Today turned into Italian Labour Day, a large countrywide vacation that offered the precise opportunity to perform a little out of town excursion: a pressure around Mount Etna. So collectively with Jill, a co-pupil of mine from England, we rented a bit -door Lancia to head on a country using excursion. At 50 Euros the apartment became no longer precisely less expensive, however, we figured it’d be well worth it in an effort to discover the nation-state around Taormina.

First, we had to address fuelling the car: our condo car was basically empty and we were imagined to handiest put approximately as tons gas into the car as we concept we would dissipate so we might be able to carry the automobile again empty as nicely. The gasoline stations have been officially closed in this holiday, and not like in North America, there has been no choice to use a credit card for payment on the pump. The pump, but, did have a little slot wherein you can feed in payments and one of the neighborhood drivers patiently took his time to provide an explanation for the machine to me.

With enough gas to get us a couple of hundred kilometers we spark off on our united states of America excursion. At Giardini Naxos, we became inland in the direction of our first vacation spot: the “Gole di Alcantara”, the Gorge of the Alcantara River that is reduced from the black basaltic rock. The signs and symptoms on u. S. A. Avenue pointed closer to the parking zone for the Alcantara Gorge, so we parked our car and entered the complicated. A simple 20-minute tour to peer the river and the abnormal rock formations would fee three Euros, whilst longer excursions and wading excursions through the river are available also. We descended several sets of stairs to get right down to the riverbed from wherein we got a terrific look at a number of the thrilling rock formations. Unless you desired to stroll thru the river, there was no different area to move than returned up thru any other set of stairs.

Once at the top we located out that if we had taken this entrance we’d had been able to view the gorge at no cost. We had been more than one hundred meters far away from our parked vehicle and by using the roadside there has been a little stand which absolutely became the vacationer statistics booth for this inland location. Two girls supplied us with a range of brochures and facts approximately the villages surrounding Mount Etna, and I should admit that the carrier changed into higher and greater knowledge than the traveler workplace in Taormina, which occurs to be a miles bigger visitor center.

We decided to explore a few of the splendid hilltop cities which might be patched up towards the rocky outcrops, presenting an super vantage point of the encircling countryside. Following a sign for a village known as Motta Camastra, we became a winding narrow avenue that was slowly taking us to the top of this crag. At the lowest of the town, there has been a public parking spot and we figured it became higher to park our automobile there and walk up than to try and navigate the unimaginably narrow roads that had been snaking via this little hilltop town.

Just as we had parked our vehicle a local resident in his fifties started shouting at us in Italian from his balcony and waving at us. It took us a while to realize that he was truly inviting us up into his abode for a lager. We graciously declined and persisted our walk. Jill commented that local Sicilians were showing a marked quantity of hobby in her and attributed it to her relatively light English complexion. After about a ten minute stroll thru tiny cobble-stoned walkways, we reached the main rectangular which featured a bar with about 20 older men sitting outdoor. Most of them have been wearing caps much like French berets and they had been engaged in a very spirited dialogue. Not a lady turned into to be visible.

Our walk persisted to the historic church and from there we observed a walkway beyond slim houses to a lookout factor overlooking the entire mountain vicinity. Sleepy cats were lounging lazily at the pavement, here and there women were watering plant life in front in their flats. The vista toward Mount Etna, the Alcantara Valley and diverse mountaintop villages perched precariously towards different rocky outcrops changed into breathtaking.

After Motta Camastra we determined to explore every other this type of hilltop cities and following a stunning drive through a geographical region full of vineyards we reached an area called Roccella Valdemone approximately 45 minutes later. We parked the car proper subsequent to the vintage city church and strolled across the piazza. At the other cease of this public square we noticed the compulsory bar which once more featured about 15 to 20 older gentlemen absolutely engrossed in a lively discussion. My wager became they had been in all likelihood discussing soccer. We got the precise impact that tourists do not come right here very regularly because we virtually stuck out like a sore thumb and the locals were searching at us a chunk as if we had been a novelty. Again, ladies have been conspicuously absent, with the occasional exception who turned into sweeping the pavement in front of the residence and then disappeared inner again.

Nature changed into calling and we requested on the bar if we ought to use the bathroom. One issue approximately Italy is that there are very few public washrooms, however happily nearby bars are quite smooth-going approximately their facilities being used by non-paying strangers. This particular facility turned into in rather an abysmal shape, although, and once I got here out of it I instructed Jill to ensure no longer to touch any of the surfaces for fear of contracting a terrible speaking ailment. The facility did the job, but it, in reality, become the whole thing, however, a shining example of hygiene and cleanliness.

Our using tour persevered with a force into the mountain vicinity. Tree cover was given sparser and all of a surprise we were in a mountain region that has to have been approximately 1500 to 2000 m high with a lovely 360-degree view northwards and eastwards right down to the ocean and southwards and westwards closer to Mount Etna. Hundreds of neighborhood Italian households had their vehicles parked in small side roads that were leading onto what seemed like pasture lands for goats and they were having picnics. We did not seem to look any vacationers at all, and we realized that this is what Italians do on a public vacation in Sicily: they move for a picnic in the excessive mountain regions surrounding Mount Etna.