Greek Temples and Sicilian Pasta

There are more Greek temples here than in Greece. And some of them are very well preserved, while others – not so much. Why, one temple looks almost as good as the Acropolis itself!
When Unesco finally realized that Sicilian archeological sites need to be saved from the inhabitants, who took apart Greek theaters and temples to build their roads and houses, they declared Argiento a Unesco World Heritage Site. So the Argiento temples were saved. They are know cleaned, the area around them is weeded, and they a lit up at night. No such luck for the temple of Segesta. It looks like it’s out of an Indiana Jones movie – ancient ruins overrun with grass, shrubbery, and budding trees. Sometimes, an occasional herd of sheep wanders in to feed on the rich vegetation. But precisely because it is so unkept and wild, it is more magical then the more perfect ruins of the Valley of the Temples in Argiento.
It looks even more perfect now, in April, when the carpet of wild flowers covers every inch of the soil. In a few months, I hear, Sicily will be dry and yellow, but now the ground looks more perfect than a professionally landscaped lawn back home.
April is good for flowers but not perfect for weather. The view from the medieval town of Erice, perched on top of a tall mountain, is supposed to be spectacular. Sadly, we saw mostly clouds and fog. But to compensate, we sampled baked goodies straight out of the oven in the famous pasticceria of Maria Grammatico. You know, sugar always lifts my spirits and dissipates any fog there is.
For the night, we stayed at Officina Gastronomica – a complex of several guest rooms and a restaurant positioned around a courtyard. We were seating in that courtyard, when we became extras in a Fellini movie. All of a sudden, all kinds of people started arriving in the courtyard in earnest. Actually, the first to arrive were huge photographs of smiling faces, which were propped against the walls. Next, well dressed and bejeweled Sicilian dames started coming in accompanied by suited mafioso-looking grey-haired men. Apparently, this was a reception for wealthy potential buyers of the photographs that were the winners of the “Photos with a Smile” context. But we couldn’t linger, we had a dinner reservation in Trapani at Ristoranti Al Vicoletto.
They eat well in Sicily! In Palermo, the fish and seafood were so fresh they were practically served raw. At Al Vicoletto, they perfected pasta. I had homemade gnocchi with cream and pistachio sauce that were out of this world and melted in my mouth. Kenny had hand rolled busiata, perfectly cooked and served with a simple light sauce of chopped tomatoes, pistachio, and some herbs. All that was washed down with fine local red wine – a perfect meal in a perfect setting.


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