Pietraperzia

Sicily by car has been an amazing experience so far.
Even thoug I was far from any beach I had to admit again there is not a single chance you can’t enjoy this region.

A week ago the sicily weather map was quite clear: I was actually heading the bad weather (if by chance “bad” weather exists).
Everything I experience here is extremely joyful no matter what. There were actually some damages around and flooded other cities in the area. But I didn’t give up and I got to visit this beautiful site, a tan walls city in the middle of sicily.
Pietraperzia is a little village in the district of Enna.

I was coming from the south east throughout ss 115 and ss 640 (now closed due to the flooding of the most recent days).
The sky was leaden on top of the hills around Enna and the swooping roads, but this didn’t affect the beauty of being in such a remote place in this big island ind the middle of the mediterranean sea.

Pietraperzia has a privileged point of vew above the Himera meridionale river. That is why was prescious to Sicani people at first and Siculi later on.

Things to see

I highly suggest a walk around the ancient town that is on top of the hill. If you are rushing up like I was I would pay attention to this three spots:

Gouvernor’s palace:

Historiscians couldn’t date this palace, but we know it was built by locals with sandstones and the finest details tha we still can see under the balconies, stairs, colums and the inner courtyard.

Barresi Castle

On the very top of the hill the Barresi castle ruins dominate the town giving to those who walk around it a panoramic point of vew. It is believed this castle was way bigger than how it appears. Its perimeter was probably containing around thirteen thousand squared meters area.

Santa Maria Maggiore Mother church

This church lays mighty on the main square. It dates the XVI century and never got finished.
The church is free to access and it has gorgeous barrel vault naves, parietal decorations and coffered ceilings.

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It might be useful to know that Pietraperzia hosts the tradition of “Lu signuri di li fasci” (literally: the christ of bands).
During the holy Friday the community reminds the passion of christ with a 5 hours procession where people bring around a big and heavy simulacrum with a cross on top. The Simulacrum is meters 8,51, a size that stays for 33 sicilian inches. The linen bands have to be 33 meters as well, like the age of Jesus Christ.

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I got fascinated by this town totally built on sandstone. Walking around its little roads, among very old buildings made me have a perception of being steady over time, a time like a thousand years ago.

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Road to Eraclea Minoa

Eraclea is an ancient greek city located in the district of Agrigento in Sicily. This area is packed of beautiful greek ruins and stunning landscapes.

When the Scirocco wind blows here everything changes.

Strong events and tan sandy sky take over and the landscape is affected considerably. Like almost everywhere in Sicily the weather shapes the territory as well as the mood of the people living or travelling here. Who is not ready to face big changings is not ready to embrace the beauty of this rough land as well as its most fine secrets.

Eraclea Minoa has a wonderful easy -to- access beach surrounded by a maritime pine tree forest growing onto a white marlstone cliff which rises nude soometimes, especially on the west part of the beach to admit its majestic nature. When the tide allows that, you can walk along side the cliff and reach the mouth of Platani river that flows in the Platani river natural reserve, an other perl of the Agrigento province.

The condition of this shore is, like unfortunately happens very often in Sicily, quite polluted. Even if waters are clear and nice, they carry, especially after a Scirocco storm, a certain amount of rubbish. On a quick vew, it is visible that Agrigento province itself has suffered a lot for illegal building over the years. Driving around this amazingly beautiful area, among cliffs and hills it is a shame to spot huge palaces among greek temples and theatre dating more than 2000 years. I love Agrigento province bytheway, and I will be always happy to pay a visit to this enchanted lands.

I strongly believe that ignoring history or nature would let this sad goal of modern human being take over and win his hugly battle against the beauty. And that’s why it is necessary to claim it, writing about it, travelling around it, being into it.

Cous cous

Cous cous is a traditional dish in sicily that heads back the arab colonization. Making cous cous.
1 Incucciare (making from row flour)
2 making a soup (I chosed vegetarian even if our traditional cous cous from Trapani is with fish soup) and prepare the cuddrura, a line that you would use to attach the two pots together
3 Cook and wait

Cous cous in sicilia
1 Incucciatura e frisculiatura
2 Preparazione della cuddrura e della zuppa
3 Cottura

The clown senza frontiere Austria at the Timbuktu hostel

So we did: organize a beautiful afternoon for the kids of all the villag e in Sanvito Lo capo, to have fun, talk about this beautiful group of clowns and their activity, to laugh togheter.

Finally we had some real “young” guests at the hostel thanks to the clown senza frontiere.

The Show was playful, the girls are fantastic.

Check their facebook page for more info and updates.

Saint Vito celebrations in June

The “antenna a mare” is
a game where a mast is put in horizontal position at the Sanvito Lo Capo harbour with a flag at the end. Participants have to walk all the way till the end on a soapy surface to grab the flag. No need to underline that this thing can become dangerous. It takes place around 16:30 during the patron saint day, the 15th of every June.
Same day the saint (a “live version of him”) arrives from the sea in a boat. Everybody Onshore waits for him to have a procession till the Sancuary and fireworks for the religious community.

It’s an other tradition where sacred and profane melt into the same frame of celebration, the same day, the same supporting elements which are the sea, the boats and the crowds watching, living and rewarding them.

Greek Ruins

No matter how crazy living in Sicily drives me, during this fake “modern” times I take always my time to appreciate places where I grew up, once again, beautiful thanks to the long time ago facts.

Segesta is one of the biggest archeological site in Sicily, a place of interest for those who wants to approach sicilian ancient history.

Segesta can be reached by the highway A29 (PA-Mazzara).

These big area includes a Temple (still not known if to worship Cerere or Diana) an Agora, a majestic and panoramic Theatre (it lays on the slopes of mount Barbaro) with a stunning vew on the Castellammare gulf and Mount Inici, and other finds from classic age. Not to mention that still in the same area there are hot springs, little fresh water rivers and canyons to be visited.

I always considered my education with a lot of passion. I loved to study what I wanted to study and the feeling that I couldn’t trust what was told to me at the school had his big proof the first time I went to have a look to my (literally) “backyard”. Segesta is not even half of hour driving from where I used to live with my family. The very first time I was there I couldn’t enjoy like I wanted to. I was feeling overwhelmed by my own ignorance about sicilian history. In school they were teaching stories of far away things and skipping the very closest ones in time, for the sake of the bloody unification of Italy and consequent rising of poverty and rebels movement in the south, and in miles, I suppose, to improve a feeling of modesty and awe in the southern people to eventually become a subservient colony. There is indeed a whole hidden history on how the rich south became poor and got rubbed to make the unification wished by the Savoy kindom possible but I won’t talk about it in this article. I wanted just to mention the great feeling of ignorance I experienced And how miserable I thought my studies of “great things in Rome and elsewere I maybe see one day” were.

That’s how I started to build my personal knowledge about my history, throughout books and frequent visits everytime I was around Trapani.

Beauty on the way

Today I was cleaning the porch and patio space while in my mind I had the little project of saving some mint plants.

They where gorgeously blooming and many bees and indigo blue butterflies where hanging around. This feast was making me so happy that I couldn’t touch the plant for days, even knowing that once they make the flowers they start to die.

I was quite resigned about mint life cycle, and let it be for a while for the insects to enjoy, when my grandma told me there might be a way to save it.

I tried with a couple of plant from the graden. I chose to not try with all of the mint plants we have at the Timbuktu Hostel, cause I’m not sure I’m the right person to take care of life, no matter if it is human, animal or vegetal. I started to cut them following strict suggestions making my way into the bees and the purple flowers.

What I was left with was a several bunch of parfumed flowers and unhealthy mint leaves. I thought they were looking beautiful anyway so I decided to put them in different buckets and make a “show” of their last chance to live. I left buckets everywhere around the veranda where every guest chills and eats and talks. One was left with this wicker busket in front of the main door so everybody could almost step on his beauty.

Somethings are meant to show their beauty from their very last beginning to their very last and tragic end. That’s their purpose, I believe, that’s their only way to be.

Sunsetting around Trapani

In the western facing little seaside towns, Sunset is a must to see. Around the western costline in Sicily is such a deal that doesn’t lead to any romantic attachment anymore. People from Trapani are so into the sunset that they always try to get along with it. It’s a show that our world offers on a daily basis and this doesn’t make it boring at all not even if you attend it every single day.

A very common and lovely routine here around is to invite friends for “sunsetting” together. That makes it the most social part of the day. Even when alone, it is still something that makes you willing to stop for a second, no matter where you are. Watching the most special star falling behind the horizon is the best and chilled part of the day.

Here is a list of what I belive are the Best spots to have the greatest enlightments of your life: “Punta Sottile” lighthouse in Favignana island, Faraglioni in Favignana island,

Lazzaretto in the old Trapani harbour, Mount Erice at Venus castle gardens,

Stagnone Lagoon sault farms,

Mount Monaco in Sanvito Lo Capo,

Mount Cofano at Cornino side, Macari bay

Sanvito Lo Capo lighthouse

I turn 30 and I’m free (some lines I wrote for my birthday, the 25th of November)

The last decade has begun with two mourners that have struck me deeply. I’ve being followed by that cloud of bad feelings during my whole twenties. I can’t say they were horrible; better than the teens, for sure. Many things had happened, including moves, delusions, achievements, and doors slammed in my face. At the beginning of my young life I was a teacher of righteousness. I was good at being in advance in everything, especially in time, in reasoning, in reaching a goal. The ambition that always moved me did not even allow me to be competitive, to look around and compare myself to others: there was no time for these stupid things. I was good at doing many things and I expected the world and its inhabitants to reward me with their graces. This has never happened, especially from its inhabitants, who, despite having studied them long and wide, continue to cause me an immense discomfort and make me feel the need to go to lick my wounds in solitude more often than expected. I remember the times when I used to say that hard work would be rewarded. I have a word for those who still believe in it: “bullshit”. Just bullshit. What is rewarded is when you decide to fuck it all and decide to break through the door that has always been slammed in your face or write on it “Fuck you”, turn and walk away. Those are the finest satisfactions I have ever taken: me, my personal growth and the times when even if the world shows me how unjust it is, I look at him with my glittering eyes and tell him: sooner or later everyone slams the useless baby toe into the useless corner somewhere, somehow. 8d927b37392659.5606670fa529dI grew up in a wonderful place where despite the people I love are always there to wait and show me their affection they often have been the ones to make me suffer the most, with their prejudices and their biases. My mother is the exception. Despite her atavistic negativity, that is the result of ages of watching corruption, bad politics, mafia, and all kind of usurper exploiting us since many centuries, I believe she comes from a parallel universe: her mercy has always misguided me. She can do something I’m trying to do since a longtime now: “Do not bring rancor.” When I was little, except for my closest relatives (which are very special in this) every time I was curious about something, I was answered: “What’s for?” That, translating intonation and Sicilian sarcasm, means “let it go, it’s hard, you’ll probably won’t make it, this is not for you. ” Honestly, I think it is a miracle that I came out as I am from such an ineffective environment, devoted to the impossibility and poor ambition. I am astonished less and less, because in the rest of the world it does not work that way and, since I’ve lived in the rest of the world, I tend to forget the bitterness of an uncle or a relative who “stifles” your abilities. I promise myself that I will smile every time that this will happen in the future rather than get angry. As far as I am concerned, it is ten years that I’m getting all that I want, for terribly contorted and disgraced ways, and I do not think many can say the same. I can, aloud. I have always had very few money and earned with a lot of effort, but this did not stop me from appreciating the slowness of real travels, the struggle for survival and the “barefoot” conquest of what freedom, happiness, knowledge were for me. The difficulties did not stop me from pointing my finger on a globe and saying “I’ll go there” and do it in reality. In my homeland it is always said “no”. It’s an interlayer! Even when we agree with someone we say “no” to intervene. It is amazing how much this attitude for years transmitted makes you become an exile if you do not want to accept it or one of the many “sad” being if you accept it. This mystical impossibility (which in Sicily makes people answer to you questions “no, it can’t be done” and even if you ask why it is not possible to solve that problem, especially bureaucracy related, they answere “because it is so”) made me so angry that I started to denounce my hometown problems with complains that nobody has ever listened to. I started to cure myself with travels, music and moving in a very special city like Turin, which has given me friendships I can swear will last forever. Thos special human beings took me by the hand when my anarchy began to overwhelm the bigots around me, they taught me the beauty of the “blurred edge” while my “sunny” attitude was only admiring the “bright” side of things, they showed me that it is not necessary to hide myself only because I’m a bit different. cropped-fotor_145369593632151Then, It comes about the international friends who have helped me understand that the world is mine, and that love has infinite shapes, apple-shaped, home-shaped, sometimes grave-shaped, sometimes shapeless. Since then, since I only know how to make shabby shapes and chaotic things, I decided that I would have given so much love, free love, row love, fine love, in fact, inform love. Whenever I am tempted to judge a behavior or a choice of life I will ask myself a thousand times if it is not the case to learn again and to accept a new existence shape among my limits. I wish everyone to be free, to love without being “choked”, to be gentle and to send what makes you sufferto the hell, like I did yesterday that I quit my job! I’m going to build new dreams for the next decade, I know already they will be a million …

Liqueurs: a rustic, yet fine way to produce them at home

Every year I have a very important appointment: going to collect fruits and herbs to make my own liqueurs.

In some countries this process is forbidden, and this is something that I do miss when I’m abroad.

Since, little by little, I started to have some customers, what was an home-made activity became also a funny job.

What I love the most is the beginning and the end of the process, also because in the middle there is nothing (which is actually the “whole” thing) or just waiting patiently that the alcohol has absorbed all the flavours from leaves and/or peels.

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The beginning is collecting the ingredients. Most of the time I go for fruity digestives so I collect tangerines, oranges, lemons around. I often find people who support me offering their trees since I haven’t been so lucky to have a piece of land and have my own resources.

Some people do understand the meaning of sharing, especially when they know that they can’t use most of the product of those prolific trees, unless they have a farm, and in the end some of the fruit would be wasted.

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When I finish this part I rinse everything with a sponge and I start to peel in a fine way. Lemons are the hardest in terms of stress for your fingers but tangerines are the worse because it is very important to avoid the white part of the peel which is always very attached to the peel itself talking about tangerines.

I won’t tell how important is that every fruit, after been washed, is clean and dry, cause I believe is obvious. Once this thing is ready to go in a jar with the alcohol, all you need to do is just wait (for some liqueurs 40 days, some 30 days and some others a week or a couple).

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After the maceration I’m ready to prepare the syrup which is normally just water and sugar, boiled, cooled and finally rejoined with the alcohol. The filtration is also a sensitive process: it’s nice to find some imperfections (brown dusty dots) in a home-made liqueur, but it’s better to avoid most of the impurities released by the macerations. To do that I just use a funnel with a little linen sheet on top. It slows down the filtration but the result is remarkable.

This year my specialties will be

Finocchietto (Funnel Liqueur)

Arancello (digestive based on oranges)

Limoncello (digestive based on lemons)

Aurum (citrus fruits mix)

Mandarinetto (digestive based on tangerines)

Allorino (digestive with laurel leaves)

[text me for recipes]