The Sahara and Us Morocco 2011

Friday, June 6, 2014


Old Town Palermo,
Click on any picture to zoom in

Our time here in Sicily has been ‘an experience’. When we left Geneva we needed to be in Genoa Italy for late Saturday so that we would be on the last ferry to Palermo. Well that was pretty easy to do, and we had both forgotten how beautiful and technical the autostrada is as you head south from Alessandria. It was pure enjoyment, until we reached the ferry port in Genoa, which we have had experience with as well, when we got off the Tangiers Morocco ferry and snaked out of the port and headed to Levanto. This time we descended into the chaos where we met a very friendly Dutch couple who were riding 2 Honda’s a VFR800 and a CB1000 in very close to matching paint jobs.
Dutch Couple and Sandra
They had taken refuge in a no man’s land under the huge mall area and he said matter of factly, “now I have something to do, I will show you where the ticket office is.” A few minutes later and we had our cabin booked for the 11pm ferry to Palermo on GNV. Yes folks the same people who brought us from Morocco and they haven’t improved much since 2011.
On arrival in Palermo we took the Ibis hotel there, on a reservation and they recommended the MUDU pizzeria, an upscale place which was extremely busy on a Sunday evening. We ate at about 9:30 pm. On what was extraordinary mushroom, prosciutto and smoked buffalo cheese pizza. The next day we rode up to a place called Monreale,
Amazing Mosaics,  Monreale
where there the Duomo has gold mosaics on every surface of the interior. While my pictures don’t do it justice, this is an amazing cathedral to see. We then returned to Palermo and wandered the streets but found that Palermo is a very old and dilapidated place and extremely poor.
The next day we headed to Cefalu, a mecca for sunseekers and for its historic centre. It is a beautiful old town situated on the Med coast about 80 kms east of Palermo, and a world away in tourist interest. Our B&B for this day was up in the mountains a few kms. East of Cefalu called Case Saporana and was an old farmhouse with 4 rooms in it and Nino who ran the place by himself. We seemed to be his first guests for this year, and he treated us very well with a splendid breakfast the next morning of locally produced eggs, lemonade (which he gave us more of to take to drink), croissants, cheeses, and cappuccino.
But our tour took us back into Cefalu where we saw the old town centre,
Hot and Sunny Cefalu
bought locally produced red wine for the evening, and had a late lunch/ early supper at Molo 19 a trendy café right on the beach. I had spotted someone eating mussels there and once my radar locked on we had an appetizer of them and Sandra had pesto and shrimp pasta while I had the pasta Aglio, just amazing food. As we walked the concourse past the beach we saw another local favorite, Gelatto briochette. While we didn't try them a French tourist posed for me so that I could get a good picture, and she said they tasted so good.
Gelatto in a Bun

That evening we watched the sunset from our balcony high above the village, a glass of wine in hand, the end to a perfect day.


From Cefalu we backtracked a bit to A19, an autostrada that heads off to Catania, the main airport city on Sicily and close to the base of Mt. Etna. We took this elevated highway for 150 kms. Yes it was elevated about 25-50’ above the ground the whole way, supported on piers, over some of the most beautiful  mountain vista terrain, eventually ending as we turned due south toward Agrigento, and the Valley of the Temples.One thing the Italians can do is engineer great roads.
Concordia Temple - Most intact Greek temple in the World
On arrival there we changed and headed out to the Valley of the Temples. You see, Sicily was first populated by the Greeks, and today, the best and most intact pagan temples to Zeuss and others are on display in Italy,
Central Walls still in place
and the archaeological museum is arguably the best outside the British Museum  in London and the Louvre in Paris, and bonus hardly any tourists. We found a great  hotel to stay in there for very cheap and if you stayed for supper they offered a free night bus tour of the Temples to see them lit up. This place, Hotel Costazzurra, was great value, with a very good supper, and the most friendly staff. We really enjoyed our time there.
Night Shot

Necropolis Tombs
Warrior insitu, note Agrigento in backgrd.
Warrior in Museum 7.6M tall
Scale model of temple that warriors were placed in It was Huge!

Ragusa and Modica
From Agrigento we headed east along the south coast of Sicily which looks out toward Tunisia, Africa. It was hot, and sunny and we took a winding set of roads from Gela to Caltagirone (known for their ceramics)  and then onto Ragusa and finally Modica where we found a great B&B that Sandra had selected. Modica is known for its 100 churches and we walked through several of them, some restored, some in disrepair but with a village/city that is attached to every one of them. Over the gorge associated to this town is the highest bridge in Europe reportedly at 300 mt.
Main Cathedral
Inside Restored
Ceiling Frescos
Bridge Span in Distance


As we headed out today to our base at the foot of Mt Etna, the only active volcano currently in Italy, actually mainstream Europe we headed to the old port town of Siracusa
and the old town centre which hosts a very large central market every day at this time of year. Vendors hawk their wares there and the local produce  and seafood is amazing. One of our purchases is antipasto and another local cherries, both excellent. Tomorrow we head up Mt Etna, unfortunately she is quiet at the moment.

Antipasto Stall
Anyone for Eel?


Sandy Moran said...

I am so are gorgeous. We have always wanted tho go to Sicily. .you have inspired us to make it happen

The Smith's V Strom Adventures said...

Thanks for your always kind comments. Our interest is to inspire others to travel, not that we need to ever do that with you folks. Hope all is well in your travels to date. Everyone, please check out Sandy's site at
No slouch to travel!