Thursday, July 10, 2008
Heroes and Villains
This section is dedicated to Italy’s most controversial social forces – the Aristocracy and to the Mafia – oh, and to Eliot, because of the many “Stone” features.
“Spiaggio” is beach. “Malto Bello” is very pretty. “Grazie Mille” is the coverall for Thank You and it has been my honor meeting you.
As we passed across the Eastern face of Mt. Etna, she billowed white smoke from the very top and gray ash clouds from a lesser vent on the side of the mountain. We had planned to drive straight into the heart of Sicily, but could not let the volcano opportunity pass – so up to the city of Nicolai we went – on the very edge of the volcano. Relm of Vulcan the god of fire, and the home of Cyclops, the “real” one eyed monster, Mt. Etna is one of very few volcanoes in the world with an extensive written history and Europe’s tallest volcano. Mt. Etna boasts over 1200 square kilometers of lava flow, rising to near 10,000 feet above the sea. Mt. Etna hosts a winter ski season as well.
After a quick run to the top, we headed toward any small, nearly indiscernible road we could find on the map leading into the heart of Sicily on our trek to the Southern most point in Europe. We stopped many times along the way, at farmhouses, ruins, vineyards, and fires – photographing as we went. I am averaging about 4 gigs a day thus far.
Just as the sun was setting we arrived in the valley of the temples, a region in which most of the surviving Greek architectural treasures in Italy remain. As you know, this part of what is now Italy has been conquered many times throughout human history. This Greek city – now Agrigento, from which these ruins originated, was founded in 664BC. The greatest remnant here was dedicated to the goddess Aphrodite way back in the day.
At 6:30am, I arrived at the Temple entrance with a good two hours to go before the park opened. A few cop stories, talk of guns and a trade of a patch got me into the ruins on my own and without a fee. Before the buss loads of summer tourists arrived, I got in my shots at sunrise with nary a gnat in the foreground. The park is laden with almond trees, cactus and ancient olive trees with trunks the size of a good Texas Oak. The Prickly Pear cactus is not native here but occupies the entire island. It is raised on farms for fruit – a variety that stands like trees, some fifteen feet tall.
This morning, as we continue toward Palermo, we will stop in Coreleone for lunch and a diet coke. Word has it that there’s a lot of bad energy there – spooky even – but what the heck, I’ve been to Kansas City.
Scrambled Ovum for breakfast.