239 – 250: Maddy, a Birthday and Christmas

239 – Tuesday 15th December 2015:  Maddy’s Quick Culinary Experience and Etna

Tim arrived armed with 40 litres of Diesel and workmen’ gloves.  A bargain at EUR1 / litre.  The source: a local fisherman fills his boat at the naval docks in Augusta and brings back jerry cans to sell to the village.  What it is to know people – the right people!

We collected Maddy Munchkin at lunchtime and drove up to Etna.  We know the way pretty well now as we visited with the Aged Ps and Kerstin, but no visit to Sicily is complete without Etna.



Etna dirt


Honest … it has stopped erupting!


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And honest it won’t erupt… this crater goes back to 1988!


Maddy is the master Christmas decorations designer … I’m just the cellotape supplier.


awesome job!

Supper was in the campsite restaurant and Maddy had pizza and a lemon granita (sorbet) … tick and tick off her Sicilian culinary check list.


240 – Wednesday 16th December:  Birthday and Acireale

Maddy had arrived on about 8 hours sleep over the last three nights, so we just had to let her sleep in … which meant we had to too :).  Breakfast and gift opening on a deck, in the sun overlooking the cliffs … just lovely.  I’d bought some supermarket cornetto for Maddy … Nutella filled croissant …. very popular here and delicious, but nothing like as good as the fresh ones.  

James and I even gave the badminton rackets (bought in Slovenia and as yet unused) an airing … whilst Maddy slept … again!

Lunch in Chardonnay and then we walked to Acireale, via a detour to the local town Santa Maria La Scala.  La Scala means steps or stairs …. it was quite a steep walk up to Acireale and a certain young person had leg ache!  Coffee in town and I got to try a boob cake … I’d seen them before …. Saint Agatha had her breast removed by pincers, but the cake was yummy … filled with ricotta cheese.

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For more info:  http://www.goodfoodstories.com/minni-di-virgini/

We wandered around the town, poked our noses into a couple of Churches … Maddy left in a hurry when I pointed out the glass coffin with the embalmed priest!  Unusually, the Duomo has a long meridian line running through the nave.  After a drink and lots of nibbles, we walked back to the campsite for another drink, as restaurants don’t generally open till 8.00.   We then went down to Santa Maria to a trattoria recommended by the campsite.  An interesting experience … we were the only diners.  An elderly lady of about 80 served and cooked.  The menu was antipasto, spaghetti with clams or fish off the chiller counter.  Given how many nibbles we’d eaten earlier we opted for the best caponata yet (J and I)), spaghetti with tomato sauce i.e. no clams for the non seafood lovers, but I had a lovely pan cooked fish … don’t know what.  Some of the family arrived and were eating fresh baked donuts, so we were given some too.  So Maddy’s culinary experience now included a pasta dish.


Drink in town and both on their phones!


Our pitch … a sheer drop the other side of the railings.

241 – Thursday 17th December:  Back to Brucoli

Services sorted and a drive back to the airport to see my Munchkin off.  She was only with us for two nights and it was absolutely bloody wonderful having her here.  By Catania airport is a massive shopping centre.  We bought our Christmas presents to each other … tennis rackets.  We occasionally see courts that we could use and we both used to really enjoy a game.  Then into the massive Auchan … our biggest Euro shopping bill yet …. EUR279, but that included booze and most food to see us through to Christmas.  I also bought sunglasses and a shopping trolley with some birthday money (thank you Bron, Gill and Al).  I had wanted one for a trolley while, as when I use markets, the veggies seem to weigh a ton and it is a very looong walk always back to Chardonnay.  

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We have returned for three nights to the free parking in Broccoli.  

Today is the anniversary of my best and oldest friend, Nicky, death.  Jimmy was off school and had a Mummy Fun day with Ian, Tracy and the Mums.  Much love xxx


242 – Friday 18th December 2015:  BBQing in Brucoli

We must be relaxing …. a slow start.  A wander around the town.  An ice cream and a coffee …. and that was it for the day.  Tim and Karen shared a BBQ with us early evening.  Tim had combed the beach for wood and built an incinerator fire.  He tells people that when they get cold, he just burns a few boats!  

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TKMax (Tim, Karen and Max the cat, who gets his own chair!

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Nicky had given me sachets of fire magic, which turn the fire blue.

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Tim’s Christmas tree


243 – Saturday 19th December 2015:  Basking in Brucoli

Today followed a very similar pattern: slow start, walk into town, ice creams.  James was, however, moved to run.  Sitting on the beach, and watching the sky change colour with the sun set.    We had a game of backgammon on a lovely inlaid wooden board that Tim and Karen gave us.  James had beginners luck and won!  Kerstin had beginner’s luck and beat me at Cribb!  Am I loosing my knack?

I managed to pay for annual motorhome insurance and paid some other bills.  Amazing how different policies for motorhomes vary; amount of time you can travel, time in Europe, mileage and price …. you have to spend a good long time getting quotes … my excuse for a pretty lazy day.

News flash:  We have been mobbed.  Yesterday morning our pitch comprised Tim and Karen and Andrea and his two dogs.  The motorhome parking at the end of the town had a German small VW and an Italian van.  This afternoon and evening, they have been moving in – in convoys.  The far parking had 12 vans at last count.  A convoy of 4 drove past our pitch to one further around the bay.  But our lovely little community now has 3 other vans – all Italian.  One parked broadside along us, only a foot away.  We don’t like him as he barked at James when our engine was running so James could do the hoovering … this can wait till tomorrow, but he irony of it is, that he had his generator running earlier!  He also came to ask if we could move so he could get in to obtain a sea view …. we didn’t really understand, but told him that tomorrow we will be leaving.  Getano, one of the local chaps, told us it is like this every weekend, but the summer is even worse.  Given that Brucoli is not even in guidebooks, how do they all know about it?  Anyway, we will be off tomorrow.


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244 – Sunday 20th December 2015:  Onto Punta Bracetto

We are winding down for Christmas … so all we did today was fill up with diesel and GPL and drive to our new home for the next week.   We’d booked into a site where there is nest of Brits so we have some company over Christmas.  This site is amazing.  Each pitch has its own private washroom which means you can leave your wash gear in it.  Electricity is included in the rate of all of EUR 12 (5 nights plus).  The bay is super sandy.  It is very quiet.  Rave enough!  

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Consolation for you people under the grey damp skies of Britain, it absolutely poured today as we left Catania.  However, when we arrived in Bracetto, they had only had a light shower.  A German lady said since October it had rained only 3 times.  Apparently it is a little microclimate here and the weather takes it’s lead from Tunisia … should be in for some lovely weather.

We popped into say hello to Dan who had responded to my Wild Camping forum post about ‘anyone in Sicily’, hence our presence here.  He kindly invited us over for supper tomorrow.


245 – Monday 21st December 2015:  Cleaning or Putzen 

We have cleaned Chardonnay on our travels since April, of course we have!  But not a spring clean.  Not a proper one since we left 8 months ago.  After a run along the coast (J did a fast and long one 🙂  ), we hoovered and lifted the carpet … they got a clean and the van got a spring clean.  There is a small tennis court and our mutual Christmas gifts of rackets got their first outing.  We used to play quite regularly, but have not played for about 6 years … it felt really good, but I struggled to hit softly and accurately to get a rally going.  I blamed it on muscle memory!

Over to Dan’s for supper.  His van is sited overlooking the bay …. we watched the sun go down and create amber and pink glows … reckon he has the best pitch, but he is here for a few months and is a regular.  Not only was his ‘signature’ dish of shephard’s pie truly tasty, he brought out cheese followed by a tub of Roses.  Anyone that knows me, knows my weakness for cheese … it goes into a separate stomach.  We wobbled home, full of booze and good food.  Blame the booze, cheese and chocolate combination, but they had a detrimental effect on my sinuses … although I didn’t hear the snores … funny that!

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246 – Tuesday 22nd December 2015:  Cycle to Santa Croce

Another run and my new Pilates mat got its first airing …. can tell it is some months since i did these exercises … ouch!  The nearest main town is only about 5 miles so we cycled past the polytunnels (tomatoes, carnations and aubergine mostly).  Found the medical centre who can do a blood test (routine) for James but not until the 28th – so we will have to stay here until then …. dammit!  Not!  A wander around the town and couple of glasses of vino and an arancini for lunch.  For those not familiar with anranci, they sound gross but are actually very delicious.  A ball of rice will a meat ragu centre, covered in orange crumb and deep fat fried … honest, they are yummy.  Could become addicted.

We BBQ’d for supper, which is something we don’t like to do when wild camping.  Dessert was Pocket Coffee.  Created in Italy, but available in the UK from Amazon.  Dark chocolate with an espresso liquid coffee inside … Dan had introduced us to them and I’d bought some today.  Not sure how long the box will last as they are truly addictive (perhaps I have an addictive personality?!).  And I tried the orange fortified wine which I had bought yesterday from the fruit and veg van that came on site.  Nothing special, but very quaffable …. have I been rambling?  And will my sinuses play up again tonight … ask James tomorrow!


247 – Wednesday 23rd December 2015:  Pottering

We took the new shopping trolley for a little walk to the local small supermarket and came back with 2 x 6 packs of water.  The water on the site tastes foul so we have resorted to bottled.  Had a coffee and a yummy potato and cheese pastry from the cafe opposite.  The small supermarket is so small it did not have anything I needed, so we had another bike ride into Santa Croce to buy some a few final bits of food.

We took supper over to Dan’s and I certainly drank too much.  James told me that my mannerisms became very animated!


248 – Thursday 24th December 2015:  Cycle to Marina di Ragusa and Campsite Party

We cycled to Marina di Ragusa, only about 9km and pretty flat.  Beautifully sunny and we sat and watched a few families on the beach and a group of men wading in for a swim .. James thought they must be English as not other nationality would be that mad!  We couldn’t find anywhere in the town where we could sit out for lunch and watch the bikes, so we started back.  On the outskirts of the town there was a small cafe bar.  We ordered:  a burger and chips for J and an arancini for me.  The chips arrived, so I helped him out with these …. yummy and can’t remember when we last had chips!  J’s burger arrived so we came to the conclusion my arancini had been forgotten, so I helped out with that too.  Whoops … the arancini arrived …. piping hot and I cycled back with a stitch in my side from over eating!

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Cycle sock and J wobbling over

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The sea was an amazing blue

The campsite put on a little get together:  a drink and a table laden with sweet cakes and pies. As J walked into the room, he just saw a room of old people!  A German gent was playing and electronic keyboard and a couple were determined to skip around the room to it!  We extracated ourselves, but not before having a good chat with our Swedish neighbours.


249 – Friday 25th December 2015:  Christmas Day

I ran and did some Pilates ….J did a mile to test his calf muscle injury.   We had a knock about on the small tennis court using our joint Christmas racket gifts.  Late lunch was a roll of turkey cooked in wine and stock in the slow cooker so it did not dry out.  I even made mushroom and sausage balls, emptying out the meat from proper sausages.  

Great FaceTimes with Maddy as she opened her stocking and with the rest of my family who were having a Baker Christmas … they know how to do it really well.  We even had a conversation about possible being at home to join them next year!


250 – Saturday 26th December 2015:  Boxing Day and Drinks

Another run for K – 6 in a row!!!  A game of tennis … just one set and J won 6-3 … I never win!  Managed to format a hard drive so I could ‘acquire’ some of Dan’s films … including the Peter Wimsey series 🙂

Our Swedish neighbours joined us for drinks and cheese …. it all went really well until I started pouring Sambuca for Yvonne and myself … apparently I passed out when I went to bed and James had to sit on me in order to be able to actually get into bed … I don’t remember any of it, so he must be making it up.

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View over the sand dunes at the end of my run





229-230: Eruptions and an Almost Satisfied German!!!

229 – Saturday 5th December 2015:

Guest writer, by popular request!:

Today is E-Day, Katherine came up with a place that is (in her opinion) far enough from Etna but close enough for her not to be struck of my x-mas card list  But before setting off from the campsite, the two went running. I got such a bad conscience that I went swimming instead (well actually I love swimming). The water was probably as warm as our showers in the campsite. I also had a male guest watcher whose best part got very excited seeing me on the beach fully dressed… 

We arrived at the very idilic harbour of Taormina to park the van. By public transport we went up to this hilltop town (I am not sure why the two always complain about the small roads, the bus driver charged up the roads as it was the motorway). Katherine guided us through the town like a local (pointing out restaurants that they already visited). Arriving at the wonderful gardens we were greeted by Mount Etna spitting lots of smoke. Fantastic sight. James took some really good photos as you can see for yourself. On our way to the town centre we struck gold. We saw the Etna light show! Amazing how much we could see and how high Etna could spit out the lava. But Etna lost the battle to wine. Two of my companions who again cannot be named due to confidentiality reasons left the light show before the end! Can you imagine this. The biggest happening in Sicily that night and they wonder off for some drinks.

We got the last bus back into town and had a good night (at least I had one because Katherine lost big time playing cribb against me, they might claim it is beginners luck, but I know better) 

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Open air showers amongst the lemon trees – shame they were near cold!

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Our overnight pitch 

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Taormina – Part of the Roman cistern.

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Taormina is full of small street up and down off the main drag.

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Whilst it was still daylight we wandered into the Park let to the town by Forence Trevelyn

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The weird and wonderful structures are called ‘beehives’.

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From the balcony of the gardens we could see the smoke plumes from Etna.

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As the sun was setting, the clouds cleared and it got a bit more interesting.

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We just made it out of the park before we got locked in and walked through the town

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From the large balcony, Etna started putting on a show for us …

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… and it got better and better

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Along the coast to Giardini Naxos, where Chardonnay is parked and Etna, not so very far away!

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Our overnight view: looking up to Taormina from the parking on the harbour wall

230 – Sunday 6th December 2015:

Katherine sold me the blogging as “due to popular demand”. I think she is just so happy to have found a poor sod who does the typing.

Today we got up late and left even later. The weather was not really nice therefore it made no sense pushing Katherine out of bed.

We arrived at the parking lot for the cable car station. I inquired about the fares. They are really taking you to the cleaners, 30 Euros to go up to the middle station and another 32 Euros to go up to the top. But as the weather was nice and Etna was busy smoking I decided that this is a once in a lifetime opportunity and went up. Katherine and James could not be persuaded even with bribes to come with me. Once up it was an amazing sight. Etna was busy billowing out smoke. I would also hear the noise of the “explosions”. To some extend it sounded like a steam engine. The trips up to the crater were cancelled and visitors were advised to stay near the middle station. Watching Etna for nearly 2h I knew why. From time to time he jugged out stones, too. I did not see any lava. I very much enjoyed my trip up to see Etna. Katherine was able to secure her position of my x-mas list again. 

Now I have to check my flight details to see whether my flight leaves on time tonight.

To all dear readers thanks for staying with me. Enjoy the blogging.

K’s postscript.  On the evening trip to the airport, Kerstin was delighted to be able to observe Etna erupt again and then we could see a growing red lava flow.  Really amazing.


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Previous craters

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Kerstin went above the cloud line


Kerstin saw a number of eruptions, smoke and spitting of debris.  Sorry, the video clips are not going on the blog … I’d have to upload to YouTube and embed!


Smoke and steam



Evidence:  She was most definitely there!




212 – 216 : East Side of Sicily

212 – Wednesday 18th November 2015: Aci Trezza Walk and … Lunch

We had thought being in the town would be noisy, but it was actually very peaceful.  J was up and about very early for the sunrise – you can tell how long he was out there by the changing light – I thought he gone fishing with one of the locals!


A superb and FREE parking location for two nights.

A superb and FREE parking location for two nights.


The Aged P’s arrived … on time!  If anything 2 minutes late …. had my ribbing about being always early had an effect?  It threw us off – we’d started a quick tidy and a hoovering.

A gent's tie cared in basalt ... J not having any of it! He has two remming ties in the Aged P's attic: weddings and funerals!

A gent’s tie carved in basalt … J not having any of it! He has two remming ties in the Aged P’s attic: weddings and funerals!

Coffee in Chardonnay and then a walk along the front to Acicastello, passing the Isole dei Cyclops:  basalt rocks creating usual shapes near the harbour.  According to Homer, Polyphemus threw them at Ulysses who had blinded him.   Part of the path wended through a private lido with changing huts, plants and sun bathing areas … yours for EUR3.  J and I wandered up the stairs into the town – the town where we had struggled with tight turns in Chardonnay yesterday, but we forgave it.  It had a nice high piazza by the castle and views over the sea.





It was a little early for lunch, so we tried another of the Slovenian wines we had brought back for Horvat winery in Maribor … this is the second we have tried with the Aged Ps and they are really good.  Despite trying for pizza; most seemed to be shut, we ended up with a very good lunch of swordfish overlooking the harbour.

Coffees after lunch sitting on the harbour wall.

Coffees after lunch sitting on the harbour wall.

OK for those of you who think we look alike ... we obviously have the same mannerisms too!

OK for those of you who think we look alike … we obviously have the same mannerisms too!

Sylvie: This one's for you. Tiramsu WITH coffee and chocolate ice cream and cream .....

Sylvie: This one’s for you. Tiramsu WITH coffee and chocolate ice cream and cream …..

213 – Thursday 19th November 2015:  Mount Etna

A plan for Etna today.  The Aged P’s had driven up part of it some years ago (they have been most places!), but it is so much part of Sicily and the largest volcano in Europe, that it really is a must.  The other name for it is Mongibello: from the Italian ‘monte’ meaning mountain and the Arab ‘gebel’ meaning mountain too.  So ‘Mount Mountain’.  Regular eruptions from the main core and side craters – so constantly re-‘cratering’ itself, that it gets to be named twice!  I hope you spotted my weak pun there!

We drove via a motorway services for imperfect motorhome services … I won’t go into detail about the concrete hole in the ground …..  Another stop for GPL.  And several abortive stops for water.  Ho hum … we were a little late at our rendezvous of Zafferano Etnea with the Aged P’s …. just as well.  They arrived before us and rang to say the road was unsuitable to get Chardonnay down.  We plugged in coordinates number 2 (we like to have a Plan B, and C and sometimes, even D) and met at Piazza Kennedy.  The Aged P’s failed to find coffee and cakes in town and so joined us in Chardonnay, whilst J munched through a volcano sized bowl of cereal.

Car view on the drive up. The Autumn leaves must further on here than we have seen anywhere else as it is so much cooler.

Car view on the drive up. The Autumn leaves were further on here than we have seen anywhere else, as it is so much cooler.

We drove in Chardonnay up to the Rifugio Sapienza, where the cable car starts for the summit of Etna starts.

K had googled:

  • That the road was suitable for motorhomes and so it proved – much easier than most Sicilian roads!  Wide and with a good surface for all the summer tourist coaches.
  • The prices for the Etna ascent.  Not going to happen for us … EUR30 for the cable car.  23 for the 4 wheel drive jeep and you still had to walk the rest.  And then 9 for the compulsory guide to get to mouth of the main crater.  A whopping total of EUR62!  EACH!!

However, Etna had kindly gushed a small crater near the carpark and we circled that.  A quick and disdainful look at the souvenir shops … who would pay EUR10 for a lump of rock when you can pick one up?  And then lunch in Chardonnay, admiring the effects of the changing light on the lava.  Fascinating to see the lava, both black and red, and how vegetation starts to grow on areas of volcanic rock.  Drifts of volcanic ash that covered the road in places and must be a real hazard to walkers and cars in high winds.


Definitely much cooler up here

Definitely much cooler up here.


J at the bottom of a small crater ... oops, at the bottom of a massive one, of course. If it blows, the only way is up.

J at the bottom of a small crater … oops, at the bottom of a massive one, of course!  If it blows, the only way is up.

Looks as if dad is about to chuck Mum into the crater ... she was actually being camera shy!

Looks as if Dad is about to chuck Mum into the crater … she was actually being camera shy!

The car park was used for a mass paraglider landing.

The car park was used for a mass paraglider landing, having come down from near the top of Etna. Bet this was more than the EUR 62 to get to the top!


Our Belgian neighbours from  Aci Trezza had arrived too.  They would stay overnight nearby and he would pay for the cable car and then walk the 5km up, but tomorrow morning as it was too late today.

We could have stayed overnight in the car park in Zafferano Etnea, but the guide book had promised a permanent agricultural fair with local wine and produce …. since there was no sight of either, a whining dog well within ear shot, and the rain had started … three good reasons to head back down the side of Etna towards the coast and higher temperatures.

Brad SatNav was duly tasked with taking us directly to an overnight parking near San Marco close to the coast…..  Well, we coasted along following his directions….until he guided us down a quite narrow nondescript road. We followed confidently – the road got more narrow with trees brushing our roof…  The road which seemed very narrow got more and more narrow. Did I just use the word narrow twice in the same sentence ?  It then got narrowissimo ! Molto narrow, pissedoffissimo narrow, in fact…  We came to a point where further progress was actually impossible with nowhere to turn around ! We have been in tight spots before, but this was definitely the worst. Calmly (not), we assessed the options – reverse our 28′ beauty along a ‘kinometre of blind mans alley – or (on finding a sort of gateway) turn in down a gravelly sandy slope with multifarious potholes – and then reverse up the slope and around an impossibly tight corner !  K (calmly) volunteered to drive – and I  gave directions from outside the van. Reversing up the gravelly slope led to many wheel spins and slides – this was not promising… Finally, K administered some teacherly wellie – and Chardonnay made it up the gradient.  As we share everything, I took my turn behind the wheel at this point. After a 27 point turn, we somehow got our home straightened enough to head back in the direction from whence we came !  Gulps of air (and relief) all round – the gin would have come later, except we don’t have any…

Brad (suitably admonished) finally led us to an alternative oasis – that just happened to be – a campsite!  It was the one we planned to stay at tomorrow.  We decide it was fate – and bivouacked for a peaceful evening…..


214 – Friday 20th November 2015:  Defeated by Taormina Parking and a BBQ

The Aged P’s left their car at our campsite and J drove along the coast (after a direction error by K and had to do a tight 5 point turn at the entrance to the hospital), which was actually really pretty.  A bay with islands and amazing clear water.

They have put a long tunnel under Taormina  to get to the multi-storey car park as cars, thankfully, are banned from the old town centre.  Bugger …. height barriers and not for motorhomes.  We followed a motorhome parking sign, another tight turn, down a slope, just scraping the exhaust pipe and a 7 point turn this time.  The ticket booth stated that motorhome parking was a whopping EUR5/hour but it seemed pretty deserted.  We walked up the slope and looked at the tunnel we would have to walk through …. none of us fancied this, so we scarpered.  Dad had suggested returning the the campsite via the supermarket to buy some fodder for lunch.  We elected on a BBQ, which went slightly awry as the charcoal would not get going.  J even chucked more lighting fuel on it … (from a safe distance, of course) and that just smoked.  Abort.  Chardonnay’s grill was deployed for the second time in 7 months, until K remembered the Cadac Safari grill … success … we managed to eat …. eventually.

Unbelievably, our Belgian neighbours turned up at the camping.  It is a shame we were all too tired to make an evening of it (we had eaten and drunk too much and he had done the 5km walk up and then down Etna), and they only planned to stay the one night.


215 – Saturday 21st November 2015:  Taormina and Pizza

Second attempt to reach and park in Taormina was successful.  Dad drove in the small hire car … we discovered the rear suspension had gone.  It groaned and growled over every bump and particularly did not like the tight hairpins.

Taormina is very pretty, nestled on rocks above the sea.  Restaurant and shops, a small Duomo and lots of small narrow side streets.  Nice, but must be horrendous in summer.

J tour guide for the day and he has the correct book :)

J tour guide for the day and he has the correct book :).  We know where we are!!!

Rules as you enter Taormina .... Really?!?

Rules as you enter Taormina …. Really?!?

Part of the statue outside the Duomo

Part of the statue outside the Duomo

A little rest for the menfolk, as the women checked out a mosaic (unremarkable and up steps)!

A little rest for the menfolk, as the women checked out a mosaic (unremarkable and up steps), but at least we went to see!

Lots of quaint side streets.

Lots of quaint side streets.

J is Adam, eating Eve's apple .... it is the carving on the balcony.

J is Adam, eating Eve’s apple …. it is the carving on the balcony.



Cactus hair

Cactus hair … the whole balcony had a family of cactus heads.

The Villa Communale was donated to th town by the Englishwoman Florence Trevelyan.

The Villa Communale was donated to the town by the Englishwoman Florence Trevelyan (could be of the Cornwall garden’s family).  Great views of Etna and the coast.

A kooky construction in the Villa Comunale that Ms Trevelyn used for bird watching.

A kooky construction in the Villa Comunale that Ms Trevelyn used for bird watching.


We chose not to have coffees or lunch in the Wunderbar Cafe where Taylor and Burton used to sip cocktails … not at EUR7.50 for an espresso!  Swordfish (again, but so good) for Mum and I, and pizza for Dad and James … sitting in the sun overlooking the coast.  Try not to feel too sorry for us!

Couldn't come to Italy and not have at least one pizza.

Couldn’t come to Italy and not have at least one pizza.


216 – Sunday November 22nd November 2015 – Traffic Report … Aci Trezza again and Catania

Planned:  A rendezvous in Aci Trezza (where we had previously overnighted) and then a bus to Catania … buses few on a Sunday so an early start.

Actual:  K and J arrived in good time at the harbour car park … Aged P’s back on form … Early.  Very early and had discovered that the published timetable on the web *updated Sept 2015* was incorrect, which it would have meant a long wait.  K stocked up on veggies at the small market and then Dad drove.

Catania:  Quiet roads and free parking.  Main highlight is the the Piazza del Duomo which is really attractive.

A Town Hall security guard with good English explained about the presence of the elephant statue in the square ... Hannibal was believed to have passed through and elephant remains were found under the square.

A Town Hall security guard with good English explained about the presence of the elephant statue in the square … Hannibal was believed to have passed through and elephant remains were found under the square.

The elephant symbol is also found on the city carriage which is only used annually in a February procession.

You'll have to wait till February for a lift!

You’ll have to wait till February for a lift!

Coffee and cake. Both J and Dad ended up waring the oozing chocolate!

Coffee and cake. Both J and Dad ended up wearing the oozing chocolate!

The town was flattened in an earthquake in 1693. so all the main buildings are C18 …. Baroque.

Some of the characterful gargoyles supporting balconies.

Some of the characterful gargoyles supporting balconies.


Inside the Duomo: Buy your own plastic saint!!! Otherwise stare at the Cardinal's corpse - face mask but withered bejewelled hands.

Inside the Duomo: Buy your own plastic saint!!! Otherwise stare at the Cardinal Dusmet’s corpse in a glass coffin – he had a face mask but his withered bejewelled hands were there to see.

I want one of those! Child is happy: he has his own car. Dad is happy: he has the remote control!!!!

I want one of those!  Child is happy: he has his own car. Dad is happy: he has the remote control!!!!

The Roman baths under the Cathedral were shut and we did not fancy the Roman amphitheatre (a bit Roman Remains’d Out!), so we decided to return to Aci Trezzo for a risotto in Chardonnay. We picked up some fish on our way back to the car from the Pescheria:  a relatively expensive fish, but meaty and lots of flavour … no idea what , but not dissimilar to monkfish.

The fruit market leading to the fish market under the arches.

The fruit market leading to the fish market under the arches.

Aci Trezza:  Just getting here from Catania was an experience.  And one not to wish for.  Traffic everywhere.  The WHOLE of the region was out and about and all driving as badly as only Sicilians know how.  Once we got close to Aci Trezza we joined the back of serious traffic jam.  Everyone who was not in Catania had come here.  If one horn was beeped, then another, and then everyone had to join in.  Is it a herd mentality?  Everyone out in their car crawling along roads.  We assumed our car park would be jam packed … wrong!  Cars were scooting through hoping for a short cut and not parking.   K and J left the Aged P’s in the traffic queue to collect the food makings of a risotto, intending to take it up the the Aged P’s apartment and eat there.  Amazingly there were car park spaces – so what were all these people doing?  Just driving around?  Enjoying being in a traffic jam?   K started to cook in the van …. it must have been half an hour before the Aged P’s finally parked up.  Wine served immediately on arrival … medicinal.  Entertainment on hand as we watched cars try to pass in front of our nose for a short cut thorough the short cut of the car park, only to have to reverse as the only exit was into the water.  One young enterprising chap collected tips as he became the unofficial car park helper.

P1080253After lunch a little wander and into a cafe for dessert and coffee.  Another Tiramasu ice-cream, wine and a chocolate crepe.  K finally had a cafe correcto with Amoretto … expresso with a shot. 🙂