Laura McKenzie's Traveler – Sicily, Italy

Published by Darron Toy on

where can you visit a village on the sea with a fabulous view of a real volcano on the island of Sicily Buon Giorno welcome to Laura Mackenzie's traveler hi I'm Laura McKenzie and welcome to Sicily an island just two miles off the coast of southern Italy but to say it's Italian is not exactly correct Sicily has its own government its own version of the language and definitely its own way of doing things now to give you an idea of where we are we're overlooking the town of taro Mina we have Catania to the south Messina to the north and we're on the east coast of the island if you look down here you can see the town square here the shopping and business area in the middle and up on the hill on this side but a photo Greco the Greek theater dating back to the 3rd century BC I can't wait to show it to you there's history culture and incredible beauty welcome to Sicily forget Mount Olympus I found the true home of the gods and it's definitely Sicily from the views of Mount Etna to its beautiful beaches and rugged gorges your camera will forever thank you just off the tip of the boot of Italy Sicily has to be one of the most beautiful places in the Mediterranean and it's not just the landscape that's won me over it's also the tranquil little towns and villages it's thought-provoking past and the Italian hospitality that inspired me to appreciate all the Sicilian so much of Sicily is a photographer's dream but my favorite location has to be the town of terra mina here you'll discover ancient ruins beautiful beaches and spectacular views like this one overlooking the whole town spectacular after you look at the view over there turn around the little Church at the top is built right into a cave on the cliff called Madonna della Roca or Madonna of the rock it's dedicated to all sailors of all nations who died at sea now it's open on Sundays but if you come up on any other day make sure you go to the door and peek in that little window to look at the ceiling it's all jagged rocks and stalactites from the cave itself no wonder it's the most popular place on the coast for weddings tarah Mina has to be one of the most picturesque towns I've ever seen with original stone buildings and windy little cobblestone streets and look no cars this is great especially since the pedestrian zone is also the shopping zone now what's a vacation without souvenir shopping right this is all Sicilian well here's something typically Sicilian that you can buy this is a Sicilian Quebec dough a little cart back in the old days it was drawn by a horse and the drivers would go from village to village selling their goods well the more elaborately painted with stories and things on the side of the cart the more customers that they would get so the drivers would come into town and they would start singing really loud and banging on a drum to draw attention that they were there and the ladies would look out their window and they would come over and they would buy the goods and at the same time the driver would tell the news of the region he would tell what's going on in the last village a Sicilian cabinet know from puppets to pottery you'll find plenty of stuff to purchase you know what this is this is made out of lava you see this from Mount Etna lava stone you'll see all kinds of things carved here jewelry and little statues but you know half the fun of shopping is not what you find but who you meet really how do you do it parang get your teeth here's go swing not very musically inclined since we're looking for items that are typically Sicilian we can't forget the wine oh and the wine in Sicily it's fantastic they say there's over 100 wineries here folks with them come they even sound cecilia but the wine is just the beginning it's a liqueur made at Mount Etna it's basically herbs and alcohol and it's either 50% or 70% alcohol they tell me it's a little bit like grappa drop it anyway cocoa bukhan oh oh and the bottles look you can get a bottle as a souvenir that's actually covered in volcanic ash I'm gonna forego the lava wine for something that's a little more refreshing when you're walking and shopping you get a little tired I have one place for you to stop a jalopy stand this it's fantastic Oh what do you want to know um let's see flavors what is bacio it's the chocolate in the essence chocolate hazelnuts and how do you say no to Ola haze on that and what else do I not know so many options and so many unfamiliar names what to choose what to choose Oh taught you celli can I can I taste it if you're committing the biggest sacrilege in Sicily dieting there are options Oh over here you have to see this this is what their famous sport here here's seen a blood orange look it's the sweetest orange you can taste but look at the inside it's red it makes orange juice that looks like tomato juice but it is so sweet it's fantastic the best part is you can find these gems in any of Sicily's open-air markets I've heard people say that they're so sweet that you can even eat the skin in the Pope supposedly it's not bitter at all shopping gelato and blood oranges now this is nirvana I love to shop here's a tip the interior of terra Mina has cobbled streets inclines and stairs but taxis are available on the outskirts of town with access to hotels and restaurants Laura Mackenzie's traveler will be right back welcome back and for more information on cicely go to Laura McKenzie well after a sinfully good day of sightseeing and shopping in terra mina you may want to cleanse yourself in the Sicilian surf but I want to see what else makes Sicily so magnificent so I'm off to discover the true essence of the island and the best way to do that is to reflect on its past Cicely was one of the most important islands in the ancient Mediterranean world it's been home to the Greeks the Phoenicians the Carthaginians the Romans the Byzantine Empire the Muslims and the Normans just to name a few and the evidence of these civilizations is everywhere including its national symbols oK we've stopped on the side of the road because there's something that I have to show you on the house right behind me is the only existing symbol of Sicily that there is on the coastline look up here you'll see it on the Sicilian flag the three legs represent the three points of the island and the face is Medusa it may seem strange to have Medusa on your flag but this symbol implies that the island is protected by the goddess Athena who carried the head of Medusa on her shield after she was defeated Medusa on the flag is not the only symbol you'll see representing the island there is also the Catalina elephant and the birds of Syracuse but there's more to Sicily than just its symbols and another reason it's so special is the natural beauty of the island you know my hope is that when you see Sicily you'll go wow I want to go there that looks incredible but don't even think about coming here in the heat of the summer July in August uh-uh it is way too hot I mean like over a hundred degrees hot and when you do come make sure you don't miss this willies largest city Palermo Palermo has been a world-class City for centuries its importance in the world as well as its cultural development has always been driven by its port in fact the Greeks called Palermo enormous which means all port and that name was used in official documents right up until the 18th century while Palermo is fascinating there's a lot more to explore on the island the little town of Ronda's oh is worth a stop looks like something right out of a movie Sicily has some incredible little towns and villages you have to go exploring Rondon so here has a beautiful medieval old town but for some real history how about a visit to Agra gentle this area is known as the valley of temples and for good reason it has eight temples and lots of other ancient buildings agrigento was once the greatest city in the ancient Mediterranean world all the temples were built in the Doric style which is the oldest and simplest building style designed by the ancient Greeks while the valley of the temples was created to honor the ancient gods it's believed that the Piazza Armenia was created for more earthly purposes ongoing arguments rage over exactly who owned this villa but scholars do agree that this ancient Roman home is not only impressive for its size but for its beautiful mosaics the most talked about artwork in the villa is this wall but Keeney clad women competing in various sports hey who knew the bikini was vintage but if it's mosaics that interest you then you have to go to a building created by divine inspiration the cathedral Monreal king william ii began construction on the church after awakening from a dream he said the Virgin Mary came to him in his sleep and asked him to build this church for her the cathedral Monreal is home to the most complete cycle of mosaics ever created in the Byzantine tradition it contains a hundred and thirty individual mosaic pieces of art that's more than Saint in Venice all the artwork is inspired by biblical stories and seeing these incredible mosaics is an inspiration in itself this Cathedral is a must-see for anyone coming to Sicily but here's a tip there aren't many parking spaces in mon royale so you may want to catch a bus into town back in the car it's onward to check out more of Sicily's amazing sights and the most impressive is undoubtedly Mount Etna the active volcano which just recently erupted there's no stopping volcanic lava it's not stopped by cars by rows by barriers by houses nothing in fact to give you an idea of how much lava came down mounted then 1981 this wall behind me was the third story of a beautiful Italian villa a gorgeous mansion gone imagine this whole valley with beautiful houses and villas and vineyards gone there's a railroad track back there they tell me that it's 25 feet higher than it was in 1980 that's incredible and like the phoenix rising from the ashes bellissimo here's a tip many ferries to Sicily have reclining seats food service and movies with schedules from Rome Naples Malta Tunisia and Sardinia Laura Mackenzie's traveler we'll be right back welcome back and for more information on Sicily go to Laura McKenzie Sicily is an amazing vacation and it definitely has its own personality separate from Italy but the island is also known for something a little more infamous the Mafia I guess you could say Sicily is also known as a family destination if all this looks like something out of a movie actually it is well the first time I ever heard of Sicily was watching The Godfather movie well a lot of the important scenes were shot right here in the town of Saavik oh the bar behind me do you remember the scene where Michael Corleone II came to the bar and asked Apollonius father for her hand in marriage well it happened right there well I borrowed this picture from inside but as you can see the scene was shot just to the right of the doorway and in the picture you can see Al Pacino sitting in the chair right there and these are the actual chairs they used in the movie and here's a Polonius father in the chair here if you're looking to meet one of the actors from the film then you're in luck now if you go inside the bar you'll meet Maria Maria is the owner and when Francis Ford Coppola came here he saw her face and said she's perfect to serve the wine to Al Pacino now if you come in here she's got a great little souvenir for you this is lemoncello she only speaks Italian JLo Cecilia no okay and as you see Marlon Brando she put on the label and what's special about this one Al Pacino idea Maria Maria and I Pacino in a still from The Godfather what a great souvenir what a great face oh gee sweet gratzi while you're inside take a moment to look around the bar because they have fascinating memorabilia from the film not only was i lucky enough to meet Maria and see the bar for myself but I also met the man who was responsible for tracking down all these authentic Sicilian locations this is Christie boner Ventura and he was the location manager for Godfather 1 & 3 working directly with Francis Ford Coppola how did you come to find that little bar just by chance actually because being a guy I was used to bring people foreigner tourists to some small villages in the surroundings of termina to show them the real aspect of Sicily I remember that little bar secured so nice that was exactly what they wanted to look for and so odd we tried they liked it and Francis for purpose and he said that's the one absolutely and there's another location that he used in the film right up the room about the church the church were the wedding took place while I could stay and look at Godfather film locations all day it's time to head back to our home base of terra mina this has to be one of the most picturesque towns i've ever seen in fact it's so well preserved it's been documented since Terra Mina's considered a world heritage site it wasn't supposed to be bombed during World War 2 that's why the town is so authentic well it didn't quite escape the bombs because when the Americans found out that Field Marshal Kesselring was staying in the little Hotel right behind me they bombed the hotel he was the general commander of all the German troops in Italy so that would have been a big score did they get him nah he was staying at the best hotel in town the San Domenico the San Domenico is still the best place in town but it's more than just a great hotel it's a sacred landmark filled with history and culture you know it's always exciting for me to stay at a hotel that's a story in itself can you tell me a little bit about the history of the hotel yes is actually former monastery 15th century monastery transformed into hotel in 1896 the monks may have called San Domenico home 600 years ago but the building's original use was a private residence dating back to the 1300s through the years political figures Nobles and celebrities have all visited here in fact as a hotel it's hosted Kari grant kaiser wilhelm ii and president harry truman just a name drop a few actually it's no mystery why the rich and famous choose to stay here the hotel is nothing less than divine while the building's history is incredible I found that the service is what truly makes the hotel special of course the rooms are pretty spectacular too each room has been designed to retain its historical integrity while incorporating all the modern amenities you'd expect in a luxury hotel rooms are large incorporating a mixture of elegance and modern conveniences with subtle but luxurious furnishings and while many rooms were added in 1806 creating the new wing it's the original wing that's the most interesting a hundred and twenty original monks cells were transformed into 44 much larger guest rooms so some of them they're actually the former monks cells very very unique well I love a hotel with a past and I adore a room with a view and when's the last time you've seen a room with a view more spectacular than this it goes from the beach to the snow-covered peaks on Mount Etna and on to the ancient amphitheater spectacular here's a tip how do you avoid the chance of blood clots on long flights blood clots are not very common but potentially very serious outcomes for people on a plane that are not hydrated enough one of the best bets you have for avoiding blood clots on the plane flight is to keep yourself well hydrated in addition to that your blood doesn't like to stay still it likes to be moved through your system so making yourself move your legs on a regular basis standing up and walking around particularly on long plane flights and actually even taking deep breaths help to improve your circulation everyone should do those things Laura Mackenzie's traveler we'll be right back welcome back and for more information on cicely go to Laura McKenzie according to local legends Sicily was created for the gods here you'll find nothing but the best weather its scenery accommodation dining or shopping where even the smallest detail is appreciated and savored and if you're looking for a romantic destination that you'll always remember Sicily proudly delivers you know Sicily was a big surprise for me it's a lot more beautiful than I expected the people are friendlier than I expected and the culture and food were a lot more Mediterranean than I thought it would be all in all I think I can say the whole experience was molto bene I hope you enjoyed seeing it with me and that you'll join me again next time from another terrific place somewhere else around the world until then I'm Lora Mackenzie bye bye

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