Sicily’s scenic beauty continues to amaze me. Yesterday’s excursion by train to the medieval town of Cefalu was just a single distinct a lot more instance of the stunning urban and rural beauty that this Mediterranean island has to provide you. I walked downstairs from my comfortable area in the five-bedroom student apartment to the offices of Laboratorio Linguistico, the Italian language college that delivers the rather uncommon but fabulous chance to discover Italian on a sailboat. Just final week I had sailed with each and every other with six other men and women by way of the lovely Eolian Islands and studied Italian, just off the coast of Sicily.
At the school’s office I met Francesca, the wife of a single of the co-owners, who also handles student affairs and logistics, as well as Sonia, a young lady from Switzerland, who handles administrative support for the school. Franco Zodda, the other co-owner of the college, was also there and showed me about the premises. I witnessed a 3-person Italian class, saw many classrooms, a lunchroom, and the private pc facilities which give totally totally free Net access to the international language students. Every thing was extremely nicely organized and the workers is quite friendly. Soon right after exchanging my photographs with Francesca I headed off to the supermarket to get some basic provisions to make myself a lunch.
Back at the apartment I met an added international language students: Trevor is a 19-year old larger college graduate from Cleveland, Ohio, whose fantastic-grandparents emigrated from Sicily, to be much much more precise, from the Palermo region. Trevor pointed out that he graduated from high college final year and worked the complete year in order to save sufficient money to go on a seven-month language study trip to realize the language of his forefathers. He was a really effectively-mannered personable young man who in fact wanted to discover about the culture of his ancestors. Naturally he was also a bit nervous since he was traveling for the initial time away from residence, so he asked me basic issues about how the supermarkets operate and equivalent practicalities. I was really touched by this young man’s wish to connect with his roots.
My subsequent adventure awaited me at three pm: I was invited to go on a regional nation excursion with Francesco di Santi and Franco Zodda, the two co-owners of Laboratorio Linguistico. Both gentlemen have a language teaching background, and in addition Francesco is a licensed captain, so he runs the language study trips on the sailboat, now in hindsight a genuinely unforgettable encounter.
The two Francescos packed me into their automobile and we started driving previous the outskirts of Milazzo into the winding roads of the Nebrodi Mountains. I had already had a likelihood to discover the interior of Sicily a bit about two weeks earlier throughout my driving tour about Mount Etna and located that Sicily’s countryside is incredibly gorgeous.
We drove about an hour into the mountains and arrived in an region above the tree line that featured a selection of strange sandstone formations. To me the Rocks of Agrimusco had a organic Stonehenge high quality, and they have certainly been utilized for centuries, possibly even millennia, as areas for ritual celebrations.
The view from this area was astounding: a 360 degree panorama unfolded that integrated the Eolian Islands in the north, the continuous mountain chain of the Nebrodi and Peloritani Mountains, operating east-west on the north-side of Sicily, and straight south we have been in search of at the imposing cone of Mount Etna, Europe’s biggest volcano. In 1 word, a magical, enchanting environment.
Some of the rocks reminded me of paintings by Salvador Dali, and Francesco pointed out some massive, entirely round inclusions in the rock that looked as if cannon balls had melted into the sandstone. Obtaining grown up in Austria myself, I located myself continuously reminded of the Alps in my birth nation and was blown away by the picturesque very good quality of this island. I commented that Sicily is just entirely predestined for unconventional tourism and outstanding for hiking, biking, horseback riding and other nature pursuits.
Francesco and Franco enlightened me a modest about Sicily, its history and its exclusive character. They explained that hiking is really not really popular with Southern Italians at all Francesco joked and stated that Sicilians like to drive up to their location, not stroll there. While climbing about the rocks we talked about the mafia and Sicilian mentality. Francesco described Sicilians as individualistic and fatalistic, an fascinating mixture of traits.
My tour guides also educated me about the plant life up here at an altitude of about 2000 m: the tree cover consists of hazelnut, chest nut and cork oak trees, all of which have industrial applications. In addition, they showed me a corral for goats that was produced of stone. Franco explained that the goats get herded into these stone enclosures at evening which incidentally keeps them safe from foxes and other predators. Shortly right right after we indeed ran into a enormous herd of goats, all of whom looked at me sort of funny when I started snapping images of them.
An extra 20 minutes or so by automobile later we had arrived at our second destination: Montalbano Elicona, a typical genuine Sicilian mountain village that is perched on a hilltop. We parked our vehicle and began walking by signifies of town. The principal square opened up about a massive church, and on this Monday afternoon, dozens of people have been sitting next to the church, in the patios in front of several bars and on benches surrounding the square.
Now this was a actual Sicilian town with no tourists. According to time-honoured Sicilian traditions, the older guys sat with each other on the side of the church, younger females sat on the front actions of the church, youngsters were playing together on the piazza, and older girls have been hardly to be observed.
We walked prior the main square to take a little walk via town by means of narrow cobble-stoned streets that led us up to an ancient castle and old churches. Most of the streets had been very quiet and a lot of streets had been so narrow that they would be impassable for a automobile. Back on the main square we ourselves sat down to grab a couple of refreshments.
I was a bit hungry, and the bar we chose had a show case of neighborhood rapid foods, so I ordered an “arancino di funghi” – a rice ball spiced up with mushroom bits that has a crunchy orange-coloured crust. This modest morsel was really extremely tasty, and I could have absolutely enjoyed a second a single particular, but decided to restrain myself.
Ever because I have arrived in Sicily I have been fascinated by these authentic mountain villages that always function massive groups of older guys, numerous of them wearing berets, and animatedly discussing subjects of interest, which most probably include soccer and politics. So far I had been to shy to take photographs of them, but I asked Francesco to make a request for photographs on my behalf.
Confident sufficient, with his Sicilian charm, he explained that an Austro-Canadian traveller was requesting to make some photographs of these unique characters and they complied. Some of the gentlemen in truth did not want to be photographed and hid their faces behind their neighbour’s head, but the vast majority of them was game and even gave me a smile for my photographs. Quickly after finally possessing snapped some images of genuine Sicilians I was really content and we began to head back towards Milazzo. The sun was already setting and the nation homes have been bathed in golden light – a fitting ending to an intriguing excursion.
At 9 pm my tour guides dropped me off at Laboratorio Linguistico’s apartment and I settled in for a quiet night, receiving prepared for my last full day in Sicily.