Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Leaving Agrigento, Headed for Erice

03/25, Sunday
Fortunately, our hosts alerted us to the time change last night. We lost an hour. Had we not known this, we would miss our 3:00pm bus to Erice.

Our hosts were dressed in scout uniforms since they are leaders and taking their den on a hike. They looked cute and again so helpful. They had written a note to us and gave us some yummy cookies. Really like the Italian people and their zest for life.

Given several hours more to visit in Agrigento, we took a bus to the Archeological Museum. Like other archeology museums, there were exhibits of items found around the area, in particular, at the temples...pottery fragments, small icons, statues, and one very large (17 meters tall) telemon, one of the 38 statues outside each temple, "holding up" the roof.

The symbol of Sicily, seen most everywhere, is the Triskeles, a woman's head with snakes and wings, and 3-legs around the head, kind of a pinwheel. It is said to represent the 3 seasons (spring, summer, winter) or possibly the triangular shape of Sicily. It dates back to the 4th century BC when it was used as a painted design on the bottom of pottery bowls used for serving wine.

We use an odd hour before our Erice bus to take a tour of a city prison (converted from a former monastery), first opened to the public today. There is a crowd of locals who are fascinated by the prison aspects. It is in the early stage of excavation and reconstruction to become a tourist site. As American travelers, most local folks take great interest in us. Stopped for some water and this man said we needed to hurry since the prison was about to close. He seemed so nice that we stopped to get a sandwich on our way back to our B&B. He made a great sandwich that we took back to eat on our balcony. He carried on a very animated conversation the whole time while making the sandwich, which was fun. Also stuck in a couple pieces of candy.

The bus ride to Erice is over 3-1/2 hours passing along the coast at times, through country hills at other times. The small towns reflect the poor economy...empty buildings, unfinished construction, needed repairs, generally bad upkeep. Sandy feels the Mafia could clean up their image by sponsoring roadside pick-up.

As we get further north, things begin to look more prosperous. Trapani is a pretty big place. We're glad the hotel sent a driver (actually, both the cable car is not operating until next month and the bus is not running on Sunday after 6:00pm) because the ride up to Erice takes a half hour (750 meters from sea level, about 2500 feet). It seems like quite an adventure to be in this town.

Our B&B is an old convent, the Convent of the Sisters of Carmelite Friars. The monks lived pretty well here. Wide hallways, big rooms, balconies, and thick walls. Okay, it's been updated and renovated a couple of years ago! a super setting.

The town is virtually empty, but the restaurant had several couples at dinner. Mom had couscous pesce, and I had ravioli with eggplant and swordfish. Two dolci...a cannoli stuffed with a sweet paste, and a chocolate ice-cream with pistachios and raspberry sauce. Another wow dinner.

Leaving for dinner at 8:00, it was clear with a sliver of moon visible and two brilliant stars. Returning after dinner at 10:00, it was foggy and damp, like you picture London on a dank and dark night. Our convent hallway echoes as we walk and open our door...just as a convent should sound.

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