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Patrick Love Photography bio picture

Simply put,

I love carrying around a camera, and trying to get people to look into the lens.

Monthly Archives: September 2014

Marettimo, Sicily

This map outlines the route we took during our twenty days in Sicily.  We started in Palermo, then traveled clockwise until we got back to Palermo.

sicily900The Island of Marettimo was the last stop of our trip.  I saved it for the end, because you don’t want to spoil the rest of your trip by visiting the best place first.  My love affair with this island goes back over a decade to when I visited in 2001.  In my memory it was the perfect Mediterranean island pristine, untouched and ready for adventure.  One bar, a couple of restaurants, and a few home stays for visitors.  Once there, your options are a bit limited.  You can go hiking, swimming, scuba diving, take a boat tour around the island, or go fishing if you are able to sweet talk a local.  Most of all, visitors just come to experience a totally different type of living.  One completely cut off from the noise and striving of the rest of the world.  If you are an island snob, searching for that perfect essence of what makes an island a special place, then you will find it and none of the extra trappings that can get in the way of that special vibe.

We stayed at La Tartaruga Bed and Breakfast, which was perfect in every way.

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The old Norman Castle can be seen above the city, even though it’s all the way on the northern tip of the island.  _DSC2362_DSC2301_DSC2275Half way up the side of Mt. Falcone, among some Roman ruins, hikers can stop for a rest in this Byzantine church.  _DSC2242

On a boat tour around the island, guides will expertly stear their boats into several of the islands caves and blue holes like the one seen here.marettimo1 _DSC2385 _DSC2396 _DSC2436 _DSC2447

We hiked to the highest peak on Marettimo, Mt. Falcone.  The town can be seen below on the left._DSC2253 _DSC2268 _DSC2269 _DSC2284 _DSC2286 _DSC2292 _DSC2297 _DSC2305 Visitors can hike to a crumbling Norman castle that also once served as a prison.  _DSC2143 _DSC2187

Isole Favignana, Sicily

The largest of the Egadi Islands, Favignana was one of the highlights of our time in Sicily.  You’ll have to excuse the lack of photos, but I was having fun doing other things.  Biking around the island, snorkeling or swimming, scuba diving, and enjoying the vibrant town which has countless restaurants, cafes, bars, and bakeries to keep visitors from all over the world satiated.  Of all the Egadi Islands, Favignana has the best beaches and is best equipped to handle foreign visitors.  Somehow it does this while managing to not lose its charm and character.

We stayed here, which got the job done, but but was not amazing.  If you want to splash out, stay at the Cave Bianche Hotel.

_DSC2053hdr2 Warm Mediterranean water, no litter, and a shallow white sandy bottom make Cala Rossa one of the best beaches in the world.  _DSC2086 “Sometimes, if you want to be happy, you’ve got to run away to Bath and marry a punk rocker. Sometimes you’ve got to dye your hair cobalt blue, or wander remote islands in Sicily…

― Julie Powell

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Saline di Trapani, Sicily

On a small stretch of road between Marsala and Trapani are the remains of Sicily’s once booming salt industry.  Now, due to global market forces undercutting their prices, Saline de Trapani is little more than a family business which provides salt to the slow food movement around Europe.

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For centuries, salt farmers have maintained shallow marshes with gates that allow windmills to pump fresh seawater into each marsh where it is kept until the seawater evaporates, leaving behind the salt. _DSC1814 _DSC1861

Agrigento and Scala del Turchi, Sicily

To be honest, Agrigento isn’t much more than a stop over on the way to western Sicily.  However it does have the best Greek ruins in Sicily and a unique beach nearby.  We stayed in a nice apartment here.

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Ragusa and Modica, Sicily

Famous for spaghetti sauce and chocolate, Ragusa and Modica are perhaps the best-preserved baroque towns in Sicily.  We stopped in Modica for a quick lunch and to buy chocolate bars for friends back home.  We stayed the night in Ragusa, where we explored its steep, pedestrian-only back streets.  The place we stayed in Ragusa was just a short walk from the view just below.

_DSC1689_DSC1588_DSC1539 _DSC1579 _DSC1586 “Cultures of honor tend to take root in highlands and other marginally fertile areas, such as Sicily…

― Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers: The Story of Success

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Syracuse, Sicily

Syracuse, or more specifically Ortygia, is a mini-peninsula connected to the mainland by three short bridges.  It is the historic center of Syracuse and as such, is packed with the aging baroque apartments that once made up the largest city in the medieval world.  Eventually, you have to give yourself over to the tangled web of narrow streets and just wander. No matter what, every street comes to an end at a Piazza or the sparkling azure sea.

Syracuse has some of Sicily’s top restaurants.  Restaurants here tend to be a bit more international, and feature variations of Sicilian cuisine.  Trattoria La Foglia has inventive food, perfect service, and a bohemian-chic style all its own.  Le Vin de L’assassin Bistrot absolutely stole the show.  You’ll need a reservation and the ability to read handwritten french on chalkboards to access the French-Sicilian fusion cuisine here.

We loved the small apartment we rented.  It can be found here.  The location couldn’t have been any better (next door to Le Vin de L’assassin).

_DSC1489_DSC1390_DSC1329_DSC1306_DSC1443_DSC1281 _DSC1285 syracuse1 _DSC1313 _DSC1321 What you lookin’ at?_DSC1328syracuse2 _DSC1331 _DSC1332 _DSC1354 _DSC1362 _DSC1371 “I’ll go to the south of Sicily in the winter, and paint memories of Arles –This part is my part of the movie, let’s hear yours”
― Jack Kerouac, Tristessa

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Gangi, Sicily

Gangi, once voted the most beautiful village in Italy, may be the quintessential small Sicilian village, with both the good and bad that brings.  Gangi is a jumble of churches, piazzas and houses on a perfect mound of earth.  Its earlier residents must have settled here due to the excellent surrounding farmland and the defensive advantage that protecting a steep hill brings.  Gangi is known for being a place that fiercely fought against the mafia in the 1920s.  In more recent times, it has faced a declining population, and few economic opportunities for its current residents.

To combat the decline, Gangi made the news with an extremely progressive plan.  Gangi’s townspeople decided to put empty homes up for sale to outsiders for just 1 euro!  This would bring an influx of foreigners, tourism and money.  I can’t help but admire the willingness to risk losing old ways, and the globalization of an extremely mono-cultural place.  Time will tell how this reshapes this ancient settlement.  Perhaps I’ll be able to return someday and stay in a home that was once purchased for 1 euro.

In the meantime, we rented an entire farmhouse on Air BnB.  Anne and I commented that this was the best bargain of our entire trip.

_DSC1154_DSC1143 _DSC1159 “Sicily is paradise. I live in paradise. Now pass the pasta please.”
― Alfred Zappala, The Reverse Immigrant

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Cefalu, Sicily

Cefalu is one of Sicily’s most famous seaside towns.  Holidaymakers from every corner of the world migrate here each summer for the lovely port, great beaches and perfect little side streets and piazzas.  Spending a morning in the central square below the church, drinking one cappuccino after another and eating pistachio-cream-filled croissants, is an experience to relish.  Of course, then you have to go for a hike or a swim to work off the calories, and the ones from your Italian dinner the night before.

We stayed at Bed and Breakfast Casanova.  It wasn’t the cheapest, but it’s all about location.  Its location is perfect.  The owner was also one of the coolest and most helpful guys we met on our trip.  Word of warning: if you are traveling with a rental car, you cannot drive into Cefalu.  You’ll have to park your car well outside the town and walk to your hotel.  The owner of our place came with a scooter and picked us up.

_DSC1108_DSC1063_DSC1042 _DSC1134 cefalu1“First of all, let’s get one thing straight. Your Italy and our Italia are not the same thing. Italy is a soft drug peddled in predictable packages, such as hills in the sunset, olive groves, lemon trees, white wine, and raven-haired girls. Italia, on the other hand, is a maze. It’s alluring, but complicated. It’s the kind of place that can have you fuming and then purring in the space of a hundred meters, or in the course of ten minutes. Italy is the only workshop in the world that can turn out both Botticellis and Berlusconis.”
— Beppe Severgnini (La Bella Figura: A Field Guide to the Italian Mind) _DSC1120 _DSC1111 _DSC1110 _DSC1090 _DSC1089 “I hate and detest Sicily in so far as I love it, and in so far as it does not respond to the kind of love I would like to have for it.”
― Leonardo Sciascia

_DSC1085 _DSC1061 “Italian cities have long been held up as ideals, not least by New Yorkers and Londoners enthralled by the ways their architecture gives beauty and meaning to everyday acts.”
— Rebecca Solnit (Wanderlust: A History of Walking) _DSC1060 _DSC1057 _DSC1056 _DSC1047 _DSC1028 _DSC1026

Caccamo, Sicily

Caccamo is small town with a way-off-the-beaten-path feel.  In fact, I don’t think there are any traditional hotels or BnBs in town.  There are only a hand full of restaurants, and it seems like they are hardly ever open.  I was drawn to Caccamo because of the picturesque church and castle that sit above the town.  It is rarely photographed because of the low number of travelers who come through this part of Sicily.  I was able to photograph both sunrise and sunset.  On both occasions, it was overcast and the light was flat.  Finally, after much waiting, there was a break in the clouds and I got the sunrise shot below.

I was able to find a homestay type of place here, though it did take some convincing of the owner.  _DSC0941 _DSC0979“In Sicily where food is love and the street is a stage.  Street food is more than a cheap meal, it’s Communion.”
― Theresa Maggio, The Stone Boudoir: Travels Through the Hidden Villages of Sicily

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Daily Life, Palermo, Sicily

Blessed with a truly Mediterranean climate, Palermitani (residents of Palermo) spend much of their time outdoors.  Palermo is full of markets that are busy in the day with people buying their daily goods, and convert to gathering places in the evening where residents meet-up, grab a bite to eat, watch football, or party late into the night.

Mercato della Vucciria was my favorite for nightlife.  Mercato della Ballaro was my favorite for mornings.

“In Sicily, women are more dangerous than shotguns.”
― Mario Puzo

Torrefazione Ideal Cafe has the best coffee in Palermo.

There emerged, this evening, from that swarming esplanade of Des Invalides – amid the crackle of fireworks, the shooting stars, the stink of frying, the hiccuping of drunkards and the reeking atmosphere of menageries – the wild effusions of one of Nero’s festivals. It was like the odour of a May evening on the Basso-Porto of Naples. It was easy to believe that the faces in that crowd were Sicilian.”
― Jean Lorrain

“The Italians are fond of red clothes, peacock plumes, and embroidery; and I remember one rainy morning in the city of Palermo, the street was ablaze with scarlet umbrellas.”  -Ralph Waldo Emerson