Photo by Faith Willinger
Last month, Faith Willinger began documenting her Grand Tour through Sicily with a description of her time in Catania. She continued her journey in Sortino, traveled to Buccheri, Noto, Frigintini, Modica, and Scicli, visited Vittoria and Scoglitti, and made news in Licata.
The Enchanted Castle was a place we just had to visit in Sciacca. It's not really a castle and not really enchanted, but the work of outsider artist Filippo Bentivenga. We wandered the cobblestone paths winding through the hillside, admiring heads sculpted of stone and carved into olive trees in a series of terraced arrangements. We decided to skip lunch and head for Bar Roma in Sciacca's port, where Aurelio Licata makes his exquisite lemon granita. Clearly I'm not the only person who's made the pilgrimage--he's even got a Facebook fan club called "I love Zio Aurelio."
I had an appointment to visit the recently opened Verdura Resort outside Sciacca--chef Fulvio Pierangelini (his once top-rated restaurant Gambero Rosso is closed) is consulting for the restaurant and the website looked pretty exciting. There were no signs--even our super-navigator Vito had to call three times to get directions. When we finally located the gate and were approved for entry, we drove down a dirt road to the main building passing rows of staff housing and golf carts transporting people in uniform. Suzanne commented that it looked like a James Bond movie.
It got worse. Once in the lobby, the only sign that we were in Sicily was an occasional decorative amphora, or ceramic vase. It seemed like someone had sent a golf resort to Sicily on a magic carpet. I looked at the restaurant, asked for a wine list and menu, and was refused. They expressed disappointment that I didn't write for a golf magazine. We left, anxious to get to our next destination.
I've always been wild about Selinunte, the site of some of the most beautiful Greek temples in Sicily. There are lots of inexpensive places to stay in the area, terrific restaurants, and amazing in-between meal activities. Pierluigi Crescimano, Tenuta Rocchetta's extraordinary Sicilian extra virgin olive oil producer, booked rooms for us at Agriturismo Carbona since the Hotel Eracle where I usually stay was closed. We met Pierluigi, his sister Marilena and wife Antonella, and his daughters Gaia and Delia at their country home next to the frantoio (olive oil mill).