Zafferana - life on a volcano
Sicily, famed for Lemons, The Mafia and Mount Etna. Etna is where I was heading, more specifically a town called Zafferana. Beautifully perched on the foot of the volcano, It's the limpet of Sicily, but what a stunning little limpet it is.
A 45 minute taxi from the airport in Historic Catania and I arrived in the most authentic Italian town square you can imagine. Bordering the square (it's more of a long rectangle) are independent coffee shops, all offering perfect serves of the finest coffee you will taste. They do coffee right, so after your long journey here make your first stop is one of them and chill out with a beautifully crafted espresso! (You simply will not get served a cappuccino after midday, they are strict with their coffee here and I tried)
At the certain level up the town all accommodation is built on concrete stilts incase of a volcanic eruption, so the lava flows under the house not through it. Clever, but in my opinion if you've had to take ANY measures to stop volcanic lava pouring into your front room then you've built your house in the wrong location...move house.
Its not that simple though, because the view out of these houses is breathtaking. From the room I had, was a view of Italian countryside and the peak of Mount Etna. From the other side the view stretched as far as the Ionian Sea and the town of Riposto on the coast and everything in between, which at night was spectacular. Miles and miles of darkness littered with lights from towns and villages all the way to the coast. It was like looking at the starry night in a mirror. Stars twinkled in the sky above and towns, villages and houses reflected that below An incredible and memorable view. You get a taste of this view from the town square at night, so if you are only visiting then make sure you stay and soak up the view when the sun goes down.
For most people Zafferana is a day trip and not an overnight destination, so if you are here for a day then here's three things you'll be able to squeeze in...
Top 3 things to do whilst here:
1. Head up mount Etna on Cable car. It's €30 per person and cheaper for the kids but to scale 3000ft of active volcano, this the best way in relative comfort and with stunning views across Sicily. It gets busy and parking can be issue so I would suggest arriving by taxi and arriving early. Not only do you miss the queues, you also get the best morning light to appreciate the views.
2. Chiesa di Santa Maria della Provvidenza - to you and me this is the towns main church, the religious focal point for the heavily Catholic community. It is a lovely church with stone and marble carvings throughout. Worth a trip if you are a fan or architecture, local history or religion.
3. I mean it's so shit it's good and that's the miniature village. High up on the hills is this small, family run, miniature model village that depicts the sights and attractions of Sicily in miniature form. It's a little run down in places, but it's great fun and if even this fails to lift your spirits then the view from it I'm sure will!
enjoy and take it easy,