Thursday, 15 March 2012

Sicily - Part 3

 A third post on Sicily. This one is for 'Val' following her request for another post.
Not everything in the garden is rosy in Sicily. Sadly beautiful buildings are allowed to crumble, very fine archways from antiquity, languish, neglected, alone, unloved, surrounded by shops and flats. Many charming buildings have service cables and pipes running along their outsides and overhead. 
It was impossible to get a photograph of Norman King Roger II's beautiful 11th century residence in Cefalù without a cable overhead or a bundle of wires left exposed on the wall - click on image
This wonderful doorway shows years of neglect as does this lovely mid 17th century baroque facade. 
However, the beautiful countryside, the magnificent beaches, and the splendours of so many buildings of exceptional architectural merit far outweighs this. Sicily is definitely a destination we shall return to. 
In Cefalù these fine steps lead down from the the main street to the 'pubblico lavatoio detto medievale' - medieval washhouse.
There is a continual flow of water from the mountain behind Cefalù which passes through here and out into the sea.
Where do you draw the line? The entrance gates to the wash house were rusty, but I love them. They are what I call shabby chic.
A sleeping, slumbering, smoking giant.
The exquisite Norman cathedral of Cefalù
I wonder if this little wild flower is familiar to anyone? It covers Sicily in swathes of yellow. Is it a southern Mediterranean wild flower? it does not exist in my northern European book of wild flowers. As you can see it has a clover style leaf, and the flowers all emerge from the end of a long strong stem. The flower has a trumpet appearance before opening fully. The only reference I have found to it is Catania clover, which I think someone has made up, having seen it in Catania, Sicily, and because of its clover leaves.

Jane and Lance Hattat have given me the answer - it is Oxalis pes-caprae - yellow oxalis. There are 3 different varities, this one has little purple spots on the leaves. It originates from S. Africa, and has apparently been sold as a garden plant in America, where it has become a menace. Be warned, it grows rampantly as it has done in Sicily, and is extremely difficult to get rid of. 

44 comments:

  1. hello Rosemary:
    Well, we are perfectly comfortable with peeling stucco and rotting doorways, we live with it here in Budapest and love it. There is something charmingly unpretentious about the detritus of everyday life going on alongside the most glorious of architectural treasures. However, it makes us just a little sad to think that if these gems are not protected will they be there for future generations to enjoy?

    The yellow flowered plant looks like a kind of Oxalis to us. As we say, one man's weed is another's wildflower, it does look very pretty!

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    1. Dear Jane & Lance - brilliant, I should have realised you would know the answer. Apparently it is native to South Africa, and has become very invasive, as it is in Sicily, in America, especially in California. Perhaps something we do not want here in the UK. However, it made a very pretty yellow carpet in Sicily.
      Yes, I agree, there is something charming about the detritus of everyday life, but not the cables and pipes for me.

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  2. Dear Rosemary, THAT DOES IT. We are heading for Cefalu and Sicily next year. I love seeing architecture with character. Crumbling, even better. Beautiful photographs, as always.

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    1. Dear Gina - I know you would love it. If you do decide to go to Cefalù, the hotel we stayed in is excellent. Right on the sea front, and 5 mins walk to the old town. It is modern, but has very good facilities, bathrooms, bedrooms etc, good evening meals, and very clean. The thing you would like about it is the fact that it is full of orchids! Its name is Cefalù Sea Palace.

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  3. Dear Rosemary, yet another beautiful post. I love the Norman cathedral. I could photograph ancient buildings all day. Our old house has peeling plaster walls and if I squint I can pretend I am in Italy. I do have a Venetian chandelier in the hallway Joe had shipped that I want to move to our yellow house which will be quite an undertaking. Olive

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    1. Dear Olive - so pleased that your computer problems seem to be sorted for you. Yes, peeling plaster always appears to look better in Italy, I wonder why that is? I agree old buildings are a blessing to the camera.

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  4. Dear Rosemary,

    So much beauty! Why is it crumbling? Everybody knows that the mafia, in Sicily and in America, has the building sector in its hands. It could well be that "Le Belle Arti" has made money available for the restauration of many historic buildings, but it has "Got lost" along the way and used for more "profitable" enterprises!

    Still a lot of wonderful baroque buildings. I am so happy and proud to be able to name Sicily one of the many beautiful regions which make up a Coiuntry blessed with so much beauty, art and nice people1

    CIAO!

    I love the cacti (prockly pears.)I have some in my garden, in Italy and love eating the fruit!

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    1. Dearest Anna - to a large extent I am quite sure you are right. We had a talk on the mafia whilst in Sicily, which I thought had been dealt a huge blow recently with the court cases, and the capture of Bernardo Provenazano, but apparently no. The sacrifice of the magistrate Falcone seems to have been in vain. I understand the mafia continues as it did before.
      We shall return to Sicily, as you know I have travelled all over Italy and love it all.

      When H travelled to Sicily many years ago as a student, his friend ate prickly pears. Unfortunately he did not have a sharp knife to get into it. He bit it and ended up with those tiny little hairs on the outside stuck in his lips and tongue - very painful!!!
      Ciaox

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  5. As Gina says: That does it! I am also going to Sicily next year! Your pictures are so powerful and belive it or not - the crumblier the buildings are the better - it's Italy and to me that's the charm about it! FANTASTIC post! Mille grazie! Christa

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    1. Dear Christa - perhaps we could make a blogosphere group booking to Sicily! Yes I like the crumbly but the wires and pipes not keen on. It is not really necessary, you can always take them underground.
      Thanks for your lovely comments, and glad you enjoyed the post.

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  6. While I am drawing an artichoke (!) although loving your photographs - who make me long for a trip to Sicily... my gaze is fixed on that smoking giant...

    I am so pleased to have met you!

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    1. Dearest Demie - likewise I am delighted to have met you.
      Are you actually drawing an artichoke at this moment? if so, what a coincidence. Artichokes are natures little sculptures.
      Yes, that smoking giant is not always sleepy and when we were there had snow on the very top.

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  7. Hello, Rosemary! I love reading about your travels at home and abroad. Your informative and colourful comments make me feel as if I am strolling right alongside you.

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    1. Dear Rosemary - so pleased that you enjoyed the post.
      Blogger is very strange sometimes, I have already replied here previously, but now it seems to have vanished! Are you still experiencing snow, or has it decided to go on its way? Thanks for your comment.

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  8. Hey Rosemary, what a lovely posts about Scicily. The background information is very welcome. Have a lovely day.
    Marijke

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    1. Hello Marijke - Thanks and pleased you enjoyed it. By the way I loved those beautiful stripe tulips you showed. Take care.

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  9. Another beautiful post, love it!
    Your photos are beautiful!
    Sicily looks like a wonderful place to visit.
    Sorry I can't help you with the wildflower.
    Thanks for another great tour.
    Wish you a beautiful day.
    Mette

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    1. Dear Mette - Sicily is definitely a place to visit especially for wonderful architecture and history - the landscape and beaches are beautiful too.
      I have discovered that the plant is a yellow oxalis, and apparently a menace, it spreads like wild fire, but is is very pretty.

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  10. I really want to go there! But first I have to go to Umbria again, I love love love Umbria! But if we are going two times this year to Italy, may be the second time will be Sicilia? Thank you for sharing!

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    1. Dear Lise - yes, I love Umbria too. Last time we went we stayed in Spoleto, a wonderful little town.
      If you like Umbria I am sure you would enjoy Sicily too. Thanks for your visit.

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  11. I like patina as much as the next person, but I would be alarmed if weeds started growing over my doorway!!

    I've really enjoyed the tour, and I can see that Sicily is charming. I understand that the population is attractive, as well!

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    1. Dear Mark - yes, patina is nice, small plants and trees growing out of the stonework not good.
      We were told that in Cefalù there were people who were tall, with red hair and green eyes descended from the Normans, although we did not encounter any of them.
      Pleased that you enjoyed the tour.

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  12. More stunning cybertravel, Rosemary, and now I find I long to visit for real... the buildings are just as you describe: shabby chic. Amazing to see such architecture there, to walk around and enjoy. Your pictures, as always, are stunning.

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    1. You, in particular Kate, would enjoy it, with your love of history and antiquity.

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  13. DearRosemary.myspacebarhaspackedin.iamsosorry.
    ihavetogoto.the.city.to.get.a.new.one..thank.you.for.part.ııı.i.am.totally.in.love.with.Sicilly.afterreading.yourblog..i.have.always.wanted.togo.there.
    maybe.you.noticed.when.you.were.in.lisbon..the.same.problem..with.wires..in.the.old.Alfama..
    here.in.our.village..the.wires..inthe.old.houses.are.also.outside.it.is.sad.that.the.old.buildings.are.left..but...what..charme..i.was.thrilled.you.did.another.part.
    i.will..be..off.the..computer.for..a.while..
    best.wishes.for.a.pleasant.weekend.forgive.me.for..typing..so..but..iwanted.to.send.special.thanks.
    val

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    1. Dear Val - sorry to learn that you have space bar problems. Computers are fine when everything is going well, but when they play up it is a real nuisance, particularly, if like me, you do not have all the knowledge of computers at your fingertips.
      Nevertheless enjoy your weekend with all of your family.

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  14. Thank.you.Rosemary..hope.to.get.it.fixed.soon.
    The.little.yellow.flowers.are.all.over.s.africa..they.are.weeds.
    happy.weekend.

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    1. Dear Val - good luck getting your computer, we shall miss you. Yes, Jane and Lance said they thought the flower was a type of oxalis and once I found that, I was then able to discover more about it. It is pretty, but apparently a menace!

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  15. dear Rosemary, it´s so long ago I´ve been to sicily, but these photos give me back reminiscences. beautiful colours! that´s the only thing missing with black and white...

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    1. Dear Magdalena - so happy that these photos have brought back memories of Sicily for you. Enjoy the weekend, and thanks for your visit.

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  16. Beautiful post. The countryside is stunning. Love your photos and the colours of the vegetable market. It seems odd to see such wonderful old buildings with so much potential being neglected.

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    1. Thank you for your lovely comment and visit. I think perhaps it is more understandable when you consider their history, a little island that has been marched over and invaded by so many different civilisations, and the big fly in the ointment, the Mafia!!! However, it is a beautiful place, which we loved.

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  17. Admiring your lovely images, I want to go to Sicily at once!

    :-)

    ♥ Franka

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    1. Dear Franka - thank you for your visit and kind comments. Yes, I can understand that, it is somewhere that I have wanted to visit for a long time, and it definitely lived up to my expectations.

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  18. Beautiful images of a beautiful place. The Italians often do not worry about the external appearance of their properties.

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    1. Thank you - it is a beautiful place. You are right about property appearance, it is we Anglo Saxons who are fusspots about seeing cables and pipes.

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  19. Hello Rosemary,
    these pictures has a colorful addition to outstanding original compositions and super balanced!
    Congratulations and a big hug

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    1. Dear Antonio - thank you very much for your very kind comments.

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  20. Thanks, Rosemary. A wonderful glimpse of somewhere I must visit one day. Oxalis is a real pest. A friend in France has it in his garden and can't get rid of it from his vegetable beds.

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    1. Sicily is somewhere I have been intending to visit for a long time. There is so much that we did not see, that we shall have to return.
      Yes, I understand that Oxalis is terrible to get rid of, and yet the particular Oxalis we have here in the gardens is charming and does not have that problem.

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  21. Greetings Rosemary! These are wonderful scenes; it looks like a glorious trip! I am fond of that beautiful country and hope to make it to Noto some time this year.
    Hoping you are well! Bertie

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    1. Dear Bertie - long time no see, but how really lovely to hear from you again.
      It is a wonderful country Bertie, and if you do visit this year, I hope you will show us some photos from your trip. I did not get to Noto, but do hope to return again soon.

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  22. Gorgeous photos! It's beautiful and so picturesque. It looks like an amazing place to visit, despite the neglect.

    Sorry, I'm a bit behind on visiting blogs and commenting.

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    1. It is a wonderful place to visit - so much history in the form of wonderful architecture, mosaics, statuary, etc. We shall definitely return.

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