Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Segesta

We went to visit the ancient site of Segesta on December 8. It has a Greek temple that you can walk around inside. The area also boasts an amphitheater which you can explore on foot as well. It is a strange feeling to walk though a place where those from ages past have lived. We were amazed at the view from the hilltop of the amphitheater; you could see all the way to the Mediterranean.
Pictures include: Me sitting in the amphitheater, view from the hilltop, us in front of a column, inside of the temple (I am sitting at the back of the temple, at the bottom of the second column from the left.), looking down on the temple from the amphitheater site.

Monday, December 15, 2008


Cefalu is a beach town a half hour drive from Temini. It boasts a beautiful stretch of beach, a "Sicilian romanesque" cathedral, and "La Rocca" or the rock. The rock is a large outcropping (ok perhaps its more of a small mountain) that rises above the town and has ruins of an ancient temple of diana, among other things. It's approximately a 2 hour hike to the top, which we have not attempted yet. Probably in the spring, when the wind is not so cold. We were there with some friends the first of December and took a chilly walk along the now deserted beach. I was excited to find sea glass in amber, white, and green. (I'm sure it was just pieces of broken beer bottles, but they were pretty nontheless.) Here are a few pictures of the town, mainly the beach.

Christmas in Termini

"Christmas time is here....." Our town is all dressed up for Christmas and several Catholic holidays that coincide in December. Along the main street, there are lights and in the piazza's near the local church and duomo there are several displays. Many people also wrap their balconies with lights, since most live in apartments and don't have a yard or bushes to decorate. We have done a few things to our apartment as well, putting up a tree and having candy in a dish. Christmas would not be complete here without pandoro or panetone, cakes. Pandoro is a light yellow cake dusted with powdered sugar, while panetone has bits of candied fruit scattered through it. Both are delicious and come in many varieties. There are several live nativity scenes also located at different churches throughout the area. Christmas definitely comes to Termini and with a lot less rampant commercialism than the US.
Photos: Our tree, street up from our house, duomo (largest church in town), street and piazza near duomo, and church up the street from our house.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Handmade ceramics

December 1, we got to go to Santo Stefano di Camastra, a small town that is know for its ceramics. After stopping at the tourist center in the middle of town, we were given directions to a workshop and store. The owner was more than happy to give us a tour, and explained the process step by step for us. The vases were all hand made on the potter's wheel, the other pieces had 1 form made by hand and then a mold was made from that. Each piece was fired in an electric kiln twice. The first time was to harden the clay for painting, and the second to set the paint and glaze. The paint used actually had small crystals in it that became the glaze when heated in the kiln. The owner was the third generation of his family to run the business. He was gracious enough to demonstrate creating a vase on the potter's wheel. The clay is just "terra e acqua" (earth and water) and he began by kneading it like bread to soften and prepare it for the wheel. The he centered it on the wheel and began spinning. It was amazing to see that dirty lump of clay transform before our eyes into a vase. After the vase demonstration we looked in the shop at the wide variety of items, everything from dishes to wall decor to lamps. We thoroughly enjoyed the tour and the shop, and did not leave empty handed. I found a beautiful serving platter as well as a couple of gifts.


We got to enjoy 2 very filling Thanksgiving dinners that week. On Wednesday evening we had dinner with a local pastor and his wife. She cooked 1/2 a turkey and that was 13 kg which is close to 30 lbs. (I wouldn't want to run into a live one that size, it would be huge.) We definitely did not go hungry after a meal of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, sweet potatoes, green beans, coleslaw, and bread. We finished off with chocolate and strawberry cheescakes and pumpkin pie. The funny part is while we were having an "American" Thanksgiving in Italy, our family back home was having Italian food for Thanksgiving. Then on Thursday our pastor and his family came over for traditional Thanksgiving dinner where we repeated the menu from the night before. Suffice it to say we were pretty "turkeyed out" for the rest of the week. We enjoyed the fellowship of good friends and still had time to contact family back home.