Sicily 2000
Known in ancient times as Trinacria, the three-cornered island, Sicily lies in the Mediterranean just off the 'toe' of Italy. Ruled by the Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Normans and Spanish the island has been fought over for centuries.

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Image 1
Fountain at Cefalu
We stayed on the edge of the medieval city of Cefalu, first mentioned by Diodorus Siculus in 396 BC. Work on the cathedral, one of Sicily's major Norman monuments, was started in 1131 by Roger II. On the hill overlooking the town are the ruins of the Byzantine fortifications and a prehistoric sanctuary dating from the 9th century BC, The Tempio de Diana.  The water fountain provides welcome relief from the heat, as do the many gelateria (ice cream shops) selling locally-made products.

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The Duomo at Caccamo (another medieval hill town) at the western end of the Piazza Duomo, is approached by passing three lovely buildings.  The centre one of these is the Chiesa Matrice and it is flanked by two symmetrically arranged baroque buildings, the Oratorio della Compagnia del Sacramento, built by the Normans and enlarged in the 17th Century, and the Chiesa delle Anime Sante del Pugatorio.

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This is either the Oratorio della Compagnia del Sacramento or the Chiesa delle Anime Sante del Pugatorio, one of the buildings by the Duomo in Caccamo.  The Chiesa Matrice is the little bit of yellow on the right.  To the left and beneath this building is a large rock, out of which emerges a house.  The colours and light in this square were of a subtle beauty that photographic film cannot capture and which simply do not look the same in cold northern Europe.

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Lesley soaks up the mid-day sun at the ruins of Selinunte. Founded in the 7th century BC, the city was destroyed by the Carthaginians in 409 BC. The temple behind Lesley was one of the largest in antiquity. It was 30m high and covered 6,120 sq metres.

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Sacred to Hera
Temple E at Selinunte was built between 490 - 480 BC. Partly rebuilt in the 1960s, the temple was probably sacred to Hera and is considered to be one of the best examples of Doric architecture in Sicily.

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Lesley, now avoiding the mid-day sun, shelters between the Doric columns of the Gymnasium in the ruined city of Solunto. One of the first Phoenician colonies in Sicily, Solunto, on the slopes of Monte Catalfano, was conquered by the Romans in 254 BC and was largely abandoned by the 2nd century AD.  The site has very many fragments of mosaics and wall painting and is surprisingly huge, hence the shade. 

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Wheel barrow
Final resting place for a wheel barrow in the ruins of Solunto.  The cactus is typical vegetation for the island - a great many prickly pears could be picked if you had a steel gauntlet!

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Fig Tree
Michael rests in the shade of a giant 150 year old fig tree, Ficus magnoliodes, in the Palermo botanical gardens. The Orto Botanico was laid out in 1785 and contains a wealth of species.

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This mountain town is known as the 'belly button' of Sicily. At a height of 931m (3054 ft) the views over the surrounding countryside are magnificent. As with most hill towns the streets are narrow but, as you can tell from the tyre tracks, are regularly used by cars.  With no footpath (and very little room to spare), meeting a car whilst walking on these streets can be challenging.  Enna would be a good place to be based for (another) holiday in Sicily as almost everywhere is accessible as the autostrada is nearby.

Image 10
We visited Castelbuono on impulse at the very end of our last day on the island.  The castle is magnificent, built around a central courtyard (used, as is often the case, for water collection as well as for light) and with seemingly endless rooms leading from one to another.  The town is lovely too, a hill town with a maze of medieval cobbled streets.

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The sun sets over Cefalu. During our nine days on Sicily we drove over 1100 miles, drank numerous bottles of wine (not whilst driving), and had a thoroughly wonderful time.