I’ve just been to Sicily, the south east of the island. The tour is titled ‘Montelbano’s Sicily’. You may/ may not know that Montelbano is a fictional Sicilian policeman, whose stories are written by Camillieri, a Sicilian detective writer. In a recent tv interview, Camillieri, now eighty, says : ‘These stories are really about a love affair with Sicily, a token crime going on in the background.’ It worked on me – I wanted to come to Sicily.Here are some images and comments.

Ragusa Superior - high above Ragusa Ibla the old town
Ragusa Superior – high above Ragusa Ibla the old town

Did you know, there was a catastrophic earthquake in 1693, in this part of Sicily. Three quarters of Ragusa’s population then were killed. The survivors set about re-constructing their towns, sometimes dividing the sites for the old town from the new- as in Ragusa.

Café with anti Mafia sign on the wall - the locals linking up to challenge their influence
Café with anti Mafia sign on the wall – the locals linking up to challenge their influence

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Noto next, golden stone, exquisite Baroque buildings, all of a piece. The guide explained why there ‘bulgy balconies’ ( as I thought of them). Either for convent nuns who are never allowed outside, to look down on life going on beneath their convent. Or for women with crinolines who couldn’t fit into a regular balcony.

Bulgy balconies in Noto
Bulgy balconies in Noto

Then Saint George, clearly slaying the dragon. I now realise what a universal saint he is, perhaps claimed by each country as their own. In this depiction, he looks curiously child like in spite of the dragon conquering.

Saint George and his bloodied spear
Saint George and his bloodied spear

 

 

 

 

Then a trip out of the city of Noto, to visit the Buonivini vineyard, deep in the rural countryside. There, to sample wine and olive oils. They combine local methods with modern technology and marketing, I felt impressed by this. For one part of the wine making process, they store new wine underground, so don’t need refrigeration. Here I am going underground.

 

The underground cellar
The underground cellar

 

A peaceful place to be - the Buonivini Vineyard
A peaceful place to be – the Buonivini Vineyard

 

 

 

To be continued…..

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