Aeolian islands and Catania

Trip Start Mar 15, 2006
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13
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Trip End Dec 20, 2006


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Thursday, May 25, 2006

The Sicilians have generally been absolutely lovely to me, and each day I have had at least 2 or 3 offers to stay with people I meet or have dinner with them. In fact, it has become a bit tiring as I havenąt had much time to myself!
From Palermo I caught the ferry to the Aeolian islands, in the sea north of SIcily. On the ferry I got invited up to the cockpit where we ate SIcilian sweets and drank coffee. On the way to ALicudi we passed a pod of dolphins, including about 3 or 4 baby dolphins jumping around the boat. At each island we stopped off the crew would show me around.
I ended up staying in a little town called Lena on the island of Salina. I stayed with the nonna of the ferry captain, §nonna Carmella§, an amazing 90 year old lady! She didnąt look a day over 70, and her mind was sharp as a tack. She was very excited that I am from Melbourne, as her younger brother lives there (the 3 others who had emigrated have passed away). She recounted stories from when she had visited Melbourne 8 years ago, at the age of 82!She still lives in the house in which she was born, though she is alone now as her husband has passed away and her children (all doctors) have moved away. I loved her garden, set high on the hill looking down over the sea, from which she is totally self sufficient. We collected peas for our dinner, as well as a fruit similar to apricots (she grabs the branches with her walking stick and pulls them down to pick). She grows all the fruit and vegetables, makes honey, preserves olives, makes tomato sauce and wine! We had dinner with her and her neighbour Fiorella and son Marco, and I felt bad that Carmella wouldnąt even let me help cook or wash the dishes. I wanted to pay her, but she wouldnąt accept any money, so I left some for her, but she found it when Marco was driving me down to the port to catch the ferry and made me take it back- I hope she wasnąt offended!
From Salina I headed to Lipari, the capital of the Aeolian islands, where I hired a scooter and drove around the island.
In the afternoon I caught the ferry to Stromboli island, home of the Stromboli volcano. The volcano was amazing! The climb up was difficult. I was already exhausted, and the temperature was about 40°C when we set off. We only climbed 900 metres to the crater, but it was very steep, and the trail was difficult as it was mostly sand. We reached the top at dusk, looking down onto the five volcanic vents below. Every so often one of the vents would rumble and then explode, which was quite amazing to watch! The photos I took really donąt do it justice! We stayed at the top for about an hour before descending back to the village.
Next day I headed back to the mainland, to Catania. I had intended to stop off in the Taormina, which is supposed to be a pretty little town with a Greek amphitheatre set high above the sea, but the climb up the volcano really exhausted me, so I decided to spend the day relaxing, before I fly back to Rome and head to Croatia tomorrow
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