All good things come to an end & that usually comes too soon. 2,5 weeks of my summer vacation passed in a blink of an eye (nah, it was more than a blink) but I guess that also means that I had a great time if days were passing so quickly. It sure was an intensive period with a full package of things to see and places to visit. Even though sightseeing in the scorching 30°C seems tiring at the beginning, I came back home relaxed and with my batteries charged. In the next few blog posts I’ll tell you a little bit about my adventures in Sicily and about Pitti Fragranze later on.
Previous day we arrived at our hotel around 9 PM in the evening. The flight from Poznań to Lamezia Terme was in the early afternoon. Travel agency informed us that there’s around 180 km distance between the airport and Nicolosi where we were staying. It didn’t seem so much but it took 4 hours because the roads were narrow and had many turns & zig-zags. The adventure was waiting for us.
Day 1 – We started discovering Sicily by setting off on a trip to the canyon of Alcantara river. Flow of the river was stopped when Moio Volcano erupted and a stream of lava crossed its path. But water always finds a way to go on & over centuries it gradually carved its way through volcanic stone, forming dark walls shaped in a very characteristic way that reminded me of cuboid columns. At first we all went for a stroll on top of the canyon and later we took the elevator (yes, there’s an elevator going up & down the Cliff) to get to the body of the water. Canyon is few kms long but only part of it is safe for tourists. Anyone could take off their shoes and walk up the stream for a bit. Alcantara waters were really cold & I wish someone told us to take swimming shoes for that rocky bottom.
Next we traveled to Taormine – this small town, established in 6th century b.c by people who fled from Naxos, is very popular among tourists. Which is not a surprise at all, considering the fact that within its boundaries it holds one of the best preserved antique greek theatres. Build on a hill (Taormine is a town that goes up from the sea level all the way up to the mountain tops) as they always were these days you can admire the stone columns, facades, seats & imagine that tragedies and comedies were once played there. Also due to its uphill placement the theatre provides a beautiful view of the town and sea coast below. In Taormine we were given some free time, I explored it a bit more by walking up and down the streets, enjoying this quite a hot Monday.
Our schedule for that day was really busy so after spending 2 or 3 hours in Taormine we were on the road again, heading towards the final attraction of the day. As they say – always save best for last, in this case it was the best and definitely the biggest place to visit. It took more time to get there but no surprise as we were going for a meeting with Etna! Through numerous serpentine the bus climbed up to 2000 meters above sea level. From the parking we could go exploring. On that altitude we were able to go for a tour around two craters that were left on Etna’s ‘body’ after previous eruptions. Seeing how big the holes were made me realize once more how powerful a force of nature can be. At that height it was significantly colder and there were moments we actually walked among the clouds. If somebody wanted they could take a cable railway going another 1000 meters up and have a walk close to the active crater of Etna. I didn’t do that as the fee was extra 75 €. Nearby parking lot one also had a chance to taste local products such as various honey, almond cream or pistachio cream. The latter one was delicious. We came back after 12 hours of travelling and sightseeing.
Day 2 – After a really busy Monday, filled with visiting 3 pretty varied and contrasting places we were up for a little wind down on Tuesday. However to enjoy it we had to wake up really early. I think the alarm clock rang at around 5 AM on that day & that was the earliest we had to get up during this trip. 2 hours on a bus going North and we arrived at the harbor where a ferry was waiting for us. We were going to Lipari Islands. It’s an archipelago of 17 islands. We were visiting 2 of them. During the cruise which took approximately an hour I went out to the deck to take some pictures and that very moment I was generously sprayed with a sea water. My clothes got all wet. Then we finally arrived at the coast of Island of Lipari – the biggest one. It took a while for my t-shirt and shorts to dry & they all got stiff because of the salt but it didn’t bother me much. It wasn’t very important at that moment.
Our guide took us for a little walk which involved some climbing too. We went to see Castello di Lipari which is basically a church. Apart from that there wasn’t more places to see, we were given almost 2 hours of free time to just walk around and enjoy the sights. I teamed up with a couple of people from my group and we just strolled here and there, took some photos and we also tried a local specialty called arancino. This name derives from arancia – Italian word for orange and it quite looks like one when it’s served. What it is is a rice ball covered with breadcrumbs and deep-fried so it has that golden-orangey color like the citrus. The ball can be stuffed with veggies, meat, fish plus a mozarella in all cases. We had one with swordfish. It’s not big but gets rid of hunger momentarily.
We had to be wary of time to return to the harbor in order to go to a second Island – Vulcano. No monuments to visit there but we were given free hand what to do. We could either go up to see another active volcano crater or we could relax at the beach. I chose the 2nd option. First we went to Spiaggia Aqua Calda, a warm water beach. It’s unique for having multiple outlets of volcanic gases – they are known as fumaroles & when you went for a swim the water was all bubbling, so it was some sort of a natural jacuzzi. Neighboring with this beach were also mud baths. All enriched with sulphuric compounds so the entire area had specific odour but it was bearable. Later we changed a spot to Spiaggia Nera – black beach. It really is black thanks to fine particles of volcanic rock that turned into sand. This black sand was exceptionally soft too. We enjoyed the sun and warm water.
On our way back the captain decided to give us a short excursion around Vulcano and to show us some interesting stone formations. I particularly liked the view of the ‘gate’ from one of the photos. That more or less describes my first two days in Sicily. I will tell you more about it soon.