We went to say hello to friends working in Aidone a few weeks ago and also to see the new wing of the Museo Archeologico di Aidone that was built this year to accommodate the recently repatriated 'Dea di Mogantina' statue as well as a beautiful collection of silver objects, both which had been illegally excavated from Morgantina years ago and sold on the art market. Knowing that the 'Dea' had previously been residing in my hometown (Los Angeles chez the J. Paul Getty Museum) and that the silver was coming from my last place of employment in the U.S. (the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC) and was actually de-installed while I was still there, made the visit a bit strange, something like reconnecting with lost relatives.
But what a change from last summer! The publicity the museum has received has obviously increased the number of visitors. The formerly sleepy, empty building was bustling with activity, the formerly bored to death guards were alert and working, the formerly non-existent parking problem now exists (lots of visitors=lots of cars), and the new wing appears well constructed and beautifully designed. Which brings me to my next point - with funding and vision, big projects CAN come to fruition in Sicily following high standards and in a timely fashion (I believe the new wing was completed in under a year).
After the museum visit we had a memorable lunch at the nearby Vechia Aidone restaurant, which I would highly recommend for the creative menu which features fresh, local ingredients. We ate way more than was necessary but I savored every bite of the tortellini stuffed with eggplants and salty ricotta cheese, a wonderful twist on the traditional Catanese dish, pasta alla Norma.
But the best surprise of all was the wrong turn we made (I take complete blame!) at the bottom of the hill on our return back home. We somehow found ourselves on a narrow dirt road and the four year old caught site of some black berry bushes. We parked and took a look around - the entire road was engulfed by gigantic blackberry bushes, literally dripping with fruit. We picked and picked and managed to gather enough berries for a blackberry jam making party, but I'll leave that tale for another day.