Hello From Sicily A Driving Tour Through Lipari And A Magical Evening In Vulcano

Hello From Sicily A Driving Tour Through Lipari And A Magical Evening
In Vulcano

Our beautiful dinner in​ the old town of​ Lipari last night was another opportunity to​ get to​ know Sicilian cuisine. a​ light-hearted evening was followed by a​ night of​ deep sleep and​ by 8 am this​ morning I stuck my head out of​ the boat: another gorgeous day! Everyone was still sleeping and​ I had about an​ hour and​ half to​ walk into town and​ catch another glimpse of​ picturesque Lipari. I mailed my postcards and​ picked up some fresh locally grown oranges for​ the gang on​ the boat.

Once back at​ the boat, my co-travellers Herbert, Claudia and​ I were ready for​ another excursion: a​ driving tour of​ Lipari. Herbert is​ a​ German TV travel journalist and​ is​ planning to​ bring a​ television​ crew to​ Sicily next year to​ film the Italian language learning experience aboard a​ sailboat provided by Laboratorio Linguistico. Naturally he has to​ scout out the various locations to​ check into sights of​ interest, lighting, and​ facilities – all the factors that will have a​ bearing on​ the shoot.

He had asked our captain​ Francesco to​ arrange for​ a​ local guide who would drive him around the island​ and​ generously invited Claudia and​ me to​ come along. Our driver Pasquale Liberatore (what a​ great name), a​ Lipari resident, arrived punctually at​ 9:30 am to​ pick us up at​ the Lipari pleasure craft harbour to​ take us on​ a​ tour through this​ beautiful island.

Pasquale packed us into his vehicle and​ off we went. His personal story, incidentally, is​ also quite interesting: Pasquale was born and​ grew up in​ Lipari and​ then in​ the lat 1950s his family emigrated to​ Melbourne, Australia, where there is​ a​ large community of​ southern Italian émigrés. Southern Italy went through real economic hardship after World War II, and​ many hundreds of​ thousands of​ people emigrated from the mainland​ and​ the islands. Pasquale spent a​ few decades in​ Australia but as​ the only person​ from his immediate family, he returned to​ Lipari to​ live here. He has now been back for​ about 15 years and​ loves living here although he occasionally misses his brothers and​ sisters and​ their families who are still living in​ Australia. of​ course he speaks excellent English, and​ that is​ how he markets himself – Pasquale, the English-speaking cab driver and​ tour guide.

The first place he took us to​ was a​ village north of​ Lipari called Canneto which has a​ beautiful waterfront location, draped around a​ horseshoe-shaped bay. We decided to​ catch a​ little late breakfast first, and​ I really enjoyed my refreshing lemon​ granita, a​ typical Sicilian specialty – crushed ice that comes in​ a​ variety of​ flavours, a​ great idea for​ starting off the day. Herbert enjoyed a​ fresh croissant and​ an​ espresso.

on​ our way out of​ the bar, parked by the lungomare, the waterfront promenade, a​ local fisherman was selling fresh fish he caught this​ morning out of​ a​ little three-wheeled cargo vehicle. He shouted out the names of​ the fish with a​ peculiar cadence that was sure to​ attract the attention​ of​ passers-by. this​ is​ one thing I noticed about Sicily: street selling, particularly of​ fish, produce and​ other edible products, is​ still a​ popular way of​ marketing one’s merchandise.

We continued our drive towards the white pumice quarries that Lipari is​ famous for. this​ volcanic stone is​ used for​ the production​ of​ cement, as​ an​ abrasive and​ a​ cosmetic exfoliant. Pumice is​ a​ highly porous, extremely light-weight, usually white stone that is​ formed during volcanic eruptions. Just a​ few dozen meters away from the pumice quarries we stopped to​ see another type of​ volcanic stone: obsidian, or​ volcanic glass, which is​ a​ dark-brown, dense, virtually opaque and​ heavy substance.

Pasquale explained that the chemical make-up of​ obsidian and​ pumice is​ essentially the same, but that they are ejected a​ different temperatures during volcanic eruptions. Obsidian has been used for​ eons; because of​ its flint-like quality it​ can easily be shaped into blades and​ spear tips and​ other cutting instruments. Today obsidian is​ even used as​ for​ surgical scalpels which produce less trauma than steel scalpels. Another less high-tech use of​ obsidian is​ as​ a​ gemstone, and​ many stores in​ the Eolian Islands sell jewelry crafted from this​ volcanic glass.

We came around the northern tip of​ Lipari where a​ beautiful view opened up toward the island​ of​ Salina. Pasquale took us up a​ mountain​ road to​ the Santuario di Chiesa Vecchia di Quattropani, a​ beautiful country church located on​ a​ hill with a​ phenomenal view over several of​ the Eolian Islands. as​ we were standing by the railing of​ the terrace, a​ jet fighter flew by at​ what seemed like supersonic speed, literally a​ few meters above the water. By the time we realized where the booming sound was coming from it​ was already disappearing into the horizon.

Another 15 minutes further on​ the west side of​ the island​ we stopped at​ an​ abandoned kaolin​ quarry. Kaolin​ is​ a​ silica-based mineral that is​ used in​ the production​ of​ ceramics, as​ a​ food additive and​ even as​ an​ ingredient in​ toothpaste. Everything was blooming around here, and​ yellow and​ purple flowers lit up the crags overlooking the sea.

At the southern tip of​ Lipari we stopped on​ a​ parking lot beside a​ private village and​ had a​ phenomenal view of​ the nearby island​ of​ Vulcano. We could even see the columns of​ sulphur fumes emanating from the fissures near the crater of​ this​ still active volcano. a​ flat stretch of​ land​ called Vulcanello is​ located in​ front of​ the main​ island​ of​ Vulcano. this​ part of​ the island​ appeared only about 2000 years ago in​ a​ volcanic eruption. Volcanism is​ still reshaping the earth all around here.

We had seen almost every corner of​ this​ small island​ and​ Pasquale dropped us off near downtown Lipari. this​ guided tour provided by a​ local expert was a​ great way of​ getting to​ know the island​ of​ Lipari. Claudia and​ I headed straight for​ an​ outdoor restaurant on​ the piazza by Marina Corta and​ had a​ well-deserved lunch and​ another nice stroll through town before we started to​ head back to​ our sailboat.

Around 3 pm we said goodbye to​ Lipari and​ set sail for​ our next destination: Vulcano. on​ our way our skipper Francesco took us past some very interesting rock formations at​ the southern end of​ Lipari. One protruding rock column was reminiscent of​ a​ praying pope while several tall isolated rocks grew right out of​ the sea in​ front of​ Lipari. We circled around to​ the eastern side of​ Vulcano and​ dropped anchor in​ the bay in​ front of​ Porto di Levante, the only landing place on​ the island. Several ferry boats were making their entries to​ and​ exits from the bay, and​ several other sailboats were anchored at​ a​ distance from the island.

Now it​ was time for​ our Italian lesson: for​ two hours in​ the late afternoon​ Claudia, Agnieszka and​ I were studying concepts such as​ the Italian Condizionale as​ well as​ the Congiuntivo under the guidance of​ our expert teacher Franco. you​ would definitely be hard-pressed to​ find a​ more stimulating environment to​ study Italian than a​ sailboat anchored in​ a​ beautiful bay in​ Southern Italy.

The wonderful thing about this​ sailing trip has been so far that it​ has been a​ nearly perfect immersion​ in​ Italian, where we are hearing the language all day and​ both our teachers communicate only in​ Italian with us. this​ concept is​ as​ close to​ full immersion​ as​ one can imagine, and​ the learning process is​ very intense and​ fast.

for​ the evening we stayed on​ the boat and​ watched a​ beautiful sunset which bathed the entire scene in​ hues of​ pink and​ purple. After our on-board dinner we retreated outside where Agnieszka, a​ gifted singer, and​ Franco, a​ great guitar player, teamed up and​ entertained us with many different soulfully delivered classics.

Sitting on​ a​ sailboat at​ night, by candlelight, in​ the beautiful bay of​ Vulcano, listening to​ the touching melodies of​ two gifted artists, was a​ magical, almost spiritual experience. I knew tomorrow was going to​ be our last day on​ this​ sailing trip, but I didn’t want this​ moment to​ end…..

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