Mid May is the perfect time to travel to Sicily to experience wildflowers. From the bus windows I observed colorful fields of flowers that I was unable to capture in photos. I captured better images up close, but sacrificed the massing of the blooms. So here are a couple of landscapes I took off of the internet.
Here are my photos.
The weather has been delightful. A majority of the days have been sunny, some days with intense blue skies with no clouds at all. Temperatures have tended to be in the mid 70’s to the mid 80’s during the day. A couple of days were overcast but still with light. However, on the day that we visited Mount Etna the weather was very changeable. At times it was overcast with dark clouds and at other times the sun poked through. Occasionally it rained some and it was windy, at times very windy and cold.
This is how the day started out.
On the way up the mountain, we stopped at the town of Linguaglossa for a coffee break and enjoyed a demonstration of almond cookie making by the pastry chef at the cafe (and free samples.)
The buildings and pavements in this area are constructed of the volcanic rock that produced Mount Etna.
I saw a number of murals on the walls in the town that depicted Mount Edna and the agricultural abundance that the local people enjoy due to the rich soil in the area.
Mount Etna is still active and had spewed steam and smoke from one of its four craters just a couple of days before. Rising 10,000 feet, it is the largest active volcano in Europe. Because it lets off steam on a daily basis, it is safer than volcanos that build up pressure and then erupt violently. And when lava does flow and threatens villages, it flows at only 7 mph so that there is plenty of time for evacuation. Also, the slowness provides the opportunity to divert streams of lava by dropping cement barriers from helicopters as well as blasting valleys to direct the flow away from villages.
As we proceeded upward we observed places where lava and rocks had descended covering portions of the landscape while leaving patches of healthy vegetation.
As we approached 6000 feet, the area was mostly barren. At this point we had the option of taking a ride on donkeys to visit the area or of staying back. Only three hearty souls, Charlotte included, decided to brave the elements since the weather was not nice – very windy, very cold, and misty and very moist. I stayed back and enjoyed a cappuccino instead! Obviously, we could not see the top of the volcano and glad we had had a peek at it the day before.
The stables for the donkeys at one time were a ski lodge and restaurant that were destroyed by lava some years ago.
On our way to lunch we visited a local cemetery where our local guide, Santino, showed us the tombs of his parents and grandparents. Family is a huge thing in Sicily and parents today are saddened when their children move away, often to other countries, because they are unable to get jobs in Sicily where unemployment is over 30%.
We were jubilantly greeted by Santino’s wife, Serefina, and invited to have lunch in a building on their property that at one time was used for making wine. Serefina started the meal with soup, which we were happy to enjoy on such a raw day! Not only was Serefina a terrific cook, she was also a “hot ticket” who sang and joked with us without a word of English. It was much fun!
The X in the photo is where stomping on the grapes took place when it was used as a winery.
This the first of TWO cakes that Doreen received on her birthday and which she shared with us. Italian birthday cakes have multiple layers of cake and filling and are iced with whipped cream. Yum! And it was served with Prosecco. More about food in my next post.
One more post to come.