Yesterday we stopped in Siracusa where I took a tour that stopped in an old village and then up Mt Etna followed by lunch at a winery. The village turned out to be a high point of this excursion. It was a very classic European city center with a large plaza surrounded by a church restaurants and shops. It was also a market day, so there was all kinds of fresh fish, produce, meat, sausages and cheese. One of things that also surprised me about the area is the miles of lemon and orange orchards that we drove by. If you are familiar with the liquor Limoncello, this is where it started. Not only do you find the lemon flavor but also orange, mandarin and pistachio flavors. I did have to get one of these as a souvenir. There were lots of lemons and oranges at the market and you could buy them for 1 Euro per kilo or roughly .50 cents a pound. Most of this town was destroyed when Mt Etna erupted several hundred years ago and they are still have eruptions today. The last was about 15 years ago which is about a minute ago in volcano time. As you drive up Mt Etna, you travel about 3 miles through the lava fields and past houses where only parts of them remain from the last eruption. The top of the mountain is about 9,000 feet and from where we were at 6,000 feet, the ski lifts started and went to the top. It was not a pretty day as the wind was really bad and it was a little cloudy and cold at 6,000 feet. Before starting back to the ship, we stopped at a winery which is one of the largest in Sicily and it was absolutely beautiful with flowers, manicured lawns and decorations. I now know why they take a siesta break after lunch. When you have an appetizer, 2 courses of pasta and dessert all washed down with great wine, a nap on the bus seemed like the right thing to do.
Today’s stop in Malta was cancelled due to high winds, rough seas and a narrow entrance to the harbor. So now we’re headed to Malaga and Gibraltar and should arrive in Malaga Monday evening.
Happy Easter all!!