Villa Romana del Casale


50 Ways to Leave your Lover, much harder to Leave this Bay

It takes days to get me leave Cefalú. One day after the other, I decide to move ahead tomorrow. When tomorrow comes, it comes with yesterday’s repeating: tomorrow… Finally, with my Müsli storage being almost empty and being billed with five nights at Camping Sanfilippo, Hector turns inlands towards Piazza Armerina.


Bye Bye, Cefalú

Along the way, Sicilia changes it’s appearance: prospering plants fade out and give space to hills coloured in all shades of green and brown. The frequency of villages goes down, leaving it all up to lonely roads and endless landscape.


First stop of the day is Enna. I find a perfectly legal parking spot for Hector, switch on google maps and start walking towards the centre of this mountain village. Turning right, asking locals, moving on, turning left, checking my cell phone and finally: giving up. I learn that global internet companies fail when it comes to the very south of Europe. Not only that a lot of apps come with worn-out information (if any), the map shown on my little screen indicates that the centre of Enna was located on another hill in 14km of distance. Which, in fact, is not true. Truth is, that I cannot imagine Enna being that attractive and decide to move on towards further destinations.


Enna. Sort of.

Today is superslim-Hector day. Would he be bigger with just some millimetres more, we might have been stuck in the narrow streets of Enna downtown, where I eventually find the churches, restaurants and cafés I had been looking for. However, it does not look that much exciting or inviting, and with a sigh of relief I continue my way. In the afternoon, we arrive at an overnight camper parking that is highlighted in one of my travel books.


Sad, so Sad

The place “Agricasale” is strange. And empty. With the latter being true especially for the huge outdoor pool that looks so inviting in my book. With a cold and rainy May, the owners are not yet done with the ready-for-season works. At least, they have stable WiFi and reasonable prices, showers and toilets and electricity and, above all, a lot of nature.


Dogs run around, making friends with Hector and proving the friendship by peeing in front of my main door. Horses come by, their heads covered in clouds of black flies. In the distance, some sheep hang around and at least they have no intention bothering me – sure enough the opposite is true for the mosquitoes… The place is beyond clear definitions. A hotel? Not really. A camper park? Only as a side business. But besides what? Does the conversation with the owner lead anywhere, circling around free love?? The situation gets a bit less absurd when the RV of a French couple arrives. We sit together with wine and soft drinks and exchange tips and experiences of our Sicilian travel.


Next day is culture day! Villa Romana del Casale is the touristic hot spot in Sicily’s inland, like the Italian version of Neuschwanstein. Endless floors are covered with all kinds of artful mosaic tiles. Some are just decoration, some tell stories of heroes and glory, of hunters and cruises, beasts and beauties.


Itty-bitty Tiles, Well-Sorted


The area, consisting of several buildings (more true: their leftovers), is large. Even in 4th century it must have been a surreal experience to live here. Like inhabiting a temple of arts and craftmanship. Historically, it is a glance on ancient ideals: Fame and beauty were interpreted in a different manner than today’s selfies on Instagram.


Mental Note for my next Visit: Dress in my best Bikini, Pose for a Selfie right in front!


Big as an Elephant: Area of Villa Casale


I manage to be through with all rooms and floors before thousands of tourists arrive. I get a cup of coffee and fancy about cheap mosaic specialists offering their works in the traditional German “Gelbe Seiten”  phone book… Probably I better move on, especially with all extras and unforeseen obstacles that lay in store for me on Sicilia’s roads.

>> Next Destination



…then you follow recommendations of people along the way and you end up in a picturesque bay with a dog. In fact, the dog belongs to the girl who takes the picture, but the rest is as it is: just wonderful.


At, even: in! my wonderful bay close to Cefalú

Hector hops on the best spot of Camping Sanfilippo with only inches between his rear tires and the sea. If you prefer a big pool, hot showers and modern sanitary facilities, choose Camping Ponente which shares the bay with Sanfilippo. If you are more like me, looking for beauty in simplicity, this might be your spot. As long as your van is as slim as Hector, that is.


I spend hours in front of my super van, doing nothing but watching the sun dive into the ocean.


Hector, being romantic with gorgeous sunsets

When I wake up the next morning, it still looks like this:


I leave it up to Hector to take care of the beach today and get on the public bus, offering comfortable connections from the campsite to Cefalú downtown. I like places like this, with touristic life embedded in the historic centre, inviting enough for a coffee between palm trees and a cathedral from 13th century.


Norman Cathedral, opened quite a while ago (back in 1240)

A rock with a view, deep blue sea, sandy beaches, historic architecture, all kinds of gelato and food – Cefalú has it all. It is a bunch of holiday facets, tempting to spend hours or days or even weeks here.


It is not only the beach with its beach towel merchants, with sunbeds and enough free space in between. It is not even the cathedral, ordered by Sicilia’s first Norman King and linked to Monreale (= built by the very last Norman King – same same, but different). Even the choice of restaurants, wine bars and ice cream is far from being solely responsible for the attraction of Cefalú.


How to spend the Afternoon here

It is the combination of it all, situated between rocks and mountains and the splendid sea.


2019_06_01_C1And, of course, it is about  people: locals presenting themselves at the beach where they meet for a little chat.

If you are keen on instagrammable spots, you will find them spread along the coast line. Here, you do not even have to fight foreign tourist groups with their selfie-sticks – among all positive facets, one of the best is the relaxed atmosphere, at least in the first days of June.

Personally, the charm of my days in Cefalú is the ideal spot for  perfect van-life. Even though the city is close enough, I love spending time at “my” little beach, starting with some yoga into the days and reduce sightseeing to a mere staring-at-the-sea.


>> Next Destination

Etna Sud

On May 29, we decide eventually not to stay the night up on 2.000m / Parking Etna Sud, proving us being smart camper girls. Otherwise, we would have been shaken…


None of this is predictable when we start on our 12th day from Sabbiadoro towards the Etna. We would love to tell you that we catch one of the rare days when Etna’s peak is clearly visible, but we rather see business as usual: one third of the volcano is covered by clouds. The more we approach it, the less inviting looks our surrounding.


Approaching the Etna. And the Garbage. And the Clouds.

It gets better, though, as Hector’s wheels climb up and up the mountain. Grey lava and colourful flowers embellish the road and give a first impression of nature’s forces that may be calm, but always present.


Somehow Beautiful

I suddenly smile, thinking of a friend who comments left-but-slow-drivers on the highway with a reference to common video games: “Die rechte Spur ist Lava”. Right he is… (special greetings to Klaus!).


Hector meets Lava

Walking around a volcano is like landing on a foreign planet. It is almost irritating to see the regular blue sky above us, a yellow or violet firmament would fit in even better.


Extra. Terrestrial.

With a few metres of distance, it becomes obvious that Hector is parked right in the middle of a former lava flow. That is what they do here: they observe. They wait. Once the Etna erupts, they wait again (more cautious now). When the lava is cold enough, they re-build the roads and welcome tourist busses.


Hector = Vulkanaut (Auto, das Vulkane hoch fährt)

The same is true for the funicular: the former one got partly destroyed by eruptions? Never mind, we erect new pylons beside the old ones and start all over again. Danger vs. tourism, money vs. nature.


Funicular Etna South

We leave Hector for expensive parking fees at the tourist parking and choose early lunch at the local (and very touristic) restaurant. It is only there that I wonder if some parts of the building might be less stable then others – it seems that the walls are slightly shaking sometimes. At that point we still make jokes about possible earthquakes…


After Lunch, we go up on one of the older craters. While the Stromboli had been extraordinary with its regular eruptions, the Etna impresses by its sheer size. We look south and see the sea in a far distance – like merging Mars into Mediterranean.


Looking north, we see more craters and the massive clouds that swallow 1.000m of the volcano’s height.


Etna. And, in the distance, more Etna.

It is fascinating up here, a whole lot of nature jumps at our faces. Partly due to the view and the weird landscape, partly literally with all the pumice that is blown up on us. Volcanos and wind always come as a couple.


…did I mention the cold Wind??

We consider the option staying the night up here. Yet, 6°C and light rain is not the most comfortable surrounding – hence, we decide to go down to Catania for a relaxed campsite with seaside. Hector is already focused on the destination and off we go.


Like an Aerosmith Song: “Going… down?!”

Camping Jonio is just perfect for our last common night. Any parking position more than 20m away from the sea is so not our style, and here we have everything we need. Apart from being close to downtown, that is. However, we are in walking distance to a small harbour and detect wonderful fish shops along the way.


Lava with Summer Feeling: Back to the Sea

It is our last evening together before Martina catches her flight the next morning. Consequently, we find one of the most excellent restaurants of the entire trip and enjoy all kinds of fish, a bottle of Donnafugata Cattarratero, dessert, coffee and total luxury at Nitto restaurant, Porto piccolo.

When we fall asleep that night, we are not aware of the Etna and its erupting activities.


This Picture was probably taken in the very moment of the Etna’s Eruption. Well – we missed all the Action, but that is not so bad

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In Between Highlights (II)


Sicilian Travel Quality

…kann Spuren von geschlossener Asphaltdecke enthalten. Muss aber nicht… Presenting today’s roads: after one direction had been blocked already, there was not much of a choice, so we made our way through rough parts.

…and this is what happens when bumping into a group of young Dutchmen. No complaints.

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