Friday, January 3, 2014

3rd January – Nellie starts the day sweeping up the Etna ash

Breakfast on the balcony overlooking the sea and mainland Calabria reminds us of Positano. Nellie is a typical Italian Mama wanting to make sure that we have the best stay possible, especially when it comes to food. The first thing she asked us (in Italian of course) when we arrived was what did we want for breakfast. Now Julie has done two Italian language courses so her Italian is much better than mine, which is saying virtually nothing. In halting Italian I think she managed to order for me an orange juice and some bread and butter!

I love the crusty Italian bread though and Nellie served us the crunchiest that I had ever had. When you sliced it the loaf erupted like Etna, spraying crumbs like ash across the table cloth....this is abo
I love Italian bread....
ut as literary as I can get...

As Vesuvius might have threatened Naples in the past, Etna is still alive and well. We noticed piles of volcanic ash around the town the night before. In daylight and with Nellie signalling to us, we could see many rooftops that had yet to be cleaned from the December dumping of ash. There is a big business in ash cleanup here. For the rest of the day, as we walked around Taormina, ash is evident everywhere. Unlike Positano, Taormina has a gondola from the beachfront far below and the town. Walking down is fine but getting back up would have been a challenge. In Positano, Julie, Erin and I did the Walk of the Gods , which was 2,000 steps upwards. This may not have been quite that far, or at least not to the level that we needed to be at.

When we arrived back at Nellies in the late afternoon she appeared a little agitated and excitable. Our halting Italian and even her friend's and my halting French couldn't help us understand each other, as we thought she was asking what time we wanted breakfast and when we would be leaving, but she kept saying no, no....We decided to wait for Giuseppe to come home. Apparently Nellie was wanting to clean our room and make the bed (something we don't expect from Airbnb). But she had not seen us go out in the morning, so thought that we may have been tired and decided to sleep in. Her agitation was because she thought we would be upset that the room was not cleaned! No amount of arm waving could communicate this!

We had dinner at the restaurant recommended by Giuseppe.  We happen to again be sitting near an Australian couple (as we were the night before).  Peter and Pieria live in Sydney. Pieria is Sicilian so they were back visiting family. Peter is a graphic designer, just like our daughter Erin. Pieria is a teacher in high schools (of Italian of course)...just like Julie, so it took no time to find common ground. They live in Zetland, not far from our Annandale place. They gave us some good Italian restaurant tips for Sydney. The couple the night before also had one of them of Italian extraction. Perhaps its not surprising that we keep running into Aussies. It is the long school holidays and Europeans would not be holidaying as much in their winter. It’s not that cold here…much like as Aussie winter. It’s meant to be 19 degC tomorrow.

Our view from the balcony. Notice the ash still lying on the
roof of the circular building below.

As the brochures say, Taormina is a photographer’s dream, with great shots available just about everywhere. The ancient Greek amphitheatre is a highlight with wonderful views of Etna in the background.

Isola Bella is a garden island established by an English woman

On this sicilian beach the kids build 'Rock Castles'

Greek theatre ruins with Etna in the background

Julie wafting into the Arancini..they are huge
over here

We thought that this puppy may have been
like our dog Suki, but it is an Italian breed
called Volpino...very pomeranian like.

We see this charicature all over town. I was sure that it was
some mythical Greek godess with a long and interesting
story. Apparently its simply the 3 legs are the 3 corners of
the island of Sicily!

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