Archive | pretty places

Exploring English Estates // England with Kids // Part 5

IMG_1985 Hello again! The past few days we’ve been in the mountains of France (more on my Instagram if you’d like to see) and we haven’t had a strong internet connection. We’re in Aix-en-Provence, France, now, and I am back to sharing some photos that I edited while still in the Alps.

I am having so much fun blogging as we go, and I think it will be harder to blog when we are home again, so here we go!

IMG_2023 Back to where I left off in Sussex in southern England. We were house- and pet-sitting for some folks we found through Trusted Housesitters, and we enjoyed spending a lot of afternoons exploring National Trust estates nearby. If you want to enjoy rural England, I highly recommend getting the overseas National Trust pass (good for a week) and visiting these beautiful old estates and gardens! These visits were the highlight of our time in England.

IMG_2019 This particular day, we visited Nymans, an estate that was owned by the mother-in-law of Princess Margaret (if you’re into British royalty!). The gorgeous old home was partially destroyed in a fire — hence the lack of roof on some of the house.

The gardens were magnificent with so many azaleas and camellias and magnolias in bloom. These two flower photos are not touched up or edited at all.

IMG_1983 IMG_2022 I loved this flower-arranging station inside the house at Nymans.

IMG_2024 At a used bookshop on the property (because how perfect is that?!), we picked up a couple of British reads: The Casual Vacancy for me and White Teeth for Elliott. After receiving so many negative reviews from friends here, though, I decided to continue reading The Man Who Was Thursday instead.

IMG_2027 Before deciding that, though, I read some of the book on a bench under a cherry tree, and the petals kept falling around me like snow. Forest napped quietly in the Ergo. What a lovely afternoon!

IMG_1996 When he finally woke up, he got lots of snuggles before we headed home for the day.

IMG_2012 IMG_2017 On another gorgeous day, we visited Rudyard Kipling’s old home, called Bateman’s. This was probably our favorite National Trust property to visit.

IMG_2036 As we ate a picnic lunch, Lena and Gil played a version of horseshoes with a couple of English girls. They made friends and played games with children wherever we went. It was beautiful to see!

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IMG_2209 Afterwards, we explored Kipling’s beautiful old home.

IMG_2208 IMG_2061 Lena and Gil were doing the scavenger hunt to earn a chocolate Easter bunny. Cadbury was collaborating with the National Trust that week during the Easter holiday, so our kids joined many happy children at all the sites doing the hunts and earning their chocolate bunnies!

Below is the study where Rudyard Kipling wrote his books.

IMG_2067 IMG_2068 If you must have a bathroom without plumbing, this is quite a beautiful bathroom to have!

IMG_2076 Afterwards we explored more of the gorgeous grounds, including the pond filled with tiny tadpoles and the unbelievable “Wild Garden” behind the formal gardens.

IMG_2211 Again, not edited at all!

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IMG_2206 IMG_2191 IMG_2046 Later in the day, we headed to Bodiam Castle, a nearby National Trust property.

IMG_2199 IMG_2196 When we walked out, a visitor was feeding bread to the ducks, and she gave lots to Lena and Gil. They had so much fun, but were a little overwhelmed!

IMG_2197 Elliott the veterinarian had other designs on the ducks, though… as usual. Lena got to feel his webbed feet!

IMG_2175 A photo to help me remember my littlest one and my own self at this stage of life, and how content we are being snuggled together.

And one to help me remember how our two older children love climbing in trees and hanging on branches… with castles in the background!

IMG_2202 IMG_2201 We stopped at this gorgeous hotel and pub to eat dinner. They had tables outside, which was perfect for our noisy and tired crew.

IMG_2192 IMG_2194 And then, on the long ride home, Forest and Lena were playing and he kicked out her loose tooth! It had been a topic of intense conversation for weeks, so we were all thrilled it was finally gone. Gil, meanwhile, tried to pull out his own by tugging on his socks… hmm. Bedtime for everyone.

More to come soon, I hope!

4 :: in family, pretty places, travel

Weekend Getaway to NYC! — Part I

IMG_9152 A few weeks ago, Elliott found out he could go to a two-week training course for veterinarians on Long Island, which is something he’s wanted to do for a very long time. I told him I was coming with him, both kids in tow, and was going to spend every day that I could trucking into the city with my little ones and exploring to our hearts’ content.

He didn’t think that was such a great idea. Crushed!

… because he had a better plan — a much better plan. He bought a plane ticket for his sister Jess to come out and babysit our kids… and then he bought me a plane ticket to come visit him in NYC for the weekend — just the two of us!

IMG_9154 I had the best time on that 4.5-hour flight sitting all by myself and researching what to do in NYC. We’d already decided to stay in Chelsea (south of Times Square and the Upper West Side and Central Park) because I wanted to focus as much as possible on Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn. I had barely seen this part of NYC, and I know it is rich with restaurants, shops, outdoor spaces, and urban development.

I printed off Taza’s NYC Guide and a couple of posts from Cup of Jo, got an excellent guidebook from the library, and mapped out our plan for the weekend!

IMG_9361 I arrived at JFK on a Friday afternoon, but Elliott wouldn’t be able to meet me at our hotel in Chelsea until around 11pm. I took the train into the city, finished up some work in our hotel room, and then hit the streets. First stop: Doughnut Plant. Not a bad place to be on National Donut Day!

IMG_9168 I spent the whole afternoon walking from Chelsea all the way down to Soho, stopping to eat and shop along the way.

IMG_9163 As it was getting dark, I slipped into McNally Jackson Books, found the novel I left in my hotel room, and settled down to read for a little while. (This is a great book, by the way!)

IMG_9165 A few minutes later my dear friend and college roommate Sarah found me, and we went around the corner to the delicious bistro called Fanelli’s Cafe. Such a wonderful meal with an old friend! She’s been living in NYC since we graduated from UVA, and I was planning to join her there… until Elliott came along. ;) I still hope we can join her there to live one day instead of just an overnight visit!

After dinner, Elliott arrived in the city, and I was so glad to see that guy. Adventuring alone was fine, but it’s so much more cozy to share it with your best friend.

IMG_9368 The next morning we got up early, eager to make the most of our day in the city. We discovered our hotel is in “the flower district,” which is really just one block of wholesale flower shops. I watched in wonder as dads, daughters, and dogs joined florists and wedding planners in buying flowers that cool Saturday morning.

 

 

IMG_9172 Afterwards we searched unsuccessfully for coffee (New Yorkers do not wake up until after 10am on Saturday mornings, apparently) and then walked up to the High Line. I’d never seen it before and loved that fresh, quiet walk above the cars and crowds. At 9am on a Saturday, everything was so peaceful.

becca-garber-new-york-city-nyc-2 Tipsy Parson for brunch! So delicious. We were given a tiny little marble-top table by a big window, and our heavenly breakfast tasted even better when flooded with light from the little garden outside. Lots of fun people-watching, too.

IMG_9181 Chelsea Market… so dark and beautiful even at noon on a Saturday.

IMG_9182 We popped off the High Line in Greenwich Village and made our way to Bleecker Street, where we discovered this gorgeous old market…

IMG_9376 … and Magnolia Bakery…

IMG_9375 … and this friendly bookstore

IMG_9195 … and Murray’s Cheese!…

IMG_9204 IMG_9205 … and finally Purl Soho, mecca of meccas for the yarn and fabric enthusiast, and a necessary pilgrimage for me on every trip to New York City.

IMG_9352 becca-garber-new-york-city-nyc-1 IMG_9209 Doesn’t all that color make your heart so happy?

I have so many more pictures, so I’ll save the rest for (hopefully) tomorrow. Have you been to any of these wonderful places? What’s your favorite little corner of NYC?

11 :: in husband, marriage, pretty places, travel

Here’s to Romantic Getaways to Wine Country and Mountains!

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Falkner Winery

Pretty much every time Elliott and I try to leave the house, plans change at the last minute and we forget some critical piece of attire and nothing is quite as we expected… and usually we end up having a pretty good time anyway. I’m guessing most of you can relate on some level, being human and all. ;)

This past weekend is the perfect example. Elliott had been invited to speak to veterinary students at UC-Davis, and his parents were in town, and so we were planning a getaway to Davis (cool college town) and Napa (wine!) for just the two of us.

But then UC-Davis postponed the event, and we were left with a four-day weekend and nothing to do.

In true Garber style, we made no new plans until the day of, and then decided… let’s stay closer to San Diego but go away anyway!

So Elliott booked us a room for the night, we put our kids down for naps, packed our bags, hugged Elliott’s parents, and set off for wine country.

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Ponte Vineyard (left) and South Coast (right)

An hour later, we drove into one of Southern California’s wine regions, located just outside Temecula, CA. The vineyards were clustered together, some within walking distance of each other, so we got to visit seven (!) while we were there. I was writing an article about them for eCoronado, so it made sense to visit as many as we could, even if we didn’t drink wine at all of them.

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The tasting room at Ponte Vineyard.

For the record, our favorite was Ponte Vineyard, pictured above. The facility includes an outdoor restaurant, beautiful tasting room, and a inn (rated by TripAdvisor as the 13th best hotel in America!), and the property is surrounded by picturesque vineyards. King Family Vineyards in Crozet, VA, will forever be my favorite vineyard of all time, but Ponte might be second.

Other favorites included Falkner Winery (for the view and wines), Callaway Winery (for the restaurant and wines), and South Coast Winery Resort & Spa (for the grounds and picnic foods).

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I promise Elliott is wearing pants!

Later that afternoon we checked into our “hotel” for the night, an AirBnB rental. We were renting an RV! I haven’t stayed in an RV since I was about eight years old, so this was totally fun. The RV is parked beside the owner’s ranch house, future fruit orchard, and large petting zoo with an alpaca, dwarf goat, three miniature horses, and about 100 chickens. The owner also runs her own chocolate business, and I might have been very excited about the chocolates she left in our fridge. We were very happy.

becca-garber-getaway-san-diego-temecula-wine-idyllwild-4 The next afternoon we decided to extend our stay (thank you, grandparents!) and head up to the sleepy mountain town of Idyllwild. Don’t you just love that name? Idyllwild… stay awhile…

IMG_7653 Once again, our accommodations were simple, rustic, and suited us perfectly. Also this is one of my favorite things in the world: watching my husband build us a fire!

IMG_7577 In the morning we discovered the most amazing cafe: Idyllwild Bake Shop & Brew. The atmosphere is warm and friendly, enhanced by the young proprietor sporting flannel and a big beard, and his wife making all their baked goods from scratch in the back. We bought breakfast, lunch, and afternoon coffees there!

becca-garber-getaway-san-diego-temecula-wine-idyllwild-2 Elliott was eager to go on a hike before heading home, but we had packed for wine-tasting, not serious hiking. (Can you say “last-minute planners”?!) In the end, we opted for the easiest local trail (Deer Springs) and hiked a total of 6.5 miles in the quiet, piney forest.

Elliott took this photo at the mid-point of our hike after we ate our Idyllwild Bake Shop sandwiches. This kind of tired is the best kind of tired!

becca-garber-getaway-san-diego-temecula-wine-idyllwild-1 The two days away were so refreshing to both of us. We spent a lot of time in quiet togetherness, not necessarily talking or not talking, but just abiding. Savoring peaceful unity in our time alone together.

And a big thank you again to Elliott’s amazing parents! We could never have relaxed or stayed away so long without knowing our kids were in such capable hands. We returned to them much better parents than when we left!

34 :: in hiking, husband, marriage, pretty places, travel

Our 10 Favorites in Sicily {Within 1 Hour of Sigonella}

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I’ve been wanting to share some of our favorite day trips, restaurants, and beaches in Sicily because these places hold our best memories from the three years we’ve spent in this beautiful place. I hope new generations of visitors and Sigonella military families to enjoy them after we depart!

If you have questions or if my directions are wrong, please let me know in the comments, and I’ll be sure to get them updated. And if you have suggestions of your own, add them there too!

Taormina

I love Taormina so much that I could go there every week, and Elliott thinks that I pretty much do. It is the prettiest town in Sicily, and it’s what you dream of when you hear the word “Italy.”

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When you visit Taormina, you can park in two different places: at the bottom of town and ride the cable car up into the old town, or in the public garage right outside of the old town.

The cable car parking lot costs about 5 euro a day, and cable car tickets are 3 euro each way per person. (Small children ride for free.) The cable car drops you off right outside the city walls of Taormina.

If you prefer not to ride the cable car, follow the road signs from the toll booth to “Taormina” or “Porta Catania” (the name of the huge public garage). Once you park in the garage, you can walk up the hill and enter the city. I usually do this, and I pay about 8 euro to park for 5 hours.

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Now you’re in Taormina! I always eat lunch at Da Cristina, which was written up in the New York Times and sells the best Sicilian street food I’ve ever eaten. We stop for mini cannoli at one of the little pastry shops along the way. We generally walk through the town until we reach the beautiful Villa Comunale gardens, which has stunning views, quiet benches, stone picnic tables (yes!), a fish pond, Amazon parrots that say “ciao!”, and a dilapidated playground that my kids love.

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On our way back up the hill from the park, we always, always stop at Bam Bar for the best granita (Italian ice) in Taormina. Actually, it’s the best granita in the world. Get the lemon and raspberry (limone e lampone) or maybe the coffee granita with thick whipped cream on top. Order a brioche (sweet bun) and a cappuccino, and take a bite of everything for me!

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Beach tip: The cable car parking lot is also a great place to park if you want to visit the beach in Taormina. You just have to walk out of the parking lot, turn right, climb the hill, and cross the street (follow the signs) to take a long flight of stairs down to the rocky beach. In April, this staircase is full of brilliant purple wisteria! On the rocky beach, you can also wade across to the beautiful little island of Isola Bella, where a Scottish heiress built herself a house when she escaped her unhappy marriage.

To inspire your visit, here are all our many Taormina adventures!

Cassibile Nature Reserve Beach

We love a lot of beaches in Sicily, but Cassibile is our favorite. It’s also called Fonda Pineta del Gelsomineto. It’s an hour drive from Sigonella, past Siracusa, so generally we make a day of it. The pin in this map indicates the beach. Admission costs 10-12 euro during the week and 12-15 euro on the weekend during the summer, and you pay the parking attendant when you turn at the new yellow building by the side of the road.

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Bring food, a portable grill, a beach umbrella, a beach tent, your dog, whatever you like. There are virtually no rules. There is a tiny cafe, and sometimes a guy walks down the beach with a cooler full of fresh coconut, but otherwise no food for sale. There are public bathrooms, but nowhere else to change, so I come and go in my swimsuit.

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My husband loves to take visitors and friends on a short walk/hike (shoes or flip flops are recommended) up the cliffs to a safe place to jump off into the water below. I’m always stuck on the beach with a baby, but he says it’s great! We’ve also explored the pillbox on the northern end of the beach; it was used by the Germans during WWII to watch for invaders by sea.

Siracusa & Ortigia

I love to take visitors to beautiful Ortigia, the little island connected by a short bridge to the city of Siracusa. I usually park at this large parking lot and then wander through the city towards the main piazza.

My absolute favorite place to eat is right there in the piazza at the delicious pizzeria called La Volpe e  l’Uva (The Fox and the Grape). Their menu is trendy and their food is delicious, and I will dream about their four cheese pizza forever.

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After lunch and a gelato cone, we wander down to the waterfront, where papyrus grows in a little freshwater pond. Sometimes we go swimming at the tiny little beach in the port. One summer my sister-in-law and I were so hot, and the teenagers in their mismatched bikinis looked so happy jumping off the pier into the sparkling water, that finally we just took off our shorts and jumped into the water with them!

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While in Siracusa, I have also visited the Archeological Park several times. It’s about a 10-minute drive from Ortigia, and it’s possible to do both in the same day. Admission is 10 euro per person (buy your ticket across the street from the entrance), and there are three large archeological sites to see inside the gates: an amphitheater, a theater that is still in use during the summer, and a cave with a notorious echo.

Here are photos from three trips to Siracusa

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Catania

I visit Catania at least once a month, mostly because I absolutely love the huge market. It’s open every day except Sunday from 8am-1pm, and the prices and produce are incomparable.

I park here underneath the arched bridge. My friend taught me to do this and I’ve been parking here for three years with no issues. The attendant (a friendly guy with gray hair) guides me to a parking spot and will watch my car until about 1:30pm for whatever I want to pay him. I usually give him two euro. Clearly it’s not “legal,” but it isn’t illegal either, a paradox that only makes sense in certain parts of the world.

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Once I park, I walk through the main city gate into Elephant Square (Piazza Duomo/Fontane dell’Elefante). I then might:

  • Ride the tourist train around the city (here are pictures and information from a trip we took)
  • Walk into the huge and magnificent Cattedral Sant’Agata
  • Stroll down the main street of Catania (Via Etnea) to get the best arancini in the city at Pasticceria Savia. I then walk across the street to eat them in the Giardino Bellini, the beautiful public gardens.
  • Wander around the market for fresh produce and fish. When you’re in Elephant Square, look for the white marble fountain. The fish market is behind it (a must-see!), and the fresh fruits and vegetables start there. I buy fresh live mussels (three euro a kilo) for dinner almost every time I come here.

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On our way out, the kids love to visit the playground right next to where we park. The playground is in pretty good condition and has a lot of equipment, which is unusual for Sicilian playgrounds.

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Mount Etna

It is possible to hike most of the way up Mt Etna, and we did it once as a family right after we moved to Sicily. It was an experience I don’t want to repeat — lava is not interesting scenery! — but I’m glad we did it. Mt Etna erupted while we were as high as we were allowed to climb, and that is definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience. You can read about that whole adventure (and get some advice) here.

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These days when we hike on Mt Etna, we drive to Etna Sud (the South Station) and hike on a trail nearby. You can find the trail head by driving through the South Station, passing the Silvestri crater on your right, going down the hill, and parking at the T intersection at the bottom of that hill. There’s a little volcanic ash parking lot to your left at that intersection (here’s the location on Google Maps). A wonderful trail starts at that parking lot; just walk around the metal boom and start up the rocky path. The hike takes about 45 minutes for active adults and leads you around the side of Mt Etna to look down into the huge, black lava field. You can continue up the path from there to climb more of Etna if you’d like. Here are pictures from one of our hikes.

You can ski on Mt Etna, too! Here’s everything you need to know.

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Nicolosi

While you’re near Mt Etna, there is a lot to see and enjoy in Nicolosi. This beautiful mountain town is full of delicious restaurants, shops, cafes, parks, and B&Bs. Elliott and I have gone there twice for overnight getaways, staying in this lovely little B&B both times.

We’ve enjoyed delicious spreads at three restaurants and I recommend all of them: Antichi Proverbi, Antico Orto Dei Limone, and 1877 . We also love cappuccinos and gelato at La Dolce Vita and pre-dinner drinks at Santo Doca in the main piazza.

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Here are links to our first getaway without the kids and our romantic skiing weekend (oxymoron?).

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We also love to hike in Monti Rossi, which is a beautiful park on two small hills just outside the town of Nicolosi. There is a ropes course there that’s a lot of fun for kids’ birthday parties (Monti Rossi Adventure Park), and past that is a picnic and grill area. Elliott and I have hiked all over the two hills with and without our kids, and we always feel like we’re in another world when we step into the quiet pine forest.

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Borgo Antico Agriturismo

There’s nothing like Sunday lunch at a Sicilian agriturismo! Our favorite farm-to-table restaurant is Borgo Antico Agriturismo, which is about 30 minutes from Sigonella. As of Summer 2014, the meal costs 30 euro per adult and it is worth every penny. There are four courses:

  • Appetizers, which consists of about 15 different dishes, all more delicious than the last!
  • Pasta, usually two different kinds with homemade pasta
  • Meat, usually three different platters accompanied by a simple salad
  • Dessert and seasonal fruit

The meal also includes as much wine and olive oil as you want to consume, and both are made from grapes and olives on Borgo’s land. The setting is lovely, and between courses the kids can run outside in the citrus groves. I’ve been there at least five times and each meal is better than the last.

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We also enjoyed an incredible agriturismo meal in Randazzo on Mt Etna at Etna Quota Mille. where the meats were grilled instead of breaded and fried like at Borgo. A vineyard called Nanfro (also about an hour from Sigonella) serves an incredible agriturismo meal accompanied by their own delicious wines, and the tour of the vineyard is also fascinating.

Casa delle Farfalle (The Butterfly House)

We love to go here as a family on Sunday afternoons, which is when the butterfly garden is open to the public. We park for two euro for the day, and admission to the butterfly house costs 5 euro per adult. The employees will want to give you a tour in English if they can, and we’ve enjoyed that every time, although it is tedious with small children. Afterwards you’re left alone to enjoy the beautiful butterfly garden.

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We picnic in the grass behind the butterfly garden, usually surrounded by other picnicking families. We’ve always been the only Americans there, so it’s a wonderful chance to mix quietly with Italian families enjoying the sunshine and outdoors on a Sunday afternoon.

becca-garber-casa-delle-farfalle-butterfly-house-sicily-2.jpg The butterfly garden is also open on Saturdays and weekdays, but you will have to call and make a reservation. Only Sundays are public. It’s open from April to October during the year.

I wrote about the butterfly garden twice before: visiting with other moms and kids and a Sunday afternoon family trip.

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The Sigonella Inn Pool

There is a pool on base at Sigonella, but you have to pay to use it (usually $4 for adults and $3 for kids) and it is only open for recreational swimming from 12:30-6pm from roughly Memorial Day to Labor Day. By 12:30, the baby pool is in the shade, and it gets cold for kids and moms.

So, because of sunshine, nap schedules, and general thriftiness, I head to the Sigonella Inn pool across the street from NAS 1 instead. This pool is free if you don’t rent a deck chair (which is 5 euro), and the shallow kids’ pool is beautiful and lit with sunshine. We usually leave by 2pm because apparently the pool party really heats up later in the day. On the weekends, it’s bustling with Italians and Americans together, and I love being a part of the melting pot.

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Also, their restaurant makes pizza at the poolside for about six euro a pizza, and you can eat it in a take-out box right by the pool. This summer my friend Sarah have gotten into the habit of swimming with our kids and enjoying pizzas at least once a week!

Random mom tip: if you’re looking for a cool place to go on a hot day, IKEA is not a bad choice. During the week it’s not crowded, and there is a delicious restaurant to break up your browsing for everything you don’t need but are going home with anyway. The restaurant is also right by the kids’ section, which has a great play area. My kids play, eat the food I brought (hello thrifty), get a 50-cent ice cream cone from the super fabulous machine, and then play some more before we leave. I love the place so much that I’ve blogged about it here as a playdate and here with a brand new baby!

Caltagirone

Home of Sicily’s traditional yellow-and-blue ceramics, Caltagirone is a lovely spot to browse take visitors, shop for souvenirs, and eat a delicious meal at a tucked-away restaurant. In addition to shopping for ceramics, I have visited during the Christmas season to see the many presepe (nativity) scenes set up in garages and little shops throughout the town. More details in these blog posts: pottery shopping and the presepe.

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——–

We have loved our three years in Sicily, but I know it isn’t everyone’s cup of cappuccino. If you’re about to move here, it will probably be a lot different from what you’re expecting. And those who have lived here for any length of time know that it’s easy to focus on the negatives, like the driving, or the trash, or everything that comes with living in a rural area.

What we have found is that it’s best to focus on what Sicily does best: deliciously fresh produce and seafood, rich red wine that’s cheap as water, the tallest active volcano in Europe, farm-to-table meals that last all afternoon, sparkling turquoise water by yellow sand beaches, warm and filling street food, and — of course! — sweet gelato cones on hot summer afternoons.

Combine this with Sicily’s warm, generous, welcoming, wonderful people, and you have a whole new world at your fingertips. I wish you a wonderful time in Sicily!

25 :: in agriturismo, beach, hiking, Italy, memories, military life, Mt Etna, pretty places, Sicily, skiing, Taormina, travel

Taormina with our last visitor

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Well, probably she was our last. I still need to send an email to one more friend in case she wants to get a last-minute flight around our crazy schedule, but… for the sake of the story (and the “savor this!” state of my own heart), Jenna was probably our last visitor.

And she was a great one. We’ve been friends since high school, so we loved reconnecting and watching the years and distance melt away. My favorite moment was when she had both my kids up on the counter and was teaching them how to stuff zucchini blossoms with fresh ricotta cheese before she beer-battered and deep fried them. Yes, it was just as ridiculously delish as it sounds!

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The kids and I took Jenna to Taormina, a pretty town which is probably my favorite place in Sicily. My friend Alyssa (pictured below) and her visitor, her cousin Scott, also joined us for the day, and we ran into more friends while we were there. The more, the merrier!

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As has been previously documented, I find Taormina’s biking postman completely charming.

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Jenna bought Lena one of the squishy balls that street vendors try to sell on every corner. She was heaven for about 10 minutes before it started leaking water everywhere! Such is our history with these things…

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I went back and bought the dress that I tried on at the mall last week! A few Instagram friends convinced me it was worth it, and I’m so glad I did. Lena’s dress is from the Tea Collection, and I think I love it even more than she does, if that’s possible. So soft, twirly, and bright.

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Arancini (Sicilian rice balls) for lunch in the Villa Communale park… and the dying squishy toy.

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And Bam Bar for fresh, fruity granita (Italian ice) and brioche buns, of course! I can’t think of a more refreshing treat on a hot day. Hope San Diego has something like it!

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At the end of the day, we went into Kerameion to pick up our tile painting from the artist, Marco. We asked him to use a picture of our town framed against Mt Etna, with some blood orange trees in the foreground. Our little yellow house is on the edge of that cliff, and we see this view every time we drive to and from base.

What a souvenir, right?! I know we’ll treasure this forever! Have you ever purchased a piece of original artwork, or had anything commissioned? I’m of the opinion that it’s worth it, but I might just be smitten!

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8 :: in Italy, pretty places, Sicily, Taormina, visitors

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