The Sicilian Town of Noto

The Sicilian Town of Noto

Sicilian baroque architecture is at its best in the best in the town of Noto in Sicily’s South East corner.

Years after the devastating earthquake of 1693 destroyed the region, the town was rebuilt sixteen kilometres from its original position.  At this time baroque architecture was in fashion and the Sicilians interpreted it their way.

This baroque architecture led to Noto, along with seven other towns in the area, being declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2002.

 

If you walk along the main street of Noto, Corso Vittorio Emanuel, you will see many fine examples. The pink stone that was used in the rebuilding gives them a special glow and a commanding presence.

Chieso di San Nicolo in Noto

The Chieso di San Nicolo…the Cathedral

 

The Palazzo Ducezio in Noto

The Palazzo Ducezio…now the Town Hal

Noto-7

 

 

But it is in the side streets on the smaller buildings that the architects have gone to town adding gargoyles, grinning masks, putti, scrolls, jutting cornices , curved balconies and wrought iron trims to everything they could.

Palazzo Nicolaci Di Villadorata with its famous wrought iron balconies

Palazzo Nicolaci Di Villadorata with its famous wrought iron balconies

Sicilian baroque features in Noto

Sicilian baroque features in the streets of Noto

 

Have you visited any of the other baroque towns in Sicily?

 

Other posts you may enjoy reading:
Going for Baroque in Sicily
Salina’s Caper Festival
The Black Pigs of the Nebrodi
A Morning Making Cheese and Ricotta

 

This post is part of the 2014 A to Z Challenge You can read all the posts on my theme “Off the Beaten Track”  here 

 

 

 

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Monforte d’ Alba: 5 reasons to love this Italian Town

Monforte d’ Alba: 5 reasons to love this Italian Town

Monforte D’Alba is my favourite town in the Piemonte region of Italy. It’s the place I dream about living one day. I constantly imagine how it would be to live there

Why do I want to live there?

5 reasons to live in Monforte d’Alba

1. Monforte is an historic hilltop town.
You could easily drive into Monforte, wander around the main square and leave again with out realising that you have missed the old historic upper part of town that looks down over the square. You need to wander through the streets behind the Caffe Enoteca Rocca, past pretty coloured homes and stone buildings till you reach the Horszowski Auditorium which is where Monforte holds it’s well known jazz festival in July.

 

Monforte D'Alba

 

2. The countryside is beautiful
The views from the upper part of Monforte attest to the wonderful scenery that surrounds you. For as far as you can see, the landscape is covered in grape vines with hilltop towns dotted amongst them. In the distance the Alps can be seen. In fall a red haze covers the land as the vine leaves change colour. The first snow falls can be seen on the alps until winter arrives and then everywhere is a winter wonderland. Spring brings new shoots and the cycle begins again.

Vine covered countryside in Piemonte

 

The snow covered Alps can be seen from Monforte d'Alba

The snow covered Alps can be seen from Monforte d’Alba

 

3. A central position
Monforte is not far from the famous towns of Piemonte. Towns with well known names such as Barola, La Morra, Cherasco, Bra, Dogliani, Diano D’Alba  and the Langhe’s capital Alba. The list can go on! You’re only an hour from Turin and even less to the coast and the French border.

Hill top towns are never far away from Monforte d'Alba

Hill top towns are never far away from Monforte d’Alba

 

4. Surrounded by fabulous wineries
Many of Italy’s best wines are to be found in the Piemonte region.
Barola is probably the most famous of the Piemonte wines and the town is just down the road from Monforte. These and the nearby Barbaresco wines are made from the nebbiolo grape that you see growing around Monforte, Barola and La Morra.  Barbera and Dolcetto grapes also produce some wonderful Piemontese reds. You can visit many of the wineries by appointment but some of the more famous are a bit harder to get into! The best way to try the local wines is to visit the local enoteca!

Vines in Piemonte

Piemonte wine

 

5. The best food in Italy.
I love the food in Piemonte. From the local trattoria to fabulous Michelin starred restaurants, Piemonte has it all and Monforte is in a great position to reach them. Even the furtherest away, is not that far!
Restaurants such as All’ Enoteca in CanaleAntica Corona Reale da Renza in  Cervere  and  Il Cascinalenuovo in Isola d’Asti top the list. Closer to home there is Osteria Veglio in Frazione Annunziata and L’ Osteria del Vignaiolo in Frazione Santa Maria just down the hill from La Morra.

Antica Corona Reale da Renza

Antica Corona Reale da Renza

Alle Enoteca in Canale

All’ Enoteca

Would you like to visit Monforte D’Alba?

 

Related Articles:
The Seige of Canelli
Alba’s Truffle Fair
Aqui Terme: Piedmont’s Spa Town
Staying at La Villa in Piedmont

 

This post is part of the 2014 A to Z Challenge You can read all the posts on my theme “Off the Beaten Track”  here 

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Licata: Home of Sicily’s Best Restaurant

Licata: Home of Sicily’s Best Restaurant

Licata on the southern coast of Sicily is a town you would probably drive through without stopping if it wasn’t the home of one of Sicily’s best restaurants.

It’s an easy lunch stop on the way from the baroque towns of Noto, Modica and Ragusa to Agrigento’s Valley of the Temples

 

Chef Pino Cuttaia is a local boy. He was born in Licata before moving with his family to Piedmont. After honing his skills here he returned home and, with his wife Loredana, opened Ristorante La Madia.

The restaurants is fairly well hidden. An unassuming entrance gives no indication to the fabulous food that awaits you.

Ristorante La Madia

The entrance to Ristorante La Madia

 

With such fabulous local produce and Pino Cuttaia’s  modern interpretation of Sicilian dishes, the restaurant now has two Michelin Stars.

We indulged in the nine course degustation menu with the title ‘Creativo”  Every dish was superb!  What I particularly loved was that Chef Pino would appear with every course to explain it to us. Service was excellent and it was the perfect way to spend an afternoon.

Dishes at Ristorante La Madia

Dishes from our ‘Creativo’ menu at Ristorante La Madia

I can’t wait to go back!

 

Information
Ristorante La Madia
Corso Filippo Re Capriata, 22
Licata (Agrigento)
Tel:  +39.0922.771443

Closed: Tuesday and Sunday dinner in Winter,
Tuesday and Sunday lunch in  July and August

Website: Ristorante La Madia 

 

Related Articles:

This post is part of the 2014 A to Z Challenge You can read all the posts on my theme “Off the Beaten Track”  here 

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Postcards from the Kimberleys

Postcards from the Kimberleys

Western Australia’s famous Kimberley region is the jewel in the crown of a state rich in amazing landscapes. It’s a vast, sparsely populated land….imagine three times the size of England and only forty thousand people.

Broome or Kununurra are both gateways to the area. From here you can follow the the Gibb River Road or explore the coast by boat… Two very different trips exploring one incredible land.

Massive gorges cut into the land, rivers that range from trickles to floods depending on the season create spectacular waterfalls and rock pools where you can swim well away from the lurking, prehistoric looking crocodiles. Aboriginal rock art decorates rock faces on the most obscure places. Don’t forget the fishing. Here you can fish to your hearts content though catching a barramundi may take a while…they love to jump off that hook!

I hope you enjoy these postcards from the Kimberleys……

Horizontal Falls

Horizontal Falls in Talbot Bay where two different water levels creates a waterfall in the sea.

 

Montgomery Reef

Montgomery Reef: At certain times during the day, tides expose this large 400sq metre reef that is 20 kilometres from shore

 

Crocodile Creek

Crocodile Creek: a small waterhole where you can swim. There’s even a shaded area here!

 

King George River

Tall cliffs surround you in the King George River

 

King George River, Western Australia

The magnificent gorges of the Kimberleys. This one is from the top of the cliffs at the King George River

 

Waterhole in the Kimberleys

One of the many beautiful waterholes in the Kimberleys

 

Rock Art in the Kimberleys

The Kimberleys is home to a fabulous display of Aboriginal art.

 

Raft Point, Western Australia

Sailing away from Raft Point

 

 Would you like to visit the Kimberley region of Western Australia? 

 

Related Articles
Beach Days in Broome
Broome’s Hidden Flying Boats
Sunset Drinks on Cable Beach
The Oldest Operating Theatre in the World 

 

This post is part of the 2014 A to Z Challenge You can read all the posts on my theme “Off the Beaten Track”  here 

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Where to go in Jordan

Where to go in Jordan

Whenever Jordan is mentioned, everyone immediately thinks of Petra but there is more to Jordan than Petra.

Just lately I have had a rush of people asking where they should go in Jordan so here are my suggestions….

Amman
More than likely, you will fly into Amman but don’t race off. Stay and explore.
Start at the Citadel where ruins of the ancient capital of Rabbath Ammon lies and the Jordan Archeological Museum.  Zigzag  down the hill  to the ancient Roman Theatre before heading into the alleyways and streets of the market area of the city. You might not get far as the Jordanians are very friendly people. They will stop you to welcome you to their city and thank you for visiting. Don’t leave before you have tried the knafeh at Habiba Sweets!

Amman, Jordan

 

Jerash
Forty five minutes from Amman lies the ancient city of Jerash, one of the best Roman ruins I have seen outside of Italy. It’s a site not to be rushed…the walk will take you two or three hours. Excavation only started in 1925 and continues today. The Roman Ruins of Jerash will tell you a lot more about Jordan’s second most popular tourist attraction. 

The Roman Ruins of Jerash

 

Salt
This old historic town, about 30 minutes from Amman, was the administrative capital of Jordan during the time of the Ottomans. It’s a town that has stood still for a long while but be quick, times are changing. Tourism is increasing and there are rumours that Aman Hotels are opening a hotel here. Wander through the streets before heading to Al-Qala’a Lookout where you will be rewarded with stunning views.
Read about my day trip to Salt here

Salt in Jordan

 

Dana Biosphere
Jordan’s largest nature reserve protects many species of flora and fauna. There are quite  few places to stay but for me Feynan EcoLodge is where I would go. I love the fact that as well as trying to leave no footprints they also help support the local Bedouin tribes. Drivers at Feynan EcoLodge

 

Wadi Rum
The film ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ has certainly been a catalyst for a lot of people to want to see this amazing landscape.  An early morning balloon ride gives you a fabulous perspective. A camel ride into the desert gives another but nothing beats the fun of flying over the dunes in jeeps driven by crazy bedouins!

Wadi Rum, Jordan

 

The Dead Sea
Everyone who comes to Jordan wants to float in the Dead Sea. For the ultimate experience cover yourself in mud and then float around in the salty water.

Floating in the Dead Sea

 

Petra
Yes, I’ve saved the best for last. It really is as mind blowing as you read! The walk though the Siq to the Treasury is quite long. I kept wondering if that famous glimpse would be just around the corner. Allow a couple of days to see it properly. Choose your days carefully remembering that only on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday can you see Petra by Night. The sight of thousands of candles leading you down the Siq and then lighting up the Treasury building is one I won’t forget in a hurry.

Petra at night

 

Would you like to go to Jordan?

 

Related Articles
The Giving Lens Gives back in Jordan
The Children of Jordan’s Al- Amir Village
Jordan: A Realisation of a Dream
Tuesday Travel Bite: Amman

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