We received a delightful invitation before we left the States to go to a birthday party when we got back to Sicily. It was to be for our friend Vincenzo Sparavigna (yes, that's an Italian name). He and Julia winter in Ft Lauderdale and were heading to their summer place on the northwest tip of Sicily as we left for Sangaris. So for the weekend of the auspicious event we rented a car, planning to explore a bit along the way.
First stop was on the coastal route at Licata where we checked out the Marina and the friendly staff referred us to a hilltop B&B - the top left two pictures are of the beautiful grounds. Continuing on the next morning we explored the amazing historic site of Agrigento, with its Valley of the Temples - one of Italy's finest temple complexes from the Greek era in the 8th century BC. At bottom right is a plaza in the town of Agrigento near the Temple site.
After checking out of Sciacca on the coast it was through the mountains to Castelvetrano for an excellent "authentic Sicilian" lunch, then past the amazing towns of Valderice and, up on the cliffs, Erice, until we arrived at the birthday venue near Capo. After checking into our B&B and freshening up, we were pool side with everyone for a perfect sunset. That set the stage for an extraordinary evening, lasting into the wee hours, of food, drink, music and dancing with Vincenzo, Julia and, for his 60th birthday, 60 (only!) of his friends from Sicily, Salerno, Roma, plus we and fellow Americans from Ft Lauderdale who had flown in just for the occasion - Doug and Kathy Brown with their daughter Sarah, son-in-law Jamie and grandson Noah. In the montage then, clockwise from us at poolside, are Vincenzo and his delightful daughter Claudia, then the effervescent Julia presenting Vincenzo with a memory book of sailing and other adventures. Next is Craig with Julia and Sarah. Finally, is Vincenzo proudly displaying a mermaid painting Julia had commissioned for the big event. A grand time long to be remembered, indeed.
The next day (yes, we slept in a bit - oh, OK, a lot!) gave us time to explore the spectacular area of San Vito lo Capo that you can see on the map projects dramatically into the Tyrrehenian Sea.
We wound down the day with yet another fabulous meal at the beach house that the Browns were staying at (that's Jamie and Noah on the hammock, top left) with another spectacular sunset view over the bay in front. Vincenzo's friend, Francesco, was the Chef Extrordinaire and we were again delighted with another sensational meal.
Continuing Vincenzo's birthday bacchanal, yet another friend, Gianni, chartered a 50 foot Hanse sailboat for the next day - Vincenzo definitely looks like he's enjoying it! We anchored in the bay off Macari, which had been the view from the party and where Sangaris will be anchored shortly. Amazingly, Gianni was not just skipper extraordinaire, but yet another great Italian Chef serving a Trapani special pasta: Busiata Siciliana,melanzane e pecorino - buon bellissimo!
Thank you Julia and Vincenzo for being such gracious hosts!