Monday, September 21, 2015

Hidden Sicily ~ Castelmola

When we continued on our tour of Hidden Sicily we made our way up to the hilltop town of Castelmola. There are two things to know about this place. One: it has some of the most amazing views that you can find in Sicily and Two: the stairway up to the town isn't for the faint of's a serious climb. The payoff is the views you get while you are climbing!
This is what you see as you begin the climb in your car or bus. We were in our air conditioned tour bus so it wasn't exactly a taxing climb. You can hike all the way up to the town if you wish. It's a serious climb up but for seasoned hikers it is a wonderful trip with amazing views.

Seriously amazing views! The Northern coastline spreads out far below you in a dramatic sweep. The beaches are rather empty in Spring when the weather is still in the high 60's to low 70's but this beach will fill up as Summer arrives.
When you see Castelmola, the actual castle, you understand how it got it's name. It does look like a molar tooth!
But even this castle looks dramatic when seen from the hillsides of the town of Castelmola. The road you see in the bottom left hand corner is where you begin your climb up.
And the windy roads can give those who don't deal well with them a serious run for their money. Fortunately I don't get carsick so I was able to just enjoy the views.
You park in the public parking lots below the town and then take the stairs up. It is a considerable climb. At the time I was dealing with a bum knee so I just took it a few steps at a time and enjoyed the view. About halfway up was this sweet little chapel. So beautiful, ornate while still feeling simple. Lovely.
When you finally reach the top you will find yourself at this courtyard. To the left of this entry is a water fountain that has the coldest, sweetest water as reward for your climb!
The courtyard is to a church but it also serves as an entryway to the town of Castelmola. It truly gives it the feel of a medieval town.
You know I'm fond of details but what struck me about Castelmola is that the details seemed less intentional here. A lot of Italy has flower boxes, painted doorways, brightly colored buildings but in Castelmola everything is much more subtle than that. Just as beautiful but more subtle.
The painted doors are more subdued, the walls a soft yellow or beige and there were a lot of potted cactus rather than flowers here.
There are many paths you can take in Castelmola but we walked our way down and around to the main square and the Church of St. Joseph.
Again I was struck by how ornate and yet how simple the decor felt. From the chandeliers to the archways there is a lot of detail but somehow it still feels simply decorated to me. I think it has to do with the colors and clean lines.
Take some time to enjoy those clean lines and those ornate details. Several of us walked into the church but there were only 3 of us who really stayed a few minutes to really look at all this church has to offer.
This statue of St. Anthony touched our hearts. The Saint of Lost Things and People he stands for faith, service and compassion. One of our fellow travelers was actually named after this special man.
The views from the courtyard of the church are just as amazing at the ones you got to see on the way up to the town. 
From here you can see all the way to Mt. Etna. Just breathtaking!
Castelmola seems like such a beautiful, quaint town but it's not without it's quirks. The Bar Turisi is not something you are likely to see anywhere else in the world. Soooo...forgive me for a moment while I get a bit R-rated. I didn't actually enter this bar due to it's theme. There are some things you see that you just can't un-see and I'd had enough of that feeling from the doorway. If you click on this photo and really look at the paintings in the doorway you will see that the theme is the Penis. Yup, a whole bar devoted to this part of the male anatomy. From what I understand the entryway is tame compared to the rest of the bar. 
But the outside was beautiful! The details on the lamps and the colorful awnings really set it out from all of the other buildings in the area.
You can see just how truly colorful, and bizarre, it is just from the bar windows. This is part of one of the windows and, yes, all of these pieces are for sale. 
Walking away from this very colorful Bar you are greeted by these side streets that soothes you again with it's pastel painted buildings and lovely lamps.
 I couldn't take this kitty home with me, afraid it would never survive the journey, but I couldn't resist taking a photo of her. SO beautiful!
Our tour ended with lunch at the S. Giorgio Cafe. We had a lovely meal that started with a panino (panini actually means "bread", panino means a sandwich made with bread) made with fresh ingredients, drizzled with local olive oil and served with a fresh side salad. We followed it up with a taste of the almond liqueur that is made here in Castelmola. Served ice cold it is really a tasty treat! (I was told you can even get some in a penis shaped bottle at the Bar Turisi.)
 This was the view from our table. With the Ionian Sea in front of us, shaded by big umbrellas and eating wonderful food, it was the perfect way to end our tour of Hidden Sicily!

Next week I'll take you up to Mt. Etna and wine tasting! As always you can catch me on Facebook and on Instagram every day!


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