Night Location: Agrigento, Italy
A Muse of the Day: After a busy morning of the many steps in Caltagirone, we had our hearts set on Margherita Pizza for lunch. After parking the car we came across a restaurant pizzeria, sat down, ordered water, attempted to order Quattro pizzas only to be told that, "No pizzas today." Unbelievable!
During the night there was a terrific thunderstorm so we awoke this morning to rain and thought all was lost for our day exploring the town with the ceramic staircase. After a breakfast that was all sweet pastries, we set off regardless. David had done some research for parking and so the drive into the town was practically effortless in comparison to yesterday's drive into Ragusa.
Caltagirone has over 100 ceramic shops and everywhere we have been so far in Sicily, the ceramics sold have been from this town. Each shop has similar items but different designs and colour schemes. After a quick visit to the Duomo we began our ascent up the 141 large, slightly angled steps of the Scala Santa Maria dei Monte. Conveniently there are many ceramic shops located along the sides of the staircase which are perfect for rest stops. The only problem was today because it was quite cool outside, the shops inside were very humid and therefore it was almost a relief to return to the stairs.
The view from the top was beautiful, particularly with the low cloud hanging over the town. A funeral was taking place in the church at the top and so we did not enter. After the service a band played some incredibly mournful music as they farewelled their Nonno.
The descent was just as difficult if not more so than the ascent. David cried out for some ice for his knees about halfway down. Reaching the bottom we called in for refreshments at a cafe in the piazza. More lemon granitas were ordered.
Fortunately, the rain had held off until we reached the carpark. The drive from Caltagirone to Piazza Armerina was beautiful with a mix of mist, cloud and sunshine breaking through over rolling green and brown fields that were scattered with abandoned stone farm houses. We have mastered parking in Sicily. If you arrive between 1:30PM and 4:00PM, parking is free! Perfect for lunch and the parking officer's siesta.
The main stop for today was the Villa Romana, famous for the outstanding mosaic floors including the room with the bikini girls. The villa has been extensively reconstructed and restored. It reopened last year so we were very impressed with the amount of information available as well as the logical sequence and flow of the interior. Every floor space was remarkable in its own right. Detailed hunt scenes, intricate geometric patterns and religious symbols formed some of the most memorable rooms.
After lemon sodas, we returned to the vehicle and drove once more through the Sicilian countryside to our hotel for this evening. The hotel looks at one of the most impressive temples in Agrigento. Picture perfect.