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Piazza Armerina and Villa Romana del Casale...

Continued from: Bus to Agrigento...

Piazza Armerina and Villa Romana del Casale…

The following morning, I thanked Sandra, and her helper Rina, for their wonderful hospitality and walked down the stairs closing the wooden door behind me.

While waiting in line at the small bus station, I noticed a man standing behind me. He was lugging an enormous brown rolling bag that looked like its zipper was about to burst from being overstuffed.

With ticket in hand, I walked around the big parking lot since I’d been told that the bus didn’t have it’s own platform but would be stopping at the far end of the pavement. The man with the enormous bag kept following me around so I went back to where others were waiting at the benches by the platforms. The man followed me to the benches too. A few minutes before departure, the bus arrived and I loaded my bag onto the hold. I soon realized that this man whom I thought was following me around was loading his huge bag onto the hold and he’d just been waiting for the same bus!

Lesson learned… It’s good to be aware of your surroundings but not everyone who happens to be walking in the same direction is following you.

The (Sais Transporti) bus departed at 10:00 and arrived to Caltanissetta at 11:25.
The scenery on the journey was very beautiful; verdant meadows, vineyards and olive trees perfectly planted in straight rows, and an abundance of colorful wildflowers everywhere.
I was supposed to take the Astra Autolinee Bus to Piazza Armerina at 12:15 but was informed by the bus driver that I’d have to wait for the 14:30 bus due to Giro d’Italia (street closures)
I called Filippo, the B&B owner, who had offered to pick me up at the bus stop, to let him know that I’d be arriving at 15:30 instead of 13:30.
I walked over to a small snack shack next to the bus parking lot where some of the bus drivers were enjoying a panino, so I decided this would be a good place to eat too.
My bus came by at 14:15 and after placing my bag in the hold I waited to make sure someone would close the hold but the driver assured me that he would take care of shutting it. The bus departed promptly at 14:30.

When the bus arrived to Piazza Armerina, Filippo called me to tell me that he was waiting for me at the bus stop.
When we arrived to B&B Dimora del Conte, he helped me with my luggage and introduced me to his wife, Francesca. My room was very large, the largest room I’ve had on any of my travels. It had a nice comfortable king size bed, a large sofa in the wide hallway leading to a small balcony. As I stood on the balcony admiring the view of this ancient city, I took a deep breath and walked down to the small reception lobby to talk with Filippo and Francesca about Zoe.
.

They remembered Zoe as a special woman with a kind heart.
Francesca and I hugged each other and she whispered, “It’s part of life…”

During our conversation, the sun ceased to shine and the dark cloudy sky began to weep. It was as though the sky was also mourning our dear friend, Zoe.

The rain turned into a loud thunderstorm and within seconds, the narrow cobblestone street facing the B&B became a fast flowing river!

The heavy rain continued for about 30-40 minutes and the 3 of us stood in the small reception mesmerized by the river that had been created.

Continued...

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When the rain finally stopped, I walked to Piazza Garibaldi and decided to eat at Cafè del Centro, a small cafè owned by Filippo’s younger brother. The establishment was empty except for a couple sitting at a table nearby.

While waiting for my food, I overheard the couple and realized that they were speaking Spanish.
I greeted them and we began a conversation that lasted a long time. When our food arrived we joining the two small tables and enjoyed our dinner together. They’d mentioned that they live in Spain and had taken a day trip from Catania where they were staying.
After dinner, we walked together back to their car, which was parked on Via Roma, just past where my B&B is located. When we bid each other farewell we exchanged contact information, and they invited me to go visit them in Spain!

Day 2) The following morning, after a delicious breakfast, Guiseppe (Filippo’s son) offered to drive me to Villa Romana del Casale.
We left the B&B at around 9:30 and arrived within a few minutes.
This Villa, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is known for its beautifully preserved, and captivating mosaic floors. The Villa wasn’t crowded when I arrived however, a couple of hours later it became extremely crowded as large tour groups began to arrive.
After my visit my phone rang. It was Giuseppe. I told him I’d just finished my visit, and he replied, “great, because I’m already here!”

Later that morning I walked up to the cathedral located at the highest point of the city. When I arrived, the front door was closed. I went around and found an open side door. I sat in the quiet cathedral for a short while admiring its blue and white decorations. I then lit two candles, one for Zoe, and one for my Uncle Vicente who had passed away a few days into my trip…
After visiting the cathedral I admired the view of the city from the edge of the Piazza then I walked to the nearby Diocesan Museum.

On the way down, I stopped at a tiny ceramic shop, “Liquori”, on Via Sant’Anna (near the corner of Via Floresta) and bought some small ceramic souvenirs made by the owner.

Back in town, I ate a delicious pasta dish at Ristorante Pizzeria Da Toto.
Afterwards I walked to Pasticceria Diana, which had been recommended by Filippo as the best gelateria in Piazza Armerina. When I arrived it was closed! There were a few merchants selling their produce from the back of their pick up trucks, so I ended up buying some sweet melons. When I returned to the B&B, Francesca was at the reception and I gave them to her. [I was happy to taste their sweetness the following morning at breakfast]

Back in my room I packed my luggage and rested. The following day I’d be leaving this wonderful B&B.

My bus to Siracusa was not departing till the early afternoon, so I decided I had to go to Pasticceria Diana after breakfast.
I walked past a farmer’s market where most of the merchants displayed their bounty of fresh colorful produce on the bed of their pick up trucks, and everything looked so fresh and tempting.
I walked past a man who was probably in his 80’s, sitting next to a wooden crate overflowing with beautiful small ripe tomatoes on the vine. “Buon giornio! Quanto?’ I said. I didn’t understand what he’d said but I told him I wanted a quarter of a kilo. I think he had trouble hearing because he replied, “un kilo?”
I explained that I was leaving on a bus that day and couldn’t carry a whole kilo of tomatoes! Without hesitating he took a large handful of tomatoes, placed them in a bag and handed it to me without weighing it. I asked, Quanto? He replied, “niente!” I tried to pay him but he waived his hand and repeated “niente!” Grazie mille!

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I stepped into Pasticeria Diana and marveled at the delicious mouth watering assortment of pastries and gelato. I bought some of my favorite almond biscotti and a gelato.

Sitting under a tree with beautiful burgundy foliage on the small piazza across from the pastry shop an elderly man approached the bench, greeted me and asked if he could sit.
He introduced himself as Angelo. After a couple of minutes another elderly man approached the bench and decided that there wasn’t enough room for him so he stood quietly by the bench. I presumed that this was “their” bench where they met every morning. Angelo and I moved a bit to make room and invited his friend to sit down.
Angelo proceeded to tell me that they were both widowers and had known each other for many years.
I noticed that Angelo was still wearing his wedding ring, a simple gold band. When I asked him about it, he said that he liked wearing it in memory of his late wife of nearly 60 years…
Angelo asked if I liked Piazza Armerina and was curious to know where I was traveling to next and why I was traveling alone. I explained the purpose of my trip and he nodded his head as though he understood.

Once I’d finished my gelato I said goodbye to my bench mates and walked back to my B&B.

Filippo had offered to drive me to the bus stop, but when the time came, he asked his daughter Giorgia to take me. Saying goodbye to Filippo and his family was not easy. They had welcomed me and had treated me as family and I’d miss them.
Filippo handed me a panino as he wished me “buon viaggio!” and I thanked him.

Although we’d been stuck in traffic getting to the bus stop, we arrived with minutes to spare. I bought my ticket in the gas station and I then thanked Giorgia.
The Interbus arrived shortly after. Giorgia had waited with me and I thanked her once again. When I was boarding the bus, she asked the driver to please let me know once we arrived to Catania Airport.

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