About a month have past since you have heard from me so I thought I would catch you up. Nothing of much interest has happened here in Siracusa, besides meeting a 6'6" barely sixteen year old american with a beard. He is in Siracusa through the exchange program AFS as well as five others I have yet to meet. But instead of dulling you with boring tales of school, handball, and daily life I will opt to tell you about this past weekend.
On thursday Andrew, Poppaea, and I (The three inbounds in the south east corner of Sicily) traveled to the beautiful seaside city of Taormina. Once there we met up with most of the other inbounds in Sicily. In total there were 11 of us. Seven from the U.S. and one from New Zealand, Argentina, Canada, and Germany. We stayed at a resort in Taormina which is owned by the host family of the inbound in Taormina. The resort had almost perfect location being about a ten minute walk uphill into town and a ten minute walk downhill to the beach. The resort was composed of town home like buildings with about four rooms in each block. Us exchange students occupied three of these allowing us each to have our own bed.
I will break the trip into three different aspects traveling there and back, an excursion to the volcano Etna, and the beach. After writing this past sentence I've realized that it sounds exactly like a thesis statement from a seventh grade english essay. Although the level of the writing may be the same I hope that you find the content of my blog to be a little more interesting.
Our plan for getting to Taormina was for Andrew and I to meet up with Poppaea around nine in the morning, Thursday. From there we would give Poppaea a tour of Siracusa followed by some lunch before catching the 2:30 train to Taormina. The day was going flawlessly until we arrived at the Train station only to discover that no trains were making the north bound journey. Luckily enough though Andrew's host mom was driving north anyway so all three of us with our luggage pilled into the back of her Mazda 2, which is definitely a compact car. Needless to say we were a little cramped. What made matters worse was that Andew's host sister had decided move her seat (shotgun) all the way back so she could extend her legs completely out. I must say that she did look very comfortable, but it left six two Andrew with a bag on his lap almost no room. His knees pushed to the side and jammed into his sisters seat. Needless to say we were grateful when we arrived in Catania, where we were dropped off, and from here we would catch a train to Taormina. After the three hour layover the 40 minute train ride went very quickly. Once in the Taormina train station we caught a bus to the center of the city and met up with the inbounds. The original hour and a half journey had taken us 6 hours, but at lease we had made it.
The second part of the weekend I would like to talk about is our excursion to the volcano Etna. On saturday morning the 11 inbounds jumped into two jeeps, and we drove the 40 minutes to the base of our hike. From here we hiked up the trail for about an hour and a half leaving us about 1500 feet higher then when we started, but still a solid 2500 from the summit. (which is over 10,000) At the top of our hike were a string of 23 craters created in an eruption in 2002. This eruption completely destroyed the ski resort there, and the road to the ski resort. Both have been rebuilt since. The road has been built right over the magma flow. We only got to see the last few craters formed in the explosion. The ones with the lowest elevation. These were the biggest because as you descend the mountain the explosions become more vigorous. The last crater was the most interesting. At the bottom it had a hole about 20 feet wide and 250 feet deep penetrating into the volcano. After eating lunch on the lip of this crater we hiked back to the jeeps, and drove back to the resort. Once back exhaustion got the better of us and we took naps until dinner. On a side note this is not a rarity for me. I take one just about everyday.
The rest of the time in Taormina was spent going to the beach at Isola bella, ( Beautiful Island in Italian) eating delicious home made Italian food, or playing spoons. Isola bella is one of the premier tourists destinations in all of Sicily making it extremely crowded during the summer. Luckily it's november, and although the air is a bit chilly once in the water is feels terrific. Although it's a rocky beach it's fairly protected making the water nice and calm for swimming. I feel fortunate to be able to comfortable swim in November. I hope to swim every month, but that seems a little daunting.
That about sums up the weekend. Ciao for now!
|The city of Taormina with Etna in the background|
|The roof of a house buried by the 2002 eruption|
|All the inbounds in Taormina|