Monday, March 19, 2012

Cefalu to Castellammare

What a surprise we got this morning when we opened up our drapes to see a huge balcony facing out to the sea. We arrived at our hotel in complete darkness so this was a pleasant surprise. After breakfast on the terrace in the very warm sunshine, we headed in to Cefalu to see it in daylight. The tiny, narrow streets are charming with all the balconies, many with laundry hanging and some with lots of flower pots. After a lovely cappuccino, we strolled our way through the streets with lots of lovely little shops selling ceramics and food and wine from Sicily. We visited the old Norman church built in the 1100s, which has a very famous ceramic of Christ above the altar. Back in the sunshine we headed towards the car parked along the beachfront and lo and behold there were a few people in swimming with many more sunning themselves.

Today we took the autostrada past very dramatic scenery as the mountains come right up from the sea. Some were terraced for olives and vines but most of the time the mountains were too steep for any cultivation. On the sea side of the road were lots of prickly pear cacti and orange and lemon orchards. When I was in elementary school I had Quink Ink for my fountain pen in Mediterranean Blue and today that was exactly the colour of the sea..

We passed Palermo with it's huge high rise apartments and traffic congestion and finally arrived in Castellammare, a little fishing town, where we had huge prawns and grilled local fish for lunch. We couldn't decide where to stay and drove up the coast a bit but didn't like the hotel there. Then we drove down the coast and the same thing. I'm not big on the smell of mildew. After following signs for hotels that petered out and went nowhere and after becoming very frustrated we are back in Castellammare. Some days are just like that. However, the view from our room over the bay is lovely.

Tonight we went to a new very modern restaurant on the front. I had nero de seppia topped with a little light shrimp mousse. The rice was really black and strong and the pieces of cuttlefish were really tasty. Seamus had couscous cooked with a little ground pistachio and maybe lemon and mint topped with julienned onion, eggplant and zucchini, with a pistachio pesto on the side. The taste was amazing. For dessert Seamus had a lemon pear sorbet that was a bit runny and very, very tart. Delicious. This is the second bottle of Nero d'Avola, a Sicilian wine, that we've had. It comes with a glass stopper instead of a cork. We\'ve saved the stoppers to try in wine bottles when we get home.

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