We are nearing the end of our first summer visitor. My sister has been here for about a month and leaves at the end of the week. Her visit has been wonderful – we’ve explored around Sicily, eaten a lot of bruschetta, spent a lot of time at the beach, and went to Croatia for our second big vacation. Christy and I had our tickets booked, but didn’t know if Sean would be able to go until just a couple days before. So we booked him a last minute flight, and he was able to spend the week in Croatia.
We had heard a lot of good things about Croatia, but still didn’t know exactly what to expect. Upon arrival though, we all voted that it was stellar. The water is clear and blue, the towns are darling and picturesque, and the whole country is beautiful. English is widely spoken and their infrastructure is good, so it’s very easy to get around. We spent our first few days in Cavtat, just south of Dubrovnik. We would spend our mornings swimming off the rocks in Cavtat, and then go into Dubrovnik for the afternoon. Dubrovnik is a medieval town built on the southern coast of Croatia. The wall surrounding the city still stands, and the city itself is beautiful. It was bombed heavily during the war in 1991 for about 7 months, and the majority of the buildings were hit. It has been carefully rebuilt and restored though, and there is little evidence of the destruction. The city is a maze of stone roads and buildings, we enjoyed wandering around, eating mussels, and exploring.
From Dubrovnik, we took a bus up to Split, where we spent a couple nights. In Split, we rented a car and drove up to Plitvice Lakes National Park. We had seen pictures of it, and it was part of why we picked Croatia. It did not disappoint. It looks like a fairy land of rocks and waterfalls. We spent two days there walking along the wooden paths over and around the water.
Our last night in Croatia we spent in Trogir, and in the morning we flew out. Sean went back to Sicily to go to work, and Christy and I headed to Rome for a few days. We saw most of the big sights, had many cones of gelato, hung out in the piazzas, and ate pasta carbonara every day. Christy had two friends that were in Rome at the same time, so we spent an evening with them. We were also able to meet our cousin’s boyfriend Fede, who took us on a tour of the city at night. Now, we are back in Sicily. We went down to Villa Romana del Casale, a 4th century villa that contains the largest collection of Roman mosaics in the world. The villa was covered by a mudslide centuries ago, and only recently rediscovered and excavated. Since it had been covered in mud for so many centuries, it’s extremely well preserved. The place is massive, and beautiful. August 17th was the festival of Saint Agatha in Catania. Saint Agatha is the patron saint of Catania. There is a three day festival in February commemorating when she was martyred, and August celebrates when her relics were returned to Catania. The whole piazza is crowded with people, and at dusk her relics are carried around the city in a procession, followed by lots of fireworks. A few days ago, Christy and I took a drive down to some of the hill towns in southern Sicily. We stopped in Ragusa and Noto, beautiful towns that were mostly destroyed by an earthquake in 1693, but have been rebuilt.
Etna has been erupting off and on for the past few months. Christy and I drove up a few weeks ago to check out the eruptions, you could actually see the lava flow and bursts from the freeway along the coast. My parents and grandmother come in a couple days, so we will have more adventures to come.