Sunday, March 29, 2009

It gets COLD in Enna!

The day after we returned from Lipari my dad took off on his own on the motorcycle, mom and I took off to Enna, and Les wanted a day to himself so he stayed home.

On the way to Enna Mom spotted this field of red flowers

Enna is located in the center of Sicily, high on a hill. I had only been to Enna once before so I was a bit nervous about finding the area we wanted to visit and where to park the car (always a challenge in Sicily). After navigating narrow medieval roads, following signs to the centro, and taking a few detours where the roads were closed we finally found our way to the Castello di Lombardia. Les and I had parked near the castle on our last visit. There were plenty of spaces, and, even better, it was free.

Our first order of business was food. We arrived just in time for Italian lunch. We hadn't walked far when I spotted a restaurant with a modern flair. I love the traditional Sicilian dishes served at most restaurants but I'm always game to find something new, a bit more diverse. My mom and I walked in and asked for a table. We were the only customers. At first we thought maybe they had been about to close but it turned out to be the restaurant's first day of operation! After glancing at the menu we decided to share a porcini mushroom tagliatelle and grilled swordfish that came with a tomato and mozzarella salad. While we were waiting for our food we grabbed our cameras and took several pictures of the adorable restaurant.

The name of the restaurant was Di Vini, and we sat at table #5

Is that a clever sign for the bathroom? I love it! They even had fresh mint growing inside the bathroom! What a great idea!

Yes, those are little pots with fresh basil on every table

Isn't it a cute place? I was so happy to find it and I definitely go back. Our meal was fantastic.  When they brought it out I thought my Italian had failed me.  I had asked that we share each course but the plates they brought out were huge! I was sure the bill would reflect two portions of each. At the end of the meal when the bill was brought I was astounded. We had a ton of food, really delicious food, for only 17 euro.

 Full and happy we left the restaurant and headed down the road to take in the sights.  We didn't get far before we started pulling out our scarves and buttoning our coats.  It was freezing and on top of that the wind was blowing very strong. I know I  had seriouly crazy windy day hair!  Anyway, we walked a bit and then stopped for a caffe to warm up.  I mentioned to the barista that it was cold and he looked at me like I was crazy.  He said no, it wasn't cold, no snow.  HAH!  

One of the churches we ventured into was the church of Santa Chiara. It was unlike any other Italian church I have seen.  The architecture was similar but the adornments were of battles and soldiers. It turned out that the church is a memorial to fallen soldiers.  The mosaics along the tops of the walls show many different battle related scenes and along the walls are plaques marking the names of hundreds of fallen soldiers, presumably from Enna. Some even have photos.

The interior of Santa Chiara church

We poked in and out of several churches that afternoon. At one in particular we had a truly hilarious experience where we were treated to some true Sicilian hospitality. As we went to enter the church of San Giuseppe an older gentleman gently scolded us and asked us to leave. We said we were sorry, assuming we had interrupted some sort of ceremony and continued down the street. As we were walking past the side of the church the side door opened and another man invited us inside. It turned out that it was the final day of the Festival of San Giuseppe and that the church was the staging ground for preparing the statues of the saint that would be carried through the town later that night.

We were given the opportunity to view the statues up close, which we were told is usually not allowed and meet several of the men who were organizers of the event.  They even gave us some of the special bread which is only made during the festival.  These men were having such a great time and were incredibly friendly.  I think the fact that we were so sorry that we had initially intruded gave them confidence in inviting us back in.  One of the gentlemen even invited us back for another festival in April and said that we would join his family and friends for the celebration!  Unfortunately I didn't get his name but he said to meet him back at that church.  Hopefully we can.  That would be so cool!

By this point in the day we were starting to watch the clock. We decided to make our way back up the hill, visit the Castello and then head home. On the way back to the castle we stopped in to see the inside of the Duomo, which was built in the 14th century. We had the place to ourselves, except for a man who was doing a bit of carpentry near the alter.

Interior of the Duomo

We left the Duomo as soon as a tour group entered and then continued to the castle. According to my trusty guidebook:
The Castello di Lombardia was built by Frederick II on a previous Arab fortification, which had been enlarged by the Normans. It was also modified by Frederick III of Aragon who chose to live here. It is irregular in shape, and preserves only six of the twenty original towers. The interior has a complex set of courtyards; the first has been converted into an open-air theater, and the third has the remains of the little church of San Martino. One of the most sweeping views of Sicily can be seen from the best-preserved tower, the Torre Pisana (Pisan Tower). (Authentic Sicily, Touring Club of Italy)
Looking up at the Torre Pisana

Mom, taking in the spectacular view

 Looking out from the top of the Torre Pisana

While we were at the top of the tower we were joined by another traveler, an Australian who was traveling alone. He was a hilarious, good-natured person and we enjoyed his company for about 10 minutes before we headed our separate ways. I wish him well on the rest of his trip and hope he gets the write the travel book he dreams of writing!

Eventually our time in Enna had to come to a close, but our day was far from over. We made it home with about a half hour to relax before we had to leave for a dinner reservations at Les' and my favorite agriturismo.  For the next three hours or so we ate and drank and laughed.  As always, the food at the agriturismo was phenomenal, but I have yet to have enough self control to not eat too much of the anitpasti.  It is hard, though when they bring out at least 10 different things to try! Somehow though I still manage to get through the entire meal.  I is tough! :)

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