The stories of my life on a little island in the middle of the Mediterranean sea ... and my occasional adventures beyond these shores.

Monday, 28 May 2012

The Steps Of Caltagirone

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In Caltagirone you cannot escape the ceramics. This Baroque town in the heart of Sicily is world-renowned for its beautiful pottery decorated in vibrant colours. For the past 1000 years, the abundant clay in the area has provided the local artisans with the perfect medium to mould and decorate in bright, bold hues.
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The ensuing results are quite stunning. Even with this in mind, I was not quite prepared for the profusion of majolica that decorated so many things in Caltagirone – from flower pots, to church domes and balustrades.
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But the most spectacular and striking display of ceramics is La Scala Santa Maria del Monte (or La Scala – the staircase – for short).
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La Scala consists of 142 steps that join the upper and lower parts of the town. Each step is decorated with tiles painted in a different motif.
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The designs were so pretty that I would have liked to photograph each and every step. It would have been worth the effort. An Infiorata (an artistic design created with plants and flowers) to celebrate the feast of La Madonna di Conadomini, one of the patrons of the city, further enhanced the beauty of this unique staircase.
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I thought that the staircase itself was utterly whimsical – a fairy staircase, a stairway to a magical realm.
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Up, up and up we climbed till we came to the top - La Scala was beneath us, behind us the square and church of Santa Maria del Monte and, beyond the rooftops and church domes, the rolling mountains of Sicily.
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I am not one of those people who can see a sight, take a few photos and move on to the next. Places like this move me. In 1608 it took several craftsmen a decade to create the unique ceramic tiles that line the steps. Surely such artisanship deserves more than a perfunctory glance? Could these men have ever imagined that 400 years later visitors from all over the world would come to Caltagirone to marvel at their workmanship … ?
It was siesta time and the small square in front of the church was deserted, except for some lines of bunting flapping gaily in the breeze.
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The church itself looked a bit run down, with  what appeared to be a wild  fig-tree was growing out of the steeple.
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For an inexplicable reason I felt a strange kinship with the place. Perhaps it was because the buildings were so strangely reminiscent of home. Or maybe it was the profusion of red geraniums that grow so abundantly here too.
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Or it could have been a myriad other things: the balconies, the narrow alleyways, the little shrine to the Madonna & Child at the end of a cul-de-sac.
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It was a strange feeling of deja-vu coupled with a sense of wonder that always comes to me when discovering a new place.
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I don’t know if I will ever go back to Caltagirone but the memories of this place will live in my memory forever.
Photographed in
Caltagirone, Sicily
May 2012
For a brief history of Caltagirone please go here.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

My Dream Machine

Hello everyone. I am back. It seems like I have been away for ages – which goes to prove just how much I enjoy blogging and especially catching up with the rest of you. We have had 3 weeks of family gatherings: meals, outings, a wedding – and even managed to squeeze in a 3 day trip to Sicily. There were days when I felt like I was chasing my tail and days when I would gladly have hidden my head under the bed linen and slept for a whole day. But somehow, we made it to every event. I will be telling you more about our trip to Sicily in the coming weeks. But for today, I wanted to show you something that I fell in love with in Taormina. Ladies (and any gentlemen that  occasionally pop by) here is my Dream Machine.
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Isn’t she cute? I love the vintage-style Vespa scooters and this one has such a striking, feminine colour that it immediately caught my eye and captured my heart. It would be perfect for running errands to the nearest town in this traffic-congested island. I stood there, with people of all nationalities milling around me, dreaming of easy parking, five-minute journeys and the wind blowing in my hair (well the hair that would not be covered by the oh-so-trendy helmet that came with the bike). Pure and utter bliss. I guess I am now on the hunt for an old(ish) Vespa so that I can spray it this perfect shade of purple. Or maybe pink. Or turquoise. Tough decision …
In all honesty I do not know if I am brave enough to ride a Vespa when we have so many careless drivers on the island. It’s not always exactly safe. But a girl can dream, can’t she? And by now, you should all know me well enough to realize that I do that very well.
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Photographed in Taormina, Sicily
May 2012

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Wasted Time

                                          Source: via Lorna on Pinterest

It’s good to know that all those hours that I’ve spent staring into nothingness with my mind a million miles away were not wasted time. I still do not have time for a long post so I am sending this thought-provoking quote your way. Now tell me, what’s your favourite way to waste time?

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Just Checking In

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Just popping in to say ‘hello’. There’s a hectic couple of weeks coming up and I don’t think that I am going to be around much for a while. I miss being here and it shows – I feel like a cat that’s been deprived of its nap. I never really realised just how therapeutic a few quiet moments tapping away at my keyboard can be.
On a different note, I guess I should use this time wisely and come back feeling, if not refreshed, at least regenerated and bursting with  new ideas. Until next time … au revoir.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Here And There

I know. I said I would not be posting much in the coming days. But I miss being here and reading your posts. Blogging can really grow on you. So here I am, with some more snippets from my life …
It was a public holiday today and it was also a beautiful day. After a breakfast of pancakes and sausages (ordered by the Mischief Maker and cooked by my Sweet American) we headed out. We visited Dwejra again. It’s hard to believe that this is the same place that looked so fresh and green just a month ago. Everything is turning golden and the wheat and clover are being harvested. It will soon look dry and barren. But for now, a golden tinge prevails.
Dwejra, Nadur &  Mdina (4)Dwejra, Nadur &  Mdina (7)
Our next stop was at Nadur Tower, built some time between 1637 and 1640 – the highest point in Malta. The view from up there was quite fantastic, a bird’s eye view almost.
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Our last stop was at the old town of Mdina where we had lunch at The Old Priory, a cafeteria  located in an old convent adjoining the Carmelite Church. A charming little place with its painted ceilings and austere convent walls.
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I can never get enough of Mdina. I have been there, literally, thousands of times. I was even at school there for 8 years (more about that some other time) and I have seen it in all types of weather and in many different moods. Yet in my eyes, it always looks beautiful.
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Today there were too many tourists roaming the streets (although, because I know it so well, I always manage to find a deserted spot). I felt that Mdina was a bit withdrawn, aloof, sheltering itself from too many inquisitive eyes. I did not mind. I know I can go back anytime, when dusk begins to fall, and the streets are deserted. I can go back, roam around and touch the walls that sometimes seem to be alive. I will close my eyes and listen to the beating of my heart, as this ancient citadel gently whispers its secrets. It never fails. It is always so. And I don’t think that anything will ever change. Not for me.
Dwejra, Nadur &  Mdina (27)


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