28 09 2011

Avola, in the province of Siracusa, managed to revive after the terrible earthquake that in 1693 destroyed all the south-eastern side of Sicily. It was rebuilt on a modern grid of perpendicular street within an exagonal perimeter. A large and square piazza with nearby minor ones marks the heart of town, according to the typical Renaissance design.

The new Avola developed around the Monte Aquilone district, the site of the ancient city, and stretches to the plain and the coast, these miraculously left undamaged by the nature disaster.

Visitors can enjoy several fine churches begin with the Chiesa Madre. Its frontage is graced with panels representing the Seven Sacrements. The façade, is so-called a torre (towered) because it is divided into three tiers. The courtyard is embellished with some statues representing Saints. The interior is divided into three naves with chapels, and is ornamented with fine pieces of art such as the painting depicting the Sposalizio della Madonna attributed to Olivo Sozzi.

Avola’s most attractive buildings include the Palazzo Ducale, near the Mother Church, flanked by a 1800’s clock-tower, and the 1800’s Palazzo di Città.

The site of Avola Antica, the ancient city, in the Monte Aquilone district, is of historical interest, with the ruins of the medieval city and features that testify to the existence of prehistoric settlements at the site.

The Cava Grande del Cassibile, consisting of a natural huge gorge stretching across the coast. The valley at the bottom of the Cava, being amongst the largest in the Iblean area, is enclosed by steep walls. It preserves numerous cave-tombs forming part of the Cassibile necropolis ranging in date from the 11th to the 9th century BC and two cave-settlements. One of these, on the northern side, can be reached following a trail traced by the shepherds, starting at the Cassibile river

Pasta con zucchini

1 pound of spaghetti
1 1/2 cups of olive oil
1 large zucchini
1 tablespoon of capers (chopped into small pieces)
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
two mint leaves (shredded)
1 head of garlic (chopped)

Place spaghetti in boiling water and add a pinch of salt.
Cut zucchini in 1/4 inch slices.
Place olive oil in a saute pan. Add garlic, and red pepper flakes.
Add the pieces of zucchini to the olive oil. Turn the zucchini when it turns a light brown saute the other side and add capers.
Drain spaghetti and add to the sautéed zucchini. Mix and cover with the shredded mint.

The dish came without cheese, but I asked for Parmigiano Reggiano and of course got it.

A full-bodied Nero d’Avola red would go well here.




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