Excursion in Sicily for Carnival celebration
Sometimes I take part to some excursion for visiting interesting places or attending some famous celebration organized by the recreational club in the workplace where currently am working.
I like these planned trips through a luxury chartered bus where the price includes hotel and the meals too so, my family and I can leave worriless and relaxed.
This tour was organized in occasion of the Carnevale (Carnival), an annual celebration that take place in many Italian countries on February or on March, according to the Lenten period of the Liturgical year Church calendar. It is a festive season which typically involves public celebrations or parades with public street party where people often dress up or masquerade. The Carnival of Venice is the most renowned while Viareggio one is well-knew around but, more or less in any country there is some public party as in Acireale and Sciacca two of the places we visited during the tour.
Here’s shortly the plan of the tour.Saturday morning Leaving at 7,00 a.m. from Naples. Some stop for breakfast and lunch in some motorway-café.
We arrived on Saturday night at the “Kore hotel” in Agrigento, a small but comfortable one.
Agrigento is a city on the southern coast of Sicily, renowned for the site of the ancient Greek city of Akragas (or Acragas) one of the leading cities of Magna Graecia during the golden age of Ancient Greece now known as “Valle dei Templi” (Valley of the Temples) that we visited Sunday in the morning.
Inside the archaeological site there is a long path on the top of a hill where you can see Agrigento city on the right and along the way the different Greek ruins. Even if on March, the place is sundrenched and bright thus, in the case you like to photograph take in account that the contrast always is high and at the risk of overexposing.Temple of Juno Lacinia
It’s amazing to see those ancient temples towering above the valley with the sea in the foreground and more stunning thinking they date from the 5th century BC! The Temple of Juno – measuring 38.15 x 16.90 m. – was usually used by the Carthaginians for the celebration of weddings.
Along the path we also meet some remains of the ancient walls.
Probably this temple was dedicated to Athena and built under Theron outside the city which could be identified with that of Hercules. The columns are rather high and have wide capitals. On the eastern side are remains of the large altar.
On the other side of the road running through the Golden Gate of the ancient city, there is a plain with the huge Olympeion field, today reduced in ruins. Here, it had to be the temple of Olympian Zeus, that would have been the biggest temple ever built – covering an area of 112.6 x 56 metres. Besides, other areas whose nature is still under
investigation from archaeologists. We found the remains of what it had to be a sanctuary, a Sacellum and a Tholos, a copy of one of the 38 big Atlas that once was in the valley and which Roman called telamons. One of the original remains of an Atlas is in the Regional Archaeological Museum of Agrigento inside the Valley of the Temples. We visited it later.
Due to its good state of preservation, the Temple of Concordia is the most notable edifices of the Greek civilization existing today. It had a peristatis of 6 x 13 columns built over a basament of 39.44 x 16.91 m. It really is a wondrous building and exciting to see it closely.
San Nicola where you can admire the old remains of the Ekklesiasterion (III sec.) an environment obtained in the rock and used as seat of the town meeting (Ekklesia).
Small temple from Roman period, turned into a Christian oratory in the Middle Ages. Then we visited the Museum, a big one with a lot of archaeological finds while the local guide talked about the most important ones. I took some photograph but now are showing you only two of them because don’t know yet if it is allowed to publish such a material, awaiting to have an answer to the e-mail I sent to the museum.
Luigi Pirandello (1867 – 1936) the author of Sei personaggi in cerca d’ autore (Six persons in search of an author), written in 1921, and winner of the Nobel Prize for literature. His birthplace at Caos quarter (a plateau falling sheer into the sea) is now a museum where there also is his monumental tomb.
Sciacca is in the province of Agrigento in the south-western coast of Sicily just in front of the Africa coastline. In this country still retains much of its medieval layout which divided the town into quarters, each laid out on a strip of rock descending toward the sea. Sciacca’s festival is a Carnevale with a parade of bizarre figures mounted on floats. There are big cars dragged by tractors moving slowly along the main street of the country and at the end a panel decrees the winner. It looks like a village festival quite disorganized and folksy.
Here’s some allegoric cars:
Aci Castello and Aci Trezza are small countries in the Province of Catania. Aci Castello developed around a castle built of black lava strone in 1076 by the Normans and under the Bourbons, around 1787, the fortress was used as a prison. Aci Trezza is a small fishing village dominated on the seaward side by the Rocks of the Cyclops, a treacherous pointed mass of black lava rising up from the crystal-like waters. This village has a long history of maritime activity and is a popular spot for Italian vacationers in the summer. According to local legend, the three great stones in the sea are the ones thrown at Odysseus in The Odyssey by the Cyclops.
important hub of the technological industry, gaining the nickname of the “European Silicon Valley.
Here we tasted the famous “arancini” (fried or baked rice balls coated with breadcrumbs and with different stuffing) and “cannolo sicilano” (meaning “little tube”, a singular pastry desserts consisting of tube-shaped shells of fried pastry dough, filled with a sweet, creamy filling usually containing ricotta cheese with candied peel of any of the citrus species. Honestly, we tasted the cannolo also while staying in Agrigento and believe in me the fine ricotta (made with sheep’s milk) inside is irresistible! Here I also bought a Sicilian bottle of a particular wine flavoured by almond paste…. the best liquor to match with cannolo!
Sicilian call it “u Liotru” and is the symbol of the city. It is the Fontana dell’Elefante (Elephant’s fountain) assembled in 1736 by Giovanni Battista Vaccarini. It portrays an ancient lavic stone elephant and is topped by an Egyptian obelisk. Legend says that Vaccarini’s original elephant was neuter and for the men of Catania it looked as an insult to their virility. To appease them, Vaccarini appropriately appended elephantine testicles to the original statue. The Sicilian name “u Liotru” is a phonetic change of Heliodorus, a nobleman who, after trying without success to become bishop of the city, became a sorcerer and was therefore condemned to the stake. Legend has it that Heliodorus himself was the sculptor of the lava elephant and that he used to magically ride it in his fantastic travels from Catania to Constantinople. Another legend has it that Heliodorus was able to transform himself into an elephant. The presence of an elephant in the millenary history of Catania is surely connected to both zooarcheology and popular creeds.
Taormina is a small town on the east coast in the Province of Messina, about midway between Messina and Catania. It has been a very popular tourist destination since the 19th century for its popular beaches on the Ionian sea, which is remarkably warm and has a high salt content. Here, we again were attracted by some cake -shops and tasted some pastries made by almond paste … yum..yum…. another Sicilian sweet speciality.
The most remarkable monument remaining at Taormina is the Ancient theatre, which is one of the most celebrated ruins in Sicily, on account both of its remarkable preservation and of the surpassing beauty of its situation. It is built for the most part of brick, and is therefore probably of Roman date, though the plan and arrangement are in accordance with those of Greek, rather than Roman, theatres; whence it is supposed that the present structure was rebuilt upon the foundations of an older theatre of the Greek period. With a diameter of 109 metres this theatre is the second largest of its kind in Sicily (after that of Syracuse) and nowadays is frequently used for operatic and theatrical performances and for concerts. Being in front of the ocean it really is so scenic.
Acireale is a coastal city in the north-east of the province of Catania, at the foot of Mount Etna, on the coast of the Ionian Sea. It is famous for its churches, including the Neo-Gothic St. Peter’s Basilica, St. Sebastian’s Basilica in the Sicilian Baroque style, and the 17th century Acireale Cathedral. Besides, this country is famous throughout Sicily for its spectacular floats, costumes, and parades during the season of carnival, which attracts many tourists and visitors.
Having to be back late, we eat something here in a local pizzeria-rotisserie.
Some Sicilian Sweet