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Mon May-23 Backroads Day 2: 23 bike miles, Ristorante Il Locandiere in Caltagirone
The day started with much hope and optimism. While it was windy and rainy at the top of the hill where the castle is located, Lauran and Candice, our fearless Backroads guides, anticipated that there would be much less wind in the valley.

For most of the ride the wind and rain were tolerable, and the scenery was lovely. The region is known for its blood oranges, and While the oranges are harvested in December, the lanes by the trees still smelled fabulous in May.

Lisa chose to shuttle up the last hill to lunch because she could see the dark cloud ahead. While Lisa is not proud of not upholding the family honor by staying out of the van, she is glad that she shuttled -- the fog at the top of the hill was fierce!

We stopped for lunch at Il Locandiere in Caltagirone. The pasta course was couscous, reflecting the influence that the Moors had on the region.

Caltagirone is known for its ceramics. The various cultures taht have controlled Sicily over the ages have influenced the ceramics, from the Cretans (introduction of potter's wheel), then the Arabs (glaze), the Normans (enameling with lead and tin) to the Catalonians (expansion of color). The higher part of the city is connected to the lower part of the city via a stunning staircase with 142 steps featuring different tiles. The picture included here shows a floral display in the center of the staircase commemorating the 150th anniversary of Italy. While there are many displays all over Italy, this is one of the few in Sicily.

Back at Castello di Camemi, our evening's festivities included a rainy day cooking lesson and Sicilian folk night. Francesco, the chef at the hotel, demonstrated how to make Pasta alla Norma, a regional specialty. He served the pasta as one of the courses at dinner and the version that we made in the cooking class was better. You can't go wrong with extra garlic :)

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Last updated Saturday, September 8th, 2012.
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