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Saturday 28th Sept - Drive down to Luton in Annette's car and park. Land a little earlier than expected at 9:30pm. Collect the hire car, Silver Fiat Panda. Use the sat nav to go along the SP21 to Villa Cornelia. I was beginning to think that we will have to sleep in the car, then we see a sign. Long drive down a rough track. They speak no English, but are very welcoming. They give us a meal and a bottle of wine till midnight. A man from Turin speaks a little English and tells us about his travels.
Sunday 29th - Simple breakfast, served by Simone. We head into Trapani, a bit of a maze of streets, decide that we have seen enough. Stop at a supermarket and a man offers to look after our car, buy some beach towels. After a bit of a drive around, we park for the cableway up to Erice, another man offers to look after our car. Walk round the old town on top of the hill. Good views, have beer and panini. Buy the Michelin guide. Head to Segesta on the old roads, difficult to navigate. Walk up the hill to the theatre and then back to look at the temple. Drive to Masala on the SS115, very rickety roads. Stop by the sea for food, Vito, I have a steak soaked in balsamic vinegar, not as bad as it might have been. Home for 11pm.
Monday 30th - Breakfast, the man from Turin gives us photocopied maps. Drive to Marsala, struggle to find the Salt museum at Nubia. Drive into Masala, get lost, drive onto Mazara, get even more lost. Eventually find Selinunte. We eat as soon as we arrive, I have a sandwich and we share a rice ball. We have the electric vehicle to take us round, $24. After a quick loop round Castrelvetrano we turn on the sat nav and it suggests the autostrada towards Palermo. This is a revelation, a fantastic road. The gate to the compound is shut when we return at 7pm, after a little while I try and pull it and it is just pushes to. The owner tells us to go into central Trapani. So we drive to Piazzai Garibalidi. Walk past Pizza Calvino, the best pizza on Sicily. We choose to eat at I Grilli. Have a fantasic Forentine steak between us. Walk along the old main street to the furthest point, Torre di Ligny. Walk round the end, get splashed by the sea.
Tuesday 1st Oct - When we wake up there is no electricity. Have breakfast in the dark. Annette was kept awake by unusual noises and dogs barking, the farm is very isolated. We have to drive into Trapani to get cash. Leave at noon, autostrada to Mazara, then along to Agrigento. It is on a cool location on top of a hill. Drive down past the temples. Head out to Parma. On to Licata. Find the location of the hotel, does not look very nice, so we decide to move on. Drive to Ragusa. I am getting a bit tired. Struggle to find the city centre. Follow some signs to an AgriTourism place, Marchisella, but it seems to be shut. Eventually find the city centre and park, get a ticket. Walk around, find the Ragusa Inn. Have pizza outside at City Pizza.
Wednesday 2nd - Breakfast at 8:30, we go and pay the parking fine. Buy an Italian SIM card with lots of data. Set off in the direction of Pozzallo. When we arrive we struggle to understand the parking, it is free during the day. The beach is almost completely deserted. Go to some bar for sausage and potatoes, very good. Walk in the shallow water, very hot. Drive back up the hill in the evening. Walk down into the Old Town, my legs hurt by the time we arrive. Eat near the Duomo. Walk back up 300 steps to via Roma.
Thursday 3rd - Quick breakfast due to car ticket running out. Overcast. Pack up and check out. Drive down towards Syracuse, drive round the commercial centre, no parking anywhere. Eventually head to Ortigia and park easily, walk round and find the Mastrarua hotel and check in. Walk around the edge of Ortigia, rough seas. Stop at Vecchio(Old) pub, 1979, have chicken wings and beer. Back home to change and back in the evening, meal is rather poor. Discover lots more streets on the walk home.
Friday 4th - Breakfast at 9am, the hotel is full, so a few other people are there. Checkout and move the car at 10:30, head to Fontane Biache. Looks a bit closed, find a beach, about twenty other people are there. I read quite a lot of Snow Crash. Swim out a bit, white sand. Overcast and warm. Have ham and cheese Pizzola, with Peroni for lunch. At about 5pm, we drive to Cassible and find the villa, the owners brother sees us and checks us in. I have a quick swim in the pool, we are the only people at the villa. Drive back to Ortigia, wander round looking for somewhere to eat. La Schieeri, or similar, after a long look at the menu, they say, No Pizza. Have the usual steak and chips.
Saturday 5th - Have a very nice breakfast served by Luciano's wife. She was originally from Belgium, but met Luciano on the beach. Luciano is a joiner, but work is short. Drive back to the archaeological park in Syracuse. Some bloke offers to look after our car again, for a voluntary contribution. Lots of Americans and Germans. Explore the Greece Theatre and the Roman amphitheatre. We eat from a burger van for lunch. Walk on to the San Giovanni catacombs. We have to wait for them to open. Very extensive cave system, the commentary is a bit monotone. Drive back to Ortigia, have a small beer and go to the museum of Archimedes, a bit small, but a couple of good things. They have not got the t-shirt that a dreamed off, a picture of a cylinder enclosing a sphere. Drive back to Cassible, eat at Pizzeria 991 on the square. Lots of kids are playing in the square till midnight.
Sunday 6th - Leave Bella Sicily after saying good bye to Luciano. Drive towards Mount Etna and it is pouring with Rain. Pass lots of Orange and Lemon trees along the way, the first road seems more like a local road with lots of bumps and weeds along the track. When we arrive at Catania it is raining, so explore by car, drive along the coast and see where the lava reached the sea. Stop for lunch at a posh place in Riposto. I have swordfish pasta. Annette has swordfish steak. Drive on to Giarre and find the BnB. Not quite as in the mountains as expected, but they do speak good English. We have a drive round in the heavy rain in the evening, down Corsa Italia, and Via Callipolli. Eat at La Tavernetta, later on. Juventus against Milan is on Sky. Struggle with the menu a bit, every table is full, lots of locals.
Monday 7th - Breakfast served outside by Simone. The rain seems to have stopped, decide to have a look at Etna. As we drive higher the cloud clears. Park at Refugio Sapienza and buy complete tickets. I appear to have forgotten to bring my jeans. Go up the cable car first. Annette buys a black Etna top in the shop for $85. Go up in a large Jeep type vehicle to the next stage. A guide shows us round a couple of craters. It is too windy to go to the top. Back down to have lasagne and spicy wine at the Refugio. Head down, attempt a driving route of Etna, but give up. Drive along the coast. Back to base and walk down Corsa Italia. Call at a bar part way down. Paolo is very friendly, we have some beer and chicken wings.
Tuesday 8th - Breakfast at 9am, outside. We head to Taormina, get stuck in a traffic jam, along the coast and have to turn around. Walk through the old town, very nice, lots of shops. We stop for a small beer. I see some people walking up a small alleyway and we decide to follow them, I then see a sign that says Castelmola. About 45 minutes up steps to get to the top, very hot at the top. Fantastic views, a quick wander round and the walk down again. Have beer on the main Street and listen to some music. Back along the motorway. Walk down to La Tavernetta, rather empty this time. I have tortellini and mixed grill. They have remembered Annette's jumper.
Wednesday 9th - Annette decides that we are moving on, because of the noise from the work men. She has found somewhere by the coast near Taormina. Have breakfast outside and head north along the motorway. Do a couple of laps of town before we found it. It is down a very small alleyway, over a ford. We met the owner, he seems friendly. We check in and then head to the beach. It is very stony and the waves are a bit too big to go in. Walk down beach and have a beer. Decide to head to the Gorge of Alcantara. I look at the map and decide that it is on the road past Castelmola, so we drive up there. When we get to the top, we turn round and head down. Look more closely at the map and follow the proper route to the gorge. Get there for about 4pm, a bit difficult to work out what the crack is. Pay and work up the gorge, interesting lava formations. Have fantastic chocolate ice cream afterwards. Back to the apartment for showers. Walk along the front for food. Have the Turistico menu, very good spaghetti, dreadful wine. Tall ship is harboured just out to sea.
Thursday 10th - Breakfast at 9am, leave at about 10:30. Set off for the north coast. Travel via Randazzo, good views of Etna, Bronte, Cesaro, Troina, Cerami has a fantastic view, stop in Nicosia for pizza and beer. The SS120 road is often rather distorted. As we arrive on the north cost see a number of islands, Vulcano and others. Travel along the coast road for the last part of the journey. The autostrada is way above us and spends all it's time in tunnels. Arrive in Cefalu. Drive round the old town in the car, very narrow streets. Park and walk to the Hotel La Giara, rather small, with road works outside. Explore the town, drink some beer, watch yachters coming ashore. Have shrimp cocktail, gnocchi.
Friday 11th - Have breakfast in the Piazza Duomo. Head down to Lido Poseidon, get two sun beds. The sea is very calm, go out for a little swim. They have WiFi on the beach. After a while the sky darkens and it is apparent that a storm is coming. We head to a bar called Cafe del Molo. I have chicken nachos, Annette has salmon panini. We have more beer and mojitos and watch the lightening and heavy rain. Walk to the end of the jetty and see a little path, follow it. It is a fantastic path that is on the outside of the Roman sea walls, follow it almost all the way to the old port. Back to the room, read a bit about Cefalu, and discover that Aleister Crowley had his Abbey of Thelema here in 1920. Go to a nice restaurant with a sea terrace. Early to bed. Read about Mafia, P2 masonic lodge, and Italy problems on Wiki, not sleep too well.
Saturday 12th - We have an early breakfast and then check out. Walk along the path again and take some pictures. Drag the cases to the car and set off, for about 11am. Follow the autostrada most of the way. We drive through Palermo, we see the place where Judge Falcone was blown up. We get short of petrol as we pass Segesta and decide to leave the motorway and find some, drive up to Alcamo, and find a petrol station. Have a problem getting it to work, and break the pump. Drive round and try and fill up when we get to Trapani. Fly on time. Good views of crossing the Med. On the drive home I have decided that my dream meal is beans on toast, we head to Morrison’s to buy some. Back home for 8:30pm.
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