When I was on the bus in South East Sicily I saw a strong resemblance to the countryside visible on the train from Melbourne to Ballarat. A sort of brownish patchy look.
The route through central Sicily with the excellent AST bus service took me through rich, lush, fertile land.
We passed field after field of vegetables (and a couple of vineyards) reminding me, once again, of looking out the train window from Melbourne. This time, the view was similar to all the market gardens of Werribee.
We passed little villages, going higher and higher up into the interior.
I broke my journey at Enna, Il Cuore della Sicilia, the Heart of Sicily, a lovely little town which is, at 931 m above sea level, the highest of any town in the island. It’s the highest provincial capital of Italy.
There’s a Castello I really want to see.
Castello di Lombardìa, Enna
The Castle of the Lombards gets its name from the Lombardian troops who defended it from the Normans. The Lombards were a Germanic tribe which dominated northern Italy and adjoining areas from the 6th to 8th centuries of our era.
Well before that, this was a massive hill fort, almost impregnable.
In the First Punic War (309 BCE) it was captured, with treachery, by the Carthaginians under Hamilcar. Rome seized the fortress, using the sewer system to get in, during the Second Punic War (212 BCE)
I’ve wanted to spend a day in Enna for a long time. This is the very place where Persephone, after her obligatory term underground, returned to the world.
I have a special relationship with her mother, Demeter, and there was a fine sanctuary of hers on a mighty rock just north of the Castello, where I could renew our friendship. This is Rocca di Cerere, empty now.
The Romans smashed up the temple and stole her image back in 173 BCE and it’s been desolate ever since.
Ah well, I’m here anyway. Even if no one’s home.