After Paestum, it seems that one must see the Greek ruins in Agrigento to get a full dose of of the beauty that was Greece, long before this was Italy.
To get there, we had a rather full day of travel from Siracusa, leaving early on a train to Catania, back the way we came from Taormina. In Catania, we connected with a bus that we took the rest of the way – but that was no easy matter. There were at least four likely bus collection points between the train station and the slot that contained our bus. Somehow, Don managed to navigate us there and get our tickets. Of course, in rather common Italian style, there was no sign on the bus (one of dozens in the station), no sign on the pole, and no way of knowing it was our destination. Only by asking the crowd gathered by one vehicle at the appropriate time did the bus reveal itself as the one for Agrigento. And yet everyone seems so surprised that one would question its route. We just don’t have that level of faith yet. At least we got a quick look at Catania.
We arrived in mid-afternoon, and got settled in our charming B&B. After lunch, we sauntered down the main street, via Atenea, and watched the sun hit the yellow stones and make them glow. The light has a wonderful quality here, and the views of the sea are very dramatic. It has been admired and contested for over 2,500 years, and I see that we will add to the fan club.
Don’s Food Corner
With more than five hours of travel time today on public transportation, we thought this was going to be an anti-food day I picked up a couple of sad-looking sandwiches on our short stopover between train and bus in Catania along with a couple of bottles of soda. We thought that would be it.
Happily, things turned for the better. We arrived in Agrigento and got to the place where we are staying just before 3pm — the time that most restaurants close for lunch before reopening again about 7pm for dinner. Our B&B host recommended a restaurant next door. We hustled over there and the restaurant folks let us in for a late lunch.
We started with ravioli, stuffed with ricotta with a light cream/tomato sauce and sprinkled with toasted pistachios. Fantastic. I remember making a version of this exact sauce from a Marcella Hazan cookbook many years ago. As I recall, it took about three days to make and required almost constant attention. So it was a delight to encounter it again so perfectly prepared and presented.
I ordered a fish dish that was called “cannoli.” My impression from the menu and from the Italian explanation was that it would be a crispy cannoli — like the rolled dessert cone — filled somehow with fish. Instead, it was a fish fillet rolled up like a cannoli stuffed with a spinach-based filling. It was nestled on top of a creamy-smooth potato puree. Superb. Lacking scallopine on the menu, Jo went for a steak. She ordered it medium and to my surprise it arrived as we would think of meat cooked medium and not some more rare version of “medium” that the French would serve. Nice pan-roasted potatoes were served on the side.
Our wine choice today was a carafe of Sicilian red. (You got that, Peter?)
The whole meal was topped off with a complimentary serving of lemon sorbet. We’ve had the granita version elsewhere and the gelato version as well. But this was heaven in its own right. It was the closest we’ve ever experienced that actually had a texture like packed fresh snow. Gee, and we used to be happy with the thick ice crystals of so-called Sno-Cones.