Sunday, October 5, 2008

Mediterranean Cruise Day 6: Messina, Sicily

It was another great day on the Mediterranean, as yesterday we were in Sicily or “Sicilia” as the locals call it. We arrived in the port of Messina very early, so I sat out on our balcony and took in the views of this interesting and populous city. In the morning we went to an area called Taormina which was quite high above sea level, and well on the way up the still active volcano Mount Etna. Taormina is a cute little village, with plenty of cute shops, cafes and scenic buildings. We went further in to the hills to visit a honey bee stand, where the local bees make honey from pollinating a wide variety of local plants along the hills of the volcano. We tasted a variety of fresh honey with flavors including lemon, orange, strawberry and hazelnut. You may not know, but I really do not like honey, but amazingly I found this particular honey to be irresistible- so much so that I bought three jars to take back to Palm Springs. We also saw the lava flow from when Mt Etna erupted not long ago, where the lava flowed and ended within a few feet of a house. Those people must have been praying to be spared, because clearly the lava ended just before their house and spared destruction that a volcano can bring to anything in its path.

Later we went to the Murgo winery on the hills of Mt Etna. We had a private tour of their vineyards and winery, then of course spent some time enjoying the wines. The winery is run by a family of seven brothers and their families. One of the wives was pouring wine for us, and had a delicious spread of cheese, fresh bread, salami, artichoke spread and fresh olives too. We ended up buying a fair amount of wine, but it was reasonably priced so it made sense to do so.
In the afternoon I spent time exploring the city of Messina. I spent several hours on foot walking through the city taking photos, periodically popping into churches and public buildings. I stopped to enjoy some coffee and gelato and people watch, which is a favorite pastime of mine, particularly to observe another country’s customs and habits. Later in the afternoon the city sprang back to life once the siesta was over. I decided to stop for a haircut in a stylish Sicilian hair salon. It was here that I realized how inept I am in speaking Italian. All this time I have been getting by with phrases, words and broken sentences to communicate in the local language. But here, I needed to describe what kind of haircut I wanted. That sure is different from saying “I would like a coffee please”. I decided to talk with my hands to describe what I wanted, and the stylist figured it out! Afterward I visited the cathedral of Messina, which was so beautiful- I have photos below for you . It was a great day in Sicily and my only regret is that we didn’t have another day to visit Palermo or other parts of this wonderful island.

above: the honey that was made from bee colonies along the volcano area

above: the beautiful vineyards in Sicily

above: this outdoor patio was a perfect spot to dine and enjoy some wine overlooking the vineyards

above left: "sparkling wine" (champagne) resting. Above right: bottles in storage to let the sediment settle.

above: me being a ham as usual in front of the bottles

Views of Messina

above left: King Neptune. Above right: no idea what this is!

The Cathedral

above left: The bell tower had this zodiac clock on it. above right: it also had this month and day clock.

above: a side of a house with some beautiful decor on the walls.
Tomorrow we are in Malta, so be sure to stop back!
-Signore Ricardo Rockhill


B said...

I am soo jealous!!! I love Italy!

and Malta- I am maltese- I have been there many times it's beautful and the water is amazing- enjoy! don't forget to have some pastizzi ( sp) while you are there.

B said...

I am soo jealous!!! I love Italy!

and Malta- I am maltese- I have been there many times it's beautful and the water is amazing- enjoy! don't forget to have some pastizzi ( sp) while you are there.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing. Looks like y'all are having tons-o-fun!


Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing. Looks like y'all are having tons-o-fun!


Odat said...

Hey there handsome.....I have to admit I've been following you on your's gorgeous there.....thanks so much for sharing it with us...

kenju said...

On the last house, is that design mosaic or painted? That's gorgeous! And the arbor at the winery was so charming. I am trying hard not to envy you, Rick. I'm not sure I'm winning that one...LOL

W.O.T.E. said...

Wonderful, but where is the photo of your new 'do?

Olivia said...

Ah Signore Ricardo Pietrocollina! You've just been to all my favourite parts of Europe and I wasn't here every day to read along!!!! I'm so disappointed. But thanks for all the lovely photos.

My mother was in Rome just last week and in Taormina in July. We spent Christmas in Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast in 2005 so it was probably equally overcast then. But Vesuvio and Pompeii were highlights for me. Next time you're in Provence (I went in 1996 and 2004), you should visit the parfumerie in Grasse (it made me want to be a nez) and the walled village of St Paul de Vence.

Ah, the memories...

Sheila said...

Too short a time for such a wonderful island. We stayed on Sicily for a week and even that was not long enough. You have packed so much into your journey. It is fun to dream of going back.


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