Today we explore the western side of the island of Sicily, climbing the mountainside at
Segesta to see a wonderful Doric temple left from Greek colonization about 2500 years ago. (I later learn that an indigenous people, the Elymians, are credited with the building, but likely with Greek influence.) The temple is incredibly well-preserved. The tactile sensation of touching and walking on these ancient stones is somehow transcendent.
Next we drive hairpin turns up another mountain, all the while with spectacular views of the land and sea below. We climb higher still into the town of Erice where we see old castles that seemingly grew up there by themselves. The skies have turned gray and a chilly wind whips us as we look out over the salt pans far below, square ponds of salt extracted from the sea.
long tables where we are served fresh, crusty bread that we dip into different kinds of olive oil. The tastes are very distinctive and I am surprised at the different flavors. These are produced at this farm from olives that are grown here. Others try the wines, also made here. Platters of food are brought to the tables. Since I am a vegetarian, the chef prepares a special, delicious ricotta omelette for me. Next we are served fresh cannoli for dessert and I feel totally indulged. I tuck a fresh-picked orange, green leaves and all, into my bag for a late night snack at our hotel.
We ride through the countryside
on a comfortable motor coach and through our windows we see limestone mountains, hillside olive orchards, and often the sea stretching out along the coast. I curl up in my seat and doze off for awhile.
Rain is coming down steadily when we arrive at the Pellegrino winery in Marsala.
As the others tour the inner workings of the place, I decide to rest my legs and sit in the open doorway. Another member of our group is perched on a bright red motorcycle in the sheltered entry. We chat and watch the rain.
Soon we are shown to a room with large wine barrels covered with signatures of famous visitors like Mickey Mantle and Joe Dimaggio. Everyone is treated to a wine tasting. I munch on little sesame cookies and biscotti, quite content just to smell the Marsala.
By evening we are back in our hotel room in Palermo. I pull the orange from my bag, and spread a white hand towel on a small round marble-topped table. I ceremoniously peel and eat the orange. The juice runs down my fingers. It is sweet, wonderful.