Take me to the greek!

Trip Start May 14, 2011
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11
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Trip End Jun 04, 2011


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Where I stayed
Villa Zottopera

Flag of Italy  , Sicily,
Monday, May 23, 2011

(S) Ok, so when you're sleeping in a tent across Europe, small things really make a difference. Like free hot showers. This campground lacks in many things, but the showers are hot. Two points for this campground. But that’s really it.

Our reason for being in Agrigento is to see the Valley of the Temples (for which our campground is so cleverly named). It topped my list of "stuff to see" while in Sicily and it most definitely did not disappoint. I’ll let the photos speak for themselves. For some context, the ancient sites spread out over the top of a ridge for over 4 kilometers. Also, for those of you reading who want to visit, a tip is to park at the very bottom and pay the 2 Euros to be taken to the top in a taxi and walk back down. It’s worth it – especially if it’s hot and heaving with the entrails of tour buses. Of course it rained on us a bit, so traffic was light.

After about 3 hours of scrambling around 2500 year old Greek temples, it was back in the car. Tonight’s destination is near Ragusa in Chiaramonte Gulfi and an agritourism stay there. We hope.

I actually was writing that in the car as we were driving around southeastern Sicilian tiny roads looking for our villa. It turns out the directions I copied from the “English” part of their website were incomplete. So we were in the completely wrong place. In a downpour. I finally plugged in the wireless card and we read the directions on their site in Italian. OH! So that’s where we’re supposed to be. Oh and we learned the Italian word for “turn left” and other important direction words. We finally pull up a dirt drive in the middle of NOWHERE to an amazing villa – Villa Zottopera. We were greeted at the iron gate, all in Italian of course, and shown to our room: Casa Rosso. We later found out that is the last name of the family who has been living in this villa for hundreds of years, making olive oil and wine and winning awards for both. All the rooms are around a courtyard, which surrounds the main house. The room is self-catering, which means it has a full working kitchen and separate bedroom. Absolutely perfect. Ok, well, it’s still pouring rain so we can’t walk around much (when we did we found a tiny bird caught in the window of the family church), but we can sit at our table and have a glass of wine. Because we always travel with at least one extra bottle. And cheese. And meats. To top off the evening, dinner is available in the small dining room – another small stone room across the courtyard. Since I’d had it with driving in the rain, we decided to take them up on it. First, they brought us an entire liter carafe of local red wine. And bruschetta as an antipasta, with one of them with giardinieri and another with fresh cheese. Then it was bowls of carciofi (artichoke) and tagliatelle pasta with a hint of tomato for the primi course. Veal scallopine and frittata with local greens and sage was the secondi (main course). Contorni (side dish) was a delicious green salad. Dessert: warm almond cake. A German couple are the only other guests and as soon as the cooking is done, the family that takes care of the Villa sites down for their dinner with us. Yes, I think this place will do fine. Best of all, we got to sleep in an actual bed, which is always good after a few days in a tent, in the rain.

(C) First, Chiaramonte Golfi - despite having a name that sounds like one might find it on a "gulf" of some sort - is actually perched on a mountaintop.  Second, the Villa Zottopera - despite having a name that says you can find it in Chiaramonte Golfi, is actually located in a tiny hamlet called Roccazo - naturally.  Also, you cannot find Roccazo on a map, or via any signs.  Also, the directions Sara printed from Google "translate" are not actually translated correctly, so that simple instructions like, "go towards Vittorio" become, "turn left at the flower."  Naturally we get lost and end up in the mountains somewhere a long way from Zottopera.  We spend some time going backwards and forwards, up and down goat trails.  Finally Sara plugs in the handy TIM wireless card we specifically bought for troubles like this, and lo and behold, the directions appear magically - albeit in Italian - but correct.  We travel 30 miles off the mountain and into the olive groves and find Zottopera just past a crossroads also called the village, Roccazo.  Duh.

Our hosts are wonderful and show us to the most perfect space - kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, terrace, everything we need.
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