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The Rock-itt : November 2011
Roger 2 in the 12 th century, Cattedrale also Norman. On a visit to Sicily you will see more churches of surpassing beauty inside than you could believe. It must have been an extremely productive place to be able to support such largesse and had a lot of rulers with bad consciences. We also visited Marsala, where I had the joy of being able to buy a dry desert wine. I wish that I could get similar here. Agrigento for Greek remains. They are superb, known as Akragas “most beautiful city of mortals”, founded in 581 BCE by colonists from Rhodes and Gela, a city rich in public buildings but still sacked by a succession of conquerors Carthage, Rome Saracens and Normans, it now displays one of the most extraordinary collections of Bronze sculpture by one modern artist. They were awesome and well worth seeing for themselves alone. The other place that has stuck in my m emory was a visit to a Greek, later Roman theatre still used occasionally for performances, at Taormina, a truly m emorable experience as I was standing under a tree in the town square when an egg(fresh) landed on my head. My tour friends cleaned me up and explained that it was lucky; I think it was lucky to be fresh. Now this is autumn in the Med, perhaps an early migrant from the north had a surplus egg. Or, small child in tree having fun. I had added to my tour a visit to Malta. That to me was a highlight, great hotel and a pair of us did a tour in horse drawn vehicle. Malta is independent now, from the 1960’s but there is a very strong British influence and pride there. They have kept the old letter boxes, and phone boxes, and it is beautiful and clean. Apparently there are 360 different festivals in Malta and its adjacent islands in the year. The boats are painted in bright colours and all have eyes. How can they see where they are going without eyes? The city of Valletta has been lovingly and beautifully restored after the war, it took more than saturation bombing from both Italian and German planes to break them, starvation nearly did as even the garrison there of two British regiments was on half rations. If anyone is interested, I recommend a book by Nicholas Monserrat called the “Kapillan of Malta”. It is fiction and it is not necessarily out of print as I bought a copy at Malta airport when leaving for Rome. It covers som e of the very violent history and of course covers the recent history of 1939-45. Next month I will tell you about my trip on the Dalmatian coast.