Tuesday, December 16, 2014
We had a morning in Palermo so we went for a walk through a few areas - the markets of Vucciria, the Cathedral, through more markets in Ballaro, out to the Teatro Massimo - then to the harbour (which I wouldn't bother with). We interspersed walking with stops for cannoli and the wedge of flatbread stuffed with prosciutto and mozzarella. We made our way back to the car, all the while discussing how much to give the old parking guy - we settled on 5 euro, and when we got there he was standing by our car, waiting for us - after handing over the 5 euro note he said grazie, and we were off. Somehow, even after paying a bribe to a guy who was questionable at best, we still felt like we won.
Then it was off to Monreale, a town on the outskirts of Palermo which is known for its cathedral and the incredible gilded mosaics inside. And yes, it was pretty, and very gold and shiny - but A and I are only amused by the interiors of cathedrals for a few minutes tops so we were out of there pretty quickly. Some gelato and granita was needed for a pick-me-up and this hilltop town seemed as good a place as any - but my granita was way too sweet and syrupy so maybe don't get any at the cafe right outside the cathedral.
Next stop, Segesta - doesn't this Doric temple look exactly like what you'd expect a Doric temple to look like? We skipped the Greek amphitheatre in favor of driving on to our final stop for the day.
We were staying in Erice, a wonderful medieval town high up on the hill - the road up to the town is winding and chock full of views, so make sure your driver can handle looking out the window and driving at the same time. The town is entirely pedestrianised (and reminded me a lot of Laguardia in Spain). We checked into our AirBnB and got a restaurant recommendation from the host, and then went for a wander up and down the cobbled streets.
The tourist information lady I asked about parking had told me there was a place to do wine tastings, so we hunted that down. I can't remember exactly how much the wine tasting cost, I think it was pretty reasonable - we had four glasses, two whites and two reds, and it also came with bread and some dips - a homemade Sicilian pistachio pesto and caponata. There were also marzipan sweets at the end - marzipan seemed to be incredibly popular in Sicily and it made appearances in a lot of sweet shops.
We made a stop at Maria Grammatico's pastry shop due to its fame (our host insisted that we get something there) and ended up buying a cannoli and a couple of other small sweets for after dinner. Also poked our head into a wine shop, tasted a few Marsalas and ended up buying some.
Our evening meal was at Ristorante La Pentolaccia - it specialises in seafood and Sicilian cooking. I had grilled squid, while A had ravioli that he really liked. We got some roasted peppers but they were a bit too vinegary for us, and the roasted potatoes were great but when can you even go wrong with roasted potatoes? Bottle of red again - nero d'avola I think as it is Sicilian and trusty. It was easy to skip dessert knowing we had a cannoli waiting at home.
And here is a glorious cannoli. We had it on the rooftop terrace of our AirBnB with some Marsala, basking in the rolling fog and glowing lights.