Thursday, April 25, 2013


With our fellow bikers we left Palermo by bus and traveled through the central part of the island towards Ragusa in the south where we would start our biking the next day.
The countryside was varied and beautiful from rolling green hills to

jagged rock outcroppings, and everything in between. 

Our first stop was the world Heritage site of the Villa Romana del Casale, a Roman Villa built in the 1st quarter of the 4th century and located about 3 km outside the town of Piazza Armerina.  The villa was probably the center of a huge agricultural estate and a village grew around it.   The site was abandoned in the 12th century when a landslide covered the villa, and it remained buried and the area was cultivated for crops.  Early in the 19th century some pieces of mosaic and columns were found and official archaeological excavations were carried out later in that century.

Beneath the dirt was found a wealth of well preserved mosaic tile floors,  the richest, largest and most complex collection of Roman Mosaics in the world.

Some of the rooms of the villa still had remnants of painted boarders.

And many of the mosaics depicted scenes of the time.
A roof was built over the exposed rooms to help preserve them for the future.

After leaving the excavation we drove by the town of Piazza Armeina where most of the survivors of the landslide had moved.

Continuing on our bus ride we passed many cultivated farm lands.

Also many fields of Prickly Pear Cactus  (the edible "big bastards" of Sicily). The color of the prickly pear fruit can be deep yellow, pure white, or a stunning crimson.  The fruit has a slight floral  fragrance reminiscent of citrus, and a very mild flavor,

Approaching the southern coast we were treated with a beautiful view of Mt. Etna cloaked in
a blanket of white snow.  What a treat!!
And as our guide told us, you could tell you were in Ragusa when the hillsides were covered with stone walls.  There is a plethora of rocks in this part of Sicily.

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