Going “Home”: Our Trip to Sicily, Part II
My father and I make our way to western Sicily.
After visiting some of the iconic sites featured in “The Godfather,” my dad’s favorite movie, we began our journey to western Sicily. (Click here to read about the first half of our trip.) Filippo, our friend and guide, met us at our hotel, Belmond Grand Hotel Timeo—but not until we’d finished sampling the impressive breakfast buffet of local cheeses, breads and hand-squeezed juices and sipping our perfect cappuccinos.
Our first stop was the city of Piazza Armerina, home of Villa Romana del Casale, one of the most important traces of Roman civilization in Sicily. We were both impressed with the ruins’ size and magnificence—40 rooms boasting spectacular polychrome mosaics.
After lunch at Ristorante Al Fogher, a family-owned restaurant with a wonderful selection and service that made us feel truly at home. (My “Italian” father felt especially comfortable.), we arrived at the Rocco Forte Verdura Golf & Spa Resort. (We stayed at one of his London hotels at the beginning of our trip.)
The resort is spread along the Mediterranean coastline and boasts three golf courses, an incredible infinity pool, a world-class spa and a plethora of dining and entertainment choices. The service was as impressive as the surroundings. We found the hotel staff so gracious and hospitable that my dad commented that he felt like we’d lived there our entire lives.
Some of our industry friends happened to be staying on the property, and they invited my father and me to join them for a dinner hosted by the hotel. Again, my dad was the life of the party, and we enjoyed good food, good drinks and, most importantly, good company.
A must in Sicily is a visit to Agrigento, known for its amazing Valley of the Temples, an architectural park with eight awe-inspiring Greek temples, as well as other antiquities. I am fascinated by ancient ruins, especially this combination of influences. How exciting to find Greek architecture in Italy! It was amazing and thought-provoking to see and touch the work of hands from 510 BCE. And that the ruins are set against the remarkable backdrop of the Mediterranean Sea made the experience even more incredible.
We ended the day with dinner in Sciacca, a nearby village where many of the hotel employees reside, including our friend Angelo. He took us to one of his favorite neighborhood spots. My dad cites this meal as one of the highlights of the trip. The restaurant was charming, and again, we felt truly at home – my non-Italian father living like the locals he so closely identifies with. The next day, we made our way to Palermo to catch our flight home, tired but happy.
To help me recount our travels, I spoke to my dad about his impressions of our journey. He described our trip as “magical,” a word neither of us throw around lightly. He found “the people of Sicily to be warm and gracious, the region to be beautiful and the food to be fresh from the sea.”
“‘The Godfather’ really is my favorite movie of all time,” he says. “I grew up in Manhattan, and most of my friends were Italian. I really identify with the culture. My friends would tease me: ‘Maybe you’ll get to visit your homeland someday and see your roots.’ That’s what it felt like. It was really special, especially since we went together, as father and son. It was the trip of a lifetime, and just a joy to meet so many of my son’s industry friends and colleagues. We all joked that my name is now officially ‘Roberto.’”
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