i'm just back from my trip to catania. it was so amazing. the sea was beautiful. i spent the night in belgium on monday to catch an early flight on tuesday morning. let's talk about how much i enjoy waking up at 4am. actually, no, let's not, because i HATE it and would like to forget it ever happened. mine and luli's 7:15a ryanair flight to lamezia-terme was right on time. we got to italy, promptly ate pizza, then took a 5 hour train to catania. our train went right along the coast the whole time, took a ferry, and got in at around 5:30p. our hosts for the week, peppe and ciccio, came to pick us up from the station and we drove out to their house in capo molini.
it was dark when we got there, but their house was right near the water (incredible) and came with a cat (gross). we went for pizza round 2 for dinner around 10 (they eat dinner incredibly late in sicily) and then went back to our new home for the week to catch up on sleep.
on wednesday we got up, marveled at the sea, and went in to a neighboring town, acireale, for breakfast. we had granita (like gelato, but made with water) and brioche. it was delicious...as was everything we ate the whole time we were there. we went for a drive through another town right on the water, giardini naxos, to get to taormina, a town on the side of a mountain overlooking the sea. we walked around the deserted town and it was so adorable, cobble stone roads, screaming italy. we continued our drive further up the mountain to castelmola, yet another adorable little town with an old castle sitting right on top. we had some local wine, took a baby hike up to the ruins and basked in the sun.
for dinner, ciccio and peppe invited some friends over and we had fresh pasta with a pistacchio pesto sauce and a bajillion other yummy things. seriously can't get enough of the food.
thursday: to add to my list of the coolest things i've done in my whole life, we decided to go skiing on mt etna. skiing. on an active volcano. with a panoramic view of the mediterranean. amazing. it was a tiny little mountain, but it was cheap, and the view was...amazing. i got to collect lava rocks on the way down the mountain and then we went and had some kind of pizza thing and gelato for lunch. amazing. for dinner we went into catania and ate at a street side place. luli and i were suckered in to trying horse meat for the first (and last) time. gross. but everything else we had was...amazing.
on friday morning we got up and decided to walk down to the sea. no beach, just huge lava rocks...but the perfect place for a nap in the sun. the rest of my day was destroyed by a killer migraine, so i slept, slept, and slept some more...until saturday.
in the morning we took another nap on the lava rocks then went into catania to walk around. we went to the open air market, saw the biggest tuna fish of life, and found one of the only things i knew about catania: the elephant statue. made of lava. I LOVE. we cooked a big thank you dinner for our hosts that night and took one last trip down to the rocks to say goodbye to the sea.
on our train ride out of town on sunday morning we got to see etna explode--tons of smoke, lava coming down the side. amazing (favorite descriptive word.)
such an...amazing! week. hopefully my tan sticks around for a little bit. doubtful, but i can dream. i'll also be dreaming about this for quite some time:
tomorrow: istanbul (not constantinople)! happy vacation!