We spent our first night in Sicily at Marinello/Oliveri camping site where there were few other people staying there. It was the first day that we wore short sleeves and it was fairly warm which was a pleasant change from the last two months. Maurice and I had a wonderful Sicilian pizza at the camping ground. Most of the
campsites here have restaurants/bars, swimming pools and good facilities.
Our ACSI camping card that we bought over the internet via England gets us into many campsites for 12-16euros a night inclusive of electricity.
Our second day was a bit overcast but not cold as we made our way across the north coast to a place called “Finale” which means
“The end”. A strange name we thought for a most beautiful little village high above the sea. The campsite here was wonderful and
we walked into the little village and had pizza for the second night in a row. This was also excellent. In the village they have a unique way of collecting rubbish from the inhabitants. Some leave their rubbish bags nightly on the streets and others dangle the bags on ropes and the rubbish men go along and take the bags off the ropes that have been lowered from appartments above. We also saw the local bread van stop and throw a loaf of bread up to a woman on a first floor appartment. A novel way of delivery!
On Friday we made our way further along the stunning coast road to St Ambrogio another lovely village high up in the
mountains where we eventually (with help from the locals) found “Giulio” whom Helen had read about in the paper in W.A.
He has a goat farm and makes goat’s ricotta and other goat cheeses. He told us that he makes everything after milking the goats in the morning so we decided to stay another night in Finale and return in the morning. On our way back we stopped in at Cefalu where we tried our first Sicilian ricotta Cannoli.
In the evening we were recommended to the best fish restaurant in town where we had delicious fish/calamari and prawn platters and fried radicchio.
We set off for the mountains behind San Ambrogio and after a trek down a dirt track found Guilio who was milking many of his 200 goats while his brother sheared with hand shears the ten sheep that they keep. It was very interesting to see how the goats step up to him to be milked in turn. He then showed us how he stirred the milk with some water and rennet (about 70litres) and made a thing called “Tumo” which is quite firm and delicious but no salt has been added or cooked so it is not cheese. He then added heated the milk and some water to just the right temperature and made goat ricotta. This was very mild and even I liked it who doesn’t normally like goat’s cheese.
He does all this in a very primitive shed although he meticulously cleans everything 2-3 times with boiling water.
We spent 5hours watching the whole process and eating some of the finished product with bread and red wine. A good morning’s work.
After paying for some cheese and giving him a donation for the very entertaining morning we made our way to “Isola delle Femmine” just north of Palermo.
I cooked my first pasta meal made with delicious local red onions, garlic, fresh beans,artichoke hearts,tomato passata and the fresh goat’s “tumo” washed down with local wine.
We moved on to just north of Palermo to an area called “Isola delle Femmine” where security was tight at the camping place for which we were grateful. There were a lot more people holidaying in the area and a lot of African people wandering around. There was also a lot of rubbish in and near the beach. Rubbish removal in the Naples area and also near and in Palermo doesn’t seem to be very regular service.
As there was practically no public transport into Palermo on a Sunday
and most things were closed we opted to go (after a recommendation from our nice camping office lady) to the mountain village of “Monreale” half an hour away which was a beautiful village with the most amazing church covered inside by mosaics and with a beautiful cloister. The squares around the church were surrounded by local markets and lovely shops.
In every city and town in Italy Electronic cigarettes are all the rage and there are numerous shops selling them. They say that they are healthier for the smoker but they still contain nicotine but not a lot of the chemicals associated with “normal” cigarettes.
We had a fantastic view from there all over Palermo and to the sea.
I asked a local walking a dog where was a good place to eat and he
didn’t disappoint. The Taverna del Pavone was an excellent choice and we tried several Sicilian dishes like Pasta with Sardines, raisins and pinenuts and fried Cacciacavallo fried cheese.
We returned to the campsite and had a snack, did the washing and dropped the girls back to where they were staying.
The fresh fruit and vegetables we have bought have been so flavoursome especially the tomatoes,cherries, peaches and nectarines.
An early start to Palermo on the train saw us in the city by 9.30am. The extremely helpful lady from the campsite gave us directions to the city with train tickets and highlighted on a map the most interesting parts of the city which was extremely helpful.
We went first to the ancient Norman Fort which was very interesting and then we walked along one of the main streets “Victor Emmanuelle II” and visited the amazing cathedral and then to the markets and the old markets of “Vucciria” which were a fascinating insight into the old city. Unfortunately a lot of it is fairly derelict and covered with graffiti but it was still interesting to see. We made a few purchases at the markets and made our way to the main station at the end of the day. We did stop for lunch in a narrow alleyway where there were a lot of locals queueing for food and we had a great selection of Sicilan specialties including Couscous with seafood, fried cheese and wonderful eggplant wrapped around mashed pumpkin and spices.
We made our way back on the train to “Isola delle Femmine” and immediately set off for Capo San Vito” a wonderful African like village on the coast about 40minutes from Palermo.
The inland mountains once we left Palermo were full of orchards of citrus and olives and made for a very pretty landscape. We took the very winding road up to the old village of Erice where we had a spectacular view of the surrounding lands down to the sea.
The mountains around there were very rugged and the houses in the village of San Vito lo Capo had in the main, flat roofs. Compared to Palermo it was so clean and had a very safe feeling about it.
The campsite in which we stayed was excellent with two large swimminng pools, tennis courts, entertainment (if you wanted it) and an excellent bar and restaurant.
We found as we travelled around the winding mountain roads each new seascape or landscape was more spectacular than the last and we could see how even all the Italians we have spoken to have said that Sicily is a most beautiful island.
The fruit and vegetables from roadside stalls and local markets were so flavoursome and fresh.

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