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Tenuta Don Ruggero
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Everyone had their own travel plans before and after our week together. Claudia and Neil Carver, from Kitchener ON, rented a small villa in another hilltop village nearer the north coast for a week leading up to Oct 19. Marg and Jack Dunphy, from Calgary Alberta, went for a boat and bike trip in Southern Italy before joining us, while Kathy and Andy Greiner, from Ottawa, spent a week walking in Tuscany. Pat and Bruce Marshall, from Markham ON, joined a tour of Southern Italy. Cathy Pawley and Ginny and Huibert Arnold, from Ottawa, spent another week in Sicily at the end of our time together. Janet Schom, from St Andrews NB, and Suzanne and David Andrew, from Oakville ON, travelled to Malta at the end of the trip.
Activities for each day were up to the individual. We had enough cars to ferry everyone to where ever we wanted to go for the day. There were several interesting hilltop towns a short drive from the villa where we could buy groceries, walk the narrow streets, admire the views over the hillsides and visit the ancient churches. One must-see for all of us were the fabulous mosaics discovered in the ruins of Villa Romana del Casale. Several of the group enjoyed a great walk in the highest hills of Madonie Park.
Breakfast was a make your own affair at the villa while lunch was eaten on the road or back at the villa. Dinner was a communal affair, with delicious meals prepared by volunteer cooks in our group and enjoyed with Sicilian wines. We had a great time.
Tenuta Don Ruggero Sicily
Surely this can’t be the road to our villa. The photos on the website we used to book one week with 14 of our friends didn’t mention anything about a narrow rutted road. That house, farther ahead on the hill we are climbing, doesn’t look as if it is big enough for 10 bedrooms. But it was our villa, Tenuta Don Ruggero. It was much larger that our first impression and proved to be perfect for our group. Eight of the women had all graduated together from Bishop’s University in Lennoxville, Quebec. We had kept in touch with annual get-togethers in Canada, spouses included, and three times previously, travelled to Europe for a week in a villa. This was the first visit to Sicily for all of us.
Ray and I had met Neil and Claudia (Young) Carver in Cefalý, 45 minutes north, and bought groceries for the dinner we were to prepare that evening plus enough food for breakfast for the next few day. The owners, who live in Palermo, Maria Letizia and Claudio Buccellato, were there to greet the Carvers and Ray and me. They introduced us to their employee, George, and two farm workers, Giovanni and Leonardo. Maria showed us the property and told us her family had owned the property for 300 years. We had arrived early and the cleaning crew were still working feverishly to prepare the house for our arrival. We stowed our groceries in the kitchen and had a picnic lunch outside to stay out of the way of the workers.
The farm currently has
about 1200 olive trees, fields mostly used for cattle silage, and a
small kitchen garden. In 2002 her son, who is an architect, led the
reconstruction of two farm buildings, creating 10 bedrooms in the
original house and a spacious dining, living room and kitchen in what
was once a stone barn and granary. Patios with tables for outdoor meals
connect the two main
buildings and the large infinity pool. There is even a play area for
children. The property is now available for groups such as ours and has
hosted several weddings. The view from the villa and especially from the
swimming pool is spectacular. Madonie Regional Park, with the highest
mountains in Sicily, after Mt Etna, is almost across the road. Ancient
villages spread over the ridges of several nearby hills. It promised to
be a good week.
Gradually the rest of the group arrived, Bruce and Pat (Fraser) Marshall, Cathy (Jamieson) Pawley, David and Suzanne (Bouchard) Andrews, Jack and Margaret (Hook) Dunphy and Janet (Dunlap) Schom. Huibert and Virginia (Wayne) Arnold had a problem finding the villa. They didn’t have the correct directions and ended up in Polizzi Generosa, about 7 km away. No one seemed to know where Tenuta Generosa was and directed them to another village, Castellano. The police asked the local baker, who knew the way and the Arnolds were given a police escort to the house. Last but not least to arrive were Andy and Kathy Greiner, who had spent to previous week hiking in Tuscany and visiting Rome before flying to Palermo that afternoon.
Our modus operandi is to prepare our own meals. Breakfast and lunch is up to the individual and Dinner is a communal affair. Volunteers are responsible for buying and preparing a meal, complete with wine, for all sixteen of us. It has worked perfectly every time. Our first meal, after drinks and appetizers in the seating area next to the dining room, was served around a huge table big enough for twenty. By the time our dinner of fish soup, salad, pears and cheese for dessert was over we had volunteers lined up for all the other dinners.
If you are interested in more information on our villa click Villa Ruggero
Read Rome Sept-Oct 2013
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