Hello again, Italy

I am back!!

This should be shouted from the roof tops & celebrated in the market places…ok, maybe I am a bit over enthusiastic, but I have been anticipating my next trip for a few months.

I did not want to write anything until I was VERY sure…I bought the aeroplane tickets…I am going back!

To the most exciting place, with many undiscovered photo opportunities & places to gawk at galore!

I have felt some pressure from friends & family…you are going back to Italy…again!?

Why!? There is a whole world to explore…

Well, there are still parts of Italy that I want to explore.

However, this trip is going to be slightly different, Italy, or rather one of the Italian islands forms part of my trip.

I am going to Malta, I am taking my mom with, then I am going to Corsica (French island) & Sardinia (Italian island).

So, technically this is a Mediterranean island tour, although not all the islands & last time was a Mediterranean island too…I don’t have all the details yet of where & how…juggling & budget will be playing major roles, but I had to, at least, let you know that I am going…

& this means, that after all the hard work in getting this far, the real work only starts now!

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Arriverderci Sicilia

It was my last day…

In spite of not sleeping much (the piazza & everybody else seemed to party until very much after 4 am & quite a few ambulances were needed according to the noise), I was awake soon after 5:30… I lay talking to God & tied to sleep again, but to no avail…

I first packed my suitcase in my head, then repacked I physically…

I threw away my sandals…after two trips walking very long hours through Italy, they were finished & had started to give me blisters…

It made extra space in my suitcase…

After a bland breakfast, I went to explore Catania…

O my, I found another theatre…a Roman one built on top of some Greek structure…I was able to wander through the arches & read the lyrical English that Italians are famous for…inspiring me to see the structure & how the middle ages & beyond “restructurrd ” it & incorporated it into houses…

What made this theatre higher on my list of excellent things…the bottom is submerged under water from a natural source nearby…

Two of my favourite things in one…arches & water…& a third, ancient theatricals…the only thing missing? Doric columns…

Some portions of which I found in the museum…not Doric (wrong century), but columns!

Every palazzo afterwards , the beautiful gardens, paled into comparison…

The heat in Catania got to me after a while & I left earlier for the airport than initially intended….

I will not bore you with the mundane details of my journeys…long periods of waiting interspersed with longer periods captivated in the confined space secured by a (I always thought) quite useless seatbelt…

But, the one thing that blew me away…we flew over the sea from Catania to Roma…& I had the opportunity to see my beloved Stromboli from above…the crater puffing smoke…(Photo through the dirty plane window)

It was definitely the highlight of my trip!

& so I left Sicily, a place of warmheartedness, beauty & a place that draws you & captivates you inexorably…

I will have to come back…

No rest…for the traveller

I had second-guessed myself on when to leave Stromboli & move to Catania…but alas in the end, the wrong decision…

Three very long, nauseating & diesel-fumed hours on the ferry in a cramped seat…visiting, but only seeing slices of Panarea, Lipari, Salina & finally Vulcano…

By the time I reached Milazzo, I thought I was not going to make it…

But drama aside, I waited for the 15:30 bus to Messina…

All went well & we arrived shortly after 16:00…

I went to check how delayed the trains were, but saw that one of the trains to Catania was cancelled…I did not want to book a ticket & then find out it gets cancelled again…so, I paid slightly more to walk further once I arrived in Catania…but the safest decision…

Catania was finally reached at 18:20…

Then I walked to & past the hostel several times before I finally found it…up two long flights of stairs…

After a bathroom break & a change of shoes, I set off to explore Catania….

Lively music pouring from places & stalls, piazzas filled with tourists, the foreign & Italian kind…

Foreigners gaping & photo taking, pointing, Italians with designer shopping bags draped casually over their arms or clutched in multiples in their hands en famiglia…

Everybody talking & laughing…

For the first times in my life, I was solicited, first by one & then by several other ladies…

For supper at their restaurant, just up here (in here, down this via)…

The fifth or sixth one caught me…but by this time I was hungry enough & followed her to a little place where I enjoyed supper…

I walked back wearily, enjoying, but tiredly through the lit streets & up the stairs…

However, someone is playing drums & cymbals in front of the square…on which my room faces…

Sleep is not going to happen soon…

Ode to an island…or something

Stromboli, Stromboli!

An inspiring place that brings out the poet in me…but alas, the name is too unpoetic…

But, black shimmering beaches caught between an angry sea & an angry mountain…

Tiny roads caught between white walls & white houses in Piscita…

Lemon trees & bougainvilleas, in all shades from rose to red wine…

Exotic scents that tickle you with their perfume…

Insects buzzing…all seem to be exaggerated in size & sound…

Small “apes” (you say it as if the e had an accent) & scooters sounding amplified in the narrow lanes & the silent whirring of electric carts…

An old dog, soaking in the sun, cats being territorial on a wall, & birds having a ball in the trees…in every tree…sea gulls floating on the wind…

Black lava stone in walls, encased in the roads, cut as steps & curbs…

It is not a place easily mistaken for another, it is not a place to easily forget…

The volcano, in the middle, rising up, clouds of smoke billowing from its crater, often…(in the photo, those are not clouds, but is smoke))

An island, beautiful, rich in so many things, but not an easy place…

O, how I will miss you when my life is back to routine & normal…

I will close my eyes, hear the waves crash fiercely & think back to this…

Stromboli

I woke up at 6:00…open the door & looked out on a sea as calm as a lake…the sun already burning down…I’d had a rough night on a very narrow single bed…it felt I was in a dream…I went back to sleep…not having the motivation to get dressed & go take photos…

When I went out just after 8, the scene had changed…a breeze was ruffling the surface of the water & a fog was hanging over it…I had coffee (black) & walked to catch the train…all went smoothly…

I did hear that there was a chance of delays on Saturday, the G7 summit has caused complete chaos on the East Coast… I might need to change my plans & take the bus to Catania rather than the train…

I arrived in Messina, found the bus & all went smoothly…came to Milazzo…chaotic port where too many people take ferries…

I wandered around, it was 11 am & my ferry to Stromboli only at 2 pm….but it is difficult to wander with two bags & a suitcase on wheels…

The sound of the wheels on the cobbles and pavements drive me insane…

I found a likely restaurant, used to the strange ways of the English a speaking world & had lunch before 12…prosciutto crudo & melon, yellow spaghetti carbonara with lots of pancetta…coffee

The ferry was like a can of sardines…packed tightly…people left at Lipari…more got on…people left at Panarea…more got on…at Stromboli, a little Ape awaited…looks like a tuk-tuk, with the words, Hotel Miramare….I took a ride…loved it!

I went up the stairs to walk about town & confirmed my fears…if I could barely walk up several flights of stairs to town, I would certainly not make it up the mountain…

So, I read up again about climbing past the Osservatorio restaurant to the view point beyond…

& set off just after 6…

I walked at a fast pace…it took 40 sweaty, painful minutes to reached the restaurant…

Then, up & up & up & up…I just could not make it! At one point, there were people standing, a Dutch couple…& they told me that right from there I could see the lava flow…& so it was…I spent almost two hours there, waiting for the crater to spew fire…it did…20 minutes apart, 10 minutes, 5…

Each time, I was like an excited child, & lost another time piece of my heart…

By the time I reluctantly left, it was gone…my heart, forever lost to an uncaring, but fiery volcano…

I was cold, shivering from the sweaty T-shirt after the sun went down, I was stiff & sore from the climb…but I was singing, awed & captivated by God’s creation…(at the same time an unbelievably beautiful sunset on my right)

I stumbled home in the dark, my torch light & shoes inadequate for the downhill trek…

It

Was

So much harder than I thought it would be…

But it was so much more than I could ever have imagined…

A day by the sea

I was determined to enjoy today…

So, I made sure I had no expectations!

I enjoyed breakfast on the teracce in Savoca…

Took a last walk & some photos…

Spent time on my balcony…

& Maria, from the States, that I met yesterday, brought me to Santa Teresa do Rica…

I learned a little more about her life…& touched a beautiful soul…I took her details & she took mine…we will keep in touch, the old-fashioned way, by post…

I found a map of the town & took a walk…

Most of the attractions puzzled me, or are quite new, but I enjoyed the walk…

It was hot though…something confirmed when I took another walk late the afternoon…31 degrees…heat that I only normally expect in summer…

I bought fixings for a picnic supper which I enjoyed outside on a ceramic table that has cheery lemons on it…

When I came into my room after that, my hostess surprised me with an arancina…

I therefore had a much larger meal than anticated, but am touched again, by someone’s thoughtfulness in their own difficult time

It was a lovely day!

The life…

It was a very hot day!

I decided last week already that this planned stay, was going to be a quiet time of contemplation & recovery…when I get back to the office next week, I will need a lot of energy…

Energy that I might have expended already or have not yet recuperated…so, today was it…

I started by climbing another hill & following two French tourists up the mountain to a sanctuary…(Photo: stairs up to the mountain top)

It was a quiet day for me…

This does not mean there was not a lot of noise, buses full of tourists arrived as Taormina was closed, not only to me…

There were to crowing cocks on opposite sides of the mountain, the crows echoing…a crowing competition…dogs barking, a hound child singing jingle bells in Italian incessantly…

I spoke to the owner of the shop on the piazza this morning…if I have worked out all my stories, he is married to an Irish woman, from Northern Ireland…his & his children’s English quite decent…

I spoke to Maria…who left America 40 years ago to settle in Savoca with her Sicilian husband…years that were not easy or how she could have imagined it…isolated until about 10-15 years ago…

But I spent the day relaxing…soaking in the Italian dolce vita & time on my balcony (Photo: balcony where I spent my day…black chair toward the left)…just being…

It was a beautiful day!