Tag Archive: cianciana


There are few words that sit at the tip of my tongue. I can tell you after being with family in Cianciana for one day, four words are now permanently in my vocabulary: Buongiorno, Si, Grazie and Ciao! If we could have logged how many times those words were spoken over the 13 hour family fest we had yesterday, I’m not sure we would believe it. So I’ll break this down a little for you. Annemarie’s roots start in this little agricultural town in Sicily, called Cianciana. You would pronounce this “chin-chon-uh.” Now that we have that base covered, let’s jump straight into the day.

Official Town Sign

Annemarie has wanted to visit Sicily ever since we started traveling heavily back in 2004. As she would put it, I never really “found room” to fit it in to any trip we took….in the past 6 years. Well now that I have visited, I’ll be the first to say that I regret holding out so long. Cianciana was nothing like either of us expected, and is now near the top of the list to be visited again the next time we’re in Europe. Before we headed up, we decided that we should get a translator for the day, since we knew that most of the family didn’t speak much English. Well that ended up being the best decision we made….other than visiting in the first place. The man we hired is actually connected to the family in a 6 degrees of separation kind of way, which is too confusing to get into, but let’s just say he’s family….since he is. His name is Alfie Orlando, and he’s below:

Our tour guide, and new friend, Alfie

Alfie is so full of life, it’s hard not to like the guy. And he knows more about Sicily than probably anyone on the planet, and seems to thrive on gaining new knowledge about the island. Safe to say, our day wouldn’t have been the same without him there. Anyway, onto the madness of the day. So we roll into town I’d say around 10:30am and immediately we are drawn back by how beautiful this place is. It’s set up in the mountains, and stuck in between the mountain range and the Mediterranean Sea, which allows a cool breeze to constantly flow through the town. I would say the early settlers picked the perfect location, as we couldn’t find a bad view from any vantage point we found. As soon as we roll into town, we are immediately greeted by family members…and more family members….and MORE family members. They were multiplying almost like clones, coming from every corner. I was kissed on the cheek more in this one day than I have been in the previous 32 years of my life. It was quite a bit to take in.

As soon as we got to town, we of course wanted to see the house that Annemarie’s mother and grandparents lived in years ago. I actually had spotted a preview of the house on Google Maps. Yes, Google has even done StreetView for this tiny town in the middle of Sicily. Anyway, it looked exactly how I remembered it, and here is real thing that we saw yesterday:

The Antinoro Home in Cianciana

I think Annemarie was quite shocked that she actually was in Cianciana, and staring at the house that her mother grew up in until she was about 10 years old. I’m not exactly sure how old this building is, but I can say there are other buildings in town that are almost 400 years old. This town has quite a bit of history, and it’s amazing that so much of Annemarie’s family is part of that history, and continues to keep making it today, as so many of them continue to reside there. So after we saw the house, the family walked us all over town, showing us everything they possibly could in a few hours. We found out later they did this because they knew we’d only be in town for one day, and wanted to stuff as much in as they could. Their typical visitor would stay for about a month, so we were quite the challenge to them I think.

First shot of some family...

Second shot with some family on the town steps...

And then we have Annemarie with two of her distant cousins….same height, 15 year age difference!

Annemarie, Claudia and Elisa

After touring around town for a few hours, we noticed the whole town had pretty disappeared. Honestly, around 2pm, Cianciana had turned into a ghost town. Why? It was lunch time, and all the businesses shut down for the most part so everyone can go home and enjoy lunch…..for a few hours! We had been invited to join the family at a family run restaurant, that actually was an old house that had been restored into a restaurant, and was once owned by a distant relative of who else…Annemarie. After hearing that, I truly believe that every person, dog, and building in town has some connection to my wife, which is pretty incredible. So onto dinner, which was 7 courses of heaven. And since I can’t describe it in words, I’ll let the pictures do the talking for a couple of the courses…

Anti-Pasta: Course 1

The pasta, that also had swordfish with it....Course 2

The Meat Course

Course 4: Prawns

Course 7: Shots of Amora, a digestive

Surprise Course 8: More Amora, guess you are supposed to sip it!

So safe to say we had more than enough to eat, quite a bit of homemade wine, and then shots of Amora to top it off. We then were taken to a few family homes, where we did some more “digestives” as they would call them. The family likes to have a good time, and I had no problem participating.

We ended the day hanging out on a rooftop terrazzo that was owned by one of Annemarie’s distant cousins, and had some great views of the town and the mountains. This is the area where the family hangs out most of the time, as they always like to be outdoors. On top of that, a random couple came by that was doing some hunting into their family roots, and had found this particular house with the help of a local. Now it isn’t confirmed yet, but I have a solid $100 bet with many family members that these two random people, who were from North Carolina, end up being related to everyone we hung out with that day. And whether that is true or not, you could see the warmth of the family as soon as they arrived in regards to treating strangers. Within minutes this couple had cookies and drinks, kicked back and chatted with the family for over an hour. It was a sight to see. I’m sure we’ll see them again soon.

Safe to say, our trip to Cianciana was very memorable, and we’ll be back as soon as we can to visit again to spend more time with our extended family…and hopefully know how to speak quite a bit more Sicilian by then. The day flew by, and we wished we had more time to hang out, but as everyone knows, we move quick, and have lots more to see. I’ll report next about Agrigento and Marsala while we are on layover in Madrid waiting to fly to Johannesburg. Until then, Ciao!

Pictures from Cianciana

Cianciana

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There are four words you hear more than any other in Sicily…Buongiorno, Si, Grazie and Ciao! I now have these words burned into my brain, and will use them in everyday life…or at least when I visit Sicily or Le Roy :-). So our long trip to Cianciana started in Chicago back on Friday at 9am. We had to fly to London for the night to catch the first flight in the morning on Saturday to Rome. Flight to London was pretty uneventful, other than we hit serious turbulence for about 15 minutes where the flight attendants fell over in the aisles. Did I care? Not really, what am I going to do about it! We get into London, take a ridiculously overpriced taxi to the hotel, and crash….for about 4 hours! Get back and head back to Heathrow to find out we are pretty much the first people to go through security that day….at 5am. For those that haven’t been to T5 yet at Heathrow, it’s pretty solid, and only serves British Airways. We have been in our share of airports, and this was near the top. Moving on.

We head down to Rome, where we had another 3 hour layover. Mind you, I usually fly direct with minimum connections, but when you get bumped into an award ticket that costs you nothing, you take what you can get, hence our patchwork trip to get to Sicily. We land in Rome, and I remember the airport like I was there yesterday….even thought it was almost 6 years ago. We don’t have our boarding passes for our next flight to Palermo, so we stop at a desk to ask if we can transfer without going through security again. They say yes, and just go to the transfer desk to get our tickets. Sounds easy enough…well almost too easy. We go through one security check, and they just ask to see our confirmation that we actually have tickets. We have that. We then go through passport control where they usually stamp you since you’ve now entered the Schengen Zone. Well I handed my passport to him…..and he waved it on. He never even opened it! So Annemarie and I look at each other and figure they’ll probably stamp us in Palermo…..no. So as of right now while we are enjoying Sicily, there really is no proof that we are actually here!

So we land in Palermo, and head to the rental car place. All seems fine, until they add every single extra charge onto the bill. I felt like Seinfeld when he visited Puddy at the Saab dealership and was getting charged for “unnecessary overcharges, transmission protection, and of course, keys…..to drive the car.” Believe me I’ll be on the phone with Hertz once I get a decent time, since the car they gave us was the wrong one, half the options don’t work, and the GPS died an hour into the trip. Thankfully you can charge it, so we’ve gotten by since then. Within that hour, we were able to find Corleone, where I wanted to visit as soon as we confirmed Sicily. Well, there isn’t much to say, as it’s not much of a town to visit. I knew it wasn’t that great when we saw an old poster of “The Godfather” taped onto a wall near the town square. What I thought would be an homage to one of the most famous town in Mafia movie history, ended up being nothing but a small town that if you blinked would pass you by. Oh well, much more to see!

We head out of Corleone, only to realize we now have no GPS or idea on how to get down to Agrigento, where we’d be staying for the first 3 nights in Sicily. Thankfully, I had printed out some Google Map sheets just in case the GPS sucked……which it did, so my best paid off. Of course, we took a bunch of wrong turns since the signs in Sicily are questionable, but we made it in decent time.

So we are now in Agrigento, at our B&B, and decided to grab a quick dinner, a couple Moretti’s, and some Gelato, and then crash for the night to be on our game for tomorrow’s adventure to Cianciana to meet the family. Wait until you read about this day. Ciao!

Corleone Museum