May 2018



Sicily ~ I joined a small group with OAT to tour Sicily, from Palermo to Catania visiting Mazara del Vallo, Valley of the Temples, Villa Romana of Casale, Greek theater of Taormina, Mount Etna, and more. Pics L->R: Temple of Concordia, Bikini Mosaic at Villa Romana del Casale, Mazara del Vallo Street Art, Saint Mary's of the Stairs, Fish Market, and Conquering Mount Etna.

Sicily Map

Sicily Map ~ My 2 week holiday of Sicily was with a small group from OAT, arriving day 1 in Palermo, staying 3 nights. Day 2 toured Palermo, while day 3 visited Castelbuono and Cafalú. Day 4 visited Monreale, Segesta, and wonderful Mazara del Vallo, then staying nearby 3 nights. Day 5 had a Sicilian cooking class. Day 6 traveled by boat to Mothya Island, just north of Marsala. Day 7 traveled to UNISCO Valley of Temples, staying at the most excellent Vecchi Masseria nearby our day 8 activity. Day 8, with a early morning head start on the crouds, visited UNISCO Villa Romana del Casale, then traveled to Ragusa, staying 3 nights. Day 9 toured Old Town Ragusa and then Modica. Day 10 visited a local farm for a day in the life experience. Day 11 traveled to Syacusa visiting Old Town by foot and then by sea, then continued to Cantania staying 3 nights. Day 12 visited Taormina. Day 13 hiked Mount Etna. Day 14 we departed company, most flew home but I continued onto Malta and Sardinia.

Living On The Edge

Living On The Edge ~ Monreale is a town and comune in the province of Palermo, Sicily. It is located on the slope of Monte Caputo, overlooking the very fertile valley called La Conca d'oro (the Golden Shell), famed for its orange, olive and almond trees, produce which is exported in large quantities. The town has a population of about 30,000. Reference wikipedia.

Palermo Fish Market

Palermo Fish Market ~ Palermo is the capital city of Sicily. It is over 2,700 years old, and is noted for its history, culture, architecture and gastronomy, playing an important role throughout much of its existence. Palermo is located in the northwest of Sicily by the Tyrrhenian Sea. It has an urban population of about 850,000.

The city was founded in 734 BCE by the Phoenicians as Ziz (meaning flower). Palermo then became a possession of Carthage, before becoming part of the Roman Republic, the Roman Empire and eventually part of the Byzantine Empire, for over a thousand years. The Greeks named the city Panormus meaning complete port. From 831 to 1072 the city was under Arab rule when it first became a capital. Following the Norman reconquest, Palermo became the capital of a new kingdom (1130-1816), the Kingdom of Sicily and the capital of the Holy Roman Empire under Emperor Frederick II and King Conrad IV. Reference wikipedia.

The picture above was taken on a busy weekday morning at Palermo's colorful fish market. Nearby fresh fruits and vegetables and various meats were sold.

Mazara del Vallo

Mazara Del Vallo proudly shows its beautiful old town, the Casbah where Islamic philosophers, judges and merchants use to walk. The Casbah, is crossed by an endless series of small tunnels, a protective feature of years past. On the facades of houses are tiles and other decorative elements.

Prepairing a Meal

Preparing a Meal - At Mazara del Vallo, inside the Casbah, there are many restaurants and taverns that serve traditional meals. The flavors and smells that flutter through the narrow streets are those of an old tradition that was never interrupted in Mazara del Vallo.

Phoenician Mask of Moyta

Phoenician Mask of Moyta ~ Motya was an ancient and powerful city on an island off the west coast of Sicily which was renamed San Pantaleo in the 11th century by Basilian monks. It lies in the Stagnone Lagoon, and is within the comune of Marsala. The small island is about 1 km from the Sicily mainland, and in ancient times it was joined by an artificial causeway. Reference wikipedia.

Temple of Concordia

Temple of Concordia is an ancient Greek temple in the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento on the south coast of Sicily. It is the largest and best-preserved Doric temple in Sicily [reference 1].

The temple was built circa 440-430 BCE. The well-preserved four-sided hallway of 6 by 13 columns stands on a platform of four steps measuring 129 by 55 feet, and is 29 feet high. The columns are 20 feet tall and carved with 20 flutes.

The temple is named after Concordia, the Roman goddess of harmony, for the Roman-era Latin inscription found nearby, which is unconnected with it.

The bronze statue in the foreground is of Icarus. In Greek mythology, Icarus is the son of master craftsman Daedalus. Icarus and his father attempt to escape from Crete by means of wings his father constructed from feathers and wax. Icarus' father warns his son to fly neither too low near the sea nor too high near the sun. Icarus ignores his father's advice and flys near the sun. His wings melt and he tumbles out of the sky falling into the sea to drown [reference 2].


Bikini ~ The Villa Romana del Casale is a large and elaborate Roman villa located near the town of Piazza Armerina in Sicily. Excavations have revealed one of the richest, largest, and varied collections of Roman mosaics in the world, for which it has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The villa and artwork date to the early 4th century. The first professional excavations of the site were made in 1929.

Around 1960, a mosaic was excavated on the floor of the room dubbed the Chamber of the Ten Maidens (of which this picture shows three of the ten). The young women perform sports including weight-lifting, discus throwing, running, and ball-games. More recently the mosaic has been given the name Bikini. Reference wikipedia.


Ragusa ~ The origins of Ragusa can be traced back to the 2nd millennium BCE, when there were several settlements in the area. The ancient city, located on a 980 foot-high hill, came into contact with nearby Greek colonies, and grew thanks to a nearby port. Following a short period of Carthaginian rule, it fell into the hands of the ancient Romans and the Byzantines, who fortified the city and built a large castle. Ragusa was occupied by the Arabs in 9th century, remaining under their rule until the 11th century, when the Normans conquered it.

In 1693 Ragusa was devastated by a huge earthquake, which killed some 5,000 inhabitants. Following this catastrophe the city was largely rebuilt, and many Baroque buildings from this time remain in the city. Source wikipedia.

Saint Mary's of the Stairs

Saint Mary's of the Stairs is a church located in Ragusa, Sicily. It was built by the Cistercian monks of the Abbey of Santa Maria in the first half of the 13th century in a Gothic style. In the second half of the 18th century, because of the increase of the population, the building was enlarged and largely rebuilt in a Baroque style. The building survived the devastating earthquake of 1693. Source wikipedia.


Motorcross ~ While in Ragusa our group from OAT set out in vintage Fiat 500 D (circa 1960-65) cars to explore the town's narrow and steep roadways. Quite a thrill, ..., and did I say my 6 foot frame was quite contorted to squeeze in, ..., and yes there was a professional driver.

Ancient Theater of Taormina

Ancient Theater of Taormina, built in the 3rd century BCE, is an ancient Greek theater in Taormina, Sicily. The theatre is constructed mostly of brick and is therefore probably Roman, while the plan and arrangement are in accordance with those of Greek. It is believed that the present structure was rebuilt upon the foundations of an older theatre of the Greek period. The theater has a diameter of 390 feet. It is the second largest of its kind in Sicily, the largest being in Syracuse. Now it is frequently used for opera, theater, and concerts. Reference wikipedia.

Conquering Mount Etna

Conquering Mount Etna ~ Mount Etna is an active stratovolcano on the east coast of Sicily, between the cities of Messina and Catania. It lies above the convergent plate margin between the African Plate and the Eurasian Plate. It is the highest active volcano in Europe outside the Caucasus. It is about 10,900 feet high, though this varies with summit eruptions. It is the highest peak in Italy south of the Alps.

Mount Etna is one of the world's most active volcanoes and is in an almost constant state of activity. The fertile volcanic soils support extensive agriculture, with vineyards and orchards spread across the lower slopes of the mountain and the broad Plain of Catania to the south. In June 2013, it was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Reference wikipedia.

In the picture above, the OAT Sicily tour group I was with walked part of Etna. This section was hiking on loose volcanic rubble.

Mount Etna Birch

Mount Etna Birch ~ The Mount Etna volcano has extensive areas covered with vegetation, despite much of it is frequently crossed by lava flows that destroy everything in its path. Whereas volcanoes of this latitude normally do not have extended green areas, Etna is often as lush as of some tropical volcanoes. The volcano biosphere offers great botanical diversity.


Toulouse-Lautrec was a French painter, printmaker, draughtsman, caricaturist, and illustrator whose immersion in the colourful life of late 19th century Paris allowed him to produce a collection of enticing, elegant, and provocative images of the modern, sometimes decadent, affairs of those times [reference]. This collage was composed from an exhibition at the Palace of Culture in Catania, Sicily.

Group Photo

Group Photo ~ With the Temple of Concordia in the background we proudly posed: Cesare (Leader, Far left), Richard, Joe (knelling), John, Charlotte, Herb (sitting), Joe, Sharon, Carol (sitting), Alex (sitting), Sue, Eve, Tony, Margrette (sitting), Anthony (far right)