On Friday we visited two small towns near Palermo: Castelbuono and Cefalu. The former is a mountain town with a castle and the later is a seaside village with a cathedral.Our first stop was Castelbuono. We drove through a heavy rainstorm to get there, but the rain stopped by the time we arrived.
Greta Thunberg is also known in Castelbuono.The castle was initially built in 1316.The interior highlight is this Baroque chapel which was restored in 1683 and is dedicated to St. Anna.We had lunch at a restaurant specializing in mushrooms. They get a variety of fresh mushrooms each morning and make their pasta fresh every morning. We had three different mushroom appetizers and a mushroom pasta. We thought it was our best meal in Sicily to date.Cefalu is a seaside village nestled under a giant rock. I read you can climb the rock for some beautiful views in two hours round trip if you are in excellent condition. We opted to pass.The cathedral had a flight of steps in front. This was good training for the 100 steps we have to climb to get to tomorrow’s cathedral – which is supposed to be the best in Sicily.This was a former public laundry basin using ocean water.We ended the day with a presentation about the Maffia, which began in Sicily to protect the farmers against the landowners. The presentation traced the evolution of the Maffia into the feared criminal organization featured in The Godfather. The two presenters lived five houses apart as children and both of their fathers were in the Maffia. It turns out that the man on the left is the son of the final head of the Maffia who ordered the killing of the two prosecutors who were trying to bring the Maffia leaders to justice. These presentations are part of the OAT program to address controversial topics in the countries they visit. On one hand, the son is ostracized by society because of his father. He can’t get a job when they learn the relationship and he doesn’t want to get married because he doesn’t want his children to suffer the stigma that he suffers. On the other hand, he won’t state that his father was wrong in some of the things he did. Like Tony Soprano, the father was very good to his family and his wife and children love him dearly. – apparently to the point none of the family is able to say anything negative about the father.
It was a very interesting and powerful presentation. However, the victims of the Mafia have an organization that objected to these presentations. Although no journalist has ever attended a presentation, there have been negative articles written about them in the US and Europe. We had to go to a different hotel for the presentation as the hotel we were staying in would not permit it. And yes, the Maffia still exists in Sicily; but they feel they are more effective if they stay out of the news so no more killing.