About Me

I am a 45 year husband and dad, currently adjusting to life back in the United States after living in Italy for a little over two years. I love spending time with my family, cycling, model railroading, mosaics and watching TV and movies.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Segesta and Erice

We woke up to partly cloudy skies in Cefalu this morning.  Katrina was the first one up, as she usually is at home and on vacations.  

Brandon has taken control and responsibility of my camera again today, so all pictures posted are his unless otherwise noted.  

Today we hopped in the car and drove about 1 1/2 hours southwest to Segesta.  

Views from our room.   In the second picture Brandon got creative and got the reflection in a mirror.

Self portrait

The sea was alive with many fishing boats early this morning

Our rental vehicle, a Fiat Doblo, the biggest vehicle I have driven in two years!

Segesta was founded by the ancient Elymians on the edge of a deep canyon in the desolate mountains of Sicily.  The 5th century B.C. temple is one of the worlds most ancient sites.  

The city of Segesta was in constant conflict with the Greek Selinunte, whose destruction the Elymians persued with determination.  This Elymian animosity would eventually have fatal consequences when, a 100 years later the Greek tyrant Agathocles slaughtered the Elymians and repopulated the city with Greeks.  

The two main sites that remain are the Doric temple, which was never completed, and the theater up high on the mountain.  

Our visit to the site was a wet one, and started out with a bit of stress.  We were running very low on cash and I forgot to stop at a bancomat to get more.  The site did not take credit.  Thankfully, Brandon had some of his money that he nicely loaned us.  

First view of the Doric Temple

KatEye photographer at work

The wildflowers were in full bloom

Another Puffle sighting

The hike up this hill was quite a workout.  In the summer there is a shuttle bus, but not today, in the off season.  To make it all the more exciting, it began to lightly rain, but we were determined.

We climbed the big hill to see the theater, only to find out that it was more Roman than Greek.  Not a big deal, except that we have seen several Roman theaters so we were excited to see one that was Greek.

Views of the Roman theater  

View of the temple from the opposite hillside

We made it back down the hill, a little bit weary, a little bit wet and very hungry.  Unfortunately, we had to drive to a town to find a bancomat before we could eat.  

We ended up driving about 40 minutes northwest to the town of Erice.  Erice sits 751 meters (2463 ft) above the sea.  Erice sits above the port of Trapani on the mountain of Eryx.  Its an old stone medieval town with stout looking churches, forts and unpredictable weather.  

The town of Erice is famous in history as a center for the cult of Venus.  The Elymians claimed descent from Venus' famous Trojan son, Aeneas.  Inside the temple acolytes practised the ritual of sacred prostitution, with the prostitutes living in the temple itself.  Despite many invasions, the temple site remained for a long time.  

Our first priority in town was to find a bancomat.  Did you know that you many Italian post offices have bancomats?  I didn't until today.  The post office acts as its own bank.  Well, the Erice post office saved us from starving in Erice.  We were able to withdraw some euros and had lunch at Caffe S. Giuliano.  

Lunch consisted of an Arancino  for Brandon and spinach lasagna for Katrina and I.  All made from scratch by the owners wife.  We also shared our first Sicilian cannoli.  

After lunch we headed out into the rain and wandered the streets of Erice.  We had the village pretty much to ourselves

Castello di Venere, built in the 12 and 13th centuries over the ancient temple of Venus, which was destroyed by Roger I when he captured the town.  

The view on this foggy and rainy day.

Almost the entire town is built of stone, like this building

Narrow lanes of Erice

This is a symbol of the Sicilian region.  We saw it everywhere we visited.

Erice is famous for its pastry shops.  

This is what the old medieval shops originally looked like.

Chiesa Madre - built in 1314

As the sun began to set on our day (well, we never saw the sun, but darkness was beginning to take over) we headed back to our car and drove 1 1/2 hours back to our hotel in Cefula.  It rained and rained and rained even harder on our entire drive home.  

Tomorrow we will head to the southern side of Sicily to visit the Valley of the Temples.  

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Weekly Count

96 Week Gelati Count:  319
96 Week Wine Bottle Count:  114

Off to Sicily

We had to wakeup at 4:30am so we could catch our 7am flight to Palermo Sicily.  Once again, we flew on EasyJet, one of Europes low cost airlines.  

We arrived in Palermo around 9am, picked up our rental car and headed east to the town of Cefalu.  We will be spending the next three nights at Hotel Kalura.  Since it is still off season in Sicily, we were able to check in before noon.  Our room is located on the seaside, with a grand view of the Tyrrhenian Sea.  

If you look carefully in the mirror, you can see Brandon's bed.

Our room at Hotel Kalura

Views from our room

After getting settled in our room, we headed into Cefalu for the afternoon.  Lunch was our first priority.  We found a place right along the beach and enjoyed some pasta dishes.  

The beach in Cefalu

Katrina and Brandon checkout the layout of Cefalu

Cefalu boasts medieval streets and several historic sights.  It also has a long sandy beach that runs almost the length of town.  Above the town sits the towering mass of rock known as La Rocca (the Rock) where a Norman castle once stood.   

Church of Purgatory

Typical Cefalu street

At this point in time Brandon decided he wanted to take pictures, so I let him use my camera.  All the pictures for the rest of this day were taken by Brandon.  

Duomo di Cefula

KatEye photographer at work

Looking west along the coast

Looking east down the coast - notice the lighthouse

Brandon is fascinated by cats

Cefalu waterfront

Fun with Mom

After working our way down to the waterfront, we were hungry for a snack.  The piazza at the Duomo offered a nice place to sit and enjoy a treat and drink.  

Brandon's Puffle takes a snack break

The sun was beginning to go down and Katrina wanted to take sunset pictures, so we hurried back down to the waterfront.  

The evening clouds create an interesting sunset.

I thought this photo was great.  Brandon captured the sunset and the lock beautifully.  We have seen locks like this all over Italy.  Lovers hang these locks on railings and bridges, then throw the keys into the sea.  

Looking back at Cefalu from the waterfront

A Fiat 500, very similiar to the Fiat 600 our friend Jack is giving us when we return to the States.

Brandon was obsessed with stairs on this trip.  He took all sorts of stairway pictures.  I will make sure to have him help me do a Stairway blog.

We had a wonderful afternoon and evening exploring Cefalu.  We were tired from waking up so early, so we grabbed some pizza and headed back to the room to relax.  Tomorrow we will be heading to Segesta and Erice.