18.09.2008 - 24.09.2008
On our day of departure from our lovely B&B in Sicily our host was reasonably horrified to find we'd not actually done anything or seen any sights, and we had a lot of time to kill - our ferry sailed from Palermo at midnight and Palermo was only about 3 hours away... so... we went to see the gorge near by at Alcantara....
... and pretty it was, with fascinating rock formations. The water is glacial - you can rent waders and wander up the gorge a little bit, we opted out of that and just had a good wander about and sat by the river.
Afterwards we, again on our hosts' recommendation, drove to Piazza Armerina, which was about half way on our route straight across Sicily. The drive was fun - we'd heard that the roads would be bad as the mafia tend to siphon off the funds. They were indeed bad! In fact someone told us that one stretch of motorway in South Italy has taken 10 years to complete, and it cost so much they could have built a bridge to South Africa with the same money!....
Anyhow - back to Piazza Armerina - very underwhelming when you arrive at the town. We think the signage is deliberately bad to "encourage" you to spend money in the town itself. It's hillarious - one minute you are following brown signs to "Mosaics", the next minute the signs are yellow and marked "Roman Castel", then they are white and marked "Castel Mosaics", then they disappear altogether - sending you round and round the town in circles.
We found it eventually - the site is a few K's out of town - it's a very old Roman Villa, dating back to around 300AD and it is amazingly well preserved - mainly because the town moved to where Piazza Armerina is now located, leaving the villa behind and abandoned.
The whole reason for the special interest are the mosaics on the floors, and wow! you are not disappointed!
(As you approach the site)
(You are not disappointed by the 1st mosaics you see)
(When you look closely the level of complexity and detail is amazing, the small size of the tiles and the colour shading)
The above picture is a zoom-in of ....
(Yep! - an arse - I'm so childish)
(These Romans invented bikini's long before we thought possible)
(When you start looking at the main square perimeter you start to get a grasp of the scale of the works - this path runs in the other direction too, and all the way round the whole main building)
(A Roman latrine - crafty sods!)
The pics are only a brief glimpse as what is to be seen there - there are more mosaics than you can shake a stick at. Must have taken an age to do - they got African specialists to come over and do them apparently.
Really amazing - so glad we went.
Catching the ferry was a laugh. We got there quite early so we had a quick rip-off dinner at the port then checked in for our sailing.
We picked the duff boat.
(That's the nice one, with casino, pool, hot tub etc etc - I think it was called the Supremo or something like that)
(Great - a cargo boat - called.... the "Corragio" which I guess means cargo)
They had a large "sleeper" room with reclining chairs so we bagged a row of seats each as there were not many passengers on our crud boat, and after a few fortifying glasses of wine, bedded down for the night....
.....only to wake up at 4am to a guy snoring at volume levels that had to be experienced to be believed. Even worse, as he breathed out, someone else snored, to fill int he gaps, so to speak. I got up, Kirstin got up, loads of people got up.
Kirstin considered going over and hitting him with a rolled up magazine but figured he'd only roll over and start again - she knows the drill after putting up with me for years.
We moved into the lounge and used the sofas. I managed to put my head in a sweat top to blank out the lights.
It worked until about 7am when a nutty Italian walked around with music playing on his phone through the speaker. He did this for the while 20 odd hours of the crossing. Even more oddly, the same song, over and over. Weird.
When we arrived we caned it up to Sarzana to hook up with Stephano and Debborah who we'd met through friends in Pederroba - they cooked us a great local dinner on their fire - that's something that the Italians seem to like to do - they make their fire places so that they are big enough to BBQ on. Great idea.
After that we did a little sight seeing with them the next day and now we are back in Pederroba, chilling and planning our next leg of the journey... Africa!