After our adventurous travel up the narrow mountain road, we arrive at the location we’d book on Vacation Rentals By Owner. The place we had booked for only 45 euros per day turned out to be a paradise! We sat on the porch of our private cottage, sipping a fine Sicilian wine that Maria and Antonio, our hosts, had left for us on the kitchen table. Their home and our separate, fully-appointed cottage, were both perched on the side of a scenic mountain. Looking north, we had a panoramic view of the Mediterranean Sea. To the east, is the city of Cefalu and to our west, the huge city Palermo, 50 kilometers away. Antonio and Maria own about 10 acres, all terraced into the mountainside. As I sat outside, I began to notice the variety of plants and trees and had to go investigate. I got up and walked down to the garden. It’s October, harvest season, and everything was ripe for the picking. In their garden were onions, eggplant, tomatoes, basil, four different types of peppers, lettuce, cabbage and a lemon tree. In the grove further down are almond, olive, orange and fig trees. The figs were actually dripping with juice. Maria stepped into the garden to join me.
I was awestruck by the variety and told her so, I then kidded with her, “What, no grapes?”
She laughed and pointed at a tree as big around as a my waist. I then recognized the leaves and spotted several more grape “trees” mixed in with the almonds and figs.
“Oh! I didn’t recognize them, they are so big and I can’t see any grapes from here.”
Marie said, “Follow me.”
She took me off to the other side of the house. Expecting to see a grove filled with grape vines, I was surprised when she led me to a wooden door built into the side of the mountain. She swung open the latch and opened it, signaling me to step inside. I was met with the cool scent of rich, damp earth as I crossed the threshold and stepped inside. As my eyes adjusted to the dark I spotted a large wooden wine cask up against the rear stonewall.
Marie said, “We’ve already picked the grapes, I hope you will still be here on November 10th, that’s when we open the barrel.”
My mind immediately started calculating dates for when I needed to be back home and possible excuses for delaying our return.