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Cefalu Beach | Sicily Travelogue

Cefalu Beach SicilyCefalu Beach SicilyI must admit, the posts have become a bit scarce this past week. It has been a busy week of documenting all that lead up to the beautiful wedding that was photographed this past weekend in San Cataldo, Sicily. There is so much to share. So many great photos and memories. Italian beaches are a post all their own.

Yesterday, we went to the beautiful little town of Cefalu. I had heard so many great things about Cefalu and believe me, seeing it in person it was better than described. It is the quintessential antique little Sicilian village, perfectly placed right on the coast. History, charm, beauty. What more could you want? If you are planning a trip to Sicily, do not miss this place, in fact consider staying in this area for a few days!

Over the last three weeks, we have been to at least 6 or 7 different beaches. They each have their charm. Some have small rocks, some have large rocks and some have beautiful sand. We have experienced beaches with no waves, waves, wind, sand bars, beach clubs and crystal clear water. But what I have never experienced in my life is how crowded these beaches can be!

Wow, the Cefalu beach was jammed yesterday. I kid you not when I say we had to dodge and weave under and around these colorful umbrellas and the masses of people that dot the beach. We finally found a little sliver near the water to set up. People as far as the eye could see.

Things worth noting. There are vendors that walk around and sell everything. From cut up coconut to everything you need to enjoy the beach. I saw someone selling bikinis (really? who buys a bathing suit on the beach?), sarongs, floats, blow up toys, sunglasses, necklaces, bracelets, CDs (I can’t imagine he is selling many of these) and every single beach play toy you can think of – all carried by one guy! A walking store.

The girls next to us were applying their baby oil liberally (yikes, I haven’t done that since the 80′s – sun block is not embraced here at all). I was the only one, and I mean the only one – regardless of body type or age that had on a one piece bathing suit. Volleyball in the water. Music, dancing, snorkeling, laughter every where.

The beach was just spectacular. The water perfect. The kids enjoyed the waves and the ideal water temperature. As crowded as the beach was – it didn’t seem that way once you jumped into the water. Plenty of water to go around!

The perfect family beach.

A Walking Tour of Modica | Sicily Travelogue

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Once we settled into our adorable little apartment in Modica’s old town, we set out for a short uphill walk to the grocery store. Along the way, Keith took a few snapshots of the neighborhood.  The first few photos show just how old this neighborhood is. It was rebuilt in the 1600′s after an earthquake destroyed this part of Sicily. To think, many of these buildings are still standing nearly 400 years later. I just love the color of the buildings, the more distressed the more interesting.

I’m particularly taken by the death notices. I guess it is the equivalent of my grandmother reading the obituaries every day in the paper. It looks to me like these papers that have the person’s name, date and age when they died and a short little obituary, are hung around town (and near their home) so that people who knew them will be informed of their passing.

We are so near to San Giorgio – a beautiful church steps from here. The church bells ring to let you know of a marriage or church service or high noon. There are something like 300+ steps that lead up to the church. Broken ankles Gabby hasn’t even complained once about all these stairs. The kids are so much more fit than their mom. But I love that we have to climb up or down to get anywhere. It is sweet, they have a little grocery cart that drives through the streets for the older folk who can’t get around.

One other note, I appreciate they way they present their produce at markets or in a grocery store. They don’t pretty it up like they do in the US. The tomato is what it is, it might be small and not perfect or large and perfect, but they don’t make them shine or fit all uniform into the bin. You are getting the actual fruit and vegetables with what looks like to me, not much to preserve them. Eat them at the moment, why would you want them to last for a week? They are fresh and you can tell. I like that.

Another beautiful day in Sicily. Off to the beach.

This week’s home away from home | Modica | Sicily Travelogue

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We decided to stay in Modica because I fell in love with the photos I saw on line. Oh my goodness, how could these homes be built on top of each other like this and it’s still standing after all these years? Well let’s just say that our first glimpse of this truly special town did not disappoint.

The first photo is a view from this week’s home way from home. Our little apartment. What a great little find. The building is stacked about 3/4 of the way up one side of old town Modica. The walk to the apartment is truly special. I think it is more than 300 steps down to the main street, but there is no straight path down, just all sorts of meandering little passageways.

A look into our morning. Some breakfast. Some journal writing by Isabella for her summer homework. Gabby being distracted with her iPod while I answer emails. A look behind the curtain! But oh so much fun to walk to the grocery store about 200 steps above us, buy wine in a local wine shop, chocolate from the local chocolate shop (that Modica is well known for – more on that later), and fresh bread from the local artisan! My oh my it is like heaven.

And did I mention how inexpensive and delicious the pizza is? What a magical place.

Day 6 | More Island Hopping | Vulcano Island | Sicily Travelogue

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I’m skipping a day and fast forwarding to our last full day in the Aeolian Islands. (lots of great photos from Day 5 to share!) Honestly, when we knew we were headed to Sicily, I started reading through as many guidebooks as I could get my hands on. These tiny little islands didn’t even make my radar. Each guidebook had like a line or two for each island but really not a lot of detail. I am so glad I did a little more research and we decided to spend nearly a week here.

One thing that is striking about these islands are all the active and dormant volcanos. Ok, I admit I don’t know how many or what their exact story is (trust me I will be finding out once I’m stateside and can do some research). But dormant to me means (yes, it’s been awhile since I took French) sleeping, not extinct, just sleeping. Then how on earth can I look out from our hotel balcony on Lipari and see the island of Vulcano and notice that there is a crater with smoke constantly coming out of it? And this is a volcano that you are free to climb to the top and peer into the crater. Yes, this sleeping but smoky volcano. Hence the name Vulcano I presume.

Well we took the ferry over to see what it was all about – just about a 10 minute ferry jaunt from Lipari. We had heard about the healing mud baths but once off the boat, the smell of sulphur was more than my little sommelier to be Gabby could handle. Isabella likened it to living in an egg salad sandwich. So needless to say we did not soak in these baths, but proceeded to pass by at a good clip.

Fresh air was just a few meters away – and so was the entrance for the huge climb to the top of the volcano. I was secretly hoping that there was a taxi service to the top, but since my Italian is pretty much non existent and no taxi presented itself then I have to assume climbing was the only option. Well the kids hadn’t had lunch, the sun was beating down on us, we had one tiny bottle of water and the girls were in birks. The deck of cards was stacked against them climbing to the top with a smile on their faces and if we still wanted to be together as a family after the hike I wasn’t in favor of dragging them up. (Or maybe it was me who would have been worse for wear climbing in these conditions, we will never know for sure!) But I know for certain that it would have ended badly.

So I took one for the team and brought the kids to lunch while Keith strode to the top and took these beautiful photos.


Day 4 | White Beach, Canneto Lipari | Sicily Travelogue

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Another trip to the beach but this time with a friend from NY that we haven’t seen in over a decade. As luck would have it, he is currently living in Cefalu – so he and his wife took the ferry over to spend the day in Lipari.

After a leisurely espresso at our hotel, we set out for the beach. This handsome captain above was selling his wares but we had already purchased a roundtrip on his competitor’s boat. He was more than happy to point out that his boat was running ahead of schedule…and ours not so much. Regardless, we took our little boat ride and ended up at White Beach (which isn’t white at all) in Canneto.

This beach had lots of rocks. But the kids were ok with it. They had some floats, shovels, nets that kept them busy. The water is the perfect temperature – not too warm but easy to get into except for the rocks. Keith was pushing the kids around on their floats and was stung by a jelly fish. Yikes! He actually seemed to be in a bit of pain. He had welts (still does actually) covering a little section on his back.  But in typical Keith fashion he shrugged it off. Ah yes, one of the many differences between him and I. I would probably be off to the ER.

We left the beach with a bag full of sea glass, well worn rocks and some cool lava rocks. Gabby has quite the collection going. I think I might have to lose some along the way or get another suitcase for the ride home.

Another great day!