For the final time, we met Nuccio and Graziella in Linguaglossa in the morning — Our plans for the day were to visit the Roveto wetland reserve way down to the south, a spot Nuccio was fond of. It’s quite near the south-east tip of Sicily, and just a short hop over the ocean was Africa (!), and many migratory birds who visit Africa stop there.
After the long drive down, we hopped out amidst swarms of mosquitoes and walked into the park. It was quite beautiful, all reeds/rushes and eucalyptus. Almost immediately we spotted a falcon or something in the trees nearby; an American couple were being shown around by a tour guide — we greeted them briefly.
Nuccio led us to a couple of bird hides to peer out onto the lake; at the second, we caught up with the trio we’d met earlier — they’d spotted a large flock of flamingoes out on the lake! The tour guide had set up a telescope and, friendly fellow that he was, offered us its use, which was absolutely fantastic.
Next, Nuccio led us on a big walk along the low-scrubby coastline, past an old Arabic tuna factory and some ancient Greek tombs cut into the rock right on the coast (so they could watch over Greece!), and past a Norman castle. That’s three cultures right there.
Nuccio led us to a pretty beach, surrounded by two out-jutting arms of rock; we had lunch sitting up on the rocks in the sun, then headed back.
Just before we arrived back at the car, Nuccio spotted an acquaintance — that man knows everyone.
On the way back to Linguaglossa, we stopped in at a picturesque town called Noto; Nuccio timed it perfectly, as the sandstone-coloured buildings were a burning orange/red colour in the light of the setting sun. We walked down the main street, lined with spectacularly pretty old buildings.
On the way back to the car — another acquaintance of Nuccio’s. Insane.
On our prior outings at night, Nuccio had pointed out a tiny red speck on Etna’s side: Some volcanic activity in the main crater, but as Nuccio put it, “just a candle”. This time was different as we drove back in the night — Nuccio excitedly drew our attention to it: More than a speck, there was a distinct red glowing area. “Explosions!”
Nuccio swung off the freeway and drove us up through the towns at Etna’s feet to get a better view; we got out and stared for a while, listening out for the booms of the explosions. No booms, but we were still impressed – that’s an active volcano up there!
Earlier, Nuccio had told us about how it was during 2001: There had been constant earthquakes, so much so that it was almost impossible to stand. The whole sky was lit up with glowing lava, and plumes shot out of the volcano. The lava came within 3 km of Linguaglossa. From our peaceful vantage-point, it all sounded pretty damn cool, and I was thinking I would’ve loved to have seen it.
So, that was it for our Sicilian adventure: Our three months was up, and it was time to disappear for three months while our Schengen visa renewed itself. We were quite sad to leave: Sicily was starting to feel like a real home away from home.
Nuccio told us about some trips that the alpine club take annually, and suggested perhaps a visit — inter-Europe flights can be as little as €20-30 — and we jumped at the idea. So, we may well be back in 2010!
Seeya, Mount Etna!