Caltagirone/City of Ceramics & Piazza Armerina/City of Mosaics

Caltagirone Travel Blog

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Mags found a paper at our cafe with the headline, "Apocalypse!" (Referring to the Messina mudslides.)
Saturday, 10/3/09

Dad had a day to himself at the villa as Mom, Lynn, Liz, Mags & I drove to Caltagirone in the morning. We parked in front of a cafe and went in for cappuccinos and delicious pastries filled with ricotta cream. We walked up the hill to La Scalinata di Santa Maria - the ceramic stairs. It's the most tall, wide stairway you can imagine, and every riser of the stairway is tiled with a different design, and there are shops lining the sides. We arrived just as school was apparently letting out, and a flood of schoolchildren in blue smocks came running down the stairs.

We walked up the stairs about halfway - I bought a beautiful plate, and Liz and Mags bought some ceramic souvenirs, and then we came back down, walked around town and found the mother of all ceramic shops I wanted to buy EVERYTHING.
Mags and Liz on the tiled bridge
Love this stuff. Bought a few more trinkets in there and headed back to the car, taking pix of all the city signs (ceramic) and the bridges (accented with ceramic), and all the ceramic art in the windows...this city LOVES its ceramica.

Ale had said several times that Piazza Armerina was really beautiful, and it was close, so we went there afterwards. We found free parking, courtesy of a lady on her terrace hanging up laundry. I asked her if there was a good restaurant nearby that was open, since we'd arrived during the siesta time. She pointed out that there was a good restaurant just below her apt. Mom had a delicious rabbit cacciatore, and we all shared a fun antipasto - loads of stuff to choose from the table: various marinated veggies, cured olives, cheeses, cold cuts and caponatas.


The town was okay - we walked up to the castle ramparts at the top, but couldn't see a way in, and Mom and Lynn couldn't make it up the hill, so they were waiting for us in a piazza below, so we didn't take a lot of time. We came back down and found a store with Sicilian-made specialities: wine, cookies, oils, chocolates, pestos, etc. The shopkeeper must have seen money walking in, 'cuz he was certainly glad to see us. He brushed off the French tourists who were only buying magnets and postcards, and brought out all the stuff for us to taste. It was loads of fun, and we did wind up buying lots of delicious things.

Liz really wanted to see the mosaics at the Villa Romano di Casale nearby. We kept seeing signs for "I Mosaici", but thought it was probably better to drive, since Mom and Lynn were already tired.
Ceramic signs
We drove out of the city, and got completely and totally lost using the map, the signs, AND Sybil (our GPS...so-called because sometimes she gave us the right directions, but if another of personalities was at the helm, she'd be capricious and send us the screwiest way imaginable). Really hard to find.

Finally made it, but we weren't sure where to park. We drove through a street of trinket vendors that were closing up...we thought we might miss the mosaics, but it turns out that just the tour buses had left (Lord knows how THEY found it), and one of the vendors just told us to park right next to his stall since all of them were leaving. Curbside service - right next to the entrance. And it was worth finding. Liz was thrilled. The ruins of the villa were filled with the most intricate mosaics - this guy must have been RIIIICH. They were working on a lot of it - lots of scaffolding, tools strewn about, ladders, buckets, etc., and we all thought it would be nice to come back years later when they had finished renovations.
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Mags found a paper at our cafe wit…
Mags found a paper at our cafe wi…
Mags and Liz on the tiled bridge
Mags and Liz on the tiled bridge
Ceramic signs
Ceramic signs
La Scalinatta di Santa Maria - the…
La Scalinatta di Santa Maria - th…
The mother of all ceramics stores,…
The mother of all ceramics stores…
Mom, me, Mags & Liz
Mom, me, Mags & Liz
Piazza Armerina
Piazza Armerina
Piazza Armerina
Piazza Armerina
PIazza Armerina
PIazza Armerina
Liz declared that this is her hous…
Liz declared that this is her hou…
Piazza Armerina
Piazza Armerina
Lynn and Mom taking a breather in …
Lynn and Mom taking a breather in…
Piazza Armerina
Piazza Armerina
The fabulous mosaics of the Villa …
The fabulous mosaics of the Villa…
Villa Romana del Casale, near Piaz…
Villa Romana del Casale, near Pia…
Villa Romana del Casale, near Piaz…
Villa Romana del Casale, near Pia…
Villa Romana del Casale, near Piaz…
Villa Romana del Casale, near Pia…
Villa Romana del Casale, near Piaz…
Villa Romana del Casale, near Pia…
Villa Romana del Casale, near Piaz…
Villa Romana del Casale, near Pia…
Villa Romana del Casale, near Piaz…
Villa Romana del Casale, near Pia…
Villa Romana del Casale, near Piaz…
Villa Romana del Casale, near Pia…
Villa Romana del Casale, near Piaz…
Villa Romana del Casale, near Pia…
Villa Romana del Casale, near Piaz…
Villa Romana del Casale, near Pia…
Villa Romana del Casale, near Piaz…
Villa Romana del Casale, near Pia…
Caltagirone
photo by: puttyland