A whirlwind week of post-holiday work and rehearsals has just released its final shudder of life and now it's time to rest. Sicily was incredible. The island is drenched, not only in sun but in thousands of years of history, its tapestry of invadors leaving their mark on the land in the form of Greek theatres and temples, Roman gladiator amphitheatres, Norman cathedrals with Arab influences, Baroque churches and hints from many other periods of history.
The food is delicious, consisting mostly of pasta, olives, tomatoes, fish and capers but all fresh and presented beautifully. It was a little monotonous, though I do feel guilty saying it, to have a choice of the same list of antipasti every day even though we toured the island from north to south, west to east.
My favourite two places were Taormina (the picture is from the Greek/Roman theatre there) and Cefalù - one is a gorgeous car-free town on the side of a cliff and the other is a gorgeous car-free town on the beach. It's pretty difficult to find car-free places anywhere in Sicily but those two places proved to be very relaxing to walk around without the threat of toe-ectomy so frequently encountered in other Sicilian places.
We also drove to Etna - the largest volcano in Europe. We were able to go right to the top (see photo) which was an amazing experience. The ground beneath our feet was smoking and actually warm. You don't expect your body to be colder than your feet at any time, but when it happens it's an extremely strange sensation. There was even snow on the ground at the same time which made me doubt some fundamental chemistry I'd learned at school - doesn't ice melt when it's warmed? In fact the air is so cold on the top of the volcano that the snow doesn't even melt, despite the fact there is molten lava flowing just a few metres beneath hot enough to burn the boots off your feet.
It was a really educational, cultural and wonderful holiday that I intend to repeat. We hope to visit the Aeolian islands, especially Stromboli next time, now that my interest in volcanoes has been 'sparked'!