An Agriturismo in Sicily

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We sadly said farewell to the Aeolian Islands and the Sailing Vessel Enrica. We had a 35-mile crossing back to “mainland” Sicily with no wind, but it was quiet and gave us a chance to transition back to shore life.

We had a lay day before our next destination, so I booked us into an agriturismo in the nearby Nebrodie mountains. Italy has a program where local farms can earn extra subsidies by hosting guests. The requirement is that the farm really must be a working farm – not a hotel. These can range from an extra room in the farmer’s house to more upscale villas, but they usually offer a few less “frills” than regular lodgings. You will probably not find a champagne bar or spa – after all, this is a farm first.

Off the Boat

We had to be off the boat my 9 am. We packed, cleaned, and had our check-out with the boat base. By the time we hauled all of our stuff down the plank, up the floating dock, and down the very long concrete pier, we were hot and exhausted. Since we are going to an apartment after this, we decided to take our grocery bags of leftover toilet paper, wine, and pasta. Plus we still have Mirella’s olive oil and had acquired a basil plant from the fruit cart man in Lipari. We looked like the Beverly Hillbillies.

Our taxi picked us up for the 12-mile journey. We quickly left the sea behind and rode straight up, up, up. Before we knew it, the air had cooled, and we could see tiny villages precariously perched on the mountainside. We pulled into our agriturismo and into another world.

Casali di Margello

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We had stepped into a magical place. The farm dates back several generations and was centered around an olive press. The current owners inherited the farm from her grandfather and opened the agriturismo in 2000. They have won international awards for sustainability and create their own electricity through solar power, have their own system to capture water, and grow their own crops, oranges, lemons, and olives. They also have sheep, goats, and the famous black Nebrodie pigs (I have read about these in the guidebook).

The owners turned the outbuildings, dating from the 1800s into 10 spacious rooms, which are very nice and all have their own entrances and lots of privacy. There are little nooks and crannies everywhere to read or just enjoy the view, along with a pool that overlooks the mountainside villages in the distance. And there is no WIFI except at one spot in the center of things – we called it “The WIFI Chair.”  So – it was an excellent chance to really unplug and relax.

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At first we didn’t know what to do with outselves. After all the rushing around – sailing back, getting the boat back in order, and packing, we were at a loss. No schedule, nothing to do, and no WIFI. So we went exploring. Soon we found Chiccho, who has worked on the farm for 45 years. He was off to feed the pigs, so we followed him. We approached a fence – seeing nothing – and he called out in a sing-song voice. Soon a black head popped out of the trees and a gigantic black hog thundered toward the fence, followed by more. Chiccho kept singing and then a teeny black head peeked out tentatively, followed by about a dozen little piglets all in a line. Chiccho said they were 2-weeks to 2-months old.

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We spent most of the afternoon by the pool, swimming and reading. We were the only guests, but soon others showed up from their day-trip travels. Supper was at 8 pm for all (and no lunch), so we were suddenly thankful for our grocery bags so we could rustle up crackers, bread sticks, and white wine for a late lunch poolside. Not bad.

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And cena (dinner) was worth the wait – all fresh and organic and grown within the 50 hectare farm. Antipasti included 10 small plates – mushrooms, zucchini, eggplant, tarts, cheese, salami, and more. Then fresh-made pasta with a ragu of the famous Nebrodie black pig (hopefully not the ones we had just met!). Then involtini – we’re not sure, but we think maybe goat – rolled in buttered breadcrumbs and lightly fried. Delicous. And fruit and homemade cream puffs for dessert. (And all of this included in our nightly stay.)

Relaxation

It is morning. We have just had colazione (breakfast) back at the main house. I am sitting with an espresso on a sofa next to the old olive oil press. We have a driver picking us up at 1 pm to take us back down to civilization. But we will savor these last few hours of peaceful bliss up on the mountain.

P.S. Sent from our next destination – as I was so relaxed that I never made it to the WIFI chair!

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The WIFI Chair

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