I miss my trips to Italy and I miss Venice. We never had a bad moment Venice.
Here is a 30 second video depicting some of our trips.
Venezia always beautiful.
What: the charming village in Sicily where you can get away from the crowds and see the sights. A short drive to Gangi where the dollar or one Euro homes were very popular
Where: about a 45 minute drive from Cefalu on the seacoast. A scenic drive.
When: best in spring and fall to avoid the heat.
Why: lots of sights and places to dine. Small enough to park your car and walk everywhere.
A small medieval village in the Park of Madonie with a delightful, still well preserved old town that captivates you from the very first moment, the town develops around the castle of Ventimiglia, near a Byzantine hamlet called Ypsigro. Walking through its narrow streets, is like entering another dimension, it’s like seeing a parade of knights and beautiful ladies wearing rustling brocade clothes and complicated hairstyles. Not by chance, at the beginning of summertime, during the ”Infiorata of Castelbuono”, the historical parades really take place through wonderful tapestries of fresh flowers.
We start our journey from the beautiful Old Madrice. Built in the fourteenth century on the ruins of a pagan temple, the church is preceded by a Renaissance portico added in the 16th century and enriched by a portal in Catalan style. The interior, originally with three naves, has been expanded to four at the end of the fifteenth century. A magnificent polyptych dominates the main altar, a true masterpiece depicting Christ enthroned in majesty with saints, attributed by some scholars to Antonello de Saliba, by others to Peter Ruzzolone.
The lovely marble statue of Our Lady of the Angels by Antonello Gagini and the fresco depicting the Marriage of the Virgin dating back to 15th century, are other wonders not to be missed. Some of the columns separating the aisles, are decorated with frescoes of saints among which stands out for its elegance and delicacy the one portraying St. Catherine of Alexandria. The crypt is entirely frescoed (XVI sec.) with episodes of the passion, death and resurrection of Christ.
Castelbuono is, therefore, a little enchanted jewel and, as in any respectable fairy tale, there must be a castle and here’s an impressive one!
It was built by the powerful Count Francesco I Ventimiglia in 1317, upon an existing watchtower of the 12th century. It hosted the court of one of the most influential families of Sicilian history, even more powerful than the Vicerè!
These potent counts, who rebelled against the Sicilian rulers, had their Palatine Chapel which is still a precious casket, with wonderful stucco on the bottom of pure gold leaves decorated by the brothers Giuseppe and Giacomo Serpotta (1684-87); behind the altar, kept in a fine, silver reliquary bust of 1521, is the skull of St. Anne, the patron saint of the village.
Today the Castle of Ventimiglia is the seat of the Civic Museum of Castelbuono with its several sections: Archeology, Urbanism, Sacred, Modern and Contemporary Art. Its rich program of exhibitions and cultural activities makes it a dynamic landmark for research, meetings and experimentations .
Castelbuono is in the Parco Delle Madonie or Madonie Natural Park. It is not too far from Cefalu and worthy of a two to three day visit.
We enjoyed our three day stay in an Airbnb a short walk from the center of town. The ride from Cefalu was scenic and added to our enjoyment.
Piazza Margherita, Castlebuno
View from our AIRbnb
Lunch downtown ( in Centro)
Flascorano bakery ships all over the world.
A link to their website. English version
A performance at the museum in the castle.
Dinner at one of the many fine restaurants in town.
It has been a while, Angela and I hibernated for over a year. Our every other year to Italy trips were now memories.That time is over. Now we will be planning our next viaggio. During the Covid day we purchased a Winnebago and took a 6,900 mile trip across much of the US. We are embarking on a second trip of two to three months and it will give me time to write and plan our next trip.
I recently watched an other episode of Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown. It took place in one of my favorite cities in Sicily, Catania.
Take a brief look at the you tube video that shows what he sees in Catania
Angela and I came upon this frenetic splendor in 2008,. We had a small BnB around the corner and walked to the market after breakfast.
Crowded and lively, it is an amazing spectacle.
The market is in full swing by mid morning..
It is not all about fish, the market spill out to the street
Dinner out was a simple antipasti from Via Monte St Agata which we discovered by accident
Trattoria Monte Sant’Agata
Yes we enjoyed the meal. Not fine dining,but good food at a veru resonable cost
We always stop at an Ikea store.
A one night stay in Catanioa before we haded over to Cefalu
We found La Canoica on Via Raddusa. What a great little restaurant
Catania night time walks
There is nothing like coming home from an Italy trip and receiving a letter, or email saying you screwed up and it is time to pay. In recent years I have not run afoul of the law recently, but last year they got me good. Our trip to Italy took us to Padua and Vicenza both beautiful cities. The FAMOUS ZONA LIMITATO or limited traffic zone is found in many major cities in Italy which have congestions. My first experience was in Rome back in 2009 while returning a rental car and enjoying the sights. I went by the Coliseum and several other location while heading to the airport. Never once did I see any signs saying ZTL.
But the camera saw me. This was no big deal and paid by credit card. 100 Euros is not cheap but this was easy and I was notified soon after returning.
TRAFFIC TICKET PAID BY CREDIT CARD
This year while in Vicenza and Padua I saw one sign and tried to avoid the area. Apparently I did not do it very well. We were in these town in October 2019 and I received my first notification from Hertz/Thrifty on January 28 2020. A bit of time had gone by. I was told there was a violation in both town and I would be notified by the municipalities shortly and be advised how to handle them.
ROME TRAFFIC CAM PHOTO
SOME SIGNS YOU SEE, OTHERS YOU DON’T
A lot to time passed. In fact I was not notified until December 2020 of the amount of the violation and the need to do a wire transfer. International wire transfers are not cheap. These were $45 each for a total of $90. The fines were $139 and $156. Now we are talking about really money, no cheap lira banknotes from old times. The old way was quicker and easier. Certainly it was less expensive
My advice is to be aware of limited traffic areas before you arrive in the cities. I did this successfully in Florence. I most likely will go back to Italy again (now that the fine is paid). I will plan more carefully.. Elven years between violations and It is not the end of the world
DUOMO PADUA, ITALY
DUOMO WITH WATERCOLOR FILTER
VICENZA , ITALY
SALVATOR DALI VICENZA ITALY
MUSEUM OF JEWELRY , VICENZA ITALY
I have not posted much this month, but will continue with posts about our previous nineteen trips to Italy. 2021 has to be a better year. To escape the virus and so some travel we purchased a motor home and this has helped us travel safely.
OUR RV IN APALACHICOLA, FL
ANGELA HEADING UP I95 IN COCA FL
TI AUGURO UN FELICE ANNO NUOVO
I WISH YOU A HAPPY NEW YEAR
We understand that this year Italy and our favorite Sicily is out of the question. 2022 will be in our minds while we travel in a Camper Van where we can in the US. Waiting for time to pass
It started in 2001 when we made our third trip to Italy and Sicily. The goal in visiting Sicily was to discover relatives of Angela’s family.
This is where it all began. The park in Melilli,Sicily where Angela’s Family came from My wife knew that this was not a huge town and we might find some people at the park where we could get some information. We spoke only a few words of Italian at the time and now we are straining to get some information. One gentleman referred us to a man named Tommy. He had returned to his home town after retiring from a company in Connecticut ( that is where we are from). He referred us to the Girgenti family and arranged a meeting. We met and managed to communicate with help of Enza who spoke some English and Patrizia who also spoke some. We met Ludivico and his wife and we have kept in touch and visited for almost twenty years. This began our love affair with Sicily.
St. Sebastian Church in Middletown CT was built to have the same appearance as the one in Melilli. Many residents or Melilli moved to Middletown CT over the years.
So much more.Will continue with this post next time Ciao a tutti.
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I had lived in Connecticut for fifty years before moving to Florida in 2013. During that period of time I loved the festivals , food and neighborhoods that denoted Italy and Italians.
Wooster Street is home to a large number of Italian restaurants in New Haven. My wife Angela and I returned this summer and took a day to explore the wonders of New Haven and it’s culinary attractions.
Books have been written about the Pizza in New Haven, Colin Caplan wrote Pizza in New Haven in 2018. I traced the history to the family operated pizza ristoranti in New Haven. Many are still in business today. Some with wood or coal burning ovens. Our favorite was Ernie’s on Whalley Avenue. The Wooster street area has many surviving restaurants and pastry shops. Many of the residents of New Haven came from Amalfi, Atrani, and Maori and brought their culinary skills with them.
Ernies Pizzeria , New Haven, our favorite.
Frank Pepe has been a staple of Wooster Street since the early 1900s. From their web site ” Portrait of Frank Pepe
Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana was founded in 1925 by Frank Pepe (b. April 15, 1893 d. September 6, 1969). Born in the town of Maiori, on the Amalfi coast, southwest of Naples, Frank Pepe was the quintessential Italian immigrant. Poor and illiterate, he immigrated to the United States in 1909 at age 16 with little more than his health and a strong work ethic. His first job was at a New Haven, CT factory until he returned to fight for his native Italy in World War 1 a few years late”
Angela and I have stayed in Maiori on the Amalfi Coast and many of the residents of the Amalfi areas immigrated New Haven. Pepe’s is famous for its white clam pizza. The restaurant does a big business and it is not unusual to see people waiting in line outside the restaurant
Sally’s is also on Wooster Street and have been in business since 1938. It is also a coal fired pizzeria Wooster street.
Consiglios, Pasta Eatitalina Trattoria Napoletana, Zeneli Pizzeria e Cucina, Abate Pizza and Seafood, are just some of the restaurants in the area.
Libbys Pastry Shop is the perfect spot for a Cappuccino, espresso, and a dolce.
A great assortment of treats
As we leave the Wooster Street area we head over to Liuzzi in North Haven for some Italian treats.
From their website
Hailing from the Southern Adriatic region of Italy, Pasquale Liuzzi came here in 1961 followed by his brother Nick in 1972. Together they founded Liuzzi Gourmet Food Market in 1981. Dreaming of building their own business and carrying on the proud, hardworking traditions of southern Italy, the Liuzzi family’s persistence and tenacity paid dividends.
This is one of the largest salumeria or delicatessen in the state of Connecticut. It make me feel like I am back in Italy.
So many choices
I stop when the basket gets too heavy
They have large assortment of takeout.
Real Cheese Wheels, not plastic.
Great video of Pizza in New Haven
Credit for video,
Full Send Productions
A food market in Amalfi, Italy
I have been trying to learn Italian for several years. Pimsleur, Italianpod101, CD’s, and Duolingo. They all have helped me improve. Duolingo is one of the best products I have used. The free version is an excellent introduction to learning any language. Premium is a better way to speed up learning, no adds, nor stops after making several mistakes.
This has worked well and I have used Duolingo for many years with both Spanish and Italian .
It has worked well, and I have used it daily for over two years. I realized on our trip last year to Cortina d’Ampezzo that speaking to Italians in their language was fun and made our trip so much more enjoyable. One night we had the owners of our Airbnb over for dinner. The conversation was 95% in Italian as Renato, and his wife spoke little English.
At this point, I had reached the limit of my conversational abilities. It was a good conversation, but I wanted to go farther. One year later, I have started to take Italian lessons. Online Italian courses seemed to be the way to go in the ane of Coronavirus.
I searched several websites and looked closely at two of them. Lingoci appeared to be the best for me.
From the photo, you can see there are several languages to choose from.
Once you choose a language to learn, you see a list of instructors from whom you can choose.
I chose a sample lesson with Lucrezia, who comes from Milano and now lives in Barcelona. She is fluent in several languages. I was a little nervous about the class, but she put me at ease quickly.
Here is a screenshot of my introductory lesson in Italian.
She is very accomplished with all levels of Italian, and I felt very relaxed learning with her. I purchased a package of 10 lessons for $22.90 US dollars (each). Each lesson lasts for 55 minutes. That is a bargain for a one on one learning experience.
Here is a link to the web site
I do not get any payment from Lingoci, and I do this because I enjoy languages and this had made my learning so much more enjoyable. I have scheduled my lessons for consecutive weeks and at the same time. I highly recommend Lingoci and will continue with my studies for the year.
Most lessons are on Skype which enables a student to get vocabulary and downloads of assignments and documents. This is very helpful.
Give it a try. One on one is the best way to learn an language, and Lincoci makes it easy and affordable.
Thie above like will open up the Italian tutors section for Lingoci. Take a look.
San Pietro at night