Sunday, August 14, 2011

Chiaramonte Gulfi

Chiaramonte Gulfi was known as the balcony of Sicily in the previous century for it's panoramic position: it rests atop a hillside at nearly 700 metres above sea level and looks out over the Ippari Valley. On a clear day you can see the Mediterranean Sea in one direction and Mount Etna in the other in a breathtaking view you can take in from the Villa Comunale.

We started out from our hotel in Comiso which is relatively nearby, taking the only bus which turned out to be the school bus that stopped at all the surrounding towns before taking the students to Chiaramonte Gulfi. What initially seemed a short journey was really a very long and winding road on a bus full of enthusiastic and boisterous students!

You live and you learn and since we were in an adventurous mood we took it in stride and climbed the steep road to Chiaramonte Gulfi from the bus stop at the foot of town happy to have arrived at last. In a bar where we had fantastic pastries we learned where to go to get tickets for the Sicilian Drawnthread Museum [Museo dello Sfilato], impressed that all the men we asked knew all about it.

At the Museo dei Cimeli Storico Militari [Museum of Historic Military Relics] in the main Piazza Duomo (which is where you need to buy your ticket to the museum) we met a lovely lady who offered to accompany us to the Drawnthread Museum.

The Museo dello Sfilato lies in Via Lauria 4 at the top of a steep stairway but there are signs pointing you in the right direction made of ceramic tiles:

Our guide pointed out many other things along the way and we admired many sets of embroidered curtains in the houses that we passed:

The museum itself seems small but is packed solid with needlework and definitely worth the trip.

Entrance Hall of the Museo dello Sfilato, Chiaramonte Gulfi.
We spent a lovely morning drooling over all the clothing, table linens, household furnishings and other exquisitely embroidered items in the museum and our guide told us as much as she could about the museum and the works within. She was a member of the Associazione dell'Arte del Ricamo e dello Sfilato a Chiaramonte Gulfi [Association of the Art of Embroidery and Drawnthread of Chiaramonte Gulfi] so her love of the embroidered pieces shone through when she was telling us about them.

A couple of weeks later at the Italia Invita Forum in Parma, we met other women from this association who had a booth at the Forum. A friend bought me a birthday gift of a piece of Drawnthread work from them which has the embroidery known as the Chiaramonte Stitch:

Close up of the Chiaramonte Stitch.

There is a great tutorial of this stitch on Tuttoricamo, click on the British flag for the English pages, then click on "How it's Done" and then "Chiaramonte Stitch".

We hired a driver from the travel agency in the Piazza Duomo to take us back to Comiso so we could be back in time for our lessons with Roberta Rizza in the afternoon.

Special thanks to Elisabetta for the use of her photos!

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