I really love Italian ceramics. Every trip to Italy I bring back a little something as a momento. I generally dislike spending time shopping when I’m on holidays, but I make an exception for ceramics. So of course we had to make a trip to Caltagirone in Sicily.
Ceramics have been made here since prehistoric times, and it’s still one of the most important centres for ceramics production in Sicily. Of course there are loads of shops selling ceramics and maiolica, but you don’t have to go shopping to see it – stunning ceramics are visible all over town, decorating the city’s architecture.The most famous landmark is the long set of stairs, called ‘Santa Maria del Monte’ in the centre of town, named after the church that sits at the top.The stairs consist of 142 steps, covered with colourful tin-glazed ceramics – older examples down the bottom, and newer examples up the top.Another great place to see beautiful work is on the maiolica bridge of San Francesco.And in the public garden, the Villa Communale.While there, we had an outstanding lunch at Ristorante Il Locandiere. I’d read great reviews of this place so expected it to be packed, but yet again we were the only ones dining. We didn’t let that put us off, and in fact ‘Mambo Italiano’ was playing as we walked in, which Mr Travelling Pantaloni interpreted as a good sign. He gets very upset when Italian restaurants don’t play Italian music. Yes, I know it’s not an Italian song, but it’s close enough.
Our waiter, Fabrizio, one of the sons in this family-run business, recommended some dishes for us to try, and everything we tasted was wonderful…
First up the hot and cold antipasto. Almost every piece was incredible. My favourites were the herring on orange, the cod with sweet and sour sauce and the fresh mussels. After that I had a short pasta with red snapper and almonds – the sauce was amazing! And Mr Travelling Pantaloni had spaghetti marinara, also fabulous.
The trip to Caltagirone was worth it for that lunch alone.
Sadly by the time we emerged from lunch the town was shut for siesta. Not even any churches open! We’ll have to come back another time for further explorations and shopping.
You can find Il Locanderiere not far from the bottom of the famous steps on Via L.Sturzo, 59 Ph: 0933.58292
Until next time, happy travels,
The Travelling Pantaloni