Saturday, April 30, 2016

A Day in Noto and the Avola Region of Sicily

Today is our first full day in Italy - well Sicily to be exact. It all started at 6:30am when we got our wake up call. After showering and dressing Thomas and I headed down to breakfast a little after 7:00am. We had a pretty good breakfast - scrambled eggs, ham, croissant, fruit (melon and peaches), blood orange juice and coffee.
Pomodorino di Pachino
We visited with a few other people from the group while eating and then we went back to the room around 8:00am to get our things for the day. Once we were ready we headed back to the lobby to meet the group and start our tour for the day. We left the hotel around 9:00am and headed south to the town of Noto (The Late Baroque Towns of the Val di Noto - a UNESCO World Heritage Site).
Porta Real (Arch of Ferdinand II
When we arrived in Noto we met our local guide (Elizabeth) on Via Piola and started the walking tour of Noto by going through a small local market - they sold wine, almonds, sun-dried tomatoes and a variety of other things. We then turned on to Corso Vittorio Emanuele and made our way to the Porta Real or Arch of Ferdinand II and the tour guide started the tour here with a little spiel about the arch. There are three items on the top of the arch - a tower (stands for courage), a pelican (stands for self sacrifice) and a greyhound dog (stands for loyalty). The arch was built for the 1838 visit of King Ferdinand II. We walked through the arch and continued the tour along Corso Vittorio Emanuele and stopped at the Chiesa di San Francesco d'Assisi all'Immacolata where she gave us some history about the place before we entered the building to walk around and take a few pictures.
Cathedral of Noto
Then we continued along the road and stopped next at Chiesa Santa Chiara. We went in for a quick look around and then we continued on our way. Next we stopped in front of Municipio di Noto (Palazza Ducezio) and the Cathedral of Noto. After a little talk about the two buildings we went inside the cathedral and looked around and took some pictures. Then it was time to move on again - now moving onto Via Corrado Nicolaci. This street holds an annual festival each year in May. It is the called the Infiorata di Noto. After walking up and down the street looking at the balconies with the elaborate brackets holding them up we then continued to our final destination at Piazza Municipio. After the walking tour we had some time on our own. So Thomas and I went walking and ended up having pizza at Bar Pinguino. Had a relaxing time and some good food. Then we went walking again and stopped at a couple of shops and the returned to the market area and bought some almonds to snack on. At 1:30pm we met back at the arch with the group and then returned to the bus to continue on with our day.

Zisola Winery
From Noto we drove a short distance to Zisola Winery for a tour and wine tasting. We got a tour of the vineyard and then a tour of the winery by Andrea. Then we went into the garden and had a wine tasting. We tasted four wines - one white and 3 reds.
Zisola Wines
I liked the white the best, then 2nd red, 1st red and then 3rd red. Andrea doesn't speak English all the well but he did try really hard.

Around 4:00pm we left Zisola and made the drive to a manor house and farm owned by a Contessa - Azienda Casablanca. We were to have dinner here tonight. When we arrived we were greeted by the owner and then given a tour of the farm and stables.
Azienda Casablanca
Then we met in the garden and had some appetizers and wine - bruschetta; olives; veggies; focaccia stuffed with spinach, potato and cheese; and onion and cheese pizza. It was all very good. Then we went inside for dinner. The first course was two kinds of pasta - Pasta Alla Norma (we had this last night as well - that one was more polished and the one tonight had a more rustic/homemade taste) and a spaghetti in a lemon/cream sauce. Both were delicious but I really loved the lemon pasta best. The second course consisted of roasted eggplant and zucchini (they were cold and not very good), some meatballs (did not have much flavor) and a blood orange salad that was really tasty. For dessert we had some fresh strawberries and an orange marmalade tart with coffee. All in all it was a good meal. Most of the day had been warm and a little humid but by the time we got to dessert it was windy and cold.

It had been a long day and we were all ready to get back to the hotel for a shower and some rest. Resting now in the room and getting things ready for tomorrow. It looks like another busy day.

1 comment :

Tess Mayle said...

This was a lovely place and nice wines!