Day 376: Visiting the IslandsFebruary 25 in Italy
Woke up early and decided to give the islands another shot. The weather was pretty miserable - overcast and raining, but we hurried down to the dock around 8am and lucky for us, the boat was running! Grabbed our tickets and boarded, then waited out the 20 minutes or so across to Vulcano.
To our surprise only a couple of people got off, though this isn't actually the main island (Lipari is home to the largest settlement). The town was quite small and obviously a holiday spot - lots of closed ice-cream stores and boat rental places fronting a beach. It would be quite nice, but it was raining steadily and not super warm either. But we were here, and committed.
Had a quick coffee at literally the only place in town, then walked about 20 minutes along a road to where the crater rim hike starts. It's normally not too arduous, but carrying a dog and an umbrella each certainly upped the difficulty! After about an hour of climbing we made it to the crater rim.
Sulfur clouds and rain clouds drifted past fairly constantly, meaning that we only had intermittent views down into the crater and back across the islands. The town was well below us, but still quite close by. I guess farming the fertile volcanic soil must be worth the risk of living on an active volcano!
Fairly quick trip back down as it's obviously much easier going, and by 11:30 we were already back in town and waiting for the boat. Still raining! Thankfully we'd managed to line up our return with a hydrofoil, so we weren't waiting more than about 15 minutes, and then with the 20 minute trip back it wasn't long after 12pm and we were back on Sicily proper.
Not feeling inclined to find another restaurant or cafe and just wanting to get out of the rain and somewhere warm, we walked back to the car and drove out of town. Lunch was at McDonalds which is honestly just the easiest option sometimes. Italian food culture is great, but a quick lunch on the road isn't a strong point!
Spent the next couple of hours driving around the north-eastern coast to the town of Taormina, one of the more famous tourist spots on Sicily. Parked in a garage and took a shuttle bus up to the old town, where a famous landmark stands - the Greek Theatre. Dating in large part from the Greek period on Sicily, ie ~500 BC, and it's mostly still there. It's also in a super dramatic spot, perched on cliffs high about the ocean and the rest of the town - very impressive. To the Greeks, the panorama behind the stage was almost as important as the stage action itself.
It had stopped raining as well by now, though still quite cloudy, and we didn't hang around for long in Taormina once we'd had a good look around. Back to the car where we continued southwards to the town of Trecastagni on the south-eastern slopes of Mount Etna. Found our Airbnb with no problems, a lovely rooftop loft. Everything was newly renovated, the heating worked, we had a nice balcony with views of the ocean in one direction and Etna in the other direction. The host was very nice, and had left us a bunch of supplies for the next two nights, including fruits, sweets, pasta and local pistachio pesto.
It had been a very long day, so we stayed in and chilled out - had the pistachio pesto for dinner!Read more