JOYFUL GRATITUDE #138
One of the things I like about Sicily are these little 3-wheel trucks that come to town laden with fruit and veggies, park on a square in front of a church or by the local bookstore and sell their produce to passers-by. I love the spontaneity of it, the handwritten signs and the feeling of abundance created by the colourful crates of fruit.
While we were in Sicily last month, we went for a hike on Mount Etna, accompanied by Pippo, a local guide who’s been exploring Etna for the last 50 years and told us lots of facts and stories about the volcano he’s passionate about.
We didn’t go to the main crater, but rather avoided the crowds on a much more quiet route on the South Eastern slope. The views were breathtaking as we hiked along the crest of the Valle del Bove, a huge valley which was filled with lava of the 1991 erruption and is still the recipient for more recent lava trails. You can see on the picture the darker lava trails from the latest erruption mid-June.
The photos cannot really capture how enormous the valley is, a gigantic bowl catching the lava and protecting the villages and towns further down. The lava field is entirely barren with no plants growing on it, a huge dark moon-like surface, but on our path, above the valley there was plenty of life.
It was a beautiful walk, with changing landscapes, incredible rock formations, and lots of plants that somehow manage to take root in the volcanic soil and survive under the blazing sun. As we walked we were surrounded by butterflies and thousands of bees, buzzing frenetically around the flowers.
As we made our way along the path that was sometimes marked just with a piece of red ribbon, the views on both sides of the crest evolved, always wild and spectacular… It left me wanting to return and explore more.
Just a few words today, as I ease back into work and the day to day rhythm. We had a great trip in the lovely town of Acireale, where Paolo’s family have an appartment. Returning to a place one has visited several times, is a very particular feeling, like peeling away different layers and going deeper. Next to our usual favorite spots, some new discoveries for me were the tiny bakery that makes that one type of delicious sesame biscuit and the inconspicuous lupini bean factory at the end of an alley, where the legumes soak for ten days in a big pool of running water before you can enjoy them with lemon juice… I have plenty more to mention, but for now I want to savour mentally processing these latest adventures:)
JOYFUL GRATITUDE #135
When this is posted, I will be in Sicily for holidays:) If it is anything like our last trips there, a lot of time will be spent exploring, chilling and eating delicious food:) I’m looking forward to proper sunshine and summer weather, jumping off the volcanic rocks into the transparent sea, going to the market to buy kilos of juicy plums and peaches that remind me of what fruit should actually taste like, and walking through the small streets soaking up the atmosphere…
During that time I look forward to being very little connected to internet and very much connected to the beauty of the island, Paolo and his family, and everything I will get to discover. I’ll return after a little break from posting.
JOYFUL GRATITUDE #63
I’m very happy that Paolo is back from his month away in Italy! For a while he didn’t have a return ticket and I wasn’t sure he’d even come back;) Though I must say I wouldn’t have blamed him for staying, considering how warm and sunny the weather was over there! It’s a pleasure to catch up with each other whilst eating amazing Italian delicacies and to hear all about his time soaking up the culture in Rome and Sicily with friends and family.
In particular, Paolo’s latest stories about hiking on Mount Etna with his dad, have me aching to pull on my hiking boots and go straight there to feel those sensations again! This is a picture from our trip in August 2013. It’s so impressive to see where the lava rolled down the side of the hill, destroying everything in its path and leaving only a few tree-skeletons standing. Up high on the mountain the air felt surprisingly crisp and cool, and I loved the unique crunch of dried lava beneath my feet, as we walked through the majestic and desolate landscape… I have the feeling we will go there again soon:)
When I met my boyfriend’s aunt zia Pina during my first visit to Sicily, I quickly discovered we have a shared passion. She cultivates an amazing roof-top terrasse full of hundreds of cacti, succulents and other plants which are thriving under the hot Sicilian sun. That evening in the dwindling heat, she held onto my arm and walked me around, showing me all the different plants while I enjoyed discovering her little paradise on the roof.
This summer my boyfriend brought me a surprise back from zia Pina’s in his hand-luggage: a gorgeous round cactus to add to my plant collection:)
After a few weeks of acclimatising on my windowsill, a long shoot started to grow out of the cactus. Though we could tell a flower would soon bloom, we had no idea what it would look like.
Until finally one rainy summer morning I woke up to this beautiful flower with light pink petals rising high above the cactus like a firework. I enjoyed observing and smelling it. It seemed so incongruous that such a graceful flower would come out of this ball of spikes and needles.
Unfortunately, after just 2 short days the flower shriveled up and drooped. I don’t know how often the cactus will flower, but I hope I’ll have the joy of seeing more of these gorgeous flowering events.