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Monreale, Siracusa, Ortigia…Brownie, Bread & Beauty.

Monreale, Siracusa, Ortigia…Brownie, Bread & Beauty.IMG_5750

Yay! I finally got to get my hands on the tools all to briefly really, but I did manage to rustle up a scrumptious brownie last evening.

After purchasing the freshest of walnuts & almonds from the little nut shop just a few doors down from us, (this triple generation of proud nut providores, what a story!) as well as the best of Lindt chocolate, eggs & butter, I finally found an hour to cook.brownies-600x448

Aside from feeding my own joy, Nicoletta wanted to send something home baked to her mum in Venice, & I needed a little gift to take to my new hostess for the next few days.

We also had a lovely man check in today, a Finnish composer & annual regular at butera28 apartments. He joined us for dinner & the brownie became the perfect accompaniment to the marinated orange slices we had for dessert.

The Duke & the Duchess’s son arrives tomorrow from Rome too, so we reckon it will also be a pretty well received snack for a 20year old:))

Hooley Dooley… I just thought about that! One brownie is going to Venice, Rome, Siracusa & Palermo!!! The mind boggles…


This morning we catch a taxi to Monreale, the 2 Australian guests & myself. A place all the locals say “you must go…” Well known for its extensive mosaiced Cathedral, golden & intricately tiled, & it’s Benedictine Abbey & Monastery, with 108 pairs of marble columns, & so much more.

Monreale, Sicily: travel guide for Monreale cathedral and …cathedral

Also for it’s breads…the famous Monreale pane, baked on olive branches, so that the flavour wafts through the crusty treat, crunchy & soft. Fresh bread, mmmmmm…..

It’s a hilly town, pretty, clean & friendly, tucked in around the base of steep hills.

We wandered cobblestoned streets & found the recommended bakery. After lots of photos & warm banter, all with much stumbling & body language, we walk out with tomato & cheese rolls rather than the loaf we thought we were taking home…:))

Oh well, it was delicious anyway.IMG_5903

But of course, that meant I wasn’t in the least bit hungry for lunch, which my gracious hosts insisted I devour, before they sent me rushing out the door.

The head housekeeper/driver delivered me to the station for my afternoon journey.

We leave the sea port of Palermo behind & now I am on a big bus, hurtling through tunnels, sunshine, pelting rain, gorgeous Sicilian countryside, fold upon fold of misty mountains & green grassy hills criss-crossed with walking tracks.file3661261941921

The blossom trees are coming out, animals dot the landscape, looking fat & content, rock wall fences, bridges & rushing creeks wind their way randomly around the slopes.

A far away mountain-top town glistens in a sun ray escaped from the clouds & quaint little rural villages emit local invitation.IMG_5944

The black tar ribbon perched high on huge repeating columns, guides us around the foot of Mt Etna. Past Catania, Messina, countless laden orange groves, plump & colourful. Past strong rows of simple wind turbines & determined crumbling old ruins.

It truly is storybook picturesque…file0001552264914

Once again the sparkling sea appears & 3 hours later, here I am!

In Siracusa! A town where I don’t know a soul, on the other side of the island, with a phone number in my hand, & everything I know & love on the other side of the planet.IMG_5947

And oh my goodness! It is just gorgeous…

After a clumsy few gestures, a kind & patient old taxi driver delivered me to my door, & my gracious new hostess welcomed me in & showed me around the most beautiful old remodelled apartment.

Twenty minutes later we were off to a medicinal herbal talk & demonstration in a lovely old book shop.

And then we walked the streets for a few hours, breathing in the beauty in the evening light, learning something about each other, about this rich history.

Women from different cultures, different corners of the world, amazingly blessed!IMG_5952

By daylight it is even more beautiful as I wander around, feeling safe & wide-eyed, watching street performers in the gorgeous piazzas.

I try to absorb the Byzantine, Arabic, Spanish & Greek cross-cultural grandeur of the churches, taking in the sights, sounds & smells of the crazy busy markets, right next to the sea.IMG_5943

Walking, walking, my feet need resting…pane, salami, cheese, olives…home to sit in the sun on the terrace for a little while.

Time to do some reading & catch up on some contact with my loved ones.

It’s a good life :))IMG_5936

My explorations lead me all around this exquisite little island, small enough that I can’t get too lost thankfully :))

And I catch a taxi to all the tourist must-see places & find my way home on foot. There’s plenty of time to wander & feel the pulse…

I take myself out for pizza, my first since I’ve been in Italy…who can believe that?IMG_5924

My hostess is adorable, my apartment is divine, & although the island is gorgeous & this experience is very much appreciated, I think I’ve had an epiphany….I need to share :))

(As if we didn’t already know that, I am the eldest of 11 kids after all, it’s my conditioning :))

So although I quite like my own company in general, I’ve decided that the cost both in $$$ & stress levels at trying to get around not knowing the language, does not equate to the distant wonders I might see, without an explanation of what I am witnessing.

Beautiful temples, churches & ruins are still just amazing structures without a story beside them. Purchasing audio tours is good value for the uninitiated, but most often we just have awe & imagination.

I would much prefer a real guide & a companion…IMG_5923

Until then, I contentedly continue to roam locally & forgo the rigours of doing solo battle with public transport, ancient history & geography.

And for right now, it’s rug up against the wind, head out to a warm cafe or 3, work my way around the sea wall yet again, & this time entertain myself with a glass of vino rosso & a language learning app on my phone….ciao ciao!IMG_5919




  1. Traveling without a companion is always less fun than traveling with one…But, enjoy your adventure each and every day.

    • Thanks Roy, you can bet on that…everyday I am blessed!!! This adventure shouts joy, amazement & gratitude at every turn :)) xx

  2. Aaahhhh … Only seems like yesterday 🙂

    • lol, for me too! :)) It is a gorgeous place, & Giuseppina , our amazing pixie of a hostess, is just delightful. I’m back in palermo now, can’t wait to go to Ortigia once again some other time, maybe even together with you??? :)) xxx

  3. Oh wow that was such a great read, where do I start!! The brownies you made look delishious and I’ve never seen such fresh little watnuts, yum Roni. And then you were whisked away on a little adventure hours away, what a great little adventure and the most picturesque countryside, that bridge is just beautiful. Oh I wish I were tere or. How was the pizza, yum I can’t believe it was a month before having some. You seem to be fitting in just nicely and with all the walking and fresh air and smells of beautiful little food stalls it’ll be doing your soul. Lots of love hugs and kisses xxx we miss you but reading your adventure make night feeds a joy now

    • good on you Em :)) thanks so much for commenting while you are so busy with a brand newie…so glad you can do some armchair traveling while you are feeding…best way for it at the moment :)) xx

  4. Hello sweets, as always I really enjoy your writing. I can picture myself being right there with you (ah how lovely that would be) and in spirit know that I am. Don’t get lonely as you know you are loved eternally and wow! what a wonderful journey and experience. Enjoy every moment and bring home special memories. Until next time, love love xo

    • thanks my lovely sorella…:)) It would be awesome to have you here, & you would love it too. I am a bit lonely, but know that I’m fine & loving my amazing opportunity. Just wanted to let my loved ones know how it really is for me….all good! :)) Making memories…big love always (& thanks so much for sharing) xx your biggest sister (& I’m working on that too … mmm mumma mia, all that pasta, bread & pastry :))

  5. Travelling solo is never as much fun as sharing the adventure with someone, especially when communication is so difficult. Just take lots of photos and explore every inch. It’ll all be over before you know it and you’ll be talking about it forever. You can talk lots when you get back, telling us all about it.

    You need Skype so you can have a few conversations in English, that should stop the loneliness. Download it and Skype me.

    • It’s all good Jen, I do have skype & I talk to the family via FaceTime (which is awesome & free). I am absolutely blessed to have this time & am finding all the gifts, big & small, that I can absorb :)) una Volta Nella vita xxxx

  6. Wow what a read and that food… my mouth waters. The ultimate pleasures of travel so well expressed…love your writing… cheers Di

    • Oh Di…how lovely of you! Thanks for reading & taking the time to share with me :)) ciao bella xxxx

  7. I love these posts. It feels like I’m on the journey with you. The photos, descriptions the food…oh my. I so would like to take and adventure like this.

    • oh thanks so much Diana…yep, I still can’t quite believe it is happening to me either. It pays to not say no sometimes, interesting things can happen :)) xxx

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