251 – Sunday 27th December 2015: Modica Steps and Chocolate
Whilst the campsite and the people are lovely, K was starting to feel the effects of cabin fever …. I suppose it comes for being on the move so much and for so long. When the Aged P’s visited us in Sicily, they commented that we seem so settled in our way of life, they did not see how we could return to a ‘normal’ life. Since they spend about 6 months each year travelling and are the ONLY people I know of to have visited every State in the USA (except Hawaii), I think I know where I get it from!
Modica is one of the main towns rebuilt after the 1693 earthquake in the Sicilian Baroque style. It is less well preserved and restored than Noto or Ragusa, but still attractive. It is also know for its chocolate … of course we had to try and buy. Shan’t buy again though, as it is tastes pretty rough … dark with the sugar crunchy where it does not dissolve …. CDM (Cadbury Dairy Milk) is MUCH better!
More Sicilian Baroque
And of course, lots more balconies …
Modica is built in the valleys and hills of two converging rivers.
Lots of steep steps to get to the top of the old town
More steps up to the Church …
… I don’t know if you can tell, but it is the only church I’ve been in with a seriously sloping floor
Lots of steep steps up to this Church too!
252 – Monday 28th December 2015: Abortive Blood Test (and Beach!)
We cycled to Santa Croche to try to get J a routine blood test, which we had been told could be done here when we popped in before Christmas …. no, we would have to go to the hospital in Ragusa … ho hum. We’ll probably leave it till April when we are back home.
Having the rest of the day on our hands, we actually made it onto the beach to sit and read for an hour. K even got into her cosie, but did not attempt a sea entry!
BBQ for supper as we don’t know when we will be able to BBQ again, as we can’t when wild camping.
253 – Tuesday 29th December 2015: Litaca
We said au revoir to our new friends on the campsite, but plan to drop by again towards the end of January. We drove along the coast heading West – we will ‘do’ the SW side of Sicily which we have not yet seen. We paused to look at the outside of one of that castles perched on the coastal rocks when we had lunch and then drove into Litaca. We parked up next to the port and walked into the town for a coffee. Can tell this is off the beaten tourist track … coffees only 80 cents each! No, I must be wrong, James spotted a tourist train with passengers … it is on the tourist trail after all.
Indifferent night’s sleep as ALL the dogs in the town set off caterwauling (or should that be dogawauling?) most of the night!
254 – Wednesday 30th December 2015: Agrigento and Porto Empedocle
Only a short drive to check out the coordinates for our night’s free parking by a spit and a beach. James stepped out of Chardonnay onto a used condom and there was constant flow of single men in cars arriving, turing around and leaving …. can’t think what sort of business goes on here! So we had a coffee and spotted another port parking about half a kilometre on. This was perfect and J practiced his Italian to establish there is a bus up Agriegento town … we will keep the Valley of the Temples for tomorrow when we are less tired.
Bus on time and some really helpful locals. First the chaps who told us where to get the bus. Secondly, a lady who told us to follow her as she was catching the same bus. Thirdly, the chap in the bus info office, who gave me timetables and a street map. Fourthly, a customer (who spoke reasonable English), not only told us how to get to the Duomo, but came out and walked a bit with us so we did not mistake the way.
Agrigento is atop a seriously steep hill and I imagine few tourists make it here, but just visit the Greek temples. It is literally crumbling away. An art installation on the steps of the Duomo of multiple plaster feet was to raise awareness that people do care that the cathedral and other buildings are crumbling. We even saw a For Sale board which advertised that the interior was stable!
The Duomo feet … we could not walk amongst them despite the idea that you should post a selfie of you with your favourite foot to promote awareness of the need for restoration / repair
Seriously crumbling town
And here’s one I made earlier … a Christmas tree out of empty drinks bottles and cling film.
A couple of incongruous modern art installations – juxtaposed with the crumbling old structures.
Whilst we waited for the infrequent bus, we patronised three different bars …. as each brings out nibbles, we did not fancy supper later on. One bar gave us a local soft bread stuffed with olives, ham and cheese … yummy. At another we watched a man who bought scratch cards, trade in winning cards for more, pocket some cash and then had over more cash for more cards. He must have been there for over half an hour – sad.
When we arrived back at our free parking, we had been joined by 3 Italian vans and a British one. The Brits had parked leaving a gap between us and them, only to have the Italians infill all the gaps … the Italian herd mentality again as it is a large car park. We knocked on the door to say hello … and Frances and Edward kindly invited us in for drinks later. One bottle led to another ….
255 – Thursday 31st December 2015: Agrigento Valley of the Temples and Seeing In New Year
We drove via a campsite to empty our full toilet and replenish our water supplies …. EUR8! Not cheap when being environmental! Then onto the car park right by the entrance to the Temples. The usual guides offering their services and a taxi for the lazy or infirm to take you up to the far end of the archeological site. We are neither so we walked. A beautifully sunny and warm day.
The Valley of the Temples was founded in 581 BC and has undergone a large number of excavations. A British army captain who came out for his health built a villa in the middle, having ‘persuaded’ other people to know down their houses that were built up against the temples. But he was instrumental in a lot of the excavation and the raising of some of the columns. The temples are not as complete as those at Paestum, but still very impressive.
So much reconstruction, so trying to do my bit!
We have FAI membership (It. National Trust) so the Gardens of Kolimbethra were free. Restored agricultural area with citrus groves and some unusual species.
Some really old olives trees with wonderfully gnarled trunks …
… some 400-500 years old.
Traditional music being played under the Nativity scene. A sheepskin bagpipe.
Ancient irrigation supported by … a steel girder!
Included here as just soooo phallic!
The ‘new’ town of Agrigento always visible through the fallen stones
Trying to cover his modesty, but he is just tooooo big!
In the Archeological Museum there was a section with pottery dating back to15-20 BC, making the Greek Temples seem very modern
Back to the free parking in Porto Empedocle and Frances and Edward joined us for supper. We saw the New Year in well – several trips to the bottle bank!. A group of youths kindly put on a firework display in our car park and Frances supplied some sparklers. Most excellent.