Thursday, November 19, 2009

Cefalù, Sicily

By Claire
Driving into town, with instructions from Robert, a Brit who drives an American Fleetwood monstrosity the size of a Greyhound bus, was anything but easy. He told me to turn off the main road towards the sea, go down a hill by the port, then up a hill and we would find a place just for campers. Yeah, right. We did this drive without the assistance of Susanna since we knew she would not be able to take us directly to parking. So, round and round, up and down, back and forth we went. Poor Chuck, I don’t know how he stands it. Through sheer luck, we saw a field with a faded sign covered mostly by weeds advertising parcheggio for autos and campers. €5 for 4 hours sounded good to us and it had the added benefit of a man on duty. We left Homer parked on the street and walked over to talk to him. We asked him if it was safe to leave the camper but he was confused by the word. With hand gestures we communicated that it was OK, never mind, and left to retrieve Homer. Chuck took care of all the locking up while I went to pay. The guy told me he had looked up the word “safe” – he showed me on his iPhone – and told me that it was not safe “but I am here.” We were impressed by his initiative.
We walked into the old town, heading for the Duomo. This Arab-Norman cathedral is quite something and very different from anything we’ve seen so far. It was built by Roger II in the 12th century to fulfill a vow to God after his fleet was saved during a violent storm off Cefalù. The inside was impressive with a towering figure of Christ the focal point of the elaborate Byzantine mosaics, which date between 1150 and 1160.

We mostly just wandered, taking in the feeling of this town of 13,000.

Chuck was on the alert for a place to find canoli. He lucked out and I must say, from the bite I had, it is quite delicious but way too sweet for me.

I had been told that the Temple of Diana was worth the steep hike up La Rocca (The Rock) which towers over the town. I enjoyed being outdoors and the weather was wonderful with a nice little breeze. Chuck wanted to see it, too, but is less enthusiastic about steep climbs. However, armed with a good sugar high, he made it to the Temple and back down again. The views were great.

It was time for lunch and we had one picked out, recommended by Lonely Planet:
Il Covo del Pirata.

We were fortunate to get a perfect table for two right next to the open balcony. We had a sea view and a breeze without the blinding sun.

We started with an antipasto to share, our favorite thing to do

Our second course was Inslata di Mare for me

Salmon and shrimp risotto for Chuck

And for dessert: Cassata Cake, something else he has been in search of in Sicily.

Walking out, we noticed another entry to the restaurant, something we had passed three times today! We walked down this intriguing set of stairs and found an ancient laundry with a running stream dumping into the Mediterranean, which was only a few feet away.

What a fun day. We drove out like we knew what we were doing, never missing a beat and made it back to this wonderful campground on the Tyrrhenian Sea. We love it here and find it very friendly. Enzo, the owner, drives around and checks on things all the time. He personally welcomed us the night we arrived and while we had dinner in the restaurant, he told us a little about himself.

The campground has a strong sense of community, much like so many of the places we’ve stayed. In fact, on Sunday, the campground is organizing some kind of party honoring some kind of saint and will take everyone by minibus to wherever it is. Wish we could be here! We also enjoy the bread delivery. It arrives around 6:30 am and is placed in a yellow box and covered by a red and white checked cloth. If you want bread the next day, you write down your name, how many you want and put the money in the box. It was still warm when I retrieved ours this morning. There are a number of bungalows to rent as well as these interesting domes.

We leave tomorrow on a long trek to Brindisi, the port on the east coast of Italy where we will catch a ferry to Greece. We will most likely be out of internet range and will be lucky if we can even find a campground. We should be in Turkey in 10 days.


Kathleen C said...

It looks warm there. This morning(Nov 19) on our patio the temperature was 29F. :-)
metta, Katie

Arianna said...

I hope you enjoyed Sicily and the food! I loved it so much and can't wait to return some day. I'll have to go to Cefalu - Cinema Paradiso is one of my favorite movies (the long version, not the shortened US version). Be careful in Brindisi. The port towns and quite raunchy and there were lots of people that tried to swindle us when we were there getting our ferry to Greece...

Safe travels and I'm loving your posts!

paroshep said...

Your trip to Sicily has MORE than fascinated me! Now that you are about to leave I will share with you that I have a friend from Sicily (via NY) who says he would NEVER go there! Now you have proven him totally crazy not to go! (OK, so he left when he was a baby...) Your pictures of the laundry look very much like one I saw on the island of Tinos in the Cyclades. (Imagine the back breaking work those poor women had to endure - that our electric washing machines make look so easy!) Enjoy your trip across Greece and am anxious to hear about Turkey! Michael and I were there this time last year and I LOVED IT! Keep trekking! :) Karin on Paros

Chuck and Claire said...

Sicily will remain one of our favorite spots on this trip. Perhaps because it was so very different from the rest of Italy or perhaps the weather and the sights and the people and the food...