On Sunday my friend Carol and I went on a trip to the Madonie Mountains in the hope of seeing some pretty little towns and breathing some fresh mountain air. We did both, although things did not go quite to plan!
Our first stop was Petralia Sottana or "Lower Petralia" [though I thought it was quite high enough at 1,039 metres above sea level!] It is a very pleasant town and looked especially jolly on Sunday as there were ribbons everywhere in readiness for the Cordella dance, a sort of hymn to nature which is performed on the Sunday after Ferragosto. Petralia Sottana is part of the Madonie Geopark and points of geological interest are marked by fossil-like medallions on the streets. It is possible to follow this "urban geological trail" right through the town. We visited the mostly 17th century Church of San Francesco and the Chiesa Madre dei Santi Pietro e Paolo. The "Mother Church" was built in its present form in the 17th century but its foundations were probably laid eight centuries before.
Next, we visited Petralia Soprana or "Upper Petralia" which, at 1,147 metres above sea level, is the highest town in the Madonie. I didn't think it was as pretty as Petralia Sottana but the views from it were stunning. I couldn't cope with the climb up to the churches so Carol took the photos of these for me and, as I waited below, I noticed that a small supermarket was open [which is more than you can say for Modican supermarkets on a normal Sunday]. Alas, this supermarket had no ice creams that did not come in family-sized tubs and, as no bar was open, there was no gelato consolation to be had in Petralia Soprana! [For this reason I will always prefer Petralia Sottana - not that I'm one to bear a grudge....]
After lunch we went on to nearby Polizzi Generosa for the Hazelnut Festival and, we were promised, bancarelle [stalls]. We arrived at three to find only about four bancarelle selling jewellery, shellcraft, hazelnuts and hazelnut ice cream - only the hazelnut ice cream was "arriving later", we were told. What else could we do but sit on some steps in the shade and chat until five o'clock [when the parade was due to begin]? We did just that but the presence of two blonde women, neither of whom were spring chickens, sitting on the steps seemed to generate a lot of excitement in the town's elderly males who all seemed to be out for an early passeggiata. We got the impression that not a lot goes on in Polizzi Generosa on Sundays!
We knew, of course, that "five o'clock" meant six at the earliest but at last the parade began and our hearts softened. There's nothing like the sight of Sicilian horses in their finery, drawing their brightly decorated carts, to cheer you up!
I hope you enjoy the slide show: