Happy new year, friends! I apologize for my long absence. Two, whole months! But it’s been a busy and lovely season as always, and things are finally starting to slow down. And now I have a little time to get caught up on my blog posts. I have about five just hanging out in the pipeline, so I’ll keep this brief.
The third part of our Sicily adventure took us to the southern coast of the island. On the way down, we stopped for a pre-arranged wine tasting at Valle Dell’Acate Winery in the province of Ragusa. I had reached out to multiple wineries to make a wine tasting and tour reservation, and this was the only vineyard to respond to my inquiries. Apparently October is just beyond peak season and harvest, so things get pretty quiet. We arrived to a serene and beautiful ghost town of a winery, completely closed save our gracious host, Gionatan. He first gave us a tour of the facilities, which included a walk through the history of winemaking at Valle Dell’Acate and some incredible views of the vineyard grounds.
After the tour, we settled into the tasting room. We tried five wines, two whites, two reds, and a chilled red Frappato. All were very nice, but the Il Frappato and the Cerasuolo di Vittoria were the winners. The best part of the visit was the delicious spread Gionatan had brought to accompany the wines. Cheeses, breads, olives, arancini, and sun-dried tomatoes among other things. It was the most filling and delicious lunch of our trip. Before heading out from the winery, Marco even got a bit of footage with his drone. Quite a lovely way to capture the scenery!
Our favorite aspect of the southern part of the island was the history. One day we made the hour-long trip from our home base to see the ruins at Agrigento. Valley of the Temples is an outstanding archaeological site of ancient Greek architecture. The valley includes the remains of seven Doric temples built in the 5th Century BC, many of which are still standing. It was a truly humbling experience to see these awe-inspiring monuments that have withstood centuries of the elements and civilization – monuments of love, worship and great import to an ancient people.
On our way back to Catania Airport on the last day of our trip, we made a detour to Villa Romana del Casale, a UNESCO site and magnificent villa dating back to the 4th Century AD. The villa is in ruins, but the impressive mosaic floors have been immaculately preserved thanks to a landslide in the 12th Century AD. The layer of mud that resulted protected the spectacular artwork beneath. The mosaics, likely created by North African craftsmen, portray an intriguing time capsule of the period in which they were created.
We made our way back to Catania that afternoon with slightly heavier hearts. Neither of us were prepared to say goodbye to Sicily, but what an amazing experience to have had. And hopefully we’ll find ourselves back on Sicilian soil in the not too distant future.