Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Baia del Riccio

Not only am I lucky to have lovely friends, I am lucky to have lovely friends that generously share their beautiful summer homes. This one is located half way between Catania and Siracusa along the beautiful Baia del Riccio (Sea Urchin Bay). The house is on the edge of a cliff. And yes, seeing my little one up against the bars like that gives me vertigo and makes my heart skip a beat, but I like the drama of the little guy against all that blue. Looking straight down from that position is the view you see on top, while turning your head towards Catania will give you the view  on the bottom. On a clear day Etna is spectacular and I heard they had great views of the eruptions at night, too. The days we spent here between the terrace with a view and down in the water below will remain with me for a long time for the simple joys of friendship and summer fun.  

Friday, October 21, 2011

San Lorenzo

Just look at all that blue!

Just 1 1/2 hours from the black rocky shores where I live near Catania are these white sandy beaches and dazzling turquoise waters. One of the true highlights of August were the days we spent visiting a friend at this delightful place known as San Lorenzo. For anyone familiar with the Vendicari nature reserve, the waters and beaches are very familiar to that idyllic spot, only here the nature is not protected and so you have vacation rentals and beach lidos galore. However, the convenience of all that is not such a bad thing, especially with children, and you still have the natural beauty of perfect sand and water to enjoy.

Our days here at San Lorenzo were really blissful. The view from the little rental house, right on the beach, was exactly what you see pictured. The long stretch of sand was interrupted near the house with some rocky coves. Each morning we would seek out our little cove, put up an umbrella and splash, swim, climb, jump and all those lovely things that warm blue water makes you want to do. To the right and left, long sandy shores were crammed full of people and lounge chairs and umbrellas, but for some reason these small rocky patches were enough to deter 99% of the beach goers to our great delight.

San Lorenzo may just be the perfect beach. There are so many I haven't seen along this island's coast so I am sure my proclamation can be contested, but there is no doubt that this one is a true summer paradise.

It is a bit hard to see in the photo above, but I was amazed by the floating bicycles that rode past us one afternoon. The bikes are somehow attached to the yellow rafts that are powered by pedaling -- 
a whole new way to interact with the water that might be fun to try.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Isola Bella

I am still feeling compelled to get all my summer tidbits recorded so I can hurry up and embrace the fall (which I am doing in real life!).

This summer I did not actually go for a swim in the crystal clear paradise of Isola Bella. But, I did get to gaze at its splendor from a terrace with the most perfect view of the cove. I couldn't tear my eyes away. Nor could I stop gawking at the villa next door, just gorgeous don't you think? The owners of the apartment we visited rent their vacation home out for most of the summer. Apparently a group of young Scandinavians who rented the place for a week managed to hop the fence and go for a midnight dip in the neighbor's pool. The neighbors didn't even raise a fuss - they just thought it was their own kids splashing around for some late night fun! Now that's a lesson in neighborly love we can all be inspired by!

Sunday, October 16, 2011


I still need to catch up on our many adventures from the summer, and have been unable to do so because of the business of new work. But, a bit of calm is in the air the next few weeks and so I will try to do a short series of posts to record our end of the summer travels before they are completely out of my mind.

One of our spontaneous adventures was the detour we made on the way to the beach to the inland town of Savoca. What attracted us was the town's membership in the I Borghi Piu' Belli d' Italia (the most beautiful towns of Italy) guide. On first impression though, some modern constructions have altered the town's historic character a bit so that it does not seem to compare to the other 'borghi piu' belli d'Italia' we have visited in Sicily. However, what makes the place unique is the fact that some scenes of the movie, The Godfather, were filmed here at a little locale called Bar Vitelli. The bar still exists and is fully functioning. Inside it feels as if nothing has changed (and probably nothing has) since the 1970s when Hollywood took over the sleepy town for a short while. The bar's original owner had the foresight to preserve the place as a kind of living film set. From the cash register, to the selection of old magazines and aperitif bottles lining the mirrored walls, the bar is a testimony to Sicily as it was a few decades back (at least that's what my Sicilian husband said as memories flooded back to him from his own childhood during the 1970s stepping foot into this bar). You can order a coffee made with an ancient espresso maker and sit in the shaded outdoor terrace and try to recapture the sense of old time Sicily. Inside, another room is dedicated to the memory of The Godfather, through newspaper clippings and photographs from the filming as it took place in Savoca. We lingered long enough to marvel at this little piece of time standing standing still and cool down from the summer heat before a busload of thirsty tourists took over the space.

Outside, we wandered through the little town. Despite those modern constructions, there was plenty of small town charm to make the stroll worthwhile. We visited a small catacomb, gazed at the view, picked blackberries, admired some architecture, and waved at the ladies staying cool in the shade of their front porches.