Sometimes it’s just you and the wide open road out in front. Driving with no real plan, only the excitement of knowing that you’ve never seen what’s around that next corner. Cavagrande Cassibile Canyon via Modica to Enna took us from canyons and congestion to alleyways and amazement. It was a roller coaster ride of surprises. This short journey was packed full of adventure culminating with nature’s splendour.
Leaving Cavagrande Cassabile Canyon behind us, we turned towards southern Sicily. Deciding to drive through Modica, a neolithic city situated in the Hyblaean Mountains, was a last minute decision. We thought it was going to be a sleepy, quiet place.
How wrong we were! It was hectic and it was happening – full of traffic and narrow streets. With parked cars on one of the two lanes, the traffic in opposite directions had to share a single lane. A near impossible feat at times with a 7.5m long campervan and oncoming trucks. Except for the fact that, and I do not advocate this, I steered the outside tyres up onto the footpath. Let me quickly point out that: a) this was to avoid a collision, b) no other feasible option presented at that point in time, and c) there was no pedestrian traffic in sight. I decided I’d had enough of this and beat a hasty retreat out of town. Phew!
Thinking we should head towards our stop for the night, the town of Enna was agreed upon. Enna is an ancient city situated on the summit of a very large hill surrounded by cliffs, and about as central as you can get in Sicily. It sounded promising!
With the co-ordinates of Enna confirmed within the GPS Navigator, we were back on track. We had our hearts set on a free carpark right by the Castello di Lombardia in the old part of town.
Arriving on a Saturday however, meant there were no double parks for our camper. Lady Luck was on our side because just around the corner was a space for our 7.5m long camper. This park was still within the ‘zoned parking’ area so we were set for the night.
Deciding to take a quick look around, we rugged up to ward off the chill. We set off to walk the castle perimeter following the signs to the view-point at the Rocca di Cerere. It has been said that a picture is worth a thousand words – well here are some of the scenes that greeted us. A perfect finish for the day!
A Lie In… No Way
We awoke the next day to the sounds of rain on the roof but this soon abated into intermittent showers. In our books, this falls under marginal but ‘still good enough’ conditions for sightseeing. Fog shrouded the cobble stoned streets and it was surprisingly quiet for a Sunday morning.
We reached our first point of interest, the 14th century Cathedral of Enna in the centre of the old town. We walked through the entrance of the large church and found ourselves pretty much alone.
A sole, local parishioner (Giovanni) on his way out, introduced himself and then proudly took us to the back area of the church called the Alessi Museum. This ornately decorated room held the cathedrals treasures in a locked, barred room including a gold crown with diamonds and thousands of ancient coins and other collections. Who doesn’t get excited when they hear the word treasure!
Leaving the church with Giovanni, he gestured us to follow him to another smaller church close by but this was closed. A bit strange for 11am on a Sunday but so be it. After much handshaking and ‘gracias’, we parted company with the kind-hearted Giovanni.
With the weather deteriorating, we left Enna and drove north on the A19, drawing ever closer to Palermo.
More to Come
Not particularly pleasing to the eye, were the many lay-bys littered with huge amounts of rubbish. It was a real shame. The roads generally were not in the best condition and in many places the two lanes were reduced to one for road works.
An interesting sight were the huge cactus farms we passed. It was something new for us. The prickly pear fruit is harvested in Autumn and sold at markets as it is considered a delicacy.
We weren’t in a hurry, so plodding along at 90Km/hour was just fine. Breasting a hill, we saw what looked to be spiralling smoke in the distance – our interest was piqued. Driving a few kilometres closer, we saw that this was a large murmation of starlings. They were producing amazing synchronised patterns in the sky. The choreography was complex and enthralling.
We had by this time parked beside the road and were videoing like mad. The finale, captured on video, had the starlings flying away from us, then turning around and flying directly overhead with the sun as a backdrop. Enough from me on this, have a look at the amazing video, as it tells the story on its own.
We just sat for a bit and talked about how amazing nature could be. With those scenes in our minds, we continued our journey towards Palermo, our last stop for the day.
Being an Australian boy brought up in the country, I learnt at an early age to enjoy the freedom and beauty of nature. Leaving Australia at the age of 20, although I didn’t know it then, would be the beginning of a life of adventure. So join me here on our travels and see the world through my eyes.