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Back Home From Sicily and Checking In - Part 1

02-26-2013 | By Jeff Day |

I just got back home after a ten-day visit to the Mediterranean island of Sicily, located off the ‘toe’ of the ‘boot’ of Italy. As an autonomous region of Italy, Sicily is proudly independent, and has a rich history that places human activity there from 8000 BC on.

38 Cefalu

10 Al Cancelletto Verde in Palermo

Sicily is a gateway between North Africa and Europe and has been strategically important for millennia, and as a result was under rule over time by the Greeks, Romans, Vandals, Ostrogoths, Byzantines, Arabs, Normans, then independent, and now a part of Italy.

39 Cefalu

40 Cefalu

Sicily if full of colorful street life, with hints of its exotic and diverse Greek, Roman,  Arab, Norman, and African influences at every turn.

1 Palermo Opera House

16 street scene

Upon arriving in Palermo, I checked into The Hotel Tonic, a classic 'back door' style hotel, conveniently located right in the center of Palermo’s historic downtown district (the opera house is pictured above), and was interestingly located right next to the hotel that Richard Wagner lived in when he lived in Palermo (which is now called The Grand Hotel Wagner).

2 Palermo Al Cancelletto Verde

I started my visit with an extremely nice Valentines Day dinner at the Al Cancelletto Verde restaurant that is a classic Sicilian-style restaurant that has been a cornerstone for authentic Sicilian food in Palermo since the 1950s.

3 Al Cancelletto Verde in Palermo

The service and food was fantastic. The waiters kept bringing out course after course, with little treats of food & drink between courses. Dining is an event in itself at Al Cancelletto Verde, and I highly recommend you make time for a dinner or lunch stop at the Al Cancelletto Verde restaurant should you visit Palermo - highly recommended!

6 Al Cancelletto Verde in Palermo

Sicilian cuisine is a deliciously rewritten style of Italian that is unique and always left me wanting to experience more.

7 Al Cancelletto Verde in Palermo

8 Al Cancelletto Verde in Palermo

9 Al Cancelletto Verde in Palermo

4 Al Cancelletto Verde in Palermo

 I had the good fortune to be serenaded at dinner by two local musicians playing jazz on saxophone and accordion, and they were awesome!

5 Al Cancelletto Verde in Palermo (1)

It is always fun to get out on the streets and check out the local scene, and Palermo doesn't disappoint. The street market is always a fun place to check out the sights and sample some good food!

12 Street Scenes in Palermo

13 Street Scenes in Palermo

41 Palermo market

42 Palermo market

The Sicilian blood oranges are my favorite oranges in the whole world! They are a sweet and citrusy explosion of flavor in your mouth! The tiny wild strawberries available in the markets are bursting with flavor and make a regular strawberry seem rather bland. Great food in Siciliy!

43 Palermo market

I tend to prefer veggies to meat, but for the meat aficionados there's plenty of choice!

44 Palermo market

45 Palermo market

46 Palermo market

47 Palermo market

Markets are always a lot of fun and a great way to get a glimpse of local life.

48 Palermo market

49 Palermo market

When wandering the Palermo side streets you never quite know what you might run into in this exotic city.

50 Palermo side street

LIke a little restaurant making some outstanding Sicilian pizza!

51 Palermo side street pizza

52 Palermo side street pizza

Or a horse-drawn carriage waiting to take you for a ride!

53 Palermo side street pizza

Or amazing architecture!

55 Palermo side street

Or a palace!

56 Palermo side street

70 Palermo side streets

Or a cathedral!

58 Palermo side street

59 Palermo side street

Fancy cathedral interiors abound.

67 Palermo side streets Cathedral

68 Palermo side streets Cathedral

69 Palermo side streets Cathedral

Or how about some classic Sicilian cart-art!

60 Palermo side streets

61 Palermo side streets

63 Palermo side streets

62 Palermo side streets

The puppeteers of Sicily have evolved their craft to high art and use the puppet stage to tell the history of Sicily. Be sure to stop and take in a puppet show to get a flavor of the history and style of Sicilian culture.

14 Puppet Shows

15 Puppet Shows

The next morning we stopped in at Monreale for a walk through of the city, and then a stop at the Cathedral of Monreale, which is a great example of Norman architecture.

17 street scene (1)

20 Monreale

18 Monreale

21 Cathedral at Monreale

22 Cathedral at Monreale

25 Cathedral at Monreale

28 Cathedral at Monreale

The interior of Montreale Cathedral was impressive, and the photos certainly don't do it justice! The exterior was impressive too ...

30 Cathedral at Monreale

31 Cathedral at Monreale

32 Cathedral at Monreale

33 Cathedral at Monreale

34 Cathedral at Monreale

35 Cathedral at Monreale

35 Cathedral at Monreale

37 Cathedral at Monreale

After a nice visit at Montreale we continued on to the seaside fishing village of Cefalu. Traveling in the Winter months can always be a little tricky weather wise, and Cefalu marked the beginning point of when we narrowly missed natural disasters one after another, making for some interesting tour memories!

1 Cefalu

The old town of Cefalù is tucked up against a towering cliff, where at the top is a temple to the goddess Athena that overlooks the village. As evening set in so did the weather, and during the night the path up to the ruins of the Temple of Athena were washed out (on top of the big rock above).

A nice evening walk along the beach in Cefalù made for some memorable sights of the old town.

4 Cefalu

3 Cefalu

2 Cefalu

Nothing warms you up after a cool evening beach walk along the Mediterranean quite like some Sicilian pizza and Prosecco!

5 Cefalu

In the morning I decided to hike as far up towards the Temple of Athena as I could go and was rewarded with some very nice views of Cefalù.

6 Cefalu

Like in Palermo, walking the streets in the village of Cefalù was a treat. Below is a central church tucked away on a narrow street.

7 Cefalu

The locals dry their laundry hanging from their balconies in the narrow streets making for a colorful display as you wander the streets.

8 Cefalu

There's never a bad time to stop at a corner cafe for a cappuccino and a snack!

9 Cefalu

10 Cefalu

A walk along the coastline of Cefalù also serves up some visual treats!

11 Cefalu

12 Cefalu

13 Cefalu

15 Cefalu

14 Cefalu

16 Cefalu

17 Cefalu

18 Cefalu

After exploring Cefalu, we set off for Sicily's eastern coast and the lava-crusted slopes of snowy 10,000-foot tall Mount Etna. As we started our drive up the slopes of Mount Etna it was merely rainy ...

1 Mt Etna

Then the weather began to deteriorate and it began to snow ...

2 Mt Etna (1)

As we neared the top the snow removal equipment was busy working!

3 Mt Etna

We stopped in the lodge on top of Mount Etna for some hot chocolate and to get warm - it was freezing cold with high winds on top!


Although some chose to warm up with volcano inspired alcohol!

4 Mt Etna alcohol

After our visit to the lodge we drove down and stopped for a winery visit on the slopes of Mount Etna, where we did some wine tasting of Sicily's more famous wines and enjoyed a very nice lunch from our gracious hosts!

1 Etna winery

2 Etna winery

3 Etna winery

4 Etna winery

5 Etna winery

6 Etna winery

7 Etna winery

Next we went to experience the Old-World Elegance of Taormina, which is situated in the cliffs, with elegant gardens, cafes and shops, and its Ancient Greek theater that is still used for performances. From our hotel we saw the news-making eruption of Mount Etna - we got out of there just in time!

1 Taormina

2 Taormina

Looking up the slope from our hotel also provided spectacular views!

3 Taormina

4 Taormina

5 Taormina

6 Taormina

9 Taormina

10 Taormina

Part 2 to come in time.

I'm almost finished with the review of the ASR Emitter II Exclusive Version Blue amplifier, so you'll be hearing more about that shortly, with the review at Positive Feedback Online to come in the next week or two.

Thanks for stopping by!

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