Saturday, March 30, 2019

Baroque Towns


This weekend plans include visiting some of the Baroque towns in southern Sicily, these towns were destroyed in massive earthquake in 1693, some were rebuilt in the same spot, and some were moved.  We had a hard time deciding which towns to visit, there are quite a few around here.

So, picked up our car at our car rental friends, my request for a car rental that was non smoking didn’t really work well as there was a cigarette hole in the front seat, oh well it is a bit of an older car than we have had so far, and it didn’t smell like cigarette smoke.  We have also decided to upgrade to one size larger when there will be 4 of us travelling by car, the cars aren’t very big here and it will be much more comfortable to be in a bit bigger car we think, and it still will be small.

Our first stop today is in Noto.  Perhaps the most famous baroque town.  We had scoped out parking in advance, get to where the parking lot is and of course it is closed.  Things are starting to open up for tourists, but we are still early in the tourist season.  We didn’t have to drive far at all before we found free parking on the street, bonus.  You can pretty much walk 2 main streets here and see all the amazing architecture in the churches and palaces.  We did climb the bell tower of one of the churches for some fantastic views.  Of course tiny little stairs that were really in a tight spiral, but there was a cord to hang on to, I may have rope burn.  It is fun to try to put yourself in the 1700’s when all of the churches were full and the palaces were in use, it must have been truly amazing.  I think I did get a little bit of "not another church" this morning, 50 churches and 25 still open for visiting, I know we did not do 25 but it felt like it at one point.  We also saw a hearse stopped outside on the street here where a kind of receiving line was set up to give condolences.  It is the first time we have seen this, the hearse was kind of in a square in town.  We also visited the theatre and 1 room in a older Palace (mansion)

Our first stop. San Francesco.

The town is built on the side of a hill. The main streets are flat but changing main streets you need to go up or down as you can see
The city gate

Family playing soccer in front of the theater we went to visit
 We climb the bell tower at San Carlo church

The Duomo from the bell tower

The Duomo was the next stop

Brass doors at the Duomo

The bell tower we went up. Missing the main floor from this angle

Inside the Duomo

The roof collapse in the late 1900 and was rebuilt 

Beautiful theater

The Duomo from the main street

San Salvatore under renovation, beautilful

Love the tiles. Also had costumes

Palace (mansion) now city hall

The one room we were allowed to visit

From Noto we decided to do some more outside activity and decided to go to Cava d’Ispica but ended up just outside of Ispica instead.  This is another gorge, we had no idea there were so many gorges in Sicily.  There is an open air monument here, but the 2 ladies in the parking lot told us it was closed, but we could walk down to the gorge.  So off we go down this very steep hill and a much older man catches up to us.  He starts talking to us in Italian, we really don’t understand anything, but Andre had read about a caretaker that if you get lucky he will let you into a church.  Anyway this old man shows us a key, lucky us he is going to let us into the church.  Unfortunately we could not follow the entire history lesson this sweet old man gave us, but he was very passionate and very happy to show us.  The church was inside a cave, some amazing paintings still on the walls of the cave, it was a great way to start our hike.  From here we hiked a couple of km along the gorge, some great views, before we headed back up the hill and to the car.  

Along the drive to the parking lot for the start of the hike. Lots of house/places were built into the rock walls.

Small church built into the rock wall

Inside the church the caretaker took us into

Caves into the rock walls

Wild sage, I htink

Next stop is into the town of Ispica, wow this was like a ghost town.  Definitely no problem finding parking here, more problem finding somewhere to grab a light lunch.  We found a little bakery that had a few things for us to try, she tried explaining what was in all the pastries, but it was pretty much lost on us.  There was no where to sit outside the bakery, but somehow we figured out from her to just go to the church square and sit there, at least that is what we think she said.  There were lots of picnic tables set up outside a restaurant that was closed today, so that is where we enjoyed our lunch.  We also bought 2 little Easter cookie things that are just made for Easter,  all things Easter are starting to happen now, the churches are all starting to be decorated for Easter too.
Our 6 Euro lunch, delicious

Super quiet in town

View of the canyon we walked from town above. Path to the parking lot where we started

Vintage but Not going anywhere soon

Next we decide to take the beach road to where we will be staying for the night.  We stopped in Pozzallo first for a quick stop, this is where the cars get the ferry to Malta.  

Nice beach, short on time and Windy

Beautiful purple flowers

Next we went on to Sampieri for a walk along the beach.  This is a beautiful beach town, lots of condos along the beach that are still all closed up, it must be very busy in the summer time.  It is a beautiful sandy beach with dunes.  Andre of course found the fishermen to go and explore around.    On the way out of this town a policeman standing on the side of the road waved his little lollipop thing at me to stop.  So I pulled over, he rambled away something, I said sorry do you speak any English, he said Prego, and waved me away.   I think the only thing I may get a ticket for here is going too slow compared to the Italians.  

Quiet day at the beach today

Pink seaside flowers

Dad is it OK if I take Betsy to go see my friend?

Our final stop for the afternoon is another smaller baroque town called Scicli.  Smaller town, but harder to find parking.  Our first attempt with the GPS was a failure, no parking available, and I didn’t think the car would fit where the GPS was telling me so we turned around.  We did park a little out of the main town, and weren’t sure if we were legally parked or not.  Oh well, grab our stuff, finally find our B&B when we remember here that numbers on houses aren’t always in order on the left and right side, 34 could be across for 75, urgh.  It is a small B&B we get in touch with the owner and he says we didn’t book the B&B but the apartment that is just down the street.  It is a really cute apartment, we understood the rock walls were 500 years old.  We told him we weren’t convinced we were parked legally, so the nice guy walked with us to our car, then drove with us back into town to find a free spot.  

Downtown Scicli

This is why we had to park away from the apartment

4 men hanging out

We had a great evening here.  A nice walk, of course another million steps, to a church that overlooks the town.  This town is built in a valley of 3 mountains, very pretty.  We stayed up top for sunset.

Inside the abandoned church on top of the hill

Old town rooftops

Abandoned church
Castle on top of the hill above the abandoned church.

We  then ventured back into town as the market is here today until 8PM.  The market only comes here once a week, you can buy everything here from new bras and underwear, to fresh chicken and vegetables.  We sat outside the butcher stall for quite a while just watching, so interesting.  Like Rollande said in her blog, never saw a knife cleaned, or hands washed when exchanging money, but nobody seemed concerned.  Some of the women were dressed beautifully just out to the market and they certainly didn’t seem to mind.  The owner of the B&B warned us not to go out to supper too late as the restaurants would be full, he said we should not go after 9:30 as it would be too busy, lol I don’t know if we have been awake much after 9:30 this entire trip!
Many of the fancy places have gorgeous balconies

Inside one of the churches, beautiful

Smaller but impressive

Wish we had those prices, that is almost what we pay for Kraft Cheddar


Church and castle on top of the hill we climbed to see earlier in the afternoon from the main square

Service was going on, did not visit

Italy's version of Tim Horton

Supper was at this little restaurant, Andre ordered an antipasti fish thing and pasta, I ordered legume soup and pasta.  First we ordered a bottle of wine 10 Euro for a litre, but it was hard to get across to the waiter that we wanted the wine first while we made up our mind what to eat.  Wine arrives and the waiter just puts it on the table, I guess Andre is to serve lol.  Our first course arrives and it was both of our pasta dishes, so confusing.  Andre had pasta with swordfish, I had pasta with fava beans cream.  Both were very good.  Next Andre gets all these fried fish and I get a big bowl of bean soup.  I had about 2 bites and couldn’t do any more, I had enough beans with my pasta.  I fully expected vegetable soup, not bean soup.  Something was also in the wine, I think I had 3 glasses and felt like I had 20, it was quite humorous.  Good thing Andre was there, I would have never found my way home.

Doors and Windows whitin a door

Wine in a paper wrapping. 1/2 litre of wine was 5 euro and 10 euro for a bottle. So we ordered the bottle thinking it would be better wine. It was a litre bottle but it was good.

Wendy enjoying her pasta with fava bean sauce

Wendy Legume soup aka Bowl of bean soup. Technical what she ordered.

Mixed fried fish and calamari for me, yummmm

Inside the restaurant. Similar to our B&B.


  1. The inside of the churches are so amazing. Hope there is another entrance for senior citizens as some have a lot of stairs. Would have loved to have been there to see Wendy a little/lot tipsy. Ha

  2. Your weekend trips always seem so awesome


We appreciate any comments/questions you would have or any stories about the places we visited.