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INTRODUCTION - a Slice of Sicily
When we were selecting an Italian location for our next video I jokingly said why not Sicily. Visions of spicy cooking and miles of shoreline popped into my head. As we began our research to select locations to video, we discovered that Sicily is an archaeological treasure chest of many cultures.
Sicily's fertile soil and strategic location in the Mediterranean was the target of conquest of many centuries. In 211 BC the Romans; in 535 the Byzantines; in 827 the Arabs; in 1071 the normans; a populous revolt in 1282 lead to Spanish rule in 1302. Many years of internal strife followed until Garibaldi landed at Marsala in 1860 and united the island with Italy.
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BACKGROUND - Author's notes
After landing in Catania, a very small airport, we get our rental Fiat Punta and head out on the Autostrada. I love driving in Italy where the speed limits are considered "suggestions". In our six trips to Italy we have never seen the "Polizia" on the Autostrada. On a clear stretch I crank the little four-cylinder engine up to 160 KM/Hr or about 100 Mph only to be passed by BMW, Jaguars and the like. We are headed to Cefalú (pronounced Chefalew with the accent on the lew) where we will attend the Kulturforum Italian language school for a week. Kulturforum was a great school and they set us up with housing in the medieval section with a Sicilian family. School was three hours in the morning which left our afternoons and evenings open to fare un giro turistico (tour as a tourist) and sample the various restaurants.
Cefalú sits at the base of La Rocca an impressive rock hill which was settled by the Byzantines in the 6th century. In one of the video segments we hike this rock and visit the Byzantine ruins and a structure known as The Temple of Diana who's history is obscure. Some people date it to the 9th century BC with modifications made by the Greeks in the 5th century BC. We took an excursion with the Kulturforum students where we went hiking in the Parco delle Madonie, a vast nature preserve, in the Madonie mountains. We also visited Castlebuono a 14th century medieval town.
Everywhere we ate the food was excellent, but I had the best pasta with sardines in Cefalú. In Sicily I found the best dishes to be fish, lamb or goat, all of which are plentiful on the island. The wine was local and wonderful to partake of.
After a week in Cefalú we head to Agrigento which lies on the southern coast to see The Valley of the Temples. Over the next week we travel to central Sicily to view the 142 tiled steps at Caltagirone and the Roman Villa at Piazza Armerina, head to Syracuse on the west coast and visit the Archaeological park and the island of Ortygia at the tip of Syracuse. The last few days were spent at Taormina where visited the Greek theater and took a hop over to Mount Etna. There were a bunch of side trips and other locations that, while they were great, just were not as interesting as what we have included in this DVD.
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ALDIMAR VIDEO PRODUCTIONS, Guilford CT, USA