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Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Etna and Taormina

On day three we woke early and after breakfast met our guide for the day. The hotel had arranged for us to have a tour of Mt Etna. Rita, the wonderful concerige had helped us at the last minute to also arrange a trip the same day to Taormina.  Before we left that morning she was also on top of contacting a doctor to come later in the day to treat Joe's infected toe (more on that later). 

Fabrizio from Enjoy Sicily was our guide for the day. Fabrizo was a wonderful host and guide. From the first few minutes of getting to know us he was focused on helping us understand the geology and history of the volcano and the surrounding communities. Etna was quite amazing, black lava as far as the eye can see and hundreds of craters....and tourists. After Etna we enjoyed a visiit to a local agricultural commune where we tasted olive oils, pestos, wines and honey. 

Taormina was a short drive from Etna. Fabrizo dropped us off at one end of the town and we arranged to meet up 3 hours later. We had a quick visit to the Greek Amphitheatre (another one) which was not quite as interessting as Syracusa. Then we strolled down the main road which is lined with high end shops and tourists. There seemd to be many cruise ship groups, all with stickers indicating their bus numbers. We enjoyed our short visit, but we were very glad we hadn't stayed in this town. 

An American tourist we met in Catania had recommended a restaurant for lunch. We found it, but unfortunately it was closed.  But the chef was there and he steered us to the Osteria Nero d'Avola (like the local grape) which was perfect. The chef at this restaurant subscribes to the "slow food' movement and his food was delicious and of course local. He even had an Alice Waters salad on the menu. With the advise of the waiter we chose a local "Grillo" white wine. This was our first experience with this Sicilian grape. It was a very dry, mineral wine and was a great match for our fish dishes. 

We started with fried zucchni flowers that were stuffed wth ricotta, anchovies and lemon zest. A sicilian tempura. Monica then had a fish soup with wild fennel and pine nuts and Joe had grilled fish.  The chef came out to check that we liked the food and to explain his philosophy of cooking. This was indeed one of our favourite Sicilian meals. 

When we returned to the hotel Rita arranged for the doctor to see Joe. The doctor arrived, looked at Joe's toe and confirmed the infection. But then much got lost without translation. So Rita was called and she was great and facilitating our conversation. Joe's  toe was on its way to recovery. And the nail bar in Toronto is on its way to be inspected by Public Health. 

Dinner that evening  was a light affair on the Una's roof. Had fun conversations with some Americans and Canadians.  

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