The South Interior
From Agrigento, we traveled inland, moving to the town of Mazzarino for four nights.

Before we did, we visited the town of Sant'Angelo Muxaro. There isn't much there but ancient tombs carved into the hillside. The countryside was very beautiful, though.

The modern town is located at the top of the hill--a quiet place but with great views over the countryside.

On our way from Agrigento to Mazzarino we stopped in Naro, a nondescript town with a castle from the
Hohenstaufen period, that is, the thirteenth century. Built on a steep hillside, there is no place to go in Naro but up!

From the top of the town, there are sweeping views over the countryside.

The castle has been recently restored and there was a reception being held there the day we went.
One of the organizers seemed to happy to see tourists: he gave us a personal tour of the castle.

Another of our stops was Caltanissetta. It was the Festa della Repubblica (Festival of the Italian Republic, June 2), commemorating
the day in 1946 when Italians abolished the monarchy. Things were all closed up in Caltanissetta, but it seemed a very nice city
--maybe nicer for being quiet and mostly pedestrian. Most churches and other public buildings date from the Spanish period.

This fountain in the main square had fantastical monsters spitting out jets of water.

Another day we visited Caltagirone. It is a center of ceramics production, probably the best known in Sicily.

It is another city built on hills, and a long set of 142 steps leads from the lower town to the upper town. Ceramic tiles of varying designs decorate each step.

Every May and June the city creates a temporary design on the steps, using potted plants, called the Scala Infiorata ("Beflowered Steps").

There isn't much else going on in Caltagirone, though a former covered food market--no longer used for that--has nice art deco decor.

Old buildings testify to the wealth that Caltagirone has had.

Caltagirone does have a very nice public garden, and we enjoyed a relaxing afternoon there, walking around and reading our novels.

Typical sights of the inland of Sicily: flocks of sheep and fields of beavertail cactus (grown for its fruit, which is edible).

The four days we spent in Mazzarino rank among the best times of our trip.

The day we arrived the town was celebrating the Festa della Repubblica with a rather informal procession down
the main street of locals dressed somewhat randomly in costumes from various historical eras, medieval to modern.

There were drummers, too, and the drumming continued the rest of the day and into the night!

Mazzarino was a charming town, with a long main street; we stayed just a block off that street,
in an apartment owned by the incredibly friendly Rita Cardamone, whose family ran a local winery.
Also off the main street were the grocers: who were apparently delighted to see tourists in their town.

There were many old churches in the town, and we spent one day wandering around the town visiting them:

Some of these churches had litters and statues, meant to be carried around the town in processions on the feast days of saints.

The town is set on a hilltop and has views over the surrounding countryside.

One of Mazzarino's beautiful sights are the ruins of its castle.

We really enjoyed our stay in Mazzarino--a hidden gem in the interior of Sicily!

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