Sunday, February 21, 2016

Discovering Mount Etna, Sicily

We have been blessed with several sunny, blue skyed days all in a row. Fantastic. Today was Sunday so everyone in our little town was either on the move or on the roadside selling produce. I have never seen so many gorgeous vegetables for sale as they have here in Sicily. They don't have a farmer's market per se, as they do in Umbria. It's more like when I was a kid and people drove out to the country to buy produce from a vegetable or fruit stand. There are tons of them. I guess that city people come up here, especially on the week ends, to buy their vegetables for the week.I can only imagine as the year wears on. Our oranges here are delicious but the true "blood" oranges won't be in for another week or two. Everyone says it is worth the wait.

So off we went to Mount Etna. Our landlords gave us directions, and hoping for the best we headed out. The road was lovely.

You are looking at the back of Etna. You can see that there is snow up there but not much snow. A big money maker for people around here are skiers who come in the winter, but this year they have not had enough snow for that, so the economy, once again suffers.

We headed up the Sartorius mountain, looking for a good hiking spot for us and Luca. The area is known for its birch trees. Apparently it is a variety that is only found here in this place.

It is still winter here, although it feels more like autumn to us. I'm sure this scenery will be totally different in a month.

We drove up to the Citelli Refuge for lunch.
Thankfully, we left Luca in the car as there were probably 6 HUGE dogs in there with different lunch parties. It was our first time to eat in a mountain refuge so we weren't sure how it all worked. We realized that the menus for the day was writting on little pieces of colored paper and hung with clothes pin on a line. At first I thought we were supposed to take one of the papers with us, but we quickly realized we were just to look and then chose. We had an antipasto that we split and 2 vegetarian lasagne and a large water. 20E  The lasagne was excellent...great noodles, sauted zucchini and sliced hard boiled eggs with layers of cheese. Yum!

Some information about Etna..First of all it's an active volcano with the last eruption going off was november 3 to Dec. 12, 2015. No one seems overly concerned about the fact we could all be turned into toasted Pompeii people, so I try not to think about it. Kind of like living on the earthquake fault in Oakland. I mean what are you going to do? Anyway, the name Etna people think came from the Phoenician word for oven. Sigh...not a comforting thought. The locals call Etna "mongibello" meaning beautiful moutain. It is actually quite lovely. It is about 11,000 feet tall...the size keeps changing when it blows its it is the highest volcano in Europe. They say the lava rocks are around 350,000 to 500,000 years old, so it's been around for a long time. I thank the mountain everyday for our fantastic produce.

We finally found a place to let Luca out and he ran until his heart's content. A wonderful day here. I hope you all had a very buona domenica.

Note the ash on the ground...It's like a big asphalt parking lot in places...

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