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Hello_From_Sicily___Exploring_Salina__The_Island_Of_The_Twin_Mountains

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					Title:
Hello From Sicily – Exploring Salina, The Island Of The Twin Mountains

Word Count:
1400

Summary:
After our explorations of Lipari and Salina yesterday the weather was
going to keep us on the island of Salina today. I woke up early at about
6 am and stuck my head out of the boat. A beautiful sunrise was in the
making so I grabbed my camera and took in the pink, orange and peach
coloured hues of this glorious sunrise in Santa Marina. Dark coloured
clouds were hanging on the horizon. A catamaran had just pulled out of
the harbour and provided an interesting anchor point for...


Keywords:
Sicily, Italian Lessons, boat, travel, student, Fidiculi, Salina, Eolian
Islands, Santa Marina


Article Body:
After our explorations of Lipari and Salina yesterday the weather was
going to keep us on the island of Salina today. I woke up early at about
6 am and stuck my head out of the boat. A beautiful sunrise was in the
making so I grabbed my camera and took in the pink, orange and peach
coloured hues of this glorious sunrise in Santa Marina. Dark coloured
clouds were hanging on the horizon. A catamaran had just pulled out of
the harbour and provided an interesting anchor point for my photos.

Shortly after it started to rain and when we got up for breakfast our
skipper Francesco explained that the weather forecast today may not be
good enough for us to leave the island, so we have to have a briefing in
the early afternoon. Two additional guests had arrived, Franco, another
Italian teacher and the co-owner of Laboratorio Linguistico, and his
friend Agnieszka, a young music student from Poland who was learning
Italian since she was studying music in Rome. Our trusted four-cabin
sailboat, the Solitaire II, now had passengers in every cabin, and there
were seven of us traveling now.

Herbert, the German television travel journalist, was on an official
location scouting trip for his travel show to gather intelligence for
next year’s shoot which would feature the Italian learning experience on
board of a sailboat, provided by Francesco’s company, Laboratorio
Linguistico. Herbert needed to check out all the interesting spots, the
lighting, the locations and the facilities so he would be able to make
plans for the script and the camera crew that would come down from
Germany next year to film the extraordinary experience of learning
Italian on a sailboat while cruising through the beautiful Eolian
Islands.

So in order to get to know the island better Herbert had asked Francesco
to make arrangements with some local experts to take him to different
spots on the island. Herbert graciously offered to take other people
along on his island exploration, and Claudia and me excitedly agreed.
Sure enough, Sabina Giuffré, who we had already met last night at dinner,
and her local friend Giancarlo, came to pick us up in a rented vehicle to
give us a tour of the island.

We were nice and comfy in the small Italian vehicle and after just a 10
minute drive, we had arrived at our first stop: the “Gola del Diablo”, a
gorge cut into the black and brown volcanic rock, featuring an ancient
Roman bridge. The stone formations were indeed impressive, and the layers
of ancient lava flows were clearly visible.

We also stopped in the village of Lingua where we visited a local
ethnographic museum that featured various exhibits, illustrating the
ancient ways of life on this local island. An ancient millstone, various
farming implements, even an original bedroom from a farm were exhibited
in this museum. This small museum provides great insight into the
traditional lifestyle on these islands. We then walked around the corner
and steps away is the main square of this tiny town. Here at the Bar “Da
Alfredo” we congregated and received free samples of granitas – the semi-
frozen Sicilian dessert composed of sugar, water and different
flavourings such as strawberry, melon, peach, orange, lime, coffee,
almonds and many others.

Similar to sorbets, granitas usually have larger crystals, and the locals
often eat them in combination with a brioche. The black sky overhanging
the mountains was ominous, but a bright ray of sunshine lit up the
façades of the houses around the square. A big husky dog was snoozing
contentedly on the floor and I was wondering how this poor dog with his
thick fur would be able to handle the hot Sicilian summers. The locals
were very hospitable and humorous banter was flying back and forth.

From here we drove back through Salina, dropped off Giancarlo and stopped
at Sabina’s house which she has turned into a bed and breakfast .
Salina’s dad came to greet us and I couldn’t help but detect a
resemblance to famous actor Kirk Douglas. He graciously picked some
“nespole” (loquat fruits) for us from his fruit tree. These fruits,
originally indigenous to Southeastern China and grown in warm climates
around the world today, are similar in appearance to apricots and are
similarly sweet and juicy.

We appreciated this little roadside snack, thanked Sabina’s dad and
continued our journey towards the next town on this island: Malfa, a
small fisherman’s town. Along the way we stopped to admire the malvasia
vineyards as well as patches of capers which are big export products for
the island of Salina.

Malfa features a big church dedicated to San Lorenzo and incidentally was
the hometown of our shipmate Lorenzo’s grandparents and a place that he
was going to spend some time in. Sabina took us down to the fishing
harbour and then back up the hill to a lookout point called the
“semaforo”, a surveillance tower erected in the early 20th century which
was also used during the Second World War. Sabina mentioned that UNESCO
offered to buy this tower, but the local town turned down the offer.
Today it is abandoned and blocked off.
Sabina stopped the vehicle and we walked out onto a lookout point which
provided a gorgeous view of the Mediterranean with a great view of the
island of Filicudi – the “reclining pregrant woman”, so called because of
its shape, featuring a head and what looks like a big belly, protruding
from the sea. To our left was a deeply indented valley which Sabina
explained is an ancient volcanic crater, half of which has broken off and
disappeared in the sea. Today it is the location for the village of
Pollara which has one main tourist attraction: the house where the movie
“Il Postino” was filmed.

Of course we needed to check this out so we drove down some narrow
winding roads, parked the car and walked up a short stretch on a dusty
road to see a rather unremarkable simple and small pink-coloured house
with some vines, which is one of the most famous locations on the island.
Seen from outside, there was nothing spectacular about this house, and
Sabina indicated that it is available for short-term rentals.

The weather was starting to clear up and the view from the northern tip
of Salina was gorgeous. The distances on this island are tiny, but due to
the narrow and winding road it definitely takes a while to get around. By
1 pm we were back at our boat and had a briefing with our captain:
Francesco indicated that due to the weather forecast we were not going to
sail today. So we had a comfortable on board lunch and I then headed into
Santa Marina to walk around and make some phone calls back to Canada.
Unfortunately the Internet café was closed since it was siesta time,
which often lasts from about 1 or 1:30 pm to 4 or 4:30 pm. In Sicily you
definitely need to time your shopping experiences carefully to make sure
the shops are open.

From 4:30 to 6:30 pm Claudia, Agnieszka and I had our first Italian
language lesson, provided by Franco on the outdoor terrace of a local
bar. Now here is a concept: language learning on the terrace of a bar – I
definitely like it. It made the somewhat painful exercises dealing with
the complexities of the Italian “congiuntivo” (the subjunctive) much more
palatable. I have studied a lot of languages with different language
schools, and Laboratorio Linguistico has definitely created a very unique
language learning concept here.

After our intense lesson I took another stroll around Salina and this
time the Internet café was open. So far I have found fairly good public
Internet access in different parts of Sicily, and it’s always great to be
able to connect with home. Our boat crew spent a quiet evening on board,
we fixed up a lovely home-cooked dinner with potatoes, salad, sweet
carrots, cheese and various sweets for dessert. Some of my travel
partners played cards while I organized my photos on the laptop which was
conveniently hooked up to the electricity supply provided by the harbour
commission in Santa Marina di Salina.

It was nice to have a day of rest in Santa Marina, but I am definitely
looking forward to exploring a new island tomorrow: Stromboli!

				
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