Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Postscript 14 Marzo 2012: Special thanks

It is so very hard to let go and settle back into our lives here in Canaan after such unique experiences and meeting so many wonderful people in Sicilia during our visit.

If like us, your idea of a great place to travel to is a place where you can become part of the local day to day happenings. Meet the people... Learn their language... (Sicilian)... Become immersed in the culture.... Sciacca in February is where to go!

Where to stay: Our home at Le Casette in the Port of Sciacca was in the middle of activity. The day and night activity of a working fishing port. We joined the flow of the fleet as fishermen went out and then returned with their catch. If you are looking for a real life "seaside" agritourism experience you can't get closer to life in a fishing port than an apartment here at Le Casette on the Porto del Sciacca.

Building where our apartment was located in Sciacca. Ours was the two windows on the second floor.
The view at breakfast from one of the window/doors.
Le Casette del Porto
Lungomare Cristoforo Colombo, 23
92019 - Sciacca (AG) Sicilia, Italia
Phone: +39 320 8320192

Bar Charlie: Was right next door to Le Casette. Calling it a "Bar" is so limiting a word for this place. The favorite with the fishermen and many others outside the port it became our favorite "Bar" too. For Franco's cannoli and other "dolce" (sweet) pastries, fried stuffed treats, panini, ice cream in a sweet roll, on and on! And of course cappuccino, beer, sambuca... They also were kind enough act as our poste mail drop!

Bar Charlie.
Bar Charlie (next to Le Casette del Porto)
Lungomare Cristoforo Colombo, 21
92019 - Sciacca (AG) Sicilia, Italia

WiFi Access: Even though we wanted to be "really away" we wanted to still be "connected". This is something the founders of Art Cafe knew about travelers like us when they started the cafe. Thank goodness! Not only did we find this a very pleasant environment but it had drinks, snacks and art on the walls. But especially it had two great guys that helped us with our Italiano too!

Art Cafe WiFi and lounge.
Art Cafe
C. So. Vittorio Emanuele 135
92019 - Sciacca (AG) Sicilia, Italia
Phone: 320 970 4330
Website: Facebook

Pane: There are two bakeries that we frequented. Joey and I have our favorite but they both were very, very good! Especially when you can pick up a hot loaf early Saturday and munch it all the way to the market up the top of town near Piazza Geraldo Noceto!

Panifico Leo di Angela.
Panifico Di Leo Angela
Salita Consiglio N. 12
92019 - Sciacca (AG) Sicilia, Italia
Phone: 0925 24236

Panifico La Fonte del Pane, Girolama Bono
Viale della Vittoria 24
92019 - Sciacca (AG) Sicilia, Italia
Phone: 0925 26411

Pizzerias: Yes, we went to Siciliy and had pizza! Great pizza! We returned to La Grotta where we first when in 2007. It is a grotto, white walls and ceilings with cavern nooks. Beautiful. Pizzeria L'Arco Antico was a larger pizzeria with great pizza as well. Many families and friends, kids all having a night out. We even talked with a some. it was very friendly! After an awful car trip back from Catania, very late (even for Sicilian evening meal standards) the Trattoria Amadaus was a welcome treat and very good! Of course I have to mention another pizzeria. The one we happened on in the town of Cianciana where my Grandfather Calogero Re was born and immigrated from in 1913. Cortile Halykos was beautiful! The pizza and antipasto delicious! And it was owned and operated by a distant relative as well!

At the Cortile Halykos in Cianciana.
Pizzeria La Grotta
Via Incisa 74
92019 - Sciacca (AG) Sicilia, Italia
Phone: 0925 28646

Pizzeria L'Arco Antico
Corso Vittorio Emanule
Piazza Corte D'Assise 216
92019 - Sciacca (AG) Sicilia, Italia
Phone: 0925 83934

Trattoria Amadaus
Corso Vittorio Emanule 186
92019 - Sciacca (AG) Sicilia, Italia

Cortile Halykos
Via Siracusa 16/20
92012 Cianciana (AG) Sicilia, Italia
Phone: 338 3142813

Antipasto, Primo and Secondo: For this type of meal two stand out. One the Trattoria Osteria Cappellino where we had our first full three course meal while here. It was a small but beautiful place and the meal of what they bill as "typical" Sicilian dishes were very, very good indeed. But the Trattoria del Buongustaio was by far the most delicious full three course and more dinner we have ever had while in Sicilia. Our server was amazing at conveying to us, even without much English and us without much Italian what the options were, recommendations and was just very, very friendly. It was a totally enjoyable experience in Siciliano style gourmet dining!

Trattoria Osteria Cappellino
Vicolo Cappellino 24
92019 - Sciacca (AG) Sicilia, Italia

Trattoria del Buongustaio
Piazza Don Luigi Sturo (Porta Palermo)
92019 - Sciacca (AG) Sicilia, Italia
Telephone: 349 6532437

Ceramic artists: Sciacca is known for its ceramic artists and we visited many shops/studios during our visit there (and even met some aspiring art students). But three studio visits stand out. On a walk trying to find Castello Incantato (photos) of Filippo Bentivegna (it was closed that day) we instead came across the laboratory (pottery studio) of Gianfranco Friscia. Joey rang the bell at the gate and after some explaining that Joey was a potter in America he warmly welcomed us in. He spent a great deal of time with us and was very, very open. The traditional painted pottery he does and the more contemporary line of fish and sea themed ceramics is just beautiful! He even had his wife and daughter come up from town to give us a ride back into Sciacca. They were all so very, very nice!
We then met a very contemporary painter, sculptor and ceramic artist, Michele Bono. He had a studio off the main street packed with art of all media and styles. Very, very interesting and some very political. We loved it! We also happened to meet though his son Davide (one of the art students that we met), Accursio Toto, at his La Bottega della Maiolica. A amazingly talented designer/painter of traditional ceramic art. Beautiful interlaced designs and flowing illustrations!

La Bottega della Maiolica of Accursio Toto.
Ceramiche d'Art Gianfranco Friscia
Corso Vittorio Emanule 40
92019 - Sciacca (AG) Sicilia, Italia
Telephone: 0925 992007

Michele Bono
Piazza Campidoglio 1
92019 - Sciacca (AG) Sicilia, Italia
Telephone: 3282 119420

Accursio Toto, La Bottega della Maiolica
Piazza S. Friscia 18
92019 - Sciacca (AG) Sicilia, Italia
Telephone: 0925 23944

Other Pasticcerias: Even though Bar Charlie was our favorite here are three others that we enjoyed sampling from and why.

Special Sciacca Marzapane the Cucchitelle di Sciacca.
Bar del Corso Vittorio Emanule 85
92019 - Sciacca (AG) Sicilia, Italia
Telephone: 0925 24489

Pasticceria Mignon the richest pastry I have ever tasted!
Cafe Dante
Via Dante Alighieri
92019 - Sciacca (AG) Sicilia, Italia
Telephone: 0925 909079

Just sit and watch the traffic go by through where the old wall used to be at Porta San Salvatore.
Gelato In
Piazza Liberta' 4
92019 - Sciacca (AG) Sicilia, Italia

Auto Rental: We wanted to try and find Carnevale, get to Eraclea Minoa, explore the southwest coast and get to Cianciana so we rented a car for three days. Gulliver Servizi Turistici made it easy!

Gulliver Servizi Turistici
Corso Vittorio Emanuele 9
92019 - Sciacca (AG) Sicilia, Italia
Telephone: +39 0925 26557

Gift shop: Of course there were any number of ceramic shops and gift shops but Graffeo's had a Jack London, Call of the Wild fan!

Corso Vittorio Emanuele2
92019 - Sciacca (AG) Sicilia, Italia
Telephone: 0925 24334

Hair cut: Ok, not everyone goes to Sicilia and is there long enough to need a hair cut. But my long hair was driving me crazy! This barber ( make sure the young barber cuts it though :) was great!

Hair Acconciatori Uomo
Corso Vittorio Emanuele 71
92019 - Sciacca (AG) Sicilia, Italia

Olive oil and Marmelades: We used a lot of olive oil while there but this one stands out. We were high up in the mountain town of Caltabellotta on a cold snowy day and took refuge in this cafe where we were freely offered samples of this olive oil and a selection of marmelades from the local region. Of course we took some back to Sciacca with us! Delicious!

Azienda Agricola Agrigentile
Caltabellotta (AG)
Telephone: +39 389 1830959

We hope to come back to Sciacca next year mid-February (and maybe there will be Carnevale too) through mid-March if possible. With a stay in Cianciana too maybe... and get to know some new found family!

To everyone we met grazie mille! 

Monday, March 5, 2012

Postscript 5 Marzo 2012: La Ferrovia tunnel in Sciacca

The day we first tried to find Il Castello Incantato/The Enchanted Castle of Filippo Bentivegna we found a passageway that would allow us to avoid the worst of the roadway that we would need to walk if we were to get there on foot.

The passageway cut down through an overgrown stone paved walkway. We knew that the there was no current railroad service to Sciacca but from that vantage point we could see tracks crossing the stream cut chasm. The tracks disappeared into a tunnel.

We followed the walk down to what was a small complex of buildings  that appeared to be a closed terme (baths), "Antiche Terme Selinuntine".

Thus began a question that vexed us throughout our stay. Where was the other end of the tunnel?

Any tunnel would have to pass near under the hill that the new terme was built on and under much of the hill above the port. So under the maze of buildings, stairs, roads and passageways that Joey and I had been climbing almost daily to reach the Piazza Scandaliato level of the town was a tunnel! It seemed unlikely to us that such a long deep tunnel would be possible. But we were wrong.

Joey and I did some online searches but couldn't find and reference to the tunnel. But Joey did fine this interesting video.

On the last day of our visit coming down the stairs from the parking lot just below Piazza Scandaliato (the stairs that I did the first drawing of during our time here in Sciacca) I glanced to my left and there it was! We went down to the road that we had crossed so many times walking over a short stretch of track that the worn road surface had exposed. Then up the street to the left. And there was the illusive tunnel access! 

I read that there was some discussion of making the old road bed in places a cycle trail but here hidden by fencing and trees it is now only a place for chickens. 

I wonder if there is an old 1960s model train in there? Now that would be cool!   

Update with information (see Comment below) from: Pietro Fattori on September 19, 2012 3:16 AM

Pictures and website of the narrow gauge railway of Sciacca:

This site is about the trains of Sicilia: (Italiano)
NOTE: To translate this page into English copy this address and paste into search box. When page comes up in results click "Translate".

Photos page link:

These historical photos are from the website above and show trains in Sciacca.


Sunday, March 4, 2012

Postscript 4 Marzo 2012: The ceramic tiles of Sciacca (Part II)

The ceramic tiles of Sciacca continued:

18) On ceramic stairs. Porto Sciacca
20) L'Opera dei Pupi, Piazza Mariano Rossi
21) Near Art Cafe, Via Vittorio
22) Via Roma
23) Via Peitro Gerardi
26) At San Calogero
27) At San Calogero
28) Promenade along Stazzone Beach
29) Promenade along Stazzone Beach
35) You can see this over the edge of the Terme promenade along Viale della Terme
37) Cafe Scandaglia, Piazza Scandaliato
41) Up vicolo passageway just off Piazza Saverio Friscia
42) Up vicolo passageway just off Piazza Saverio Friscia
43) Up vicolo passageway just off Piazza Saverio Friscia
44) Up vicolo passageway just off Piazza Saverio Friscia
45) Up vicolo passageway just off Piazza Saverio Friscia
46) Up vicolo passageway just off Piazza Saverio Friscia
47) Near Piazza Saverio Friscia

Postscript 4 Marzo 2012: The ceramic tiles of Sciacca (Part I)

Sciacca, Sicilia, Italy is a center for ceramic art. Painted and carved ceramics as well as sculpted, hand-built and cast work. The traditions run strong here but there is still room for the contemporary and the abstract.

The idea to document all the ceramic tiles we came across in Sciacca was a good one. But one that we were soon to discover could not be done without a better system for photographing and documenting the location of the tiles. There are just so very many! I have numbered all the photos. So if you know the missing location note it in the comments with the photo number or if you just want to comment on a specific photo you can use the number as a reference.

Many of the tiles document the life and events of Sciacca. Others are more personal. Others are city signs, house tiles, and business signs. Others are pure and lovely whimsy. There surfaces range from high relief to the flat painted glaze.

The ones that I did note the location of I have added captions for. The others... happy hunting when you are in Sciacca.

1) Ceramic stairs, Porto Sciacca
2) At top of ceramic stairs, Porto Sciacca
4) Piazza Camidoglio
5) Piazza V. Farina
7) Near Piazza V. Farina
8) Palazzo S. Giacomo Tagliavia
11) Piazza Saverio Friscia
12) Near Piazza Saverio Friscia
13) Via Giuliette Normanna
14) Via Giuliette Normanna
15) Via Giuliette Normanna
16) Via Giuliette Normanna
17) Via San Paulo
Visit The ceramic tiles of Sciacca (Part II)