Thursday, April 02, 2009

Piazza Amerina & Morgantina

We had another late start to the day on Sunday, March 22. Dad took off again on his own while Mom, Les & I headed in the general direction of Caltanissetta.  Having never been there before we realized a bit late in the game that we probably were taking the long way. We stopped to get gas in Piazza Amerina, and I realized as a cold gust of wind entered the open car door that I had forgotten my coat!  We were already more than an hour away from home and I really didn't want to go back, nor did I want to try and find a new coat to buy, during riposo on a Sunday. I decided to *try* and tough it out. I found out a few minutes later that Les forgot his coat too. Great, just great.

Rather than continuing on to Caltanissetta we decided to go into the centro of Piazza Amerina and find a cappuccino to warm up. After enjoying our beverages we realized that it was lunch time and regardless of what our next step of the was we should have a bite to eat before we hit the road again. We ened up at a tiny little restaurant called Trattoria del goloso.

The food we were served was simple but delicious.  My mom had a hearty bowl of minestrone soup, Les had a steak, and I had a wonderful plate of spaghetti with tomatoes, capers, and olives, a dish that I have recreated twice at home since then.

After lunch we took a quick walk around the centro of Piazza Amerina. We would have stayed longer but the wind was so cold!

Piazza Amerina Door

we hit the road, still unsure as to our destination. As we were about to get back on the main road we saw a sign for Morgantina, one of the places we wanted to visit that day. It turned out to be much closer than we thought. Here is what my guidebook has to say about Morgantina:
In a superb setting, in the middle of a wide flat valley far from any towns, are the ruins of a settlement which was founded in Hellenistc times (4th-3rd century BC) under the dominion of Siracusa, and which was destroyed fairly early on by the Romans. The excavations have revealed the interested design of the agora, the public square built on two levels. The upper part contains the remains of the bouleuterion (council hall) and of the ginnasio romano (Roman gymnasium). The area flanked by a long, columed portico was the site of the macellum (market), and the quartiere residenziale (residential quarter) was on the hill. In the lower part of the agora were the theater (4th century BC), a sanctuary dedicated to the gods of the underworld, and some kilns for making pottery. (Authentic Sicily, Touring Club of Italy)
Using the map in my guidebook I will try to give rough explanations of where my pictures were taken.  It was so cold up there, but ruins fascinate me so I toughed it out. Mom, of course was smart enough to bring her coat so she was fine.  Les looked around for a short while and then gave up and decided to wait for us in the car, out of the bone-chilling wind.

Les & Mom, walking the very old road up towards western residential district

The Western Residential District

Wine Press in the Residential District

A tiny bit of mosaic that remains in the Residential District

A once ornate mosaic floor in the Residential District

Detail shot of the mosic in the previous picture

More mosaics in the Residential District

And another...

Near the Market

Also near the Market

In my guidebook this is simply labled the "Steps"

Altar for Demeter in the Sanctuary

A plaque near the altars said:
House-like sanctuaries dedicated to Demeter and Persephone were located in most neighborhoods of Morgantina. The Central Sanctuary in the agora is the most formal of these: the courtyard was flanked by two porticoes, and a small naos or temple is located in the southwest corner. In the courtyard are two altars: one, a subterranean bothros, for Persephone; the other above-ground, cylindrical and stuccoed, for Demeter. The Persephone altar was filled with hundreds of small votive cupsa and thousands of lamps, which spilled over into the adjacent courtyard. This is the only sanctuary to have continued in use during the Roman period; among the later finds are eight inscribed lead tablets (defixiones) calling upon the gods of the underwold to received one Venusta, the slave of Rufus.

 House of the Doric Capital

Another shot of the House of the Doric Capital

Mosaic inside the House of the Doric Capital

Another mosaic inside the House of the Doric Capital

House of Ganymede

Mom and I covered the high points of the ruins at Morgantina, but because I was freezing we left a bit earlier that I would have liked.  And it was probably a good thing because as we drove away from the park it started raining.

The rest of the day was rather uneventful. We took the long way home, though it wasn't exactly intended, but because of the weather we didn't make any other stops. Once home we warmed up and then headed up the hill to Mineo for dinner. We wanted to try Shalimar's a restaurant that we have heard good things about (also happens to be the same location as a coffee bar we love) but they were having a child's birthday party there and it was really loud so we decided to go elsewhere for our meal.  We ended up at Casa Mia.  Les & I hadn't eaten there in quite a while and the food, while good before, was better than I remembered.  We need to back again soon. And that concludes my recap of another day with my parents in Sicily.

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