This past Saturday we joined our friends, the Sapersteins, on a day trip to the beautiful and historic city of Noto - on the southeast coast of the island. The original city of Noto was destroyed by a devastating earthquake in 1693 and then completely rebuilt in the baroque style of architecture in the years that followed. The "new" city was built 15 km away from the sight of the original city with great attention to detail and some very impressive civil engineering. Now in 2010, we were also able to enjoy the fruits of the massive renovations that have taken place over the last 10 years to restore much of the original splendor to the city's cathedrals, gov't buildings, and other attractions.
Noto is also home to two very famous gelato shops (Lonely Planet calls them the two best ice cream shops in the world!), so we made sure to stop in and have a treat during our walk around the town. Our family went for one traditional flavor (strawberry) and one more unusual flavor (chocolate with cinnamon and orange peel). To quote Josh on the taste of the second choice "How can we come to the best gelato shop in the world and choose a flavor this terrible." (Gelato is not quite as straight forward as ice cream when it comes to choosing flavors - when faced with the choices of basil, various cheeses, and other herbs in your icy cold treat it seems like some more information/education is required...so more on that later!) Oh well, that left more for me to eat!
After some more roaming around in Noto we decided to head for the beach - since it was the last true weekend of summer. We went to Avola - a quaint little town on the Ionian Sea - and enjoyed the late afternoon sun while the kids played in the sand and splashed in the water (though the breeze made us all surprisingly chilly). This was followed by a delicious pizza dinner at a trattoria in town and then the hour long drive back home. It was a wonderful day for our first big outing on the island of Sicilia.