Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Sicilian Leg of the "Grand Tour" Comes to a Close

Mark and Susie Johnson concluded their whirlwind tour of Sicily this evening but not until they had one more very full day of tasting Sicilian culture.

The Catania Fish Market

The first stop this morning was to drive into the heart of old town Catania near the Duomo to view, smell and hear all that makes the Catania Fish Market famous. As usual, we were not disappointed!

Live snails... YUMMY!

A Tongue, Some Tripe and A Hoof

What more could you want to see in the wee hours of the morning?

Fishermen are WAY COOL!

Lots of Characters are included in this group of Fish Mongers.

I think the silver fish are eels but I could be wrong.

Cool swordfish heads too.

I have really grown to love to eat mussels in Sicily.

Etoile D'Or

After the Fish Market I took them to one of my favorite places to eat in all of Catania, the Etoile D'Or also near the Duomo. With Mark and Susie is Caroline and her husband own this great eating establishment. Most of us had our first real canollo at the Etoile D'Or as soon as we got off the airplane and a fellow Elephant drove us their. 

Caroline is English and her husband is Sicilian, together they have unknowingly made my eating life MUCH better!


This is one of a legion of men who regularly stand outside Catania's prime downtown parking spot and demand money to watch your car while you are shopping. Extortion is an ugly word but it really fits.

Next stop, the Tenuta San Michele Winery in nearby Santa Venerina to taste their Murgo brand wines.

In the background are the vineyard and the Ionian Sea.

How old could these oak casks be?

You can't take these kids anywhere!

130 Kilos!

After seeing how much I weighed, the owner of the vineyard, Manfreddi Scammacca del Murgo, offered me a job pressing the grapes next fall.

Manfreddi explaining the fermenting process to us.

After the tour of the winery, Manfreddi sat us down in his garden.


The wine exceeded all expectations so I bought three bottles to share with my bride.

Did I fail to mention that Laurie lands in Catania on July 3rd? YAHOO!!!

Now THAT'S a Cork!

Manfreddi claims that one of his brothers came up with this bright yellow cork so that it would be easier to find in the dark. Maybe they were just on sale.

Leone Scammacca del Murgo

Manfreddi's son and the future heir to the Tenuta San Michele Winery.

HEY, Bill Gardner!

The local Rotary Club meets here, you have to love that!

Over 20,000 people visit this vineyard annually and there are over 200,000 bottles stored here in the various stages of aging the wine.

Why is Susie checking out this geological map of Mt. Etna showing the patterns of many lava flows over the centuries?

Maybe Susie was worried about the current lava flow that has caused some burning on the slope of Mt. Etna directly behind the vineyard.

Aci Castello's old Norman Castle in the background.

One last stop for dinner at Dietro le Mura in Aci Castello for pizza with French Fries on it.

The TTT Lines, Catania to Naples Ferry

Earlier this morning, the Johnsons change their minds and decided to board the overnight ferry to Naples. It leaves Catania at 9:30 p.m. and arrives in Naples tomorrow at 9:30 a.m. They purchased tickets to an exterior bedroom so tat they could fully enjoy their voyage.

This ferry ride saved them a lot of money and driving time tomorrow as their original plan was to drive from Catania all the way to Positano on the Amalfi Coast.

As always it was great to see these two old friends who are forever generous to a fault!

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