From our small hotel in Taormina we could see Mt Etna in the distance.  The day started with another delicious breakfast at the hotel rooftop (photo below);  where we had met some friends over a drink, a few evenings before…we decided to cut cost of a private day tour by the 4 of us going together.  The day included a drive up to Mt Etna followed by a tour around a local vineyard + lunch – which was fabulous!

“Mount Etna is the tallest active volcano in Europe…Etna covers an area of 1,190 km2 (459 sq mi) with a basal circumference of 140 km. This makes it by far the largest of the three active volcanoes in Italy, being about two and a half times the height of the next largest, Mount Vesuvius.  Mount Etna is one of the most active volcanoes in the world and is in an almost constant state of activity.  The fertile volcanic soils support extensive agriculture, with vineyards and orchards spread across the lower slopes of the mountain and the broad Plain of Catania.  Due to its history of recent activity and nearby population, Mount Etna has been designated a Decade Volcano by the United Nations.[6] In June 2013, it was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.”  Wikipedia 2017

It was a very long lunch with lovely people who lived between Sth of France and Switzerland (like us, recently retired).  It felt like we had known each other for many years and we shared lots of interesting stories together.  We exchanged email addresses but as often happens, we got busy/distracted and none of us got in contact.  They had only just returned from an extended holiday in Australia and weren’t planning on returning.  Shortly after this travel in Europe, we were planning a trip to South America or Asia.  If we ever return to their part of the world we’ll try to catch up again.  

After our long lunch we returned to the hotel for a late afternoon snooze after too many vinos!  Much later that night we shared a takeaway meal at the rooftop bar (photo below).  We bought a variety of aranchini – Sicily’s street food…so dangerously delicious!  Lonely Planet’s Italy – From the Source describes them as “rice balls, coated with breadcrumbs, fried to a glorious golden-orange colour that gives these ‘little oranges’ their name.”  Lonely Planet’s book has a complex, authentic recipe.  I’ll try to find one that might be easier to make with children – we like to cook with our grandchildren in the school holidays so this post has inspired me.  I encourage them to bring their Mum’s favourite recipe (she’s a good cook!) and we also make “one of Pa’s” aka Tony😉.  Tony’s a great cook…I’m not too bad but prefer growing fresh herbs and finding ways to use them.  Reminds me to take/post a photo of our thriving herb garden – I’ll return this afternoon for that as it’s a beautiful Easter Sunday here and I want to get out and enjoy the gorgeous autumn weather.  Happy Easter!

Photo below:  Aranchini….Italian Rice Balls – a specialty of Sicily;  there are many street stalls selling them in Taormina.  The fillings are many and varied.  I’ll list a few different types tomorrow.