A Trip of a Lifetime ~ Part V ~ Maria, Madeline, Joan and Deborah

In part IV we left them listening to Il Volo while riding through the picturesque Sicilian countryside.  Don’t dislike them for it.  At least not yet. ~Marie

May 18: Naro

Today we went to Naro to meet Piero’s mother, Eleonora Ognibene.

As we were getting out of the car in the square, two young girls were walking by with huge posters of IL Volo and the Eurovision contest! We stopped and spoke with them about our love for Il Volo; they were kind enough to give each one of us a poster. As it turned out, they were the girls who run the Naro IL Volo fan club!

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For the rest of the day they were our companions, Wendalina Licata and Alessia Bruccoleri. They came to meet Piero’s mother with us, as they know her very well. They joined us in having our pictures taken with Mrs. Ognibene and with the Mayor and Vice Mayor of Naro. Piero’s mother posed for individual pictures with us, and then she took a video of us and sent it to Piero! Photos that we see on facebook do not do Eleonora justice! She is absolutely beautiful; stunning would be a better word.

Mrs. Ognibene and the Vice Mayor of Naro

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“When we left Mrs. Ognibene we went to Castello di Chiaramonte in Naro that was opened that day just for us, so we had the entire castle to ourselves! Someone (perhaps Piero’s mother or the Vice Mayor), had a local guide take us to some points of interest.  Below is a photo outside of the Castello di Chiaramonte with our beautiful guide in Naro, Francesca Maria Dainotto, with the lovely ladies of the Il Volo Naro Fan Club, Alessia Bruccoleri and Wendalina Licata.

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Francesca was called on at the last minute to take us on a tour of Naro and she did an excellent job! The Castle was built in the 12th Century and is 2000 ft above sea level. A princess had lived there; some of the clothing of that era was preserved and on display – beautiful dresses and hats, plus some men’s clothing. We toured the Castle for at least an hour and took some great pictures both inside and out. At one time in history, the castle held prisoners who carved their names on the walls; those names remain to this day.

When we left the Castle we went to Tenuta Vitanza, the Agriturismo owned by Piero’s Zio Gino. He and his beautiful niece, Anna, showed us around and we were just amazed. The house was made of stone and at least 700 years old. There were lemon and orange trees, and we were given fruits right off the trees; we saw animals – a kangaroo, a zebra, pheasants, chickens, rabbits, dogs, horses and beautiful peacocks strutting around with their feathers flared out. There are acres and acres and acres of vineyards and olive groves on the property. We will stay here on our next trip!

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Anna and Zio Gina

A reporter, Paolo Picone, joined us at Tenuta Vitanza and interviewed us; a few days later there was an article in the Naro newspaper about us and our trip to see the places where the boys were raised!

a trip Naro News Article

May 19: Best Western Dioscuri Bay Palace Hotel, San Leone

We moved out of Hotel Amici after 2 nights and stayed in San Leone (near Agrigento), another privately owned Best Western. This hotel was beautiful and near the ocean; it also had a pool.

After switching hotels we went to the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento. It took more than an hour to go through the ruins. We all had our photos taken just like the one Piero posted on facebook some time ago. We did a lot of walking around the grounds and we all took off in different directions for a bit to take pictures.

From Agrigento we went to the town of Madeline’s ancestors, Casteltermini, high up in the mountains. When we approached the town she started to get choked up and it got the best of her. She could not control her emotions because her mother, who was born in the US, always wanted to visit there but passed away before she had the opportunity. The town was preparing for the Feast of The Holy Cross, which is always held the last Sunday in May. They were putting up arches with lights that spread from one side of the street to the other. The festivities start on Friday and end with a procession on Sunday. Madeline was able to go into the main church, although there was a ceremony of some sort going on. She would have liked to light a candle for her mother… next time, to be sure!

We had a nice lunch in Casteltermini at Ristorante i di Mike.

Having had a late lunch, we passed on dinner and opted to go out for gelato. When we got back to the hotel we went to the lounge for a drink and to check out FB posts. Suddenly, people who were all dressed to the nines, including some children, started coming in and sat around the lounge for a while. There was a band playing on the upper level of the hotel and we thought it may have been a club of some sort but… not for little kids! Finally we realized it was a wedding reception that was going to be held in the restaurant on the upper level, and we had a clear view of some of the tables through the glass walls. Once the guests were seated at their tables, the bride and groom came through the lounge and up the steps to the reception. This was all taking place at 22:00, and on a Tuesday night! It was the first of three weddings that we saw in Sicily.

About an hour later we headed to our rooms and sat out on our own big patios and enjoyed the evening air and the beautiful scenery, while finishing our coffee liqueur.

May 20: Mediterranean Palace, Ragusa

We left Agrigento and drove to Ragusa. There was beautiful scenery all the way, with acres and acres of strawberry fields (for which Ragusa is noted), olive groves, and vineyards. There was a situation on the way to Ragusa that forced us to detour and as a result we traveled through the town of Vittoria. There we stopped at a deli for lunch (the first deli we had seen in all of Italy), where they had all the Italian meats, cheeses, and olives, among other delicious looking items too numerous to mention. We all got sandwiches or platters of ham, prosciutto, provolone, olives, etc. Joan bought a bag of tomato flavored potato chips; they were delicious!

When we arrived in Ragusa, Ciro explained that there were two parts to the city, Ibla, the old and baroque part of Ragusa, and the new, lower part. Ragusa is a UNESCO city. There is so much to see here that we didn’t have time to take it all in.

From Ragusa we went to Modica, the Chocolate Capital of the World. The shops all had chocolate tastings – so many kinds of chocolate! – and some also had wine tastings, which we thoroughly enjoyed. There are quaint stone walls and homes built in Modica and surrounding areas that were erected with no cement to hold them together; they were just layered like a jigsaw puzzle. We had a fabulous dinner in Modica, including tripe, which was the first time we had seen it on a menu anywhere in our travels and Madeline, having eaten it throughout her life, was elated to have found it in this restaurant.

May 21:

At 10:00am we were on our way to Noto and Siracusa. There was fragrant oleander growing wild along all the roads. Again, the scenery in Sicily is outrageously beautiful!

In Noto we walked the main road which is closed to vehicular traffic. It was a beautiful tile-lined street, and once we went through the arch we were in the shopping and dining areas. The main church in Noto was beautiful baroque style. Ciro explained that the dome was destroyed by an earthquake in the 1990s but was restored to its original state on the outside; unfortunately the inside frescos were not able to be duplicated.

Siracusa was the next town we visited. The city is also listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage site.

We toured the city and had lunch at a restaurant by the sea. It was a perfect day for that kind of venue.

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Tomorrow meet Maria’s brother who lives in Taormina!  Finally even these fortunate ladies have to return to the U.S.A. ~Marie

13 thoughts on “A Trip of a Lifetime ~ Part V ~ Maria, Madeline, Joan and Deborah”

  1. Thanks for sharing what would be my dream vacation! Had to cancel my Mediterranean cruise for hip surgery. I walked with you vicariously.

  2. If you go back to Naro sometime couldn’t you fit me into your luggage? The other Joan P.S. Why is Eleanora not Mrs. Barone?

    1. Joan, I don’t know why I called Piero’s mother Mrs. Ognibene, it just came naturally to me. I may have made a grave error, but for some reason it just seemed like that’s how we’ve known her. I will have to investigate further.

    2. I looked it up online. In Italy women
      use their maiden name for life.
      Spouses keep their surnames.
      According to Italian Civil Code
      (Article 143 bi5) a woman who
      marries keeps her surname
      w/option to add her husbands
      name. Mailboxes have both
      names on it.

  3. Oh ladies what a dream day meeting Piero’s mom. that would have been enough for me. Reading how nice people of Italy are I understand even more why Piero, Gianlucca, and Ignazio are so nice it’s seems to be the beautiful nature of the all the people you seemed to meet. What an incredible trip. I think I just got a bit envious.

  4. Beautiful story. I have enjoyed every word of each segment of your fantastic journey. I am so happy for all of you that you got to experience this and so touched that THEY were so pleased you came from the U.S. to see their part of the world. Yes, as they say…the acorn does not fall far from the tree…and I think this is true of three wonderful guys who were raised by such wonderful people!

  5. A beautiful story, well described, I knew vividly imagine all the places you have visited 🙂 . Thank you for your sharing it with the rest of us who have not yet had the opportunity to visit Italy,landscape with beautiful monuments, nature, good music, food,rich history…It’s great that from your vacations you have a lot of beautiful experiences and you met a lot of kind and positive people. 🙂 And of course, also some family members of boys. When you mentioned posters that you received,so today I am very happy because I bought a poster of Il VOLO, hooray ! 😀 I went back to the days of girls’ years. 😀 Now I can watch the boys from my bed 😉 and I will see them every morning as I wake up. 🙂 Make me feel like a teenager again 😀 , but I know, you ladies understand me 🙂 .

  6. What a wonderful experience for all of you. I can picture everty step you took. So vivid were your description that I also felt I were walking with you. Thank you for sharing. The people of Italy are indeed lovely and happy. I can’t wait to return.

  7. We had such a good time in Naro. It was memorable !! We were treated like royalty the entire day by all the wonderful people we met there. Piero’s mother was amazing. She is very lovely and warm and even served us Expresso and cookies !! It was very easy to see where Piero’s endearing qualities come from. And by the way– the posters that Wendalina and Alessia gave us were very large !! 2/12 x 3/12 feet !! They gave us the smaller ones too !! They are very sweet and adorable girls !!
    Sightseeing in Sicily is an education as is all of Italy. The Valley of the Temples in Agrigento is extensive and a sight to behold !!! It was beautiful and amazing !! There is so much history in Sicily/Italy that it is difficult to absorb it all in one visit !!
    I thank you all for your wonderful posts and thank you for coming on our memorable journey with us once again !! And thank you Marie for letting us tell our story to our family here on the Flight Crew !!!

  8. I thank you ladies for your great tour of Italy and sharing it
    blow by blow with the Flightcrew ladies……. You made the
    land and it’s people come to life for us…….. Yes, I would say
    this was a trip of a lifetime and thank you again for taking
    us along with you in your great posts……Maybe another
    group will go and see the land and give us their experiences
    as you did……I don’t know why but I would tear up just
    reading your experiences and how lovely and gracious
    the people were…… This definitely will be on my bucket
    list if there is ever a group that I could go with…….
    Otherwise I will have to be satisfied with reading about
    you ladies trip. Congratulations on your venture.

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