Ortigia to Marate

The quickest part of our journey yesterday was walking to Europcar. We left the apartment at 08:50 and by 09:10 we were on the road. I think there was a young lady earning money at the entrance to the autostrade. She charged us €5 and gave us a ticket. If that’s the case she must earn a fortune. Etna was smoking away and we exited the autostrade at Taormina (€1.70), parked and had a quick walk in and out of the old town.

A reason to come back

We had espresso at Franco and granite at Gelatissimo Taormina. Dave had arancio and I had limone.

There was a wedding!

We then got back onto the autostrade at no cost and exited at 12.05 in Messina (€2). Not only did we get caught in traffic, we went to the wrong ferry! There is more than one leaving Messina and I suggest if you ever need to use one, buy the ticket at the ferry. Mrs Garmin actually took us to the correct one by chance but it looked like a train station so I ignored her. Actually, the trains go onto a ferry!

Train tracks on the ferry

Eventually we left Sicily at 14:35, getting to Villa San Giovanni at 15:05. I had wanted to buy Marsala in Sicily and thankfully the shop we chose had 1 bottle!

Arrividerci Sicilia

Our long drive began and our first mission was to find a shop to buy food and then to get to the resort before reception closed.

Ciao Italia

We did our fresh fruit and vegetable shopping at a farm stall – IGP Cipolla Rossa di Tropea Calabria. We bought more Calabrian chillies to take home and to send to Mark. We managed to get to the resort with 5 minutes to spare. There are two roads up to the resort but the one is closed. You need to go into Maratea itself and then climb the steep, winding road. Finding the reception was not easy but the security guard helped us. We rewarded ourselves with prosecco (€6) before heading to our apartment to unpack, unwind and eat. Today there was a lot of driving. 9418 steps, only 4.97km walked.

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Ancient Siracusa

At 9:25 we trekked uphill from Ortigia to Siracusa. Our first stop was at Antica Gelateria del Corso for espressi. We walked through Piazza Pantheon to the Parco Archeological Neapolis. The Greeks built an amphitheatre here in the 3rd Century BC.

Archeological site

To get some perspective here is Dave sitting in front of me. The ‘cheap’ seats are behind us.

Modern day capturing of a moment

This vast area is amazing.

Teatro Greco

And includes a Street of Tombs and a waterfall.

Street of Tombs
Nature’s gift

The stone quarry was dug out until they reached the Theatre.

Latomia del Patadiso

This area also includes the Antifeatro Romano Siracusa, Ara di Ierone and the Grotta dei Cardari.

Antifeatro Romano

This Roman built area was for gladiator training and games. From there we walked through the residential area of Siracusa stopping at Gelateria Little Coffee for espressi and past the Basilica Santuario Madonna Della Lacime.

The dome of the Basilica

We went shopping and had a beer at Caffé Story before going back to the apartment at lunch. We relaxed and then went back to the swimming platform for some sun and sea and came back to change and read. At 16:35 we headed out for gelato. For the first time ever we sat down for this treat. Dave had fragola granite and I had cioccolato gelato. This was enjoyed at Il Caffé Minerva.

Yum

We decided to have an early dinner and see Ortigia at night. It was buzzing.

The Cathedral at night

We went back to Piazza Minerva for Prosecco before coming back to the apartment to finish off the wine and cheese. Tomorrow we head off again. 21 984 steps and 12.29km today!

Isola di Ortigia

There is a street market close to where we are staying so we headed there. First having espressi at Bar Antico Mercato and then walking past all the stalls before deciding what to get. We bought fish from the nicest looking of the places.

Filleted for us, one for supper

And then some fresh herbs to suit.

A small choice on offer

We dropped everything back at the apartment and went for a walk around the edge of the island.

Such a stunning vista

At 12:00 we came back to the apartment for lunch and to get out of the sun. We relaxed until 14:30 and then decided to go for a swim. We walked through what was the Jewish Quarter to the swimming platform.

No sand!

But rain was threatening so we did not spend much time here. We continued from where we left off in the morning, heading back to the apartment when we got to Castle Miacere. At 18:00 we went to meet Massi and Maria, friends of mine from primary school. We had gelato, walked around and then went for drinks. A typical Italian evening.

A lifetime of memories

Eventually it was time to say goodbye. Another memory to add to so many special ones. We had a late supper and headed to bed, hearts full. 15 483 steps, 8.34 km walked.

Falconara to Ortigia

We had a late start to our day and eventually went down for breakfast at 9:10. We checked out at 10:00 – the room including breakfast and city tax cost €74.

The beach where we stayed

We stopped in Vittorio for espressi at Gran Caffè and to buy lunch. This we ate on the side of the road in Modica at 13:20.

Lunch time view

We drove over an amazing bridge – Ponte Fratelli Coatanzo. Worth looking up on Google. In Ispica we had espressi at Bar F. lli Giurdanella and then headed for Siracusa. We entered a 398 meter tunnel – it was bone dry going in and storming on the other side. As we got into Siracusa the roads were flooded and a car was stuck on the road we were meant to take. Thankfully the Garmin can work out a new route quickly. We put petrol in the car – €52 for 29.49l and then dropped the car at Europcar. Like proper Italians we just double parked in the main road. We walked to the apartment and let ourselves in with a door code, unpacked and went shopping. On our way back Pamela stopped us in the road – you have to love WhatsApp for showing people what you look like. She came back with us, showed Dave how the stove worked and we paid her the city tax. At 16:50 we headed for a walk. First down to Tempio di Apollo and then to Il Cucchino for gelato. Dave had plain cioccoloto and I had fondaleta fondente.

Tempio di Apollo

We then walked past the Fortificazioni Greche di Ortigia to buy herbs to make pasta alla Norma from Aromi di Sicilia.

Look for the Rooibos

We walked down to the harbour and then up to the Duomo and sat down at Monzu for prosecco.

Duomo

It’s amazing how much pricier things are closer to the Duomo. We paid €20 for a really good prosecco and snacks.

The lemon is table decoration

After that we walked back to the apartment via the fountain with a statue of Diana.

Diana

Dave cooked and we had a relaxing and to our evening. 10 352 steps and 5.46km walked.

Palermo to Falconara

Our main aim today was to visit The Valley of the Temples. This needs a blog post all of its own. We left the apartment at 08:45 and caught the 102 bus to the station. Europcar’s computer was offline so I’m really glad I had printed off our confirmation. This was kept by them and we had to fill in forms galore to get the car. We eventually left the parking at 9:40 and it took us half an hour to get out of Palermo. We stopped in Lercara Friddi at 11:40 to buy our picnic lunch ingredients.

Lercara Friddi

We also enjoyed cheap espressi (€1.60) and learnt more Italian words from the owner of the alimentari. We then went straight to The Valley of the Temples.

Tempo di Giunone

You can park at the top or the bottom entrance. We parked at the bottom and had lunch in the car park. There are offocial taxi’s that will drive you to the top for €3 each. An absolute bargain and a necessity in the heat. We arrived at 13:45 and walked down through the site, only exiting at 15:25.

View from The Valley of the Temples

Our next mission was to find a place to stay. This is always an adventure. The two places shown on Google maps in Marina di Palma did not exist. In Licata our first stop was for espressi (read bathroom break). Such nice people who were curious about where we were from. Between the time I looked on Booking.com at availability at the hotel, and us getting there it was fully booked. We then attempted to drive to the B&B that still showed a room being available. But we got caught in narrow streets that the car could barely fit down. Giving up that for a joke we eventually decided to head to the next town. We checked in to Hotel degli Angeli in Falconara at 18:30. The first thing we did was head down to the beach and swim. We went to Il Maneggio for supper. We had a carafe of wine. Antipasti and pasta (€52.50) and came back to the hotel.

Misto Mare

There was some firework display going on and that carried on very late. I twisted my ankle yesterday and was hoping to not walk too much. 10 916 steps, 5.67km for the day which is not bad considering we were in the car for so long.

Monday in Palermo

There is a small hotel across from us and I’m sure they were baking bread first thing this morning. It was that aroma that woke me at 06:30. I got up half and hour later and made coffee. We had a lazy morning, only leaving the apartment at 09:25. Our first stop was Caffé Morettino on Via Bari for espressi. We then walked through Le Vucciria to Chiesa di San Cataldo.

Le Vucciria

From there we went through Piazza Ponticello to buy eggs in Ballaro market. €1 for 4 duck eggs. Our mid morning snack was arancine from Friggitoria (€1). We headed back to Quarto Canti and walked up Via Vittorio Emanuele. There is an art installation made of burlap bags, filled with sand. Each bag has the name of someone killed by the Mafia. La Spirale della Vita, the spiral of life.

A stark memorial

At I Cucci we had a cannolo di Piana deli Albanesi Grande (€3) to share with espressi.

Sicilian treat

We continued up the road to the Cattederale Palermo which is massive.

Just a part of the Cathedral

Across the way is a park with a newly laid memorial to the Priest gunned down by the Mafia 25 years ago.

Part of The Pope’s visit?

We ambled through Mercato delle Pulci, a small street filled with junk shops and back to the Cathedral. Escaping the heat we went into Don Gelato for granita. Dave had limone and I had gelsi (€6). The taste of mulberries taking me back to my childhood. We then went shopping for lunch and came back to the apartment at 12:45. At 14:15 we caught bus 806 from Piazza Don Sturzo to Mondello. We walked on the beach, had a swim and went for a drink at Roxy.

Mondello

Two Peroni Chill Lemon cost us €6 and it’s the perfect spot as it’s close to the bus stop! At 16:30 we caught the sardine packed bus back to Palermo. It’s a 25 minute ride and I could not believe how many people tried to get on. After shopping for supper we went back to the apartment to change and start packing. At 18:00 we walked down to Barrel 44 for beers and crisps (€5) and then back to enjoy our last night here. Dave made a clean out the fridge pasta and we finished off the last of the gorgonzola before heading to bed. 17 701 steps, 9.34km walked.

Palermo on a Sunday

So, having an apartment looking over outdoor restaurants is not great if you need quiet to sleep. The revellers were still at it at 22:00 and at 02:00 there was a child crying and I could have joined it. Eventually it was dead quiet and when I woke up just after 05:00 I knew I had to get more sleep. We eventually woke up for coffee at 08:30! We left the apartment at 10:20 and our first stop was for espressi at coffee and chocolate which is just up the road from where we are staying. Their price is €2 which is to be expected. We are starting in an area with all the fancy stores and walked along the main road to Teatro Massimo and then to Mandamento Montepietà.

Mandamento Montepietà

We are in the historic centre of Palermo headed towards quattro canti, which has a fountain on each corner.

One of thw fountains

The next fountain is Fontane di Pretoria. It was built in Florence and has 48 statues surrounding it. In this sense the word Pretoria has to do with eagles and nothing with South Africa.

part of the Fontane di Pretoria

The Piazza Pretoria also contains the Palazzo delle aquile which looks to have been modernised over the original stone work.

Recovered al fresco
Second al fresco

Across the road is the Chiesa di San Giuseppe dea Teatini, an opulent expression of the Church’s wealth. We then headed for Mercato di Ballaro which is a bustling hub of fresh fruit and vegetables, seafood, tripe, olives and more.

Fresh squid

We bought some olives and a zucchini and attempted to buy some grapes but the stall holder just gave them to Dave. Parts of the old wall still exist and we walked through Porta Sant’Agata which was built in the 13th century.

Porta Sant’Agata

At Piazza Bellini we sat down at Antica Pizzeria Bellini for prosecco. These were €8 without snacks. After this it was time to shop. We bought ciabatta at Spinnato and then went to get the rest of what we need from the Carrefour. We came back to the apartment at 13:45 to eat lunch and follow the Formula 1 race via the timing. Siesta time ended at 16:30 and we headed out at 17:10. The first stop was La Preferita for gelato. Nutella for Dave and caffé for me (€4). We then went to Politeama where the bus should have dropped us. We were in Piazza Ruggero Settimo where we stopped the last time we were in Palermo.

Teatro Politeama

From there we walked to the Nespresso store. The limited edition in Italy is Palermo so I could not resist. We wandered around and eventually sat down for prosecco at Antiruggine di Giovanni d’alia in Piazetta Francesco Bagnasco. For €10 we got crisps to go with our drinks.

Piazetta Francesco Bagnasco

We then went back to the apartment, arriving at 19:00. Wine tonight is from the same estate, Cantine Paolini. The varietal Dave chose is Nero D’avola. Dave made salsiccia with zucchini and a fungi sauce for supper. While he cooked we snacked on the olives. We ended our evening with Sicilian limoncello. Bed time was a respectable 21:00. 14 131 steps and 7.51km for the day.