Tuesday, March 25, 2014


 This weekend one of my new Italy friends talked me into doing an ITT trip to Naro, out near Agrigento (which will probably be a trip in the very near future). The four hour long round trip with tons of screaming kids aside, it was such a fun day. I am constantly amazed at the sheer beauty of the landscape and architecture here. And also at the history. I kept observing how much farther back history goes here. I've seen damn near every Civil War battlefield and where the Declaration of Independence was signed, but that's child's play compared to the battles waged and ages past here. 

The city of Naro started in the Middle Ages and has a long history of changing hands and the castle that sits at it's highest point is a pretty good indication of that. Naro apparently means "flame" in Arabic, named for the flame that burned atop the fortress/castle long ago. The Arabs ruled here for a time, then the pope wanted the area so he sent the Chiaramonte family from France to take over and they ruled for a while. After that the castle became a prison, up until the 1960's in fact. Despite that the structure is amazingly well preserved and now houses a small museum. 

Inside the castle walls I was enchanted by this tree.

A fresco remaining from when the price used this area for prayer and meditation. And this personal chapel was right next to the tiny cubby hole he used to torture people into confessing. Makes sense. 

The names inscribed in the stone by prisoners still remains. 

Some even carved out handholds. 

The city's first duomo (Catholic church) which has sadly fallen into disrepair, but they are slowly refurbishing it. 

Madonna watching over the city, and making sure they get NFL Sunday Ticket apparently. 

After touring the castle and hearing about it's storied past we went through the town and toured two churches. 

These gargoyle-ish heads are said to represent the sculptor's four ugly daughters. 

I could barely walk through this city without wanting to stop and take pictures of the ancient buildings and their wonderful displays of stonework and master craftsmanship. 

The outside of the first church, Chiesa Santa Caterina D'Alessandria. The inside was simple, all the walls were once covered in frescoes, but some depicted naked women so one of the priests had them mostly taken down. 

I never caught the name of the second church, but it was impressive, and purposely built in the Baroque style to evoke awe and reverence. 

An beautifully carved marble basin for the priest to wash his hands before services. 

After the city tour we drove about 15 minutes outside the city for lunch at an "agriturismo." It's basically a restaurant on a farm. They cook the food (plants and animals) they grow and serve a fixed menu. Everything was fantastic!

A view of Naro from afar. 

The agriturismo was so adorable. I really loved this decorative wall. I've been impressed so far with Italy having the key to my heart. 

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