Mosaics and More

Day 13: Drive to Agrigento from Catania with pit stop in Piazza Armerina

Out of the corner of my eye, I could tell he was listening to our conversation.

"Baby, what kind of tea do we want?"

After several minutes of deliberation, we settled on chamomile with vanilla and honey, but before we could head down the next aisle, the man stopped us.

"Where are you from?"

A very friendly Sicilian man was curious to know what in the world a couple of young Americans were doing in Catania.

"You mustn't stay too long in Catania. There is so much more to see in Sicily."

"Yes, of course. We have plans to go to Agrigento, but we decided to stop in the supermarket for some last minute supplies," I explained.

Our new friend told us about how he had taught himself English because ever since he was a young boy he wanted to meet people from all over the world. He believed English would make that possible. And it has. He currently sells vintage motorcycle parts on eBay to an international clientele.

"I just sent such and such part to New Zealand just the other day," he added.

He also went on to tell us about some lovely must-see sights in Sicily, including the Roman Villa of Casale near Piazza Armerina.

"When I was a young boy, my father took us to Piazza Armerina to see the mosaic floors. At that time it was not an UNESCO world heritage site. You could even walk directly on the mosaics. My father had to ask the shepherds in the fields how to arrive at the villa..."

With our new list of things to do in hand and our shopping complete, we waved goodbye to Mr. Massimino. As soon as we got to our car, we set the navigation system to take us to Piazza Armerina.

In fact, the Roman Villa of Casale was the highlight of our entire Sicily tour. The mosaics are truly breathtaking. Almost every single floor of the expansive estate is covered in mosaics. Unfortunately, many of the rooms were under renovation, so we did not get to see everything there is to see. What we did see, though, was enough to make us want to come back and experience it again. (Photo top left is a view of the estate.)

A scene from the 12 mythological labors of Hercules, as depicted in the "Triclinium," or dining and reception room at the villa

The central apse in the Triclinium depicts the 5 giants who had challenged Zeus. They're a bit bloodied from Hercules's arrows.

Dionysian myth of Lycurgus and Ambrosia

The Large Hunting Ambulacrum, or fancy hallway depicting hunting scenes

Girls' gymnasium - I love how they're wearing bikinis with bandeau tops!

Later, the guy "guarding" the parking lot at Villa Casale suggested we go take a look at the Villa delle Meraviglie (Museo Enzo Cammarata). We were hoping it would be another ancient villa, but it's actually a museum collection of art, furniture, and artifacts representative of the works that wealthy Sicilians of the 18th century used to collect. The most amusing artifacts were these Aztec stirrups from the 16th-17th centuries.

Quick stop in the town of Piazza Armerina for lunch and a look around

We arrived at our campsite in Agrigento in the evening. Across the street there was a small produce market, so we picked up some fruit and veggies as well as this red table wine, which was curiously the same brand as our bottled water...

We made friends pretty quickly that evening. Here's little "Hercules" finding a place to curl up in my lap.


  1. What a nice story about Mr. M.. He is an example that when you really want to learn a new language it's not impossible.

  2. Isn't it amazing that those mosaics still exist??? Awesome!!! Those stirrups...weird. One question...did Little Hercules find a new home?

  3. Yes, Mr. M is totally inspiring. That just shows you the power of determination.

    Ashliegh - Totally amazing! Ever since that visit to the villa, I have a new appreciation for mosaic art.

    And about little Hercules, I really really really wanted to bring her(?) home with me, but we figured that she belonged to the staff at the campsite :( Good for Hercules, but sad for me...

  4. Italians are so friendly. You would have missed those gorgeous mosaics without that! What an adventure!

  5. Kathy - yes, a total treasure.

    Fly Girl - We encountered such lovely people on this trip. Mr. M was so kind and fun to chat with!


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