Sicilian trip – Catania & Etna (Amore mio!)
My trip started with an early departure from Ljubljana, where a GoOpti driver (low cost transfer) greeted me with a smile. Good vibes spreading everywhere, caused that we talked all the way to the Trieste aiport, like best buddies. We both agreed, that Italians do know, how to prepare the coffee, and I couldn’t wait to order one at the airport.
Already one hour later (yes, Slovenia is a pocket country <3 ) I was in Trieste, drinking my favourite cup of coffee, charging myself with some sugar, my phone with the electricity and my brains with some crosswords gymnastics. Two hours later, I successfully checked in the luggage and myself, this time without beeping and a bit later I was on the plane with a window seat and a majestic view.
In less than two hours I landed in Catania, bathing in sun and crowded with people + me searching for Alibus (for 4€ you get to the city centre). I stayed with a nice Sicilian host Gaetano, who picked me up in the evening, so I bravely walked a whole afternoon with a backpack on my back trough whole city centre, where all the major sights were located.
Basilica Santuario di Maria Santissima Annunziata al Carmine
A great help, when exploring the city while the sun persistently helpy you get some colour, is Granita, a sicilian semi-frozen dessert, made from sugar, water and various flavorings. I love it!
When travelling – at home or in a foreign country, I love to get lost, because no risk no fun! 😉 So while exploring the streets of Catania I suddenly found myself in a mysterious building, with a total quietness and shaded light. I suddenly got a feeling that I might be in a “forbidden” house, and knowing that, gave me goosebumps. I admired sculptures, enjoyed peace and adrenaline running trough my veins, and after a person approached I smoothly walked out.
Having some free time before meeting my host, I found a restaurant Zabbara, where I had a delicious dinner and firstly experienced, what makes Sicilians a special people – their kindness, passion and eventhough they’re not rich, they will say, if you’re short with the money (1€ or a few cents), “You”ll bring it tomorrow” or they just say, it’s okay.
Later that evening I met with my first host in Sicily, Gaetano, a teacher of italian, geography and self defence, who not just tought me some self defence tricks but also helped me plan my next-day trip to Etna.
As Gaetano suggested, I downloaded the OsmAnd app, which works offline so in case I get lost and there’s not signal it is pretty useful. On the way to Etna I took the AST bus (6,20€ return ticket); I didn’t expect but we did have a guide, a really nice one! Equipped with lots of information, the bus stopped at Rifugio Sapienza where we start our journey to the top! Yeah, I wish :)) There are many options, where to go on Etna (guided paid tours, cable car, mini bus in beetwen .. .) and as a positive hyperactive traveller I of course, choose my legs. 😉
Normally I try to avoid walkways with many people, so I’ve chosen a gently sloping path but after 30min of walking didn’t get anywhere. I was on the right, easier path, but realizing that, I immediately changed it for seemingly shorter, but more difficult one. Here the turbulent trail had just begun – because of the soft volcain soil, it was really difficult to walk, the stones or the larger parts of the compacted lava were moving and the rocks were rarely sticking to an extremely steep path. With each 100m higher, I was rewarded with wonderful views. The sun persisted, but me and the companions in front of me and behind me, we firmly and slowly, like small ducks moved higher and higher. After 1,30h I finally reached Montagnola (2648m), where is also the cable car’s final stop. The view was stunning, the feeling indescribable, but I was not yet satisfied with what I achieved. I still had some energy in stock, so I went forward.
A wonderful view of top Etna is starting to open, as well as an even richer view of the valley. After 20min, although it felt like double more, I successfully reached another summit – Cratere Piano del Lago (2672m), which seemed to be active not far ago. After taking too many pictures, I was heading on the way back to the valley, where later on I had an opportunity to meet new, amazing Sicilian people and their stories.
And I guess, you still wonder, why there’s “Amore mio” in the title? With a reason. Let’s just say, it was a wonderful day with wonderful people. 😉
“DIFFICULT ROADS OFTEN LEAD TO BEAUTIFUL DESTINATIONS.”
With love, Pija