Driving north from Mazzarino, is the town of Caltanisetta, which is near the centre of the island and is more of a commercial centre with loads of shops selling all kinds of everyday needs. We did arrive at the wrong time of day, during siesta so nothing was open. Glen was naturally happy that no shops were open or this would have distracted us from exploring the town.
We explored briefly Piazza Garibaldi with its prestigious buildings and a quick look at the Fountain of Triton, San Sebastiano Church and the Cathedral dedicated to Santa Maria la Nova.
Being in the middle of the day we were then hungry of course so we found a lovely little cafe where we enjoyed a great Panini with a Lemon granita ice tea.
However I have come here for one thing and that is the famous "Nougart" of Caltanisetta. Explaining to our cafe manager (who did not speak a word of English) what we were looking for, rather than drawing us a map or giving us the usual turn left at the church directions, he kindly hopped on his vesper and drove us right to the door. The companies name is Torronificio Geraci who have produced the nougat for 3 generations. The nougat is made with almonds, honey and pistachios, all from Sicily and the taste is mellow and sweet. The Geraci family is the only family in Sicily, which is still producing the nougat in this typical and authentic way. They still use the old recipes of their great-grandfather Michele from the year 1870.
Sadly when we arrive at the door the notice reads "on vacation until the 25th of August". But we will return and make sure we do a thorough tasting and buy some samples to bring home for Christmas.
Sicilian food according to Rita's account is derived from an Arabic past, the common ingredients of seafood, aubergine, artichokes tomato sauce, fresh fruits and nuts and then the sensational semifreddo desserts. In Sicily it is a must to eat Brioche buns with Gelato or granita, Sicilians start the day with this in summer time then snack on it throughout the day too. We first noticed a young girl eating this in the same cafe in Caltanisetta, and only later with Rita did we discover the taste sensation. I noticed that the bun helps stop brain freeze too...
Of course the Pizza and the Pasta are the links to Italian traditions and the local pizza is really lovely. Differently Sicilian pasta makes use of stronger Dura flour rather than the "00" flour for its pasta, pizza and desserts. Rita's explanation is that it is much stronger and provides better texture, consistency and taste.
With all this food, it is time for some exercise. Rita is also the local PE (physical education) teacher at the local college in Mazzarino and also has a running group that gets together in the evenings a few times a week. Just what the doctor ordered! It is a wonderful run of just over 6km around the country side of Mazzarino, in our group are 7 Sicilian ladies and now myself. While we run they teach me Italian and I teach them English. We all laugh so hard sometimes as our accents are so funny to each other, that together with lots of huffing and puffing, it is hilarious, I think we are producing our very own unique dialect. I am now sporting some pretty serious blisters though.. new shoes and running are not a great mix.
I will post some photos of us all in the coming weeks and perhaps I will start introducing them to some bootcamp style training for added benefit... once I burn of all the weight I have put on and get my strength back that is. Boy do I feel unfit! These girls run like Gazelles.
The Valley of the Temples - Agrigento
The temperature is hot and dry and we must learn that there is siesta for a reason. On our visit to Agrigento we near melted on our walk through The Valley of the Temples but it was worth it. The scenery was breath-taking and the Lemon granita on our return soon replenished us. Roxy as usual was inquisitive of all her surroundings and enjoyed the walk. Thankfully I think she has cured her superman jumps out of the car window.