15 cm long and 5cm in diameter. Leonardo only made us take four of them. You are supposed to eat cannoli right away so the outer shell is still crispy. This didn't happen with our large cannoli.

In any case, we did make our train and were off to catania.

© Copyright Cheryln Crowl 2000



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