Wednesday, February 29, 2012


After our visit to the magnificent Scala dei Turchi, we drove along the southern coast of Sicily to the city of Agrigento.  We had reservations at a lovely B&B called Villa San Marco.  It's a peaceful, lovely spot right on the grounds of the historical park of the famous Greek temples of Agrigento.  We had a great view of them, in fact, right over the pool:

Our rooms were in the old barn, we think, of the original villa.  Scattered around the grounds are tables and chairs for comfortable lounging and reading, and Elliott and I did a lot of that over the weekend as Lena napped.  Roaming the grounds is a gigantic Italian mastiff (called a Cane Corso), a snuggly Dachshund puppy, gorgeous peacocks, white fantail doves, a cheerful cockatiel, and maybe a hamster.  (Elliott thought he was hibernating.  I thought he was... well, you know.)

Our first morning there we explored the grounds before breakfast.  There were so many almond trees in blossom!  When our group had assembled, we drank lattes over homemade jam (apricot, peach, and prickly pear), fresh rolls, and blood oranges.

We headed into the park to take a closer look at the beautiful remains of the Greek temples.  The air was fresh and cool, filled with bees buzzing around almond trees and the laughter of all the children in our crew. 

Mixed in between the ruins were these interested iron sculptures.  Not sure what the point of them was.  Fallen Greek gods?

We stopped for lunch at a little cafe on the park grounds.  The kids went to work cracking open last season's almonds with their dad, Josh.  Caleb also helped out by holding Lena.  They both need more practice, I think.

The kids offered Lena and me the tasty nuts they had cracked.

We wandered along the ridge to the final temple and stopped for photos of the vista.

Then Josh, Grant, and I took some jumping pictures...

Even little Lucas jumped off the ruins!

We waited until the sun was about to set before finally heading home.

The next morning we couldn't decide whether to leave early or stick around for more sightseeing.  While we pondered, we waited for peacocks to show their colors:

tasted pine needles (and flowers and leaves and rocks and other things), took rides on large dogs,

and checked out the ducks with our friends.

Finally we decided to head home after all.  One of the peacocks turned up his feathers at the idea!  Quite a farewell.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Scala dei Turchi

About a week ago, our friends Josh and Becca invited us to join their family on a trip to historic Agrigento in southern Sicily.  We stayed in a wonderful B&B filled with amazing animals (peacocks and mastiffs and cockatiels, oh my!) and spent hours exploring the beautiful Greek temple ruins.  But before arriving we took a detour to the beautiful natural wonder called the Steps of Turkey, or the Scala dei Turchi.

The entrance to the scala is down a long flight of wooden stairs and across a secluded beach.  The children (Elise, Caleb, Lucas, Becca's brother Grant, and our little Lena) loved the lapping waves, tidal pools, hermit crabs, and cold wet sand.

After a long walk on the beach we reached the scala itself, which is a massive, sloping outcropping of soft golden-white limestone. 

We made our way up and over the sloping "steps" of the scala and found a place to sit on the other side while the older kids explored up and down on the rocks.  Lena wanted to climb up to her friend Lucas!

Later Lucas and Lena conferred about the taste of limestone.  Lena had tried a lot of it.  Lucas, at 16 months, is a little more savvy about the edibility of such things.

Eventually we returned to the beach to watch the sun sink into the Mediterranean.

Such a lovely spot!  We'll take you to see it when you come visit!

Monday, February 27, 2012

grocery shopping in Catania

Last week my dear friend Becca invited me along to Catania.  Lena and I are [pretty much] always game for an adventure, especially when it involves being chauffeured in a minivan filled with Lena's friends.  We piled in with Becca's three kids and her brother, who is visiting for a few weeks.  And we took off for the Big City: nearby Catania, about 25 minutes away.

Catania's streets are full of fresh produce, meats, and cheeses for sale.  We could choose from...

... fresh fish in the fish market,

local cheeses, wines, and olive oil, 

lots of nuts (Elise liked these!),

and plenty of fresh meat.  I'll spare you photos of hanging goats and chickens!

Becca bought veggies and fruit for her crew,

 we both stocked up on Parmesan Reggiano,

and we bought fresh pasta for that night.  She made pasta di pistachi (pistachio pasta, a local winter favorite) while I bought some fresh local shrimp and turned our dinner into shrimp scampi with pasta. 

We also stopped at a cafe for lunch and admired all the beautiful gelato (can't wait till the weather is warmer!)

and studied all the children's costumes with fascination.  Carnevale was in full swing and all the Italian boys and girls were transformed into Medieval knights and princesses (and some Snow Whites and Spidermans, too) for the occasion.

These guys are a fun crowd to hang with.  Thanks for having us along!

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