Back in Licata
It was very nice to to be back in beautiful Licata….
We could say hello to Mr Cutieclaws again,😻 the nice little catboy that has made his home in the Marina among the liveaboards. And of course the other cats out on the pier got a visit
And quite suddenly Halloween was upon us 🎃
Unfortunately the weather was so bad that the children couldn’t go Trick-or-treating in the harbor like they did last year. So we brought the candy to them instead! In Philips Hall, our place for fun and parties in the Marina, there was a lot of things going on…
Impressive decorations, yummy cookies (as always), lots of cakes and candy and bunches of children, and some grown ups, in funny costumes….
And when the children were done it was our time to celebrate…✨
November went very fast with Yoga, Pilates, Ukulelesessions, reunion dinners with our friends and a cooking class with Marilia…😁
Cooking with Marilia again!😀 This time we made San Martino Bisquits in celebration of San Martino, the patron saint of winemaking!
Pan’e vino, e San Martino– Bread and Wine, and Saint Martin is a saying here on Sicily!
On San Martinos Feast day the 11th November (and maybe on other days ; ) you enjoy these delicious biscuits by dipping them in Moscato, the sweet Italian wine.🍷
A brief visit to Sweden
At the end of November we went to Sweden for a week. We had some paperwork to take care of. Some things you can’t do from abroad! And of course we also wanted to visit Kvarnen and visit friends and family💗 And Sweden showed itself from it’s most beautiful side with wonderful wintry weather. A perfect clear blue sky, white frost covered trees and -10 C ❄☃ Perfect!
We rented a lovely little cottage on the shore of the lake Roxen outside of Norrköping for a few days, so that we could visit our friends and neighbors in Skärblacka. As usual we rented by Air bnb. It is a fantastic way to see places that you would never go to otherwise. Once we had a room in a freighter in Rotterdam, but that’s another story 😃.This time we had an open fireplace and a magnificent view over the beautiful lake.
Then we went to Stockholm to see our family💕
We stayed in Linn’s 1-room apartment. Small but cozy! So nice to be with you again my lovelies 💟
Four generations💖 Alicia,Rein and Linn Linn and Isolde
Back on Hoppetossa
In the beginning of December we were back on Hoppetossa and I went to Marilia for another cooking session! This time we made Cannoli– a delicious and very filling pastry that originated here on Sicily. I think you’ll recognize it when you see it! It is a tubeshaped shell of deepfried pastry dough, filled with a sweet, creamy filling of ricotta (or mascarpone) and chocolate chips. Some people also have white wine and/or Maraschino cherries in them but we didn’t this time.
We were very ambitious and made homebaked scorcias (shells). You have to make the dough really paper thin with the help of a pasta machine. Then cut it out and form it with a special cannoli tube made of metal that you dip in boiling oil for a minute or two! I must say they were very tasty but it is a lot of work and if you don’t mind cheating a bit you can also buy them readymade! 😉
There is a lot of stories about the origin of the Cannolli- Some historians say that it was bored Arabian harem concubines that started to make them and some say it was (bored?) nuns 😏 Whoever it was, they started to appear in or around the city of Caltanissetta sometime between the year 827 and 1091.
Some of the ingredients used in a Cannoli are of Arabic origin, like sugarcane and almonds, but the ricotta is certainly Sicilian so maybe they all worked together? 😉 who knows…
Swedish Lucia celebration in Licata!
The 13:th of December we have a big celebration day in Sweden called Sankta Lucia! One of the many curious things with this tradition is that we actually celebrate the martyr San Lucia of Syracuse, a city not so far from Licata! And of course we had to show the people in the Marina how we Swedes go about this! So we invited everyone to Philips Hall…🧍♀️🧍♂️
This is a typical Lucia Procession in Sweden with Stjärngossar (Starboys) Tomtenissar (Santas Elves) and Pepparkaksgubbar (Gingerbread men) And everybody is singing and singing….🎶🥰
Fun fact–The most common song “Santa Lucia,Ljusklara hägring”came to Sweden with Italian immigrants and the original lyrics are not at all about a Sicilian female Saint. Caruso (I think) is actually singing about a picturesque harbor district in Naples , Borgo Santa Lucia!😂
And the starboys also sing a song about another saint, Saint Stephen, the first Christian martyr. But we call him Staffan Stalledräng (Stable boy) as he goes to take care of his horses…
In the old farmers almanac, Lucia Night was the longest and darkest night of the year, coinciding with the Winter Solstice so this thing with candles in the hair is understandable.
Actually as in so many celebrations in Sweden (and other places) they seem to be a nice blend of Christian and heathen traditions. The name Lucia may or may not be associated with the word Lux (light) and/or Lucifer (the Devil)! Pick your choice!
We had to improvise a bit and after a while we managed to talk our friend Sarah into being Lucia! In a big, borrowed shirt and with blinking Christmas decorations in her hair she made a great Lucia!🥰
In the Marina there are people from many different countries and Rein made a very funny You Tube presentation with a lot of facts and history for them! Combined with Sarah as our Lucia it was a great success!
On Lucia Night we eat ginger bread and Lussekatter (sweet saffron buns) in different shapes and drink Glögg, a kind of mulled wine.🍷 So I baked LOTS of buns….but everybody brought so many different cakes, candy and snacks, so we had enough to eat for several days afterwards. 😊
Traveling around a bit…..🚗
The week before Christmas we rented a car, in order to see a little bit more of Sicily! This is a view from Polizzi Generosa, a small lovely village in the north with about 3500 inhabitants. As you can see we are high up-The town is set 917 meters above sea level in the Madonie National Park.
Like many towns and villages in Sicily, work are relatively scarce and in the last century many locals left to create a new life for themselves in America. Amongst these were the grandparents of director Martin Scorsese .
Agrigento is a a city on the south coast where we have been before and like a lot! It was once one of the leading cities of Ancient Greece, founded around 580 BC. The estimated population during that time is a stunning number between 200-800 thousand people! As a comparison the population today is approx. 60 thousand! Ancient Agrigento, or Akragas, covers a huge area outside the city and the famous Valley of the Temples is well worth a visit💛
We also went to Barrafranca a small medieval village founded 1330. The name comes partly from the name of its founder, baron Matteo Barresi (Barra), and in part from the fact that the town for some reason, was exempted from the payment of tax(franca)! Extended 400 m over a fertile valley, Barrafranca is famous for a rich production of cereals, grapes, almonds, olives, pistachios, walnuts, citrus fruits, and vegetables.
In July 1943, during the invasion of Sicily, it was the seat of the Canicatti Massacre-A war crime in which American Troops killed several unarmed Italian civilians who were looting a factory and refused to disperse despite of warnings. At least eight civilians, including an eleven-year-old girl, were killed though the exact number of casualties is uncertain .
Christmas Eve the 24 Dec Mount Etna, the highest (3 300 m) and most active volcano in Europe had an eruption🌋 Volcanic ash covered several nearby villages, while planes into Catania airport had to be stopped temporarily.
The volcanic activity lasted for about 4 days.
A large explosion was felt close to Etna during the morning and about 130 earthquakes took place, ten people were injured and of course there was some damage to buildings and roads, but luckily nobody was killed 🙏
More than 25% of Sicily’s population lives on Etna’s slopes, and it is the main source of income for the island, both from agriculture (due to its rich volcanic soil) and tourism.
Licata is situated about 130 km west of Etna so we didn’t notice much but we could certainly see and smell the smoke!
And so Christmas begun……
The same procedure as last year…..
Lucky people that we are, we could once again celebrate Christmas twice😃
On the 24th, on Hoppetossa- the Swedish way with glögg, pepparkakor, salmon, pickled herring and other nice treats.
And then again on the 25th with our friends in the Marina!
A wonderful evening with lovely company and a lot of good food . Our friend Shelley had made the most fantastic Christmas Pudding, a traditional Christmas cake from the UK, full of raisins, fruit, almonds, walnuts, spices and Rum! In order to be this perfect you have to make it at least one month in advance and both boil and put fire to it.
But after that it’s worth killing for 😋🥰
I had made meatballs and Janssons Frestelse (a casserole with potatoes, anchovies and onion) and the others brought their special treats. It was a very nice evening and after stuffing ourselves with all the food we played charades until late, late into the night😂🤣
Happy New Year 2019
In January a lot of people i the Marina were still in their home countries and while they were gone we took care of some of their plants🌺 We who are used to the winter weather in the northern part of Europe in January are really enjoying the climate here, some of us more than others 🏊♀️😀
David and Sarah on the New Year swim 1 Jan
In February the circus came to Licata!! Three ships full of French artists arrived in the Marina-acrobats, musicians, dancers, clowns and painters 🤸🏾♂️🤹🏻♀️🎶🎷🎭
The Festina Lente is a travelling festival cruising around the Mediterranean and beyond, with concerts, exhibitions, performances and workshops for children and grownups. It all depends on who are on board the ships at the moment…A wonderful idea! I would have loved to do something like that when I was young 💙
They stayed for two weeks before they sailed away towards Greece, and during that time they gave us performances in the gorgeous old theater in the town, on the square and in the Marina. Lovely people ❤and we were very happy to have them here for a while.
In April it was time for another nice cooking session in Marilias and Angelos beautiful house in the mountains🤗 Homemade pasta with cauliflower and a crunchy crust of cheese, together with sundried tomatoes and olives from Marilias garden!
For dessert Angelicas wonderful Brioches with Granita Siciliana 🍧
A kind of semi frozen sorbet with lemon (or other fruit) that you eat with a bun baked with lemon peels and a touch of cinnamon. Yummy!
As usual Marilia was giving us a lot of fruit from her garden!💚 This time it was Cedro! Cedro is a citrus fruit as you can see on the picture, a bit like a giant, mutant lemon🍋 They can be 20 to 30 cm in diameter.
It’s sweeter than a lemon and you eat the thick and soft white rind that you can peel raw in salads and in Risotto for instance!
You can also eat it candied or preserved in Vodka! I choose to make a delicious marmalade this time!
It’s actually one of the original citrus fruit’s from which all the others have developed and it’s known and used all over Asia and Persia.
I’ve never seen them in Sweden though!
My son Joel and his girlfriend Jessica came to visit us in april💕 and I was happy to take them with me for a last cooking session with Marilia!
First we had freshly baked bread 🥖with pesto, garlic spread and artichoke paste!
After that pasta “Maccu”, a Sicilian soup with fava beans and fennel!
And for dessert Angelicas caramelized almond and pistachio nuts! 😍
Traveling a bit…🚗
We wanted to show Joel and Jessica more of Sicily so we rented a car and went on a road trip…
Our first stop was Palazzolo Acreide, a small town slightly to the west of Syracuse.
Here we were immediately lured in to the beautiful church of St Sebastián by a very energetic (and slightly aggressive) guide that told us that we had ten minutes!!! and then proceeded to herd us around the church, telling us in rapid French-Italian-English when and when NOT to take pictures😅🤣
Next stop was Syracuse which is one of our favorite cities so far…
We were here last summer and we will be back with Hoppetossa on our way east later in April.
But Joel and Jessica have not been here before so we rented an apartment by Airbnb and stayed one night.
On our way back to Hoppetossa we stopped for a nice lunch in Noto.
This is a real architectural beauty filled to the brim with gorgeous baroque palazzos and churches!
Some of them are built with a volcanic stone (tuffsten in Swedish) that glimmers with a soft honey and pink tone in the sunlight. Lovely 💛💛
Jessica getting her portrait done in Syracuse! Maybe not so much like her, but very colorful and funny😀
One of the last days with Joel and Jessica we went to the wonderful nature reserve of Punta Bianca situated between Licata and Agrigento on the south coast of Sicily.
Google told us to turn left into a dirt road that was very much in need of repair.
It was so bad that I think it’s a miracle that our small rented Fiat 500 could drive there at all! 🚗
Twice we had to climb out and walk beside the car and twice we almost decided to turn around, but luckily we didn’t. When we finally arrived we realized it was well worth the effort. It’s stunningly beautiful 💙💙
The last 3 km we walked through a breathtaking landscape, filled with flowers of all shapes and colors.
As the name Bianca tells you some of the cliffs are a shimmering pure white chalkstone.
And the pebbly beaches are so full of seashells and perfect stones that you can walk for hours collecting tons of them!
Joel and Jessica certainly did😊
Time has really been flying this winter and spring and soon we had to say Goodbye to Joel and Jessica😔, and two days later we also said Goodbye to Licata, where we have spent so many nice days!
Now we are heading for Malta….⛵