Diane Collins has just come back from her second Ramblers Worldwide Holidays trip to the wonderfully varied island of Sicily, where bumping into old friends proved to only one of many highlights.
I’ve recently returned from the Treasures of Sicily holiday on a real high. What a nice group and leader; we saw so many things, learnt so much history. A bonus was again meeting one member of the group whom I knew from a previous holiday; another was meeting a friend in Monreale Cathedral whom I’ve known since childhood, celebrating her 70th. But there were other true highlights.
The museum in Agrigento contained so many memorable items; most of the group came away remembering especially a hoard of mint condition gold coins 2.5 millennia old, and a Roman child’s carved marble coffin with such emotive scenes of his birth and death and his schooling; you felt you knew and grieved for this small child. I also loved a Roman woman’s gold circlet and chain cover for her chignon. Opportunities to paddle in the Med – a bit chilly yet to swim; to enjoy Italian ice cream; even see similar landscapes to those familiar to most of us from TV’s Montalbano. (I’d love to have met him, but we weren’t quite in the right place, oh sorrow!)
The mosaics in Monreale Cathedral and the Palatine Chapel in Palermo were stupendous, covering most of the interior surfaces with biblical scenes. Other mosaics were at the more domestic Roman Villa del Casale: lovely domestic scenes – children playing, women spinning – gave a valuable insight into daily life of the family living there.
From the motorway between Catania and Enna we could see snow-covered Etna – very different from my last visit when it was very active and glowed red from the top. It has been 25 years since I last visited Sicily (on a Ramblers Worldwide holiday); I’m so glad I chose to go again. This time we covered many of the areas not in the first north-east based one, and I feel I know so much more about the island and its history.