Farniente

The food in Milazzo was “nothing to write home about”, says Heather… For me it’s quite a different experience, because it causes me to enjoy a few night time sprints to the toilet due to a dodgy mussel. Because everyone needs some form of recovery or another from yesterday, we decide to dedicate the day to exploring the very Italian concept of “farniente” (literally translates as “do nothing”) and stay at the villa all day.

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We lounge on sun loungers, read books, play with Eliza (who’s loving the attention), catch up on the blog and generally doss about in the most perfect manner. Heather even goes for a little snorkel along “our” beach (which is unsurprisingly disappointing because it’s bare sand, with a few man-made wave breakers). Zaza takes the opportunity to have the longest nap in the history of man (I even Google “baby sleeping more than usual” in classic stupid first time parent style), and Jackie sits by her with the patience of a very patient saint. Altogether a really relaxing day!

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The next day, we decide that to compensate for all this farniente, we will drive really far back in the direction we originally came from, to a town that was recommended by our friend Chloe. Because we are intelligent primates, we are finally learning that the way to avoid car demon child is to time driving with Eliza’s naps – and it works! We whizz down the motorway to Cefalu, and she starts wailing only as we enter the city centre, whereby a parking space magically appears and it’s not even remotely stressful (for us, anyway- Paul, Jackie and Vicky are not quite so lucky with magical parking spaces to start with).

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After lunch we set off to explore Cefalu, with a golden sand beach on one side, the little narrow streets of the old town in the middle and the huge rocky outcrop of La Rocca towering over the town on the other side. It’s really pretty, and after the fiasco of Milazzo it’s actually nice to see cafes, restaurants and other lively shops!

We visit the Duomo, the 12th century Norman cathedral, set on a palm tree lined piazza, and boasting a big byzantine-style Christ Pantoctator (Christ in majesty) mosaic – unfortunately the mosaic is being restored, so is currently invisible. There are some interesting modern art stained glass windows, though.

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Carrying on through the old town, we arrive at an area overlooking some rocks tumbling into the sea, which is looking particularly inviting, all turquoise blue and clear. We decide this would be a good snorkelling spot, so we leave Zaza with her lovely grandparents, clamber down and jump in (not without much comedy from Heather who cannot change into a swimming costume under a towel without flashing people, and whose disrobing magically coincides with a giant group of tourists passing by on the seafront street above). The water is cold but beautiful, and among the algae-covered rocks we spot some cool fish, including brightly-coloured yellow and blue ones which seem to hang out always in the same spot. There are also nice swaying yellow sea weeds, and purple ones lining rock crevices.

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After meeting up with the baby and her heroic grandparents (she woke up, you see, and there were no boobs), we decide to hang out a bit on the fine sand beach, looking over the old town in the late afternoon sun. Zaza enjoys putting her feet and hands in the sands, until unfortunately Heather has a small lapse of judgement and lets go of the baby, who goes from a sitting position to a full open-mouthed face plant in the sand – cue sand everywhere in the baby’s mouth, eyes and nose, terse telling off of wife on the beach, much wiping of tiny face, some consolation boobie and finally everything gets back to normal. [Heather interjects here to inform you all that it was more like she slipped in the sand rather than Hev let go of her, just so you know – the difference is staggering I know]. Eliza even enjoys having her feet touched by the lapping waves (in contrast to Sainte Maxime where she screamed bloody murder when I attempted the same – it’s like having a face full of sand hardened her or something). We love Cefalu!

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On the way back, I decide that we should follow the scenic seaside road rather than the completely parallel and equally scenic motorway! It’s really slow. Really slow. But pretty! Having discovered that Eliza is grumpy, we attempt to calm her down with frankly delightful duet singing in the car, and make the important discovery that music really does soothe even the savage beasts. I manage to put Eliza to sleep just by singing mostly “bebe doux” (soft baby) on the tune of “Edelweiss” off the Sound of Music. I’m proper smug.

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As our ever-patient satnav instructs us to take the sliproad right onto the motorway for the hundredth time, we notice that the place we’re staying is another eighty-five kilometres away on the scenic route, but would be accessible considerably faster on the motorway, so we cave in and return home. An excellent day was had by all! (Apart from the sand, Heather. That was not good.)

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