Travelling in the wonderful Sicily recently in high temperatures, I have been absorbed by all the Mediterranean flower species at the end of a long summer, it’s pretty much all golden brown, dry, harsh, seeded, spent. It’s a powerful country. The Oleander does very well all along the central reservation of the motorway that loops around the island, even in high summer where it’s often 36 degrees and higher – it’s green, flowering. And everyone’s orchards of course, green, watered, abundant.
We were in the town of Francavilla di Sicilia in the Alacantara Valley, over near Mount Etna, and wandering around trying to find a card to write in to thank our friends. There were no cards, only ones with messages already written – and mostly about marriage.
It’s a vibrant peopled place with rows of Sicilian men watching everything from the cafes (women shopping), teens on scooters, and every shop stuck in the early 1980s with really cheap badly designed stuff for sale, amongst people doing scratch cards. We looked around for something to ‘save’ the town for us, even the cafes were unappealing.
Then we saw a restaurant sign by a high wall, with trees behind it. We were drawn.
A garden cafe restaurant. A path up the centre of a courtyard with tables and chairs under the trees, the front of an ancient villa just visible through the garden. Dense thick, fat with foliage, tumbling plant pots and containers, loose, loose gardening to the best extent. A gem, a golden moment. These photos taken in haste don’t do it justice, but hopefully my words will.
And the woman running the place in her 70s or 80s, slow but certain, a brightness in her, the kind of brightness I really admire and aim to live to – Lilliana, a lilly indeed. She brought us excellent coffee while we poured praise on the whole situation – I could have stayed all day asking her questions in my broken Italian. Without knowing it, Lilliana planted a wonderful seed in my list of things to be doing in my 70s. So….
At Il Palmento
Francavilla di Sicilia
You are have made an oasis, a piece of heaven, a garden haven.